4 February

Brando Update (and ‘On Missing the G11’)

As promised, we have an update on Brando. Thanks to the oopoomoo community for such a great response to our camera gear sale to raise funds for cancer treatment for our dog Brando. Brando’s prognosis is excellent and he goes to Western Veterinary Specialists in Calgary on Feb. 6 for four days of treatments. It’s expensive but we think Brando is worth it! We hope for many more camping trips with our furry side kick. Below is a photo of a happy Brando headed to the Yukon in 2008.

Brando packed up for a month long camping trip to the Yukon

I thought it might be hard to sell all that cool camera gear but the fact is I don’t miss any of it. But I sure would miss Brando if he wasn’t around waiting for his walks each day. The only piece of camera gear I miss just a little is my point-n-shoot digital camera, the Canon G11 (that went to a really good home BTW.) I can’t believe how often I reached for it to make a happy snap or to play with while out doing errands or walking. One day in the future I will get another point-n-shoot because I find the little cameras keep my eye ‘tuned’ in between ‘serious’ shooting. Here are the last photos I made with the G11; all are made either around the house or while walking around Cochrane. Thanks for looking!

©Darwin Wiggett - Water drops on the hood of a car

©Darwin Wiggett - It's so cold even fire hydrants need toques!

©Darwin Wiggett - Window light still life

©Darwin Wiggett - Living room wall abstract

©Darwin Wiggett - The Cochrane IGA Store

©Darwin Wiggett - Remnants of fall in winter

©Darwin Wiggett - Worm Railway

©Darwin Wiggett - Railroad Sign

©Darwin Wiggett - Going Shopping

©Darwin Wiggett - Self Portrait with the G11

1 February

Talyn Stone Model Shoot with Dave Brosha

On January 28, 2012 Dave Brosha and a few of our photography friends went out on a windy Alberta day to make some environmental portraits of Talyn Stone. Wayne Simpson led the charge by making some Gothic-themed photos of Talyn along a line of silhouetted trees on a country road. While Wayne was shooting, the wind was totally epic and Peter Carroll and Samantha had to put some backbone into keeping Wayne’s light from blowing into Saskatchewan!

Once Wayne was ‘winded’, Dave took over. I’m sure purely for safety purposes only, he asked Talyn to go without clothes — you don’t want buttons and buckles and such banging about in the wind injuring people. Right Dave?

Peter Carroll continued photographing Talyn in the trees but he went for a softer, more romantic look. Samantha was up next creating some of her trademark ‘small person in the big landscape’ images. Branimir Gjetvaj documented the whole adventure and I ended the session doing fisheye portraits of Talyn on a lonely, dead end road.

Check out the video below for all our adventures and the finished images. If you want to see the video larger go to the oopoomoo TV video channel.

©Samantha Chrysanthou

Peter Carroll gives Wayne Simpson a ‘hand’ while Dave Brosha assists with the light.

©Samantha Chrysanthou

I show Talyn how it’s done. She never ended up using this pose. I wonder why?


26 January

Camera Gear for Sale (Raising Funds for Brando)


Update January 28 – Thanks to everyone for the awesome support and for making the camera gear sale a quick and easy success. Almost everything is sold now. And the good news is between this sale and some private assignment work, we have the money to proceed with the surgery. We’ll keep you posted. Again thanks!

Our dog Brando has a soft tissue sarcoma which is a malignant, slow growing cancer usually associated with limbs. We noticed it start almost two years ago (see this photo from then) but the vets thought it was just a hygroma which is better left alone. Lately, the growth started to bother Brando and it got significantly larger so we had it tested and it is cancerous. He has had numerous other tests and it seems that the cancer has not yet spread anywhere else. The ultimate cure for this problem is amputation (of the three-legged kind). Another option is to keep his leg but try and zap the cancer with a specialized form of radiation called Stereotactic Radiosurgery which involves a high dose of localized radiation over the course of 3 to 5 days. The prognosis with that procedure is good. What is bad is the cost (ouch). Did we say ouch?

Which gets us to the point of this post. Brando is 9 years old and has other health issues, so even cancer-free he likely has only 2 to 3 years left. But he’s still vigorous and active and so we think it is worth the investment to keep him around for a few more years. What can we say? We like him! And so we need to raise some capital. As much as I (Darwin) like my camera gear, I like my dog better and so I am putting a bunch of goodies up for sale. Camera gear doesn’t snuggle with you, or lick your face, or leave behind nasty fumes in the living room so why hang onto the stuff? A dog gives more joy than cameras!

