Battenkill in August

by Fire Girl Jess on August 20, 2014

Jackie Jordan logging some two-handed practice on the Battenkill River.

Jackie Jordan logs some two-handed practice on the Battenkill River.

Yesterday after work, I needed some time to unplug. Away from the computer. Away from the phone.

Water so often seems to be the answer.

Orvis friend Jackie and I hit the neighboring Battenkill River. I clambered into waders (skirt be damned), rigged a rod, and slung the camera over my shoulder.

It was a good night.

Can’t wait to see fall colors up here.

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Today on Chi Wulff: Ten Questions with Frogman Outdoors

by Fire Girl Jess on August 17, 2014

The Chi Wulff gang is not shy in our support and admiration for the armed forces. Some of my very best friends are (or have been) in the special operations community, and hands-down my favorite photojournalism assignments have been spent on military bases and wading through nighttime field training exercises. Lots of respect for that group.

And so, at IFTD last month, when Rob Snowhite, an Alexandria, Virginia based guide and podcaster introduced me to three gentlemen with a pretty cool story, morale for the day improved greatly. These were the founders of Frogman Outdoors, a small nonprofit organization which provides ill, injured, and wounded SOCOM veterans a recreational rehabilitation opportunity via guided saltwater fishing trips on the Florida coast.

Naturally, I was interested. After a long talk in the aisleways of IFTD and several emails since, I’ve been excited to learn a bit more about the impressive team behind the organization, and their niche mission to help their brethren.

I asked the guys if they’d be willing to take a whack at ten questions for Chi Wulff, and here’s what came back a few days ago. Head on over and give it a read!

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I was surprised and very flattered when Chi Wulff editor Mark (full disclosure, also my dad) sent me a link to Mat Trevors’ post about Chi Wulff and the McGlothlin family adventures. Wow, nothing better to bump up writing inspiration (and nice to know people actually read this drivel.)

Thanks so much for the kind words, Mat! We’re uber-flattered.

For some weekend reading, head on over to Mat’s blog, The Saltwater Journal, and imbibe some Pacific Northwest fishing goodness.

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Fishy Saturdays

by Fire Girl Jess on August 16, 2014

High summer on the Missouri. Angler: Zack Williams.

High summer on the Missouri. Angler: Zack Williams.

It seems like every night this week I’ve been sorting through the archives to cobble together submissions in reply to a variety of photo calls. Fly-fishing magazines. Equestrian magazines. Travel / tourism publications. Blogs. Websites.

love it. So fun to dig though the old stuff and see what I’ve forgotten about.

These two are a couple of edits that slipped past me last summer during the busy season on the Missouri River project. The big, scenic shots are fun, impressive, make the money and all that, but sometimes I totally fall in love with the little moments that happen around those big impressive shots. Somehow they’re often taken when driving home from the fly shop with the camera in the passenger seat, looking for shots to capture.

The little stuff.

And, honestly, that’s about it today. Fishy pictures for a day where, hopefully, you are out fishing.

Rainy day bliss.

Rainy day bliss (waiting out the thunderstorm).

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On Assignment: What’s in the Camera Bag?

by Fire Girl Jess on August 12, 2014

McGlothlin_VSF_jump4This past Saturday was spent covering the $50,000 finale Grand Prix at the Vermont Summer Festival Horse Show. Held nearby in East Dorset, the class marked the final Saturday in six weeks of competition. The event draws riders from across the US, as well as a few from Canada and Europe, and provided the area with an influx of summer tourists eager to enjoy all southern Vermont has to offer, when they were not posting about in a saddle.

I’ve covered a few of the prior Vermont Grand Prix on spec—shooting stock for myself and pitching for editorial purposes—and enjoyed shooting this final class on assignment for the industry-leading equine publication, The Chronicle of the Horse. The Chronicle provides show coverage, interviews and a variety of training tips for the equestrian elite, and is widely read throughout that community.

It was invigorating, as it somehow always is, to slip back into reporting mode, and it made me happy to photograph the class and then spend some time interviewing the winning rider, Julie Welles of Wellington, Florida.

Somehow balancing a camera in one hand and an audio recorder / notebook in the other feels so perfectly natural.

As I was transcribing my notes and writing the article Sunday, camped out on the balance ball / folding table desk that is Fire Girl HQ, an interesting email bounced into the inbox. It was from an Irish rider with an interest in journalism, asking what gear I took along for a day at the show. I promised him a breakdown, and here it is:

McGlothlin_VSF_jump61) Camera body, long lens, short lens. The 5D Mark II is a workhorse, paint-chipped and careworn as it may be. For covering equine events, I like to bring along a long lens (70-300mm), which remains on the camera for most of the day, and a wide-angle lens (17-40mm) for scale, scenic shots and details. Both present a unique perspective, and it’s always worth carrying around the extra glass for the shots that need a different view. Be wary of changing lenses at shows, though, as it’s often dusty—muck and camera sensors are not allies (see point number 2).

