Over the years I have been fortunate enough to work with; and learn from some of the finest lensmen across various genres: From my original slide film (RIP Fuji Velvia 50) wildlife and travel mentor Justin Fox (now at the helm of Getaway magazine) and Gary Perkin (arguably the finest MTB photographer walking the planet) to mountain goat Kelvin Trautman and Red Bull shooters Craig Kolesky, Tyrone Bradley (2019 Red Bull Illume finalist in the Lifestyle catagory) and Wayne Reiche; among a long list of others.

Their styles are all strikingly unique and yet, dig deep enough and you’ll find a common thread – the one thing they all do, is break the traditional ‘rules’ of photography. Not all the time, but when artistic purpose calls for it.

You should (and can) too…

One of these ‘rules’ and very possibly one of the very first things you may have been taught photographically, is NOT to shoot into the sun.

“Forget that right now…” says Craig Kolesky. “Shooting into the sun can create great results if done correctly and creatively,” he says.

I got ‘CK’ to outline a handful of tips for shooting into the sun on your next fishing mission to help you create some images apart from the everyday shit we see flooded all over social media.

1. Know your gear
Sounds so simple, but you have to know your camera system and its settings (whether that is a smartphone or the top-of-the-range DSLR or mirrorless model). “You’re going to miss ‘that’ moment if you’re unprepared,” says Craig. “Play around and practice before you get out onto the water.”

2. Focus cleverly

detail fly fishing photography
Tight depth-of-field with light metering and focus to bring out most of the detail of this brownie’s dorsal. (c) Leonard Flemming

It’s all about light balance and focus, that is where the creative effects come in. Built-in, auto white balance settings can throw out the highlights etc. Decide on the result you want and then shoot in manual so you have full control. “As a basic rule, slight over exposure to bring out detail in the foreground, under expose if you want to create silhouettes,” Craig says.

3. Flare is your friend

backlit photography
Selective flair with the sun partly obscured while still allowing for enough colour and detail in the tiger.

Use the sun flare to add depth and feeling to the image. “Partly obscure the sun with your subject in the foreground, so in other words let sun be partly visible behind the horizon or subject you’re shooting,” he says, explaining that you need to find a good balance for the shot you’re setting up. “Too much flare/light can burn out your images and too little will have no effect.”

4. Use filters

backlit photography
Circular polarizer used to create ‘pop’ in the foreground subject. (c) Ewan Naude

According to Craig circular and graduated filters will help you control light and exposures far better.

5. Add dust or similar for effect

fishing photography
Ridding a RAB (large South African varient) of excessive Frog’s Fanny floatant dust. (c) Leonard Flemming

“Adding dust, smoke or water vapor adds depth and feeling to the shot,” says Craig.


backlit photography
Don’t be shy to shoot into the sun when shooting scenics either. (c) Leonard Flemming

Interested to learn a bit more? Hit this.

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