Neil Bellenie  

Early Morning Fishermen by Neil Bellenie

March 2023 - Early Morning Fishermen

About the Image(s)

We were staying at Gold Beach, Oregon and our hosts took us out on the Rogue River for a day’s salmon fishing. We were on the water before 7am with the mist rising from the water and the sun creating intense bright sparkles on the water surface. Everything else was muted. We were heading up river and I saw these 2 boats slowly going down river in strong silhouette. We had a good days fishing ending up with 4 big salmon. Delicious!

Canon 5D mkiv. EF 70-200 @ 200mm, ISO100, 1/500 at F11. All post in lightroom - the highlights and whites were reduced, some foreground was cropped out and texture was increased slightly. At first it was kept in color, however the lightroom B&W filter added another level of moodiness to the picture so I went with that. There were some distractingly bright reflections from houses high on the bank that were cloned out.

This round’s discussion is now closed!
9 comments posted

Darcy Quimby   Darcy Quimby
Before I even saw your description my first thought was, I like moody. I am wondering if you need that much water in the foreground. IMO the dark stretch of water might be a good place to crop. I love the mist in the background and agree BW makes the picture.   Posted: 03/02/2023 13:43:17
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Mark Bargen   Mark Bargen
Wow. I find this really stunning! Very evocative. In my images I strive to evoke a mood or complex of emotions that would be difficult to put into words; here I think you've succeeded in doing just that. One looks at this and it's hard to imagine how in the world that could be possible. I don't mean that it's implausible, only that's it's ... well ... I don't have the words. (and I'm rarely at a loss for words)

I look at the fishermen, afloat on some magical river, and imagine that their catch must be exgtraordinary.

So many pieces work in harmony here to pull this together: the mist, the dsark sky, the dark forest on the far shore, the fishermen and their boat seen only in silhouette, and the glittering specular highlights on the water.

I very much look forward to reading your narrative to learn how you processed this.

I do find the dark band crossing the bottom to be a bit problematic. Although it helps to define the river (there's a current), for me it acts as a barrier to entry and separates the bottom quarter of the image from the rest. I tried a couple different approaches to see if I could solve to my satisfaction. First, I tried cropping up a ways. I didn't crop all the way up to the dark stripe, as to do so would have created a harsh lower edge inconsistent with the feel of the rest of the image and would have placed the fishermen too close to the bottom for my comfort.   Posted: 03/04/2023 07:51:12
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Mark Bargen   Mark Bargen
For my second attempt, which I feel was a bit more successful, I took the image over to Ps. I duplicated the background layer, applied a Gaussian blur (8px), and masked it in from the bottom using a gradient. To me, this deemphasized the foreground a bit. Even so, I still feel I need to crop a little bit up. Doing so allowed me to place the nearest boat centered on a golden ratio spiral.   Posted: 03/04/2023 07:54:07
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Mark Bargen   Mark Bargen
Okaaayyy ... have read the narrative, I'm really curious how you processed the BW conversion ... would love to see the original and hear a bit more from you on that.   Posted: 03/04/2023 07:55:15
Neil Bellenie
Mark, thank you for the thoughtful commentary.
Attached is the original from the camera. My post processing is limited and is all in Lightroom. I used the 'auto' feature as it gets the RAW file closer to how I recall the scene and invoked the lens corrections for this lens. I then further removed highlights, moving the slider to -100. The foreground was still too bright so I used a horizontal filter mask and further reduced the foreground whites and highlights. The distracting reflections on the hillside were cloned out. The texture were adjusted (increased to +20).
I played around with the crop and decided that the fishermen looked more isolated and lost with more foreground. I then selected the standard Lightroom B&W preset BW08.
At first I did my usual 'let's move each slider to see what it does with this picture' and then reset them all apart from those described above.   Posted: 03/04/2023 15:47:20
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Mark Bargen   Mark Bargen
Thanks, Neil, very interesting. I'm still trying to figure out where the Sun might have been to create such intense specular highlights while the sky was so dark. I confess I overlooked the information that it was 7am or earlier. So I suppose it must have been low near the horizon, and maybe a bit out of frame to the left?

Like you, I often give the "auto" adjustment a whirl, just to get a quick sense of one possible starting point for the edit. Sometimes I like what I see, sometimes not. Glad to see you know better than to take LrC advice as gospel. A lot of folks, uncomfortable with editing, just stop there.   Posted: 03/04/2023 16:09:47

Paul Smith   Paul Smith
There is a story , here! Indeed, cropping should occur, IMO, on both top and bottom. I doubt you'll get a consensus as to how much. The story is that there are at least 3 boats; and since they are gathered together, they have found an active spot...somebody is catching something(s). The time of day and the weather is told by the mist. Wonderful capture of the mist. Wonderful contrast. Like Mark, I want to know how you did it! Just askin' for a friend!   Posted: 03/04/2023 12:17:01

Dawn Gulino
Really nice image! I like the BW conversion quite a bit, then I see your color version and it reminded me of old sepia images which adds to it given that it was the natural light. Both are great! The mist coming off the water with the backlight from the sun is lovely. Nice capture Neil!   Posted: 03/06/2023 16:54:45

Ed O’Rourke   Ed O’Rourke
I am captivated by the mood that this photo creates with the mist rising off the water and the boats and fishermen silhouetted against the darker background. I think your lighting along with the reflection off the water adds much to the image and the mystique. I agree with Paul about the contrast and also along with the potential of cropping from both the top and bottom.   Posted: 03/14/2023 11:17:24