Engbretson Underwater Photography

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News From Behind the Scenes at Engbretson Underwater Photo and Stories about the Freshwater Environments We Visit.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Lake Sturgeon Survey

David Sweet holds a Lake Sturgeon during the annual sturgeon survey conducted on Legend Lake, Menominee County, Wisconsin.

I recently spent a couple of days on Legend Lake with folks from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Menominee Tribal fish biologists.  They were conducting their annual survey of Lake Sturgeon.  Using gill nets, they captured many Lake Sturgeon which were subsequently measured, weighed and tagged with electronic IDs before they were released.   

Lake Sturgeon are regularly stocked in Legend Lake and data collected from recaptured and captured fish provides information on growth, movement patterns and health of the fish.  Continued success of population assessment data allows the tribe to make accurate management decisions in lake sturgeon management.  Currently, there is an abundance of Lake Sturgeon roaming the waters of the Legend Lake Chain.  For more information, contact Menominee Tribal Conservation Department fisheries biologist Don Reiter at djreiter@mitw.org

To see more pictures of this work, click here to view images in my Fisheries Management Gallery.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Lake Michigan Salmon Getting Bigger

Chinook Salmon swimming up a Lake Michigan tributary stream during the fall spawning run.

Returning Salmon in Lake Michigan appear to be in great shape in 2011 according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.   Fisheries manager Scott Hansen reports that the Chinook return at Door County's Strawberry Creek took a very positive turn after generally declining trends in recent years of numbers and size of fish returning to the weir.  "We handled approximately 5,400 Chinooks over 6 harvest days this season. Our hatchery system collected about 2.3 million eggs for next year's Chinook stocking efforts. The improved physical condition of the fish has yet to be quantified but was quite evident while handling fish throughout the run. The average size of eggs increased considerably this year from last year, another encouraging sign. Although some increased numbers of fish stocked at Strawberry Creek the last couple years can account for some of the increase in returns, the remainder is simply a higher proportion of fish returning."

I was able to photograph many of the returning fish and the images can be viewed in my salmon gallery.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Underwater Smallmouth Bass in 3D wins Best of Show at 2011 ICAST

"Exploring Smallmouth", wins Best of Show Award for Best New Giftware Product at 2011 ICAST Show.
I'm thrilled to announce that my underwater image of a smallmouth bass produced as a 3D image by the 3-D Picture Store Inc. won a "Best in Show" Award-Giftware category at the 2011 ICAST Show in Las Vegas.  This is a pretty impressive honor and my partners at 3-D Picture Store are as thrilled as I am.  I think this recognition will help to generate widespread distribution for our entire line of amazing underwater fish pictures in 3-D.  Stay tuned for further updates.  To order this product or others in our line, visit 3-D Picture Store.com

More on the ICAST Show:
ICAST 2011 featured 427 exhibitors filling 1,270 booths, with 2,100 buyers and 530 media representatives in attendance. International ICAST attendance continues to increase with 822 attendees from 53 countries represented at the show.
The New Product Showcase "Best of Show" Awards
Making up a special section of ICAST's 400,000-square-foot show floor, the New Product Showcase provides unique visibility for the latest innovations in sportfishing gear and accessories. The submitted products compete in the "Best of Show" competition where buyers and media members judge each new product. This year, the Showcase included 21 categories.

2011 ICAST New Product Showcase Award Winners
Best of Show – Giftware - 3D Picture Store, Inc., 3D "Exploring Smallmouth" Picture
Best of Show – Apparel - Frabill, Inc., Frabill Suit
Best of Show – Boat - Hobie Cat, Hobie Mirage Revolution 11
Best of Show - Boating Accessory - JL Marine Systems, Inc., 10 Ft Power-Pole Blade Edition
Best of Show – Combo - Daiwa Corporation, Daiwa D-Shock DSH-4Bi Combo
Best of Show – Electronics - Johnson Outdoors Marine Electronics, Humminbird 1158c DI Combo
Best of Show - Eyewear – Costa, Costa Women's Collection
Best of Show - Fishing Accessory - G. Pucci & Sons, Inc., P-Line Sparrowhawk
Best of Show - Fly Fishing Accessory – VestPac, DriftPac
Best of Show - Fly Fishing Reel - Temple Fork Outfitters, BVK Fly Reel
Best of Show - Fly Fishing Rod - G. Loomis, Inc., Pro4x
Best of Show - Freshwater Reel - Pure Fishing, Inc., Abu Garcia Revo MGX
Best of Show - Freshwater Rod - G. Loomis, Inc., GL2