2) Cleaning kit. Ringside is dirty—I’ve been splattered with mud while covering rodeos, and have yet to emerge from any horse show without dust-covered equipment and the uniquely acrid, sweet smell of barns. If you’re shooting correctly, you are down and dirty next to the ring, and the state of your gear will reflect it. Lens cleaning wipes and a soft cloth always come along in the pack; I carry them in a little Altoids tin so they’re easy to transport and find within the depths of the bag. I also keep a Buff (a long, rounded piece of lightweight fabric) in the bag for use an impromptu drizzle / dust storm cover.

3) The little stuff. Always carry more memory cards than you think you’ll need, and a spare (charged!) battery will never go amiss. Filters are a personal preference—I rarely use them when covering action sports, instead preferring a protective UV filter as a guard against flying gravel, but when shooting scenics around the show grounds, a circular polarizer can come in handy for certain light situations.

4) Press pass. While additional accreditation is required at the larger shows—Spruce Meadows, for example, has a lovely press kit and a spectacular press office from which to file stories—I always bring along national press accreditation as well. Never hurts, and the ID tag around my neck lets riders know I’m not some creeper zooming in on them in the warm-up ring.

5) Water / Snacks. Show food is always expensive—a lesson learned from my own days in the saddle. It always pays to bring along a small water bottle and a few protein bars to keep energy up during a long workday.

6) Pay attention to your clothing. For more formal shows (i.e. the Master’s Tournament at Spruce) I’ll go more formal, wearing nice jeans, equestrian-looking boots (Blundstones are workhorses and look the part), a nice blouse and a tailored jacket. Even through the jacket looks formal, it boasts plenty of hidden pockets for lens caps, cleaning cloths, etc. Function over fashion, always. For smaller shows, I’ll let myself relax a bit more; this past weekend I wore quick-dry pants and a lightweight, short-sleeved button-down. Best to err on the side of professional, but be sure you are comfortable. Horse show assignments mean long days, and comfort will surpass all else on your mind come the evening rounds.

7) The camera bag. I prefer a shoulder-type bag for horse shows, as it allows me to change gear on the run if needed, and is easy to set down if I find a good location to shoot from. Backpacks will always reign if I’ve a long distance to walk, but the versatility and practicality of a shoulder bag is hard to beat. My favorite of the past several years has been ThinkTank Photo’s Retrospective 40, a durable, low profile canvas bag purpose-made for photojournalists.

Horse shows are a fantastic example of a photo-rich environment. From the traditional in-ring photos, to the warm-up rings (my favorite!), to quiet moments in the stable row, there’s something to photograph every which way you turn. Don’t be afraid to look beyond the expected images—a horse over a fence, the sharp turn around the barrel—and instead look for the unexpected: an international rider spending a pensive moment checking his girth before mounting, a young bronc rider saying a quick prayer before slipping into the chute. Those are the moments that really bring the emotion full circle… they are relatable.

And, as always, the most important thing is simply getting out there and getting a bit dusty yourself.McGlothlin_VSF_jump1

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Jake Jordan tries her hand at poling the skiff.

Jake Jordan tries her hand at poling the skiff.

Finally made it out and about for some watery adventures this past weekend, stepping outside the familiar chasing gar on Lake Champlain. Read the full report on Chi Wulff!

In other news, it’s been a week of head colds, equestrian assignments and falling asleep at the desk late nights working at home (not so good when your chair is a balance ball—makes for rather rude awakenings). Hoping the coming week is maybe a bit more caffeine-laden…

Gar on! The armor plating is something else entirely...

Gar on! The armor plating is something else entirely…

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Assignments Ringside

by Fire Girl Jess on August 4, 2014

It's all good 'til it goes bad.

It’s all good ’til it goes bad.

FGP_Blog_3Another Saturday afternoon spent at the Vermont Summer Festival photographing the Grand Prix. This week there were twenty riders; anticipating a larger crowd at next week’s $50,000 finale Grand Prix.

Only two of the twenty pairs went clean in the first round, and two retired after multiple refusals. Lots of lines that had to be taken either short or long, unless you were riding an 18-hand behemoth, which one lucky rider was.

The traditional peanut gallery had assembled alongside the grandstands, offering all manner of vocal and pantomimed advice to each rider. My personal favorite was the man who sat behind my ringside post and loudly commented on each of the first ten riders—and was egregiously wrong in each assumption. Rounds ten through fifteen he began to stop giving advance commentary and waited until things actually happened to vocalize his thoughts. That, too, failed.

For the last five he gave commentary an average of two fences back. Horse going over fence number five? “Well, he was a little tight into three.”

Priceless.

But as always, the horses were a pleasure.FGP_Blog

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