My Side Of The Lens - The Snake Roll Spey

March 01, 2014  •  2 Comments

My Side Of The Lens - The Snake Roll Spey 

As a photographer I am always in search of random opportunities when in the field. I work hard to document and specialize in "Fly Fishing Culture" from behind the lens, not just because I think it's totally cool but because I live and breath it on a regular day to day basis. One of the most exciting moments to shoot in fly fishing is the art of fly casting. I am fortunate to work with and be friends with a group of fly fishers who represent some of the most talented fly casters in the world of fly fishing, not just that but they are a great group of dudes and dudets who are super fun to hang out with. On a recent outing up the Sea to Sky I was fortunate enough to sit shot gun with one of Canada's top Spey casters in both teaching and competitive casting, Tim Arsenault from Michael & Young Fly Shop. My goal was to get some usable shots for upcoming photo submissions. 


I am riding shot gun with good friend and extremely talented fly caster Tim Arsenault as we cruse up the Sea to Sky highway towards Squamish. Good tunes are blaring from speakers that squeak from over use but it's all good. The weather looks great and no matter what happens we are going to have a great day on the flow. I plan on meeting the Whistler (now Squamish) contingent consisting of Master Casting Instructor and Whistler Fly Shop owner Brian Niska and Vancouver Sport Fishing Centre's Craig Mumby along with whom ever else shows up. As per usual I am packing a full kit weighing in at roughly one third my body weight but who cares, I can handle it and I won't be without that one lens I might need! lol We stroll up the river looking for likely spots and I am planning to shoot candid shots of the guys as they do what they do best. 


Tim and Craig are now fishing an extremely juicy stretch consisting of large underwater boulders and a glassy tail out, perfect looking Steelhead holding water. Brian and I have been tromping around and I am shooting anything and everything as per usual. Casting, wading, hanging out, it's all being covered and we have all put on some miles under foot today. Tim is now down river as Brian and I start walking down, he is strategically placed in the tail out and below him the river bends putting the gnarly looking wall of old growth coastal trees in perfect position so his cast will stand out against this dark back drop. I am also noticing that the light is coming from behind Tim, towards me which means that it's back lighting my subject. This back light is hard to shoot and makes metering an exposure quite difficult, just the way I like it! The plus side is that the fly line and the water spray is lit up by the back light making for an ideal shooting situation. Tim is an amazing Spey caster and right now he is using his left hand up, non dominant side to throw incredibly far traditional Snake Rolls across the river. You don't need to be a genius to figure out that this is a great photo opportunity. I size up my composition and bolt on my trusty 70-200 and start shooting. I will select a wide aperture to help pop Tim from the back drop and also to give me a very fast shutter speed but not so wide as to loose detail in those cool looking trees. This fast shutter speed allows me to freeze the action including all those awesome looking water drops and spray. My camera will shoot bursts of nine frames a second and I use it with great purpose this time in hopes of getting the ultimate moment in time. 


Tim is now working his way out of my ideal frame and I am sure I managed a few keepers, he doesn't even know I have been shooting the scene for about half an hour. Now it's beer time as we all meet back at the pub for some much needed food and nourishment in the form of burgers, fries and beer. Good looking waitresses to I might add. For me the day is done from a shooting stand point, now I need to go back to the studio and process some pictures. I shoot all my photos in RAW capture so that I have complete control over the final out put and edit. Photos like this typically don't need much in the way of tweaking, usually a little bump in contrast and sharpness is all they need. I finish by sizing out my images to suite different publishing needs and I am done. Below is one of my favourites from the day. 

Equipment used: Nikon D300s Camera, Nikon 70-200 mm F2.8 Lens, Hand Held

Specs: 250 @ F9 iso 250 1.3 EV  Snake RollSnake Roll





Ian Basso(non-registered)
Great work, Aaron. Don't forget to look me up if you make it up to the Yukon, we can toss some loops under the midnight sun.
Abe House(non-registered)
Love the style and content of this blog. Useful and of course love the photos.
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