Surface Film 3 – Denver, CO.

Nate Luke Photography

Image Courtesy of: Nate Luke Photogrpahy

It’s that time of year again for the 3rd annual Surface Film. Here’s the scoop (courtesty of The Greenbacks facebook page)-

“The Greenbacks of Trout Unlimited are excited to announce the 3rd annual Surface Film event showcasing the top professional fly-fishing photography from around the country at Anthology Fine Art gallery on February 7th, 2013.

Framed prints will be available through silent auction to benefit the Greenbacks’ work to conserve Colorado cold water fisheries and recruit the next generation of Trout Unlimited members.”

I’m humbled to be a part of this showing for the third year in a row. I couldn’t tell you what exact image of mine will be on the wall, but I’m sure Mr. Tim Romano did an outstanding job curating everyone’s images. In the past, the opening night has been nothing short of a great time. Complimentary cold, New Belgium beers are plentiful and there is pure fly fishing energy in the air as everyone circles the gallery staring at the top fly fishing images from 2012.

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Marketing: Moo Business Cards

Are you, or have you ever been disappointed with your business card decisions? Don’t worry, I have too! For any creative, whether photographer, graphic designer, sculptor or painter, a business card means a lot when trying to make an impression. The card is essentially an extension of yourself and your work so it should look pretty darn cool, right? I’ve seen some really crazy business cards out there. When I say “crazy” I mean exceptionally creative. Only one problem, crazy is synonymous with expensive. Sure, there are always exceptions but for the majority, crazy = expensive. In comes Moo.com

moo business card

I can’t recall exactly where I heard about Moo.com, a super friendly internet print house based out of Rhode Island, but I’m glad I did. Business card printing up to this point for me has been a complete dead end. I’ve always been on the hunt for a place that would allow me to showcase a variety of my work in short runs at an affordable price. Their easy to use website is also something to brag about. The custom process of building my cards was incredibly simple. They have done a great job to make sure that users have a seamless experience. Six words – Moo.com is where the magic happens.

This past week, my first order arrived. Needless to say, I was stoked. I ordered a total of 200 business cards that showcased 10 different images of mine (short runs start at 50 for as little as $19.99). The first thing I noticed when holding my cards was not only the quality of printing but the weight of the paper. These aren’t your typical flimsy cards. Moo.com uses 16pt stock, giving the card a wonderful thickness. People will love holding something with a little weight.

This is only the beginning of my photography marketing package. More moo.com business cards and postcards are in the future. Go ahead and give them a shot. I promise you will be just as impressed as I am. Click here to get started.

So, what are your thoughts? Did I make the right decision? Post a comment below…

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Tsimane – Gold in the Rivers of Bolivia

To view this report in my Newsletter – Click Here

Twenty six hours after lift off from Miami, 5 anglers and I sat aboard two Cessna as we cruised over the jungle below, I couldn’t help but notice how similar the jungle canopy was to the vast wilderness of Alaska.  There were countless winding rivers that made their way through the jungle just as they do through Alaskan tundra. A blue tarp and opening in the trees was a cocoa field signature. I couldn’t stop staring and thinking about the 6 days of fishing (photography for me) that laid ahead, having no clue what to expect.

Hopping on the plane

Tsimane (Chimane) Lodge, is situated in the very remote Parque Nacional Isiboro Secure, which is about 1.5 hours Northwest of Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Tsimane Lodge takes its name after the Tsimane people which are indigenous to the area. Anglers have the privilege of fishing two different locations when they visit; first being the upper Securé, and then on to the Pluma, where access to the Pluma, Itirisama, and Securé rivers are within reach. The first camp sits on a high bluff, where the eye is first drawn to the rapids below and then up to a towering cliff that is covered in small shrubs and rocky rubble. After three days of fishing anglers make the transfer to the second camp. It’s a quick 10-minute flight and then an adventurous off-road drive through the jungle for about 30 minutes. The second camp is a carbon-copy of the first, only sitting right on the river. Instead of watching flowing rapids, there is a constant display of hunting dorado (most active feeding time is in the morning). Both camps were built from local, hand planed wood – making the entire experience that much more rustic.  The surrounding landscape was simply breathtaking. Towering canopies of various trees and tall shrubbery gripped the rivers edge, and riverbanks in most cases were uneven collections of large river rock and boulders. There was always a stir in the air as hundreds of differing butterfly species were on the move looking for any salt residue left behind on the rock floor. The variance in color on these butterfly wings was something I’ve never seen before, and will hold as some of the strongest visual memories of my trip.

