Wild Portraits: Salmon through the Artist’s Eye

by Jessica Newley


After last year’s successful mission to shoot Pink salmon , I’ve been eagerly waiting all summer for news of this years runs.


When word came last Thursday, from our friends at the Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group, that the Coho had finally made it up the Cascade River we started packing our bags and preparing for a weekend adventure. Coho have always been my prize target because I knew their red color would look amazing in contrast with the blue water.


The day was not without its lessons, winter storm Brutus was on its way to the North Cascades as we set out and when we got to the river that morning there was very little natural light.  Additionally, over-hanging trees further limited the light – it was a challenging photographic situation.


I started off shooting with underwater strobes, but the look was too “contrasty”. I then ventured into high ISO, natural light shooting, and ended up really enjoying the results. Having a DSLR camera for this trip made this possible. With the G10 that I shot the Pinks with last year, this situation would have been much more troubling. We are now thinking about further options including lighting from out of the water with speed lights or studio lighting.

In the end though, it is the fish that do all the hard work. Following their long journey, their newly acquired vibrant colors and exhausted docile nature make them fantastic subjects for an afternoon of photography!


Editor’s Note: Jessica Newley is a locally-based writer and photographer with a passion for salmon. Her images of these wild creatures are among the best “portraits” we’ve seen. Her feature-length piece – including more stunning photography – “Snorkeling with Salmon” appeared in the autumn issue of Adventures NW magazine and can be seen at www.AdventuresNW.com



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