Adventures in Night Photography

Life in Montana has been a string of new experiences for me. It’s one of the things I’ve enjoyed most about living here. There are constantly new opportunities for me to step outside the familiar and either learn something new about the world, or better still, learn something new about myself. This weekend, the new experience was night fishing.

The first question you have to ask yourself is Why? (Heavy Sarcasm in your voice when you say this so there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that what you are really asking is “What the h— for?”) I actually skipped that all important first question. When a friend of mine told me he and his boys were going out night fishing my first thought was “That sounds like a cool photo shoot.” And just like that, I won an invitation to come along. Oh yeah, in case I haven’t mentioned this recently, being a photographer has some really great perks.

So, Bill, David, and his son’s Garrison and Jackson are going to go night fishing on Bitterroot Lake, which is near Marion, a town about 25 miles west of where I live. The only down side in all of this is, they are leaving now. They are in the process of walking out the door and they grabbed the phone as they are heading out. I can come along, but only if I leave right now. It’s been kind of a long day. I’m home. And my shoes are off. One of these days, for my own edification and sense of self-awareness I’m going to have to work up the statistics for how much less likely I am to do something once my shoes are off. It’s a psychological trigger for me: shoes are off = done for the day. A moment ago I was bragging about the “perks” to being a photographer. There are downsides as well. One of them is that your boss doesn’t care about your shoe status. When he calls you up and says, “There’s been a three car accident at the intersection of 93 and Reserve. Reports indicate that one of the vehicles is on fire and possibly someone is trapped.” You do NOT respond with, “But I’m home, and my shoes are off.” You say, “Got it.” Then you grab your shoes, grab your gear, get in the Jeep and Go. When I got this invitation I had to put away that part of my personality that wants to whine and switch into photojournalist mode (shoes-gear-Jeep-Go).

And hey, I got there in time. Climbed on the boat and we are off. Just in time to enjoy an incredibly beautiful sunset. Nice light makes for photographer heaven. : ) Fortunately when I was grabbing things to bring along with me, I included a sweat shirt and my winter down jacket. Cold. I know I should be used to it by now, but I’ve been cold since I moved to Montana. Nighttime on the water. Yep, I’m cold again. What I did forget to bring was a set of extra batteries for my flash. Drat. I’m not the only one who doesn’t like the cold. The batteries agreed with me and they just up and quit on me after a few shots. Double drat.

But other than the cold and the battery failure it was a great night. I got some photos I am happy with. We’ll be publishing these soon in the Daily Inter Lake. And I even got a personal shot out of the evening. Not only did we have a great sunset, we had a gorgeous moon set shortly there after. The moon was barely more than a sliver in the sky which quickly followed the sun down. The view from out on the water was incomparable. Once these things were done we anchored the boat and worked on catching a few more fish. At the end of the night, I have my photos, the boys have their fish and we are all pretty happy and heading for the dock. This is when things get “interesting.”

I mentioned that we are past sunset and moon set. By the time we decide to head in we have also moved past twilight into the truly pitch black night of middle of nowhere Montana. The stars under those circumstances look amazing. Sadly, the stars are just about the only thing you can see. Occasionally we catch glimpses of houses and lights and even a few campfires. But the dock we are looking for is not lit. And none of us can see much past the front of the boat. We head back in the direction we came from, but after some time the boys decide that we have gone too far. Just off to the side of us, there are some people on the beach enjoying a bonfire. And so I say to Bill, why don’t we get a bit closer and ask them for directions. Bill turns towards me and replies “Are you serious?” It’s pitch black and I can’t see his face, but I don’t need to. His tone makes it perfectly obvious that he is questioning my sanity. Yes, I’m serious. I am a girl. I have no qualms about owning up to the fact that I have mis-located myself and am in need of assistance. Not like the people on the beach are going to care. And hey, they won’t be able to see us, so it’s not like anyone will ever know it was you.

For years I have listened to married girl friends of mine complain about men and their unfathomable aversion to asking for directions. I used to wonder if there were circumstances that might override this aversion. Nope. I don’t think there are. After Bill’s reaction I didn’t even bother making this suggestion to David (the guy steering the boat). We did find the dock eventually. And like I said, I’m happy with the photos, so every other concern fades when I’m happy about pictures. I have, however, learned an important lesson for any future night fishing expeditions. Next time I’m going to suggest someone park close enough that we can use the vehicle alarm system as homing beacon.

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2 thoughts on “Adventures in Night Photography

  1. night fishing – insane.
    Your photos – made me want to be there.
    The crescent moon – nice touch!
    thank you for sharing your adventure, as always.

  2. WOW! Bren,

    Thanks for taking me along – it was a great trip – I thoroughly enjoyed going with you all!

    Guys really seem to have trouble asking directions – I have only met 1 who did not… Ha Ha Ha! :O)

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