Best of 2015 – oopoomoo Best for Darwin Wiggett

This year, Darwin and I decided to curate each other’s images to select what we felt was that photographer’s oopoomoo best for 2015. Just as we stipulated in the oopoomoo Newsletter announcing the challenge, an oopoomoo best had to meet three criteria:

  • represent who they are photographically as an artist or demonstrate something they learned this year
  • be as well-composed as they can do at their learning level, and
  • be taken ethically.

You can see what Darwin picked as my oopoomoo best here. And here is the image I’ve chosen as Darwin’s best image of 2015.

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

In pouring over Darwin’s work for this year, I’ve noticed a shift in his usual subject matter. Instead of photographing grand landscapes, Darwin has started to concentrate more on intimate studies and abstractions. Some of the same elements of style are present in his work, making them a ‘Darwin shot’, such as a fascination with light and shape and an attraction to colours and tonal contrast. But I sense with this image a refinement perhaps of ‘seeing’, an engagement with the mind rather than just senses. There is many layers to this image and it is quietly intriguing.

This image was taken at Lake O’Hara, probably one of the most iconic of places in the Canadian Rockies. We were standing far uphill on the trail to Opabin Plateau and Mary Lake was being covered by a giant shadow cast by Oderay Mountain as the sun set behind it. Darwin had to work fast to frame and make this shot before the light was gone and the lake covered in shadow. When photographers say that they refuse to photograph iconic places, I feel sorry for them; I suspect they are insecure and may suffer from a lack of imagination. A great photographer can always make a place his own as Darwin does here.

About the Author

Photographing the incredible beauty of natural things, filming quirky videos, trying new foods with unpronounceable names, curling up with a good book, sharing ideas on how to live lighter on the Earth...these are a few of my favourite things!

15 Comments

  1. Roger Lee
    December 28, 2015

    Too good to photograph iconic places? Wow, I always get those to start a baseline, then branch out from there. Sounds kinda smug imho….

    Roger Lee

    Reply
    • Darwin Wiggett
      December 28, 2015

      Roger, your approach sounds perfect to us….

    • Samantha Chrysanthou
      December 29, 2015

      Roger, you misunderstand. I am not saying we believe we’re too good to photograph iconic places – good grief, that would be arrogant! I’m saying the reverse – I think photographers should think less ‘icon or no icon’ and just shoot for themselves wherever they may be.

  2. Christian
    December 28, 2015

    Hi Guys! This is indeed an amazing shot! Kudos to both of you! Samantha, I must take slight exception to your characterization of photogs who decry the “usual” spots, however. I also eschew those areas and perhaps my body of work may suffer for it, but I think a good photographer should be ableto find beauty in a junkyard. Sometimes it feels as though I may be re-inventing the wheel by following everyone else to the well-known spots, but I do realize that once you’re off the beaten path in those areas, you can find wonders no-one has yet found. Insecurity and lack of imagination may not be the problem, we may just want to walk our own path, where the wild things are and where we may be certain of making something we feel is original and unseen by human eyes. I challenge myself in this regard often. I want to get people looking at things they may never have sen and do it in such a way as to make them look twice or three times. I like making simple things look artistic by simply pressing a shutter button….

    Reply
    • Darwin Wiggett
      December 28, 2015

      Christian, we agree, a good photographer can make great images anywhere and true photographers can confidently go to even the most photographed iconic destination and come up with their own unique take on things. Sam and I personally know photographers who only go to destinations that others do not go to because they feel they can make unique images there. Indeed, their ‘unique’ take is more about unique access and not unique vision. They refuse to go to iconic locations suggesting ‘it has all be done before’ when really they are insecure about their own creative vision and don;t want to be judged against the work others have made in the same location. You, on the other hand, are completely comfortable and secure in your creative vision. Wherever you go you create signature “Christian” images!

  3. Ted Evans
    December 28, 2015

    Because you live and shoot in one of the most beautiful parts of the world
    you need to take another evaluation of
    your values and direction. Your direction now is like modern art which
    really shows nothing of interest to
    those who long to see the natural beauty of where you are. Your new
    approach is so abstract that you can live anywhere to achieve it. Wake up to
    where you live and continue to capture
    its beauty as you formerly did.
    Ted Evans

    Reply
    • Darwin Wiggett
      December 28, 2015

      Ted your statement “Your new approach is so abstract that you can live anywhere to achieve it. Wake up to where you live…” perfectly summarizes the ‘why’ of my new approach. I believe a great photograph can be made anywhere. That the only limit to making meaningful art in your own imagination and ability to see beyond labels of good and bad. My photography is no longer location or subject based; I can make an image that pleases me in a mall shopping lot, in the window light of my bedroom or anywhere I find myself (iconic location or not). I finally feel I am visually ‘awake’ and every moment I am awake I am fully visually present. In the past I had to travel and go to big iconic destinations to ‘see’ and then I made the obvious pictures. Now my work is so much more personal. If it does not resonate with you, that’s OK, I am making art to please myself and it feels really good 😉