So if you need some cool toys read on to see if anything interests you. All prices are firm, shipping fees are not included and we prefer to sell within Canada if possible. Contact info@oopoomoo.com if you are serious about buying!  The deadline for buying is Friday, February 4 at 12:00am MST. All funds will go towards Brando’s treatment. By the way we are not asking for nor are we taking donations. We’re just selling some gear to minimize the financial pinch!

And finally, what is it with cancer and dogs lately? Many of our good friends and our family members have endured the heartache of their dogs succumbing to cancer no matter what diet the dog is on or what the breed. Cancer rates in humans are skyrocketing as well. Are our dogs the proverbial ‘canaries in the coal mine’ warning us about the state of our environment? Or is it all coincidence?

The obvious problem!


24 January

Yoho National Park ebook!

We are happy to announce the latest addition to our How to Photograph the Canadian Rockies series of ebooks! Although one of the smallest parks in the great Canadian Rockies chain, Yoho National Park in British Columbia, is hefty on scenery. As always, our guides are illustrated with loads of images and we offer detailed information on putting yourself in the right time and place to get the best from your visit to Yoho National Park. Be sure to add this must-have ebook to your collection of Canadian Rockies guides!

18 January

Wild In Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers – Real Life Review

Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers

A Guide to When, Where & How

by Paul Gill & Colleen Miniuk-Sperry


From time to time, we will review products, books, photo gear and, well, whatever else catches our fancy.  You may even see food reviews or hiking gear creeping into this category!  We want everyone to be aware that we don’t hold ourselves out as experts at anything.  Our opinions are just that:  opinions.  Always go test things out for yourself.  Our Real Life Reviews are meant as one possible reaction to a product, service or event, and we encourage you to post your own thoughts on our reviews.  Remember, though, that your opinion will have more value if you actually have some experience with the product, service or event in question!  Finally, we don’t receive any monetary benefit to reviewing products as we feel this allows us to put to words what we truly feel.

And with that, we’ll turn to our very first Real Life Review.  Colleen Miniuk-Sperry has sent us her new book, co-published with Paul Gill, and entitled, Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers.  We found Colleen and Paul’s guide book easy to understand, extremely well-organized and deftly attuned to the photographer’s needs.  It’s overall a great addition to guide books on wildflowers.  Read on for the nitty gritty details of our review.


16 January

Giveaways, News and Opportunities

January has finally hit us with an icy slap! Today we hit -30 degrees Celsius and things aren’t looking to improve for awhile. But, where most people hunker down by the fireplace, all of us crazy photographers can rejoice in the frigid temperatures which bring shivery opportunities for unique photos. At what other time of the year can you capture ice fog, crystalline sun dogs, and hoar frost? With a little planning you can go out and still make images even at these frigid temperatures. We are discussing a few ways to combat the cold in our upcoming talk Winter Photography in Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park. This talk has been sold out for a few weeks (probably because the price was right at $2.00 per person!) We don’t usually do talks for twoonies, but the next time we do, we plan to announce it first to our faithful subscribers to the oopoomoo News! newsletter (see the bottom of the linked page to sign up).

©Darwin Wiggett

There are other benefits to subscribing to the oopoomoo newsletter beyond getting occasional first dibs on new talks and workshops. We’ll also be awarding great prizes here and there. For example, anyone who has already subscribed to our newsletter (up to January 16, 2012) is eligible for an exciting prize!  What prize, you ask?

The Prize: A private, half day, one-on-one instructional photography outing with Samantha and Darwin (value $500)!  Yippee! We will be located for the session in the amazing Rocky Mountains just west of Calgary.  This is a great opportunity to ask us (almost) any question, ponder your artistic goals, fine tune your fumbling with camera gear and  just get out and shoot.  If the winner is a friend in foreign climes, no worry:  We’ll swap the session for a funky PDF portfolio critique of 20 of their images instead. These prizes are a way of saying thanks! to those who subscribe to our newsletter.

Who wouldn't want to learn from these goofballs?

Speaking of goofballs, one of our favorite photographers and writers of all things photographic, Guy Tal, has interviewed the two intellectuals above in a recent blog post. While you’re over at Guy’s website, be sure to check out the eBooks listing below; we think Guy has some of the best eBooks on the market!