Friday, July 8, 2011

North Lakeland Discovery Center

I'll be doing another presentation at the North Lakeland Discovery Center in Manitowish Waters, WI on Tuesday August 2nd at 8PM.   In a brief 1 hour presentation, I'll be showing some of my underwater fish pictures and talking about what I see underwater in the lakes and rivers of Northern Wisconsin.  For more information, please click here.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Lake Tomahawk Muskie on Cover of June 2011 Muskie Magazine

Reprinted from Muskie Magazine, the membership publication of Muskie Inc.
About the COVER:

For the fourth time in the past six years our cover features an underwater muskie photo taken by Eric Engbretson. This one is a tiger muskie photographed in Lake Tomahawk, Oneida County, Wisconsin in early May last year. The size of a fish is always hard to estimate underwater where everything looks about 25% bigger, but this one is around 40 inches.  Eric wrote, “This fish was a real trooper, a very cooperative model that stayed mostly in one place while I took many pictures. We probably spent 15 to 20 minutes together eye to eye, and she waited patiently while I composed every shot.  Every once in a while you meet a fish that behaves like a super model for you. It’s almost like they want their picture taken and they seem to pose for the camera.”  Eric also pointed out an interesting thing about this fish; the jaw, on the right side, has a distinct indentation - possibly an old hook injury or perhaps a deformity?  We hope you enjoy this intriguing underwater photo of a unique muskie.  Eric Engbretson is a professional underwater photographer specializing in images of freshwater game fish in their natural habitat.  You can visit his site to view many other fascinating underwater photos: http://www.underwaterfishphotos.com/

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Living on the Lake Magazine Interview

For the May 2011 issue of Living on the Lake Magazine, writer Laurie Lenten interviewed me about my work.  I thought she did a masterful job of telling the complicated story of what I do, and how it all began.  Since so many people ask me how I got started, I thought I'd reprint Laurie's article here. 

* (c)2011 Journal Community Publishing Group, reproduced with permission.

Northwoods Photographer Captures The World We Don't See
By Laurie Lenten

As a child, Eric Engbretson would sit for hours and stare into his father’s aquariums, imagining what it would be like to be in there, under the water, swimming about with the tropical fish. A child’s fantasy, to be sure.

Until that summer day in 1993, says Eric, when he was sitting on his porch just looking at the small lake on which he lives in Florence and, “For some reason, I noticed how clear the water was.” Whether an epiphany sparked by the natural surroundings or a simple act of fate, Eric soon found himself at a local chain store buying a swim mask and fins. “It was a complete disaster,” he remembers of the buy-on-the-fly equipment, but once in the water his attentions turned elsewhere and he says, “I couldn’t believe the clarity and the beauty.”
Ill-fitting equipment aside, Eric was hooked. “I started going into the water more and more, and thought, ‘I need to get photos of this,’” he says, recalling when the seed of a new career option was planted in an off-handed sort of way. “I bought a $20 underwater camera and it was another total disaster. The camera leaked, the photos were awful, but I thought to myself, ‘You know what, with the proper equipment, I bet this could work.’”

It was a long shot, considering Eric had no formal training in either photography or underwater diving. At the time, he was working in radio broadcasting, which was a far cry from working anywhere on, near, or in the water, let alone under it. “I wasn’t happy with my job. Things in radio had changed so much from when I first got my start in the late ‘70s and I just didn’t like it very much anymore. I wanted to do something different, but I didn’t know what it was I wanted to do,” he says.