  4. Stan Rose
    December 28, 2015

    I think it’s a great choice. My initial reaction was WT… but then I looked closer and saw all those cool details from the tree and reflection. The tension and negative space are awesome. I understand Ted’s point, but if this were ‘bad’ modern art I wouldn’t have given it a second look. I do believe you can have the best of both worlds–you can embrace the edgy intellectual stuff as well as the grand scenes. There’s room in the world for both visions.

    Reply
    • Samantha Chrysanthou
      December 29, 2015

      Thank you for observing and looking closer, Stan. That is exactly why I chose this image as representative of Darwin’s new work. Too often we like photographs because they are big, bold and colourful – easy, in other words. A little depth and deeper ‘seeing’ is a good thing.

  5. Dave Benson
    December 28, 2015

    I have been re-reading Guy Tal’s e-book on Creative Landscapes… about midway through he states… ” Go with your instinct. Photograph for yourself and satisfy your own sensibilities and aesthetics. True artists do not pander to a pre-selected audience. Instead, they carve an audience of their own from those who will encounter and be moved by their work.”

    Glad to see you following your path of discovery… and I see call this in keeping with your own life plan…

    Reply
  6. Christian
    December 28, 2015

    I agree with your assessment, but only partly. Saying they refuse to go to iconic locations suggesting ‘it has all be done before’ when really they are insecure about their own creative vision and don;t want to be judged against the work others have made in the same location” is just one possible explanation, and one singular viewpoint, however true it may be. As a photographer (and I use that term loosely for myself) I try to apply my talents to any and all geographical, situational, and opportunal (I just made that up) aspects of my work. I’m not afraid to shoot what many others have already shot, but I have a strong “been there, done that” thing about myself and it has nothing to do with insecurity, as you can see. It’s hard, for example, for me to imagine myself shooting the same places and doing as good a job at as yourself and Samantha or Neil, or, or. But, why not add to the general body instead of re-shooting it ten degrees left or a half-hour later? Why not enjoy each others radically different subject matter? As for imagination, it is only one aspect of photography and for some, far less important than others. It would be interesting to ask everyone in Oopoomoo about their thought mechanics as regards how, why, when, where they shoot…
    Great conversation, thanks Sam!

    Reply
    • Darwin Wiggett
      December 28, 2015

      hear, hear, hear… a great summary Christian.

  7. Peter Ensrud
    December 28, 2015

    I personally really like this. At first I looked over it seeing it small on my computer, but once I opened it and spent a moment looking at the details and all going on, it really appealed to me. The ripples in the water and stones under water on the left. The lone tree far left and the light.

    I have liked your more “abstract” intimidate landscapes lately. Different than works of yours I was drawn to earlier, but I found myself and a photographer discussing them, and the idea of it, a couple weeks ago and contemplating the challenge of creative vision with the big wide open scenes, with immediate “WOW”, and images that can wow in detail and simplicity once the viewer invests a few moments to let their eyes wander around the image, seeing what we the photographer want them to see. Tight trees with colors and textures. Rocks and grasses. Sand and contours, and maybe light shining through grains of sand. Reflections and water, and fallen leaves. So much beauty to be had.

    Since seeing some of your more recent images I have found myself as well looking at a scene and capturing it mentally, then looking for smaller images to be had within that scene, often searching for something to zoom into with my feet or my lens. Has been fun. And if I said I haven’t been getting wet standing in my nearby lake capturing upside down reflections, i’d be lying. All in the eye of the beholder.

    Great image. Keep em coming.

    Reply
  8. Kyle McDougall
    December 30, 2015

    A fascinating image and great choice! I’m always interested to see how people react to images like this. For many, the initial wow factor and ease of viewing may not be the same as your typical “grand landscape” image, but in my opinion this type of work holds so much depth and discovery for both the audience and the photographer.

    I for one think the decision to embrace true interests in regards to photography is something that more people need to explore. No one should have to feel obligated to capture something a specific way because of the area they live in, like a big and bold grand landscape.

    I never want to see photography jammed in to a box, where guidelines and rules dictate how you create. It really doesn’t need to be difficult. Everyone is allowed to create whatever they want, however they want.

    Keep doing what you guys are doing. Your work and approach are refreshing and inspiring. All the best in 2016!

    Reply
  9. Allison George
    December 30, 2015

    I love it that Darwin is shooting more intimate landscape shots!

    Reply

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