Freezing a cast in one picture frame is not at all easy
If you look in casting books, ads for fly lines or just the odd fly fishing magazine, you will often see some fascinating pictures of casting. Lines forming the most beautiful arcs in the air, clearly illustrating one of the fascinating things about fly fishing: the beauty of the cast.
Taking pictures, which capture this essence of fly fishing is not easy. To get a good casting picture you need to be on par with several things. You will need:
- a caster who can actually cast
- to get him or her to use a visible line
- some fairly short casts
- good light
- a good background
- good control of your camera
When all these things come together, you will still need a bit of luck to get a really good casting picture.
You can shoot casting on any occasion where the chance is there. Sometimes you will be in a situation where the conditions are great, mainly light and background, and just be able to press the shutter release to get a good shot. But if you want to be really sure in your case, prepare a bit.
Demands on the caster
You want to shoot a model, who can actually cast. This means someone, who can form some nice line arcs, control the line in the air and follow your orders about direction, line length, distance etc. Most anglers can do this, and provided you know what you want, you can instruct even a less skillful caster to perform the act.
Make sure the rod and line are balanced, making it easy to use. We do not want the caster to struggle with the casts. And equip the caster with a light and bright line. White, yellow, orange, chartreuse and similar bright colors work best. A floating WF line is preferable because we want the line as thick as possible. If you can choose between several lines, choose the beefier one.
First of all you will want light in your back and the caster on a dark background. Situations where the sun is low are definitely the best, so it's morning or evening or Scandinavian winter that offer the best light. The background should preferably be dark: forest, pine trees, a dark bank, rocks, a mountain backdrop or something else that offers a uniform, dark curtain behind the caster.
You also want some water, and preferably enough of it for you to get in the water and still have a good distance to the caster, who will be casting with his or her side to you. There aren't many places like that out there, so if you find it, note it for future casting pictures.
Arm yourself with your fastest camera if you have a choice. You want fast reaction and also the ability to take sequences of pictures if possible. An SLR is the best bet, but a smaller, compact camera can also take some nice casting pictures. As a starting point, a short telephoto lens is good, but you should also experiment with other focal widths if at all possible. Both longer telephoto lenses and extreme wide angles or even fish eye lenses are interesting. If you're using a zoom lens, zoom in to get the telephoto-effect.
Make sure your camera shoots at fast shutter speeds. Select a shutter priority program - often called S - if that is an option. A fast shutter speed of at least 1/250th of a second will freeze the motion.
If your aim is to get the line in the air, instruct your victim to cast a short distance with a fairly slow and deliberate casting motion. A casting length of 10 meters or about 30 feet is suitable unless you are aiming at illustrating long casts. Capturing 20-30 meter or 60-90 foot casts properly is difficult. You want to get the blind casts, and the forward cast is usually the one that will give you the best impression and composition. This is where the angler's attention is, and what most of us connect with fly casting.
Let the angler work out some line and keep on blind casting to get a good rhythm and some nice line arcs.
Place your model in a convenient location with room for both backcasts and forward casts. Place yourself perpendicular to the casting direction and with the angler to one side facing "into the picture". Don't go too far away. The face of the person casting should be distinguishable. By keeping the casts short, you can frame the scene tighter. Since we want to get the line in the air, the angler should be on the edge of the picture casting across to the other edge.
Other casting motifs
Casting is of course other things than arcs of line in the air. The casting motions, double hauls, the bent rod and other aspects of the cast can be equally interesting. You can use the same techniques to get these situations, but also frame the subject differently and use your creativity.
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