Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Picture Paradise.....

Fly fishing has so many hidden treasures, I guess any outdoor activity does. I mean, its the fishing we love to do and it keeps us going back, but I must admit that while catching fish is important there are so many other pluses to this wonderful sport.

For some it is the allure of just being outdoors. For others its the scenery, or just being in a wild or wilderness place. And some it is the wildlife or trees or plants or animal life. For me one of the big pluses has always been the opportunity to photograph so many neat and interesting places, people, seasons, you name it. Simply put, you almost never run out of great photographic opportunities. And with a profession like mine, the opportunity to snap off several dozen to a hundred pictures every day means a lot of enjoyment on my part.

Photography has changed a lot too. I mean the cameras are a technological miracle. While I still enjoy shooting a 35mm SLR and film I must say that the modern digital cameras have become my camera of choice. Often customers and folks who visit our website ask "What type of camera do you use?" I usually grin as I know they must be expecting some super complicated answer, and its funny because I have never really been much of a photographer and you could put my technical knowledge of cameras and photography in general in a thimble.

For many seasons (20yrs) I used a Ricoh RDC-300. If you have seen one or are familiar with one, you know what a dinosaur it is. It was one of the first digital cameras ever made, and at the time was a fairly high end camera. It did great macro shots, which I love for shooting mayflies and other insects, and close ups of fish too. In fact, it did a superior job even to some of the digital cameras of today - -many of which carry a high price tag. I shot tens of thousands of pictures with it, and really loved that camera, that is until a warm spring day on the South Fork of the Holston in Sugar Grove, VA two years ago.

I was mid way through a trip with good friend and client Mike Workman and his son Kyle who live in Thomasville, NC. We were on a trip and Kyle, a soon to be graduating high school student, was doing his senior project on fly fishing. I had located a couple of behemoth rainbows for Kyle, and we got into position to make a cast. Kyle made a cast to the nearest fish, the fly landed, sank, and just as it began to drift the fish made a sharp head turn to the right and finned over slowly and inhaled Kyle's fly. It was as if the fish had been programmed to do it. I coached Kyle as he set the hook perfectly and the rainbow tore up the pool in front of us, the great fish realizing full well that it had made a terrible mistake. Kyle played the near 2ft long rainbow perfectly, and the fish, tiring of its valiant fight gently came to the surface as Kyle glided the fish toward my net. Just as I reached forward the left front velcro pocket on my casting shirt came open and "kerploosh"....into the drink went my trusty Ricoh. I netted the fish and grabbed the camera too, both elated and disgusted at the same time. We landed the fish, released it, and then I realized what a shame we'd get no picture of this huge fish. And also I knew this time the camera was probably going to get its watery fate, having escaped previous and numerous encounters like this over the years.

So I decided to invest in a new camera. After a lot of reading and researching I settled on a Canon Powershot. I am a Canon fanatic anyway, so that part was easy. The model is an A630, and has more features that I could possibly use. It is a 8.0 megapixel and can be used in auto mode or manual like a standard SLR. It has black and white, color, enhanced color capability, and let me tell you - - for macro shots of bugs and flies it has a minimum focus distance of 2cm. You can literally fill the frame of the picture with a size 28 Midge or the real insect and see either in perfect detail. And as an added bonus it also is able to shoot short videos. And to sum it up, the camera must be very well sealed as it has already survived a dunking on the South Holston in Tennessee and the New River in Virginia.

So there you have it. I'll say it again......I love pictures and I love taking lots of them. If the fishing is slow I can always find a good picture somewhere. I guess to me there are so many wonderful places we fish around NC, TN, and VA that I'll never run out of those opportunities. And that's fine by me.....