Each camp had a “pet”. Our first encounter was the friendly and inviting white-bellied parrot named “Profundo”. I referred to him as our “meat eating, alcohol drinking, singing, parrot friend” as that’s precisely what he was. Chorizo? He ate it. Scotch? He drank it! Beer? Couldn’t stop. Chocolate? Made him whistle longer and louder. Literally the coolest bird I’ve ever met. A three week ocelot graced our prescence at the second camp. She was so beautiful and fragile. Her mother dropped her in the jungle while being hunted by locals.

My first impression of this lodge was complete astonishment. It was shocking how beautiful it was. To start, it’s built from all local wood, giving it a very rustic feel. I felt as if I were staying in a 5 star resort. Inside our jungle style “tiki huts” were tile showers, fancy sinks, hot water, comfortable beds and much more!   No detail was missed, and every amenity was put there for the guests ultimate comfort. The fact that all of this was available to us in the most remote part of the jungle blew my mind.

Tsimane Lodge

Obviously we were in Bolivia for one reason, and that was to catch golden dorado. Surely you have read about this fish in magazines or seen one of many short films, but if not, please read on. Yes, they are gold, very gold! They are also equipped with hundreds of razor sharp teeth that are used to sevor prey in half. Take the aggressiveness of a giant trevally and pair it with the acrobatics of a tarpon, and poof! Meet the golden dorado. Without hesitation, these fish will smash just about any dark colored streamer put in front of them and if you screw up the hook set, don’t count on that same fish to chase your fly again. As he swims back to his cover, he’s laughing at the fact that you just tried to trout set him. STRIP STRIKE DUDE! Another characteristic of this fish that blew my mind is its kind regard to annihilating the hell out of its little cousin. In other words, they are cannibals. It was common to hook up with a small dorado (3-5lbs) and have a monster (20+lbs) dorado come in and inhale it. Not only is your hook in the mouth of a dorado, but it’s inside the stomach of another. Double hookup!! Eventually, you would get your fly and fish back, but this time it was just the head.

A typical days itinerary was simple – fish your assigned beat for the day with your guide and skilled dugout canoe “drivers”, which in this case were two natives from the Tsimane tribe. All beats showcased various types of water – shallow runs, deep undercut banks, back eddies, etc. While most “fishy” locations held fish, sometimes we would scratch our heads as our guide would say, “sometimes they just aren’t here”. The most exciting time to fish for golden dorado is when they are hunting. There is no mistaking a hunt. Golden dorado will attack sabalo (primary food source) with extreme aggression. The average sabalo is comparable to a small bonefish, a perfect bite size snack for dorado. They are almost always in large groups and migrate up or down river just as a salmon would. The closest thing I can compare a “hunt” to is when a roosterfish pushes sardina into the beach. What makes it so intense is the fact that there are multiple fish hunting at once; so when that dinner bell rings, it is absolute chaos. Instead of waking up to chirping birds in the morning, it’s the thrashing sound of feeding dorado – no joke.

jumping golden dorado

It’s such an incredible sight to see that I actually laid motionless for two hours on the shoreline with my 400mm telephoto waiting for them to hunt in front of me. Patience paid off as I witnessed this no more than 30 feet away. Unfortunately I only had one morning to shoot this event. Next time, I will be out there every morning!

If the planets align and this “hunt” unfolds in front of an angler, get ready. My fishing partner ended up with a bit of luck as more than 10 dorado over 20lbs came into hunt a short 20 feet from his rod tip. All it took was a short cast and he was on his way to landing the largest fish of the trip – a super fat, twenty five plus pound fish. It was a jaw dropping sight watching a fish of that size massacre his fly in no more than 8 inches of water. Damn, it gets my heart going just thinking about it!

On the contrary, pacu are a much more laid back species. Think of pacu as the permit of these waters. Not only is the shape of a pacu similar to that of a permit, it’s fight is as well. While employing a stealthy approach for dorado is recommended, pacu demand it and are far more reluctant to take a fly. Soft disturbances heard or seen in the water’s surface continually stretched our curiosity. We would then look to our guide expecting an explanation, and without hesitation he would whisper, “pacu”. We quickly learned that this disturbance was pacu feeding on leaves or large seeds from the towering trees above. In addition to plant matter, sabalo is also in their diet. Flies varied from black streamers to flat, green poppers. Jared finally broke the dry spell on our fifth day and by the sixth, had 4 pacu under his belt. His largest was close to sixteen pounds and was taken on a green popper that was dead drifted through a fast rapid.