Creative Digital Printing

Creative Processing Techniques in Nature Photography

Creative Landscape Photography

Finally, a housekeeping matter:  due to demand, Darwin has added a third Winter in the Canadian Rockies  photography tour to Abraham Lake and the Bighorn Wildland. For those who can come on short notice, the tour is February 8-12, 2012. Cost per person is C$1,359 + GST (4 nights accommodation at Aurum Lodge, single occupancy, all meals/beverages/refreshments, and fees included. Shared occupancy is C$200 less per person). Past tour participants receive 10% off! We are already 50% booked on this one, so if you are interested and can make the date, contact Alan Ernst at the Aurum Lodge right away. For a detailed description of the tour please see this link.

©Darwin Wiggett

12 January

Interview with Environmental Portrait Master Dave Brosha

We are thrilled to have Yellowknife photographer Dave Brosha coming to the Calgary, Alberta area on January 28th to give a talk for photographers entitled Mastering  Environmental Light. The talk will be held in Cochrane (just west of Calgary) from 2-4 pm on Jan. 28, 2012. We think it is much better to have the talk in small-town Cochrane rather than downtown Calgary because this way you get free parking (and when was the last time you had cheap parking in downtown Calgary!) Plus we’re just a short jaunt out of Calgary and we are minutes away from Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park for those wanting to do an outing before or after Dave’s talk.

Dave will discuss how he gets his signature location portraits. Anyone who is interested should sign up soon; we only have room for 40 people. In advance of his talk we asked Dave a few questions:

©Dave Brosha

oopoomoo – You have the rare ability to capture both story and technical perfection in your location portraits. Many professional photographers are good at technique but few capture story and mood. Any tips on how you get those great moments in your work?

Dave – I think the key is not to get so hung up on the technical that you fail to make a connection with your subject, work with them, and really… just let your creativity bubble.  Ultimately, your subject doesn’t really care if your light is diffused by a softbox, double-diffused, camera right or left, table-topped, or from a planet far, far away.  They are there to work with you, and if you’re fumbling with light and settings too long, you’ll lose them.  Aside from that, you mention “story and mood”.  That’s very important to me; once I have my technical figured out (and this is where practice makes perfect, and makes you quick), it’s “play” time.  Shoot and shoot and shoot.  Try different angles, different expressions.  Don’t be afraid to work with your subject; to ask them for suggestions.  Some of my best images have been out of suggestions from my talent/subject.

©Dave Brosha

oopoomoo – When we see any image you made we immediately know it to be a Dave Brosha photo; you have a signature style. Any advice for photographers on developing their own voice?

Dave – First of all, wow, thank you.  It’s funny, I think my style developed out of my love of landscape photography (which I considered myself first and foremost for years).  I always had a love of “The Environment”, whether that be windswept tundra or dramatic lines of a building with great architecture.  Either way, it was stuff I wanted to incorporate into my images of people.  Although I have a studio, my passion is photographing people in other natural and man-made environments.  So that’s a big part of my style, I think.  The other would be when I took it upon myself to learn and then introducing lighting to the mix.  People may not know this, but I would say 90% of my studio or small flash-lit portraits are made with one light source, and very simple techniques that I use again and again.

©Dave Brosha

oopoomoo – Living in the north gives you access to many unique opportunities but it can also be a struggle because the number of clients are small. How have you grown your business in a city (Yellowknife) with a relatively small population?

Dave –  I had a fear for a long time of plunging into the full-time world for just that reason (the relative smallness of Yellowknife).  Before I opened my studio I can remember two or three of the other photographers in town telling me that I was nuts:  that there would never be enough business to support a studio.  Luckily I had a gut that told me that it could happen, and a fantastic, supportive wife who basically forced me to follow my dream.  I think the business reason why it’s “worked” is that I haven’t been afraid to try, well, everything.  Portraiture, studio work, wedding, underground mining, aerials, headshots, various corporate shoots, advertising, magazine, creative, newborn, maternity, fashion, model, and so on.  This place is too small to really specialize, so I had the unique opportunity to photograph basically everything and everything.  And what a way to test and grow your skillset in a short time:  shoot lots and shoot very diverse.

©Dave Brosha

Aside from that, word-of-mouth is gold.  Each and every person I photograph is more than just a client that pays your bills.  This is very important for all photographers to understand.  I  subscribe 100% to the belief that if you are good to people, they will be good to you.  Care about what you do. Care about doing a good job for the people who have put their trust in you.  When people have criticism, accept it and work with the client to make it right, rather than getting defensive and potentially ruining a relationship.   While this is true everywhere, it’s especially true in a small market.

©Dave Brosha

oopoomoo – Most working commercial photographers have little opportunity to leave their local community, yet you seem to be able to make several major travel photography trips a year. What is the secret to affordable travel photography?