Armed with a copy of Writer’s Digest, Eric says it intrigued him to discover that lots of magazines paid money for photos. It intrigued him even more when he started looking at the fishing magazines he was prone to read and discovered that many of them expressed an interest in buying underwater photographs.

“That’s when the light went on and I realized that I could be the guy to take the photos for these guys. So I bought better equipment and with that better equipment, I got better awful photos,” he says.

Time, a photographer’s best friend, is what he needed, which is what led him to leave the radio industry altogether in 1997. But economic reality set in quickly, making it clear that man cannot live on selling a few underwater fish photos here and there alone. “I took a job as a night desk clerk in a hotel, but after a few years of that, I realized I needed more time for taking photos.”

In 2007, Eric quit his part-time job and has made his living ever since then with underwater photography alone.  "I was convinced I could do it and I was right. The more time you have to devote to taking photos, the better you get. To make a living at this, you have to do it full-time.”
These days, Eric spends about seven months out of the year underwater in the lakes and rivers of the upper Midwest, immersed in the business of photographing fish in their natural environment. “In the early days I was just snorkeling in shallow water and taking photos, and I realized that I needed to get deeper,” he says. “But I was told that you couldn’t become a certified diver if you couldn’t swim. I couldn’t swim, I still can’t.”

Being a tenacious do-it-yourselfer, Eric set about looking for other ways to dive deeper and longer without being certified. “I found a guy in Florida that sells what’s called the Super Snorkel, which is basically a Honda engine that sits on a truck tire inner tube. The engine powers a compressor that pumps air 30, 60, 90 feet down. It’s also very safe compared to earlier models of this type. I can stay underwater for five hours on a quart of gas.”
Eric still uses his Super Snorkel, even though today he is a certified diver complete with the tools of his trade–wet suit, weights and a regulator. “It allows me more freedom to move about without using heavy air tanks,” he says. Most of the work Eric does is at depths of between 12 and 17 feet because ambient surface light is so important to capturing the stunning photos he takes.

Also important to his work are ample doses of patience because, as Eric says, fish in the wild (or any fish for that matter) don’t exactly strike a pose, and a working knowledge of lakes and rivers. “I have certain lakes where I know the fish are that I need. I don’t work on assignment, I take stock photographs that publications and people buy from me, so I am free to shoot any number of types of fish.”

Moving freely about the waters of northern and northwestern Wisconsin, the Upper Peninsula, lower Michigan and Door County, as well as southern waters in the Ozarks, Eric captures fish in their seasons and the habitats in which they live. His work is up close and personal, revealing a watery underworld that is rarely seen. “Most of a lake, like a tree, is hidden. We only see the surface,” says Eric.

Under that surface, however, is a world teeming with life. It was that world that Eric was asked to share with visitors in April at this year’s Wisconsin Lakes Convention in Green Bay. Titled “A Fish Eye View of Lake Life,” Eric’s slide presentation focused on how people can protect and enhance lake habitat. “I have never been to a lakes convention in Wisconsin before and I felt like a fish out of water. I’m just a guy with a camera. I just document what I see.”

And Eric says what he’s seeing are lakes in flux. “I never see the same thing twice. There are a lot of changes going on in our lakes. Some are clearer, some are not. There are a lot of natural cycles, which means things are constantly different.”

Working from his own experience and reading what he needs to know as he goes along, Eric considers the lakes of Vilas and Oneida counties his ‘office’ Monday through Friday, April through October. Some of his favorites include Two Sisters, Hasbrook, Big Carr and Dorothy. “Two Sisters’ clarity improves as the year goes on, while Sugar Camp Lake is crystal clear, but devoid of structure. Arbor Vitae, on the other hand, is filled with fish, but is very unclear. So clarity doesn’t always go hand-in-hand with finding fish,” he says.

