Click here to view parts I & II of this III part series.
It didn’t take me long to realized that I was in essence “bottling” the experiences of my days on the water. Planted in front of my computer at home, I could immerse myself in those images and feel as if my feet were back in the river. Only now the tempo could slow, my eyes could wander and explore intricate details without the urgency to quickly release the fish. I began to see particular things in those images of trout that I had not even noticed at the time I took the shots. The closer I analyzed the images on screen, the more incredible aspects I began to discover. With each batch of images I studied, more and more things became apparent for me to look for and reveal while taking future images. It became an addictive cycle of catching fish, shooting images, then studying and refining the results. Soon I had doubled my time on the water and tripled the enjoyment. Holding the camera became just as much fun as holding the fly rod, and clicking the mouse during the editing stage became equally as fulfilling. The experience of catching a fish was multiplied by 3, and the act of taking an image morphed into two separate events; the actual shooting in the field and the inspection, selection, and editing process of post. Over time techniques I’d learned from post-processing allowed me to dig back over years and thousands of images to “mine” gold from shots I’d previously overlooked. All new features and subjects I’d not seen or known how to reveal were now available with the creative control I’d discovered. I felt like a junkie who had just discovered a way to triple his high, and it never got old.
To this day I can still gaze into these images for hours as my eyes explore the unique subtleties and terrain of each shot. Now when I hold a camera in one hand and a fish in another, I look for reflections on the fish, texture of the water, details in the fins or settings to emphasize the light. Thousands of hours clicking the mouse have taught me foresight to shoot images with settings I know will provide wide creative latitude in post editing. For me something so simple as fish photography has turned into more than a pleasure, it’s another trip to paradise. It’s time travel.