Dave –  Honestly, I have no idea how these things happen (the continued work/travel), but they just keep happening.  I’m looking for a major piece of wood to knock upon right now.  Last year I found photography work in five countries and all across Canada and I would say, again, that word-of-mouth was key. Don’t under-estimate the power of your local clients and contacts to lead to jobs beyond your immediate vicinity.  That, and putting yourself out there as a photographer that is willing to travel through your website and the work that you show.  I picked up a great three-day job in Alaska last year because a company had Googled “underground mining photography” and I think some of my stuff came up in the results.  They liked it, picked up the phone, 10 days later I was on Prince of Wales Island.  If I had been afraid of marketing myself online, that wouldn’t have happened.

©Dave Brosha

oopoomoo – You are coming to give a seminar here in Cochrane on January 28, 2012. What can we expect to learn during your session?

Dave – Our afternoon will be a fun, fast, and furious look at the world of assessing your surroundings and choosing the right approach for lighting and photographing your subject within these surroundings.   While we’ll cover some of the technical essentials (i.e. camera settings) and gear (i.e. different light-shaping modifiers), this will more be about how we can balance ambient and artificial lighting while – most importantly – working with your subject to make a memorable image.  We’ll look at some of the differences between “small” (i.e. flash) and “big” (studio) lighting, look at the differences of quality and shape of light using different pieces of gear, and demonstrate on a (hopefully willing) model.

Bottom line, it will be about making environmental portraits that “pop”.

oopoomoo – Thanks for bringing your expertise to Cochrane, Dave! We look forward to your talk.

For those photographers interested in learning how Dave makes these great images just click here to sing up.

©Dave Brosha

11 January

Alberta Views Photo Contest Deadline Extended

Hey all, we have some good news. The Alberta Views Magazine photo contest deadline is now extended to January 31, 2012. That means you have more time to enter. Yippee! To read more about the rules and how to enter just click on the photo below.

The great thing about this contest (besides the $1000 prize) is that your entry fee of $30 nets you a subscription to Alberta Views which is a great read for you or for someone you know that needs (or should have) “thoughtful commentary on the culture, politics and economy of our province.” Alberta Views‘ website states the magazine’s goal is to present “diverse viewpoints to give expression to a wide range of opinion and to encourage discussion and debate.” For us, the magazine often provides a balanced look at the issues of the day. We think all Albertans should read the magazine.

In fact, we think a few of our local politicians would also benefit from a subscription to the magazine! Maybe our new Premiere Alison Redford would find guidance in the multitude of viewpoints on the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline. Or perhaps a subscription for our Wildrose MP, Blake Richards would aid him to produce thoughtful commentary in his newspaper columns. How about Alberta’s new environment minister Diana McQueen debating the merits of clear-cut logging in semi-protected Kananaskis Country? Heck, we think even Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister of Canada, should get a subscription so he can tune in to the abundance of privately-driven activism in this supposedly complacent province.

© Samantha Chrysanthou

Personally, we’re going to pay the entry fee and enter again so we can gift our subscriptions to a politician to help our political leaders understand the true complexity that is Alberta.  It can never hurt to have “diverse viewpoints” and a “wide range of opinion” on some of the current issues facing this province.

If you enter the contest, and don’t give yourself a subscription, who are you going to send your gift subscription to?

BTW, the judge of the Alberta Views photo contest has also been announced; it is none other than fine art documentary photographer George Webber. Do you have a photo that will be a surprising view of Alberta for George? George has seen a lot of Alberta and it would take something quite surprising to get his attention (like the time the Alberta government used a picture of a British Beach to promote tourism in the province — now that was surprising!).

© Darwin Wiggett - Is Alberta going down the drain?

6 January

Fabulous Film Fridays 2011 Year End eBook is Available!

For those of you who followed our old blogs you knew that we did a project in 2011 where we posted an image or two each week that we had taken with one of our many film cameras. Sam and I have summarized the project in a free little eBook which is the ‘best of 2011’ from our film outings. Just click on this link or the photo below to download your copy! Please be patient while the eBook loads into your browser because it’s 18MB in size (that is a lot of film grain to transfer across the web)!

Thanks again to everyone who followed along and who showed a lot of interest in film!

5 January

The Glacier Discovery Walk – Part II

We blogged about the development of the proposed glass-floored Glacier Discovery Walk over Tangle Ridge in Jasper National Park previously. To read more about the proposal see our link. We would like more public input before this proposal goes ahead.  For those of you who are opposed to these kinds of intrusive, large-scale developments in our National Parks there is an online petition started against this development. Simply click here and add your name.  Thanks to John Marriott for the link!

Help protect Jasper NP from further development!