But find them he does and, says Eric, a lot of the shots he gets are a matter of pure luck. “You don’t have all day to consider composition. You can’t get a fish to pose, so you just get the shot the best you can. Pictures, however, never do justice to what you actually see down there. It is truly amazing.”

Eric’s photos are proof enough of that.  For more information on Eric’s work, log onto underwaterfishphotos.com.

Laurie Lenten is a freelance writer living in Rhinelander.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Musky Hunter Uses 3D Image on Cover of June/July 2011 Issue

From Musky Hunter Magazine:

Subscribers of Musky Hunter magazine have been treated to a free three-dimensional image affixed to the cover of the June/July 2011 issue.  “The image is courtesy of 3D Picture Store, Inc., the newest and most unique outdoor art company to hit the picture world in a long time,” said Musky Hunter Editor Jim Saric. “With the 3D movie craze going on all across America, founder Jay Garstecki decided to combine his passion for the outdoors and open 3D Picture Store.”

3D Picture Store introduced its first set of four freshwater fish prints at the Milwaukee Muskie Expo in February 2011.  “The response was overwhelming,” said Garstecki. “We now have six freshwater titles including two musky images, as well as others featuring largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye and panfish.”

The three-dimensional image is called a lenticular. It is reverse-printed on thin, durable plastic, will last forever, and is manufactured in the United States. You do not need 3D glasses to view one.

3D Picture Store is developing new images including trout, salmon, northern pike, catfish and saltwater fish, and plans to have them ready for the ICast trade show in July 2011.

To see 3D Picture Store’s full lineup, visit www.3DPictureStore.com. 3D Pictures are also available at select Gander Mountain stores. Both framed and unframed versions of each image are available in two different sizes.

Newsstand copies of Musky Hunter feature the 3D Picture Store image, but in a two-dimensional format. Copies of the June/July issue with the 3D cover are available from Musky Hunter while supplies last. Call 1-800-23-MUSKY.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Minnesota Waters

I've been invited to speak at the annual 2011 Minnesota Waters Lakes and River Convention with my pal Pat Rivers from the Minnesota DNR and Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership.  Pat's a great guy and our talk is intended to call attention to fish habitat-why it's important, and what lake-front property owners can do to protect, preserve and enhance it. 

"Learn about the importance of a healthy lake from a fish’s perspective! Noted underwater photographer Eric Engbretson will discuss and illustrate what fish need in a lake to be happy, healthy, and abundant. Then DNR Fisheries Biologist Pat Rivers will provide ideas for behaviors, projects, and advocacy that citizens can undertake to maintain and improve fish habitat in their local lake or stream. Pat will also discuss funding and technical assistance that may be available to citizen groups, as well as current and planned projects for improving fish habitat."

The conference is April 27-29, 2011 in St. Cloud, MN.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

2011 Wisconsin Lakes Convention

The annual Wisconsin Lakes Convention is an event I've always wanted to go to.  This year, I've been asked to present a selection of my underwater fish pictures and talk a bit about what I see underwater in the many lakes I visit.  I'm really thrilled to be speaking to such a passionate and knowledgeable group.  The Wisconsin Lakes Convention is April 12-14, 2011 in Green Bay.  For more information and the full agenda, click here.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

3-D Fish Prints Are Selling Like Hotcakes!

A customer at the 3D Picture Store booth at the 2011 Madison Fishing Expo marveling at the amazing 3D effect of the image, tries to reach out and touch the fish in the picture.
 I just got back from the Madison Fishing Expo in Madison, WI where our 3-D Pictures Store booth was swamped all weekend with customers.  Sales were excellent!   It was fun to watch the reaction of people who looked at the 3-D fish pictures and reached out to touch the fish.  Since the fish appear to be "floating outside the picture", your hand seems to go right through them.  It's an interesting effect that brought smiles, giggles and various other exclamations of amazement from the crowd.  I want to personally thank everyone who came by the booth.  I got a chance to meet so many great people there, and I appreciated all the compliments on my underwater fish photography.  Jay from the 3D Picture Store says to stay tuned.  They will be adding more of my fish images to their line-up soon.  Check back here or at The 3D Picture Store soon for updates.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

3-D Fish Posters A Hit!

