There are salmon in the Adams River… lots and lots of bright red sockeye salmon. Maybe not as many as were predicted, but certainly enough to get some pretty good photographs.
There are any number of excellent spots along the trail where you can get photos. The trick is to bring the right photographic equipment. I would recommend a medium telephoto and a medium wide-angle lens, a sturdy tripod and, most important, a polarizing filter for both lenses. To put things in the simplest of terms, polarizing filters change the way light passes through a lens, by filtering out part of the light being reflected at certain angles that cause reflective surfaces to be visually washed out due to excessive glare.
Polarizing filters are essentially two linear filters that rotate on an axis to each other and when the two filters are at the correct angle to each other, they effectively reduce the amount of glare. It is easy to see (no pun intended) how a polarizing filter would be of great value when taking pictures of fish in the water.
These filters, however, also tend to be very expensive so what I did was get one polarizer to fit my largest filter-sized lens and step-down rings that allow me to use my one polarizing filter on a number of other lenses. It might be a bit of a hassle switching the filter back and forth from one lens to another, but it does the trick and still allows me to put gas in my vehicle.
What you put all your gear into is as important as the gear itself and there are a number of good quality packs out there that will help you organize, protect and carry your gear comfortably. I carry a Lowe Slingshot model 100 that I use as a daypack. It is indispensable.
For my day of taking photos of the sockeye in the Adams, I packed my D90 camera body, an 80 – 200 mm f2.8 and an 11 – 16 mm f2.8, extra batteries and cards, a small pair of binoculars and my lunch. I strapped my four-section carbon-fibre Manfrotto tripod to the bottom of the pack. I do wish that I had brought along my 60 mm macro lens because I saw a lot of neat looking fungi growing on some of the fallen trees that I would like to have photographed –another time, I guess.
While on the subject of fungi and macro photography, I never used to think there was a place for artificial light in nature photography, but I have come to change my mind over the years. Flash diffusion accessories such as the LumiQuest Mini Softbox allow you to soften the harsh unnatural feel of electronic flash. Flash also allows you to fill in shadow and even out the lighting ratio between the shadow and brightly illuminated highlights. I also carry a couple of feet of aluminum foil in my pack. I can unfold it and use it to bounce sunlight back onto my subject when doing close-up nature photography.
The whole thing about deciding what to take and what not to take along with you on any photographic field trip into the great outdoors is making sure that you have what you will absolutely needs and not what you will end up carting along for nothing. Having said that, last weekend I learned – the hard way – that it is always a good idea to take along a jacket or sweater, even on the warmest of days. The weather, like your lighting, can change quickly when you’re taking pictures in the outdoors, and I really wish that I had brought along warmer clothes.
There are still lots of good opportunities to get photos of the sockeye. Maybe you’ll even see me out there – dressed in warm clothing.