Every day was different.  Each day brought a new guide and a different beat to fish. If you are up for an adventure, overnight camps are available on request in which anglers travel to virgin waters in search of fish that have never seen a fly. My fishing partner and I decided to camp on the upper Pluma. It’s not very often you can boast about a jungle camping experience so we figured it was worth giving a shot. Camping has its ups and downs; for our particular experience, the 600% jungle humidity made it very difficult to get any quality rest.  Other than that, it was exactly the adventure I had expected.

That night after dinner, we used a conventional rod and cut-bait to fish for catfish. Once the bait had sunk to the bottom it wasn’t long before the line went tight and started making its way up or down river. Give it about 5-6 seconds and then set the hook – hard. The fun part is not knowing what’s at the other end of that line. We ended up landing a few catfish weighing a little over 65lbs which is on the lower end of the scale. Our guide, Vincente, told us these particular species can weigh in at upwards of three to four hundred pounds. I’m not saying that I had one of these on, but I did hook into 3 very large fish that I had zero control over until they ultimately snapped my 80lb wire leader. I can only wonder what was at the other end.

 

For the first time, my interest and awareness were constantly peaked. Whether it was my boat mates pursuing their meal for later that evening with their bow and arrow, groups of squawking Macaw flying overhead, staring into the endless green jungle, the brightest milky way I’ve ever seen, or witnessing a father and son butchering their fresh Tapir kill on the shoreline – there was not a single dull moment to be had. Six days is far too short to experience what this jungle has to offer. I can only hope to make it back for another six. I want to thank Untamed Angling for the invitation to make this trip – the staff, accommodations, and dining were outstanding. Also, I’d like to thank my partners in crime – Dr. Jim Cochran, Jared Louviere, Courtney Rogers, Barrett Clark and Ron Foster. It was an absolute pleasure sharing this adventure with you!

Tailwaters Fly Fishing has reserved two back-to-back weeks for the 2013 calendar. If you have any interest in visiting this wonderful place, you must ACT NOW! Availability does not last long and we have already begun seeing some interest for next year. I will likely be leading these two groups and will be documenting everything from behind the lens. The 2013 dates are as follows:

 

September 20 – 28 // 2 Spots Open

September 28 – October 6 // 6 Spots Open

 

2013 Headwater Outcamps

For the more adventurous angler, there are now 3 out-camps that will be available. This will allow anglers to fish the headwaters of the Pluma, Itirizama, and Agua Negras rivers. These are virgin waters that will open up an even more remote and adventurous fishing experience. For more info on these camps please view the details and sample itinerary here: CLICK TO VIEW

 

Please contact me for more informtion regarding these trips: matt@tailwatersflyfishing.com

Infographic Resume

As a graphic designer, the thought of submitting a black & white, typed out resume makes me want to throw up in my mouth. I can understand that this type of resume is expected for certain industries, but not for me – NOT for my industry. To spare boredom on whomever has to look at this sucker, instead of typing one out, I designed one. My goal was to create a visually stimulating infographic that basically outlined my entire skill set. Also, designing the resume itself speaks for my abilities on the creative side of things. I can now send this to anyone as a pdf and they will instantly know who I am, what I’m good at, and get a sneak peek at my photography. Behold… my new infographic resume.

infographic resume

My Infographic Resume

This infographic was built in Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop. If you would like something similar designed for you, please feel free to contact me.

Gear Review: FStop Satori EXP

Here’s a pull from my latest newsletter:

A great backpack is hard to come by when it comes to not only carrying camera gear, but being comfortable and multifunctional. I know this because it’s taken me the better part of 5 years and more than 5 backpacks to figure this out! In comes the F-Stop Satori EXP. This pack is the largest of their Mountain Series lineup with a volume of 62 liters. The Satori is built with an internal aluminum frame, allowing for a comfortable ride when carrying a heavy load. After loading this thing up for my trip to Bolivia, it weighed in at fifty two pounds. I packed the following:

  • EOS Canon 7D w/battery grip
  • EOS Canon 30D w/battery grip
  • Canon EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM
  • Canon EF24-70mm f/2.8L
  • Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM
  • Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM
  • Canon Speedlight 430 EX II
  • Rode Shotgun Mic
  • Pocket Wizards (2)
  • Singh Ray ND-Grad Filters 4×6 (3)
  • GoPros (2)
  • MacBook Pro 15”
  • Miscellaneous cords and accessories

As you can see, massive amounts of gear can be stored. This all depends of course on which “ICU’s” (Internal Camera Unit) you choose to configure your pack with. In all, there are 9 sizes which allow you to configure your pack to prepare for any type of trip. With this control of customization, balancing camera gear, clothing, and whatever else you need is an absolute breeze.

The pack flat out, ROCKS!

