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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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?
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!
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
Most Canadians long to escape the icy claws of winter and head south for sand, sea and umbrella drinks. In fact, book publishers used to tell me that they never allowed more than 10% of a picture book of Canada to be images of winter because, if they did, book sales would plummet. It seems like Canadians simply do not want to be reminded of winter. I used to be the same; I would retire to the fireplace and put my camera into a deep winter sleep. But no more! Over the last seven years, I have actively plunged into the icy cool hues of winter and have created some of my most memorable and rewarding imagery.
The infamous ice bubbles of Abraham Lake in blue monochrome.
We want to pass along an announcement about a wonderful little photo contest over at Alberta Views Magazine called The 2012 Alberta Views Photo Contest. The theme of the contest is “A Surprising View of Alberta”. The prize is a cool $1000! And we checked with the magazine about usage rights and here is the response we got,
“Alberta Views has a one-time right to publish the photo. The intention of the contest is not to accumulate an indefinite ownership to the photos submitted to this contest.”
Not only can we endorse the rules of the contest, we also like how they have structured entry of the competition which ensures that Alberta Views (2009 Canadian Magazine of the Year) will be read in more households.
Your first entry costs $30; subsequent entries cost $15. All entries include a one-year subscription to Alberta Views which can be gifted to family, friends or a local library.
Support Alberta Views Magazine! This is a publication we believe should be read by all Albertans for its ‘surprising views’ on the political, social and environmental issues in this province.
Hurry deadline for the contest is December 31, 2011!