Arrowleaf Balsamroot Sunset. This vibrant photo was taken at 8:45 p.m. in early June. After putting the kids to bed Coyle noticed the sunset was building so he headed up to a spot that overlooks Jack Creek, Ennis, and the Madison Valley. This group of arrowleaf balsamroot stuck out from the sage brush, so captured the magic. It was published as a full page image in a Montana Outdoors photo issue.

Just go shoot

Capturing Montana’s wild with photographer Ed Coyle

If you follow Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks on Instagram, you’ve probably seen Ennis photographer Ed Coyle’s work recently. He was invited by FWP to “take over” the feed in late February and early March, highlighting his Montana winter with photos of cougars, landscapes and more. 

Simultaneously, he was posting on his own page with ski photos. But not just any ski shots – these ones happened to be in the dark. He and his neighbors and friends, father and son Ross and Emmett Lingle, headed to the backcountry for some unique night skiing. It was a challenge for both skier and photographer alike. Skiing in complete darkness through deep powder, they were suddenly blasted in the face by multiple flashes, then forced to readjust to the darkness in milliseconds to avoid a fall. It took a while, but Coyle finally got the shots he was after.

Coyle is originally from Connecticut and his love for skiing brought him to Bozeman in 2006 following a stint in Salt Lake. He’s now the manager of more than 5,000-acres of ranchland in the heart of Jack Creek drainage where he lives with his wife and two kids, ages five and two.

His passion for photography began before the digital era, developing 35 mm prints in a darkroom in high school. Photography courses and darkroom sessions continued in college while Coyle pursued his business and marketing degree. 

“But I was never seriously trained in photography,” Coyle said during a recent interview in the yurt at Big Sky Resort’s Madison base area. “I’ve just been shooting and shooting.” 

He’s got several cameras, but his main shooter is a mirrorless Sony A7 R2. It’s got a 24-70 mm lens. The versatile setup allows him to capture everything from landscapes to portraits. For underwater images Coyle uses a Sony A6000. 

He also has a Sony RX10, which he won as part of an B&H Photo macro photo Instagram contest. His photo of a spider using a Sony 30 macro lens went into a pool of more than 1,500 others and his photo was chosen at random. “I was expecting a little camera strap or something, and in the mail came this amazing camera,” Coyle said. “I was like, sweet!”

You can’t get the shot if you don’t have the gear. “My camera is always with me,” said Coyle. “It’s pretty much surgically attached. So I’m always kind of ready when something presents itself. And living in southwest Montana, it happens every day. It’s so pretty here, and there’s such easy access.” 

A novice photographer recently approached Coyle looking for advice. “Just go. Just go shoot,” Coyle said recalling the conversation. “That’s the biggest thing. I don’t know how many shutter clicks I do a week, but 90 percent of those are garbage. But I’m not after the final product either, I’m mostly doing it for the enjoyment of it. So, yeah, just get out there and do it. It sounds simple, but you can’t do anything without practice.”

Check out more of Coyle’s work at www.edcoylephotography.com or on Instagram at @edcoylephotography.

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