My first day on the Securé, I knew that I’d made the right decision getting this pack. The terrain we were walking was NOT easy.  Not only were there endless amounts of rocks and boulders, but they were on the slippy side. Carrying over forty five pounds of camera everyday while walking sometimes up to seven miles, the comfort and balance of this pack made my job that much easier. The pack is equipped with a ton of pockets and sleeves making small accessory organization a no-brainer. If I could only boast about one thing on the Satori (or any F-Stop pack for that matter), is the fact that it is such a customizable unit. The construction is top notch as well.

View this product here: www.fstopgear.com

2nd Cover Shot on The Flyfish Journal

The Flyfish Journal Covers
Who’d-a-thunk that a small farm pond in the middle of Oklahoma would serve up my second cover shot? I sure didn’t! Looking back at that spring day, I honestly almost didn’t pull my underwater housing out – the water looked a bit dirty for me. Well, it turns out I was wrong and I made the right decision to shoot some underwater photos. “Dirty” was in fact stained as we sat less than a mile from the Red River. For those that don’t know the area, the soil is umm – red! The water that I thought was dirty was simply just off color.

After downloading the set of images I was pleasantly surprised. The combination of the bright sun overhead and the stained water worked magic in my favor. All of my UW images had incredible sun rays! Stick a fat bass tail in there and poof! An unexpected cover shot.

This serves as a great lesson. Never underestimate the potential of any location – even if that location doesn’t seem all that glamorous. The incredible difference between my only cover shots is funny to me – a giant trevally in the Seychelles for cover #1, and a bass tail in Oklahoma for cover #2. Couldn’t be more opposite!

Flipside Sport AW Product Review

I recently made my 5th trip down to Baja (Sea of Cortez side) – my ultimate paradise for many reasons. Among many other activities & sports that folks indulge in, I always go down to chase roosterfish from the beach, and of course, shoot photography. When mixing photography and fishing from the beach, multiple problems arise. How the hell am I going to carry a rod, a camera, lenses, a housing and most of all, be completely mobile and comfortable at the same time? How am I going to keep up with a sprinting angler all while keeping my gear close by so I can get that awesome action shot? In the past I can’t say I had a good answer for any of those questions – pain in the ass comes to mind. There are times when you must walk a mile from the ATV or truck in search of fish and if you don’t have the right gear, keeping photography equipment with you at all times can be difficult. In comes the Lowepro Flipside Sport AW – my savior.

Anticipating issues from past experiences, I knew that I HAD to find some kind of backpack that would allow me to carry my gear, was light and comfortable, and was easily accessible on the fly – literally. The nature of rooster-fishing from the beach almost always requires relocating, if not sprinting after fish. It’s when I choose to shoot images of an angler instead of fish myself, is when this pack really shines. I can have all my gear with me and comfortably run up and down the beach – stop – flip the pack around – snap a few shots – flip it back and continue on my way. All of that within seconds. There is no unstrapping, pulling the pack off, digging for the camera or any of that non-sense. It is stupid proof. To be 100% candid, this pack couldn’t be more perfect for this type of activity. It is now the permanent home for most of my gear when I travel. If you don’t have one, get one!

To summarize what I love about this bag…

- lightweight
- quick, easy access
- with a caribiner, I can attach my UW housing and secure it with bungees that are on pack
- tripod slot acts as great rod tube storage – no slipping and sliding
- bladder slot for agua!!
- plenty of room for gear, accessories, filters
- quality construction
- still works great for skinny guys like me

What I was able to fit…

- Canon 7D + battery grip w/ 24-70mm 2.8/L
- 3 Singh Ray 4×6 filters
- 2 Polarized filters
- 10-22mm f3.5
- extra memory cards
- Canon 430EX flash
- lots o’ water
- Aquatech housing on outside secured by bungees and carabiner


Here’s a short video to give you a visual on how this bag makes a photographer’s life better…

Lowepro Flipside Sport AW Series from Lowepro on Vimeo.

Surface Film II – Prints for Sale

Last year I was fortunate enough to be included in great company. One of my images was selected to show in a brand new art show, called the Surface Film. The Surface Film is a one month showing of top fly fishing images from the best photographers in the country. All funds raised are donated to Trout Unlimited Greenbacks Organization. Due to it’s popularity last year, they held another great show this year, Surface Film II. One of my most favorite images to date, a “Crab’s Eye View” was included in this year’s gallery. There are some outstanding images and I feel honored to be a part of this show.

Crab's Eye View

The folks over at Midcurrent.com now have the gallery live and prints are available for purchase. Go on over and check it out. If you feel so inclined, please make a purchase and help raise money for this great organization.