Making the Cover of Karperwereld & The Legend Of The DuvelDudes

By Callum McInerney-Riley

If any of you reading this happen to follow me on Facebook, or Instagram, you will know I almost exclusively post pictures of fish or cameras. It’s kinda my thing – a very niche, very boring, highly mundane ‘thing’ 

Well, fishing has been my thing for over 20 years. It’s actually the reason I got into photography, video and social media in the first place so I guess I owe it a lot.

This month I was lucky enough to shoot the cover of the dutch magazine De Karperwereld! If you’ve not figured that one out yet, it means The Carp World in English. 

The photograph is of my good friend Chris De Clerq who had got up early that morning and managed to catch a beautiful 30lb common carp.

It was a stunning, dark fish and the scene was simply magic. It was early autumn at this point, so the colours all around were just incredible. With a cold night just passed the morning sun lit up the vibrant autumnal scene making a breathtaking environment. As anglers and image makers, we knew these were the most ideal conditions to capture the essence of fishing in an image. We also knew that with the right photograph, the fish and the location, it had all the necessary ingredients to make a cover photo. 

Technically, it was a very tricky scene to capture. We both looked at the lock gate where Chris had landed the fish and knew, that was the best place in which to take the photo. The symmetry of the concrete against the beauty of nature just makes for a fantastic shot.

Getting the exposure to balance was undoubtedly the hardest part. The sunlight was coming from behind the subject and it was rather harsh sunlight. Even with the best of cameras the light levels would surpass what the sensor in the camera can capture. In an ordinary exposure, either the sky would become white and washed out or Chris and the fish would be black or in deep shadow.

In order to capture it properly, I decided to pop a flash on Chris to illuminate him and bring him out of the shadows. The fish was dark, he was wearing dark colours so it really needed to be done to add some dynamics to the shot. Kristof held it off-camera to Chris’s right which looked great as it feels as if it could be reflected sunlight. Having it pointed right at Chris has a lot of advantages. One is that it does a much better job of trying to overpower bright sunlight. Two, you can be selective with what you want lit up and lastly, you can control the shadows that it casts. 

After I’d shot a few good exposures of Chris and played with the height on the shot, I knew I needed to do something about the sky and the foreground. I wasn’t getting the colour depth that was true to what I was seeing with my eyes. For that reason I began bracketing a few exposures with the camera in the same position. For those that don’t know, bracketing an exposure is where you shoot multiple shots at different exposures. In my case, I shot 2-stops ‘overexposed’ and 2-stops ‘underexposed’  by shooting different shutter speeds. This allowed me to get a darker sky and a lighter foreground with much better colour saturation than what I was getting in a single exposure.

When I got the images home, I edited a colour to see which ones were best and started going to work on a final once I’d decided. I took three images that were taken in the same spot and blended them in photoshop to make sure the colour and tone was spot on.

All-in-all I was really happy with the result and to see it on the cover of a magazine is just amazing.

The story that accompanies the shot is all about the adventures of the #DuvelDudes but unfortunately, it’s all in dutch – so I’ll never understand the secrets that it holds.

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