Our 3-D fish pictures were a hit at the recent Milwaukee Muskie show.  Sales were brisk and interest was high.  We've added a few new shows where we'll be selling these amazing artworks.  Here's the updated schedule.  If you attend one of these shows, be sure to look for the 3-D Fish Pictures Store booth.  You'll be amazed at our images, which now include six different underwater images in two different sizes each.

Madison Fishing Expo
The Exhibition Hall at the Alliant Energy Center
1881 Expo Mall East
Madison, Wisconsin 53713
Friday - February 25th 4:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M.
Saturday - February 26th 9:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M.
Sunday - February 27th 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M

Milwaukee Outdoors Show
Wisconsin Exposition Center State Fair Park
8200 W. Greenfield Ave.
West Allis, WI 53214
Wednesday-Friday, March 9-11, 12:00-9:00
Saturday, March 12, 10:00-9:00
Sunday, March 13, 10:00-6:00

Ultimate Outdoors Show
Devos Place
303 Monroe Ave NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Thursday, March 17, 3:00pm - 9:30pm
Friday, March 18, 11:00am - 9:30pm
Saturday, March 19, 10:00am - 9:00pm
Sunday, March 20, 10:00am - 5:00pm

Minnesota Muskie Expo Show
Ganglehoff Center
Concordia University
Southwest corner of Snelling and Marshall
St. Paul, Minnesota
Friday April 8th, 2011
2:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday April 9th, 2011
10:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Sunday April 10th, 2011
10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

3D Fish Photos


I'm pleased to announce the first four images in a new line of amazing 3D prints that will astound you. Using lenticular 3D technology, these prints actually look like you're holding an aquarium in your hands. Each underwater image has remarkable depth and it looks like you can "stick your hand into the picture". You have to see it to believe it. For prints and on-line ordering information, click here for the 3D Fish Picture Store, my exclusive partner for these unique prints.   These images will look great on your den wall or in your cottage. This unique artwork is a must have for any fisherman or fish lover! 
These stunning prints will be on display at the 3D Fish Pictures booth at the following upcoming events:

Michigan Muskie Show
MB&T Expo Center
3775 S. Custer Rd.
Monroe, MI 48161
Saturday February 5th, 2011
Sunday February. 6th, 2011

Milwaukee Muskie Expo
Wisconsin State Fair Park
640 S 84th St
West Allis, WI 53214-1438
Friday February 11th, 2011
12:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday February 12th, 2011
9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Sunday February 13th, 2011
9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Madison Fishing Expo
Alliant Energy Center
1881 Expo Mall East
Madison WI, 53713
Friday February 25th, 2011
4:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday February 26th, 2011
9:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Sunday February 27th, 2011
9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Minnesota Muskie Expo Show
Ganglehoff Center
Concordia University
Southwest corner of Snelling and Marshall
St. Paul, Minnesota
Friday April 8th, 2011
2:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday April 9th, 2011
10:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Sunday April 10th, 2011
10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Framed Artwork

Occasionally I'm asked if framed, matted and "ready to hang" prints of my underwater fish photography are available for sale.  I do offer a few select photos through the Indian Creek Art Company of Marion, Iowa.  If you're interested in beautiful framed fish prints to hang in your den or your cottage, please contact Kyle Robinson at Indian Creek Art.  He does a masterful job with my pictures which he has in sizes 11x14, 16x20 and 20x24.  He'll be happy to assist you with your order and will ship anywhere.  Click here for the link to his website. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

North Lakeland Discovery Center Lecture

I'm pleased to announce that I'll be making another public presentation.  I'll be showing a selection of my underwater photos and speaking about some of the lakes I'm familiar with in Northern Wisconsin including Presque Isle Lake, Star Lake and the Manitowish River.  On the evening of February 10, I'll be speaking at the North Lakeland Discovery Center near Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin.  For more information, please click here.