25 January

Four New oopoomoo Photo Talks

Darwin and I am happy to announce four new oopoomoo Talks in Cochrane, Alberta for the spring of 2012. Check out the talks below and if any of them interest you just click on the title for a detailed description. And anyone who knows about our talks, tours and workshops will tell you that the first person to sign up always gets a great prize (hint, hint; don’t delay!)

Raw vs JPEG: Which One is Right for You? – Feb 18, 2012

Think you know raw and JPEG? Well think again! In this talk Samantha and Darwin will demystify the myths surrounding raw and JPEG. They will show how these different image formats require vastly different approaches to get optimal results. Even the most advanced shooter will come away with a new appreciation for how raw and JPEG serve different needs.

Country Road, Cochrane, Alberta

©Darwin Wiggett

The Tilt-Shift Lens Advantage for Outdoor and Nature Photographers – March 10, 2012

Discover why Tilt-Shift Lenses are the hottest lenses in nature and landscape photography! Learn the benefits of tilting for precise control over the plane of focus and learn how using shift gives you awesome control over perspective correction. Tilt-Shift lenses also open up the world of panoramic and stitched image photography without need for specialized accessories (because the lenses cost enough!)

©Darwin Wiggett

Essential Filters for Digital Nature Photography – March 24, 2012

In this day and age of HDR imagery and sophisticated processing software, you may think that the lowly filter is a thing of the past.  But some filters are just as important as ever! Darwin and Samantha will show you which camera filters you can use to create evocative imagery and save time in post-processing.  As well, find out which filters deliver effects that can’t be replicated in software no matter how talented you are at the computer. Come see why every digital photographer should still be using filters!

Fall colours near Cochrane, Alberta, Canada

©Samantha Chrysanthou

Easy Outdoor Dog Photography – April 28, 2012

Being good at making great images of your dog requires only a few key skills. You don’t need fancy equipment, expensive gear or the patience of an angel but you need a basic understanding of dog behaviour and some basic camera and lighting knowledge. Come and learn from Samantha and Darwin what it takes to make fun, story-telling photos of your pooch!

©Samantha Chrysanthou

We hope to see you at a Talk!


22 January

Fave Photos from Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park

A big, hearty thanks to all who came out yesterday to our talk, “Winter Photography in Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park”.  We also want to thank park steward Ken Wright for his excellent contribution of images and information and park steward Heather Simonds for loaning us some of her lovely images for the show.  Both stewards are talented shooters and their photographs greatly added to the value of the talk.  As we mentioned in the talk yesterday, we hope to bring many of these talks to Cochrane throughout the year so watch for announcements soon on our next dates!  Speaking of dates, there are just a few spots left in Dave Brosha’s talk next Saturday; we’re really pleased with the turnout since Dave’s a great photographer (and a nice guy!)  If you are coming to the talk, you might want to come for the day because the 28th is WinterFest in Cochrane!  That’s right, crazy Cochranites rejoice in the cold by lighting fires and sipping hot chocolate.  Apparently there’s pony rides, wagon rides, human curling (you’ll have to see it to believe it), arts and crafts, snow sculpting and a giant, 10,000 square foot maze.  I’d like to hang out in the Lumberjack Zone (sorry, Darwin!)  WinterFest is at the Cochrane Lions Rodeo Grounds (109 5th Ave West) and runs from noon until 6pm.  Admission is only $5!  If you’re interested, phone 403-542-5538 or go to www.cochraneevents.ca.

Here are a few of Darwin and my favourite images of Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park from the talk:

©Darwin Wiggett


The rolling hills of Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada

© Darwin Wiggett


Grassy slope, Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada

© Samantha Chrysanthou


Pathway, Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada

© Samantha Chrysanthou

And here are two shots of the same area that reveal our varied approaches and styles.  Who do you think is the ‘drama queen’ of the relationship? 😉

Backlit Fence, Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada

© Darwin Wiggett


Fenceline, Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada

© Samantha Chrysanthou

9 January

The FAT Project – Lessons from the Holidays


Man eating giant cinnamon bun

© Samantha Chrysanthou

Alright, maybe it was not the smartest thing to start the FAT Project right before Christmas.  Surprisingly, it was not the temptation of chocolate, turkey and candy that made the time difficult; it was the upset to schedule.  We got used to following a fairly set schedule.  We exercised at a consistent time and our meals were all planned out.  One of us fetched the groceries and cooked for a few days and the other was on Kitchen Patrol.  We managed to mostly pull this off, and felt better and lost inches in the right spots.  But then came the train wreck called “the Holidays” and we were magnificently off-schedule and off-diet.  We only messed up a few days here and there, but every time we traveled, it was really tough to stay to the diet and our vigorous exercise regime.

You really find out how hard it is to find something appetizing and healthy when you travel.  Most healthy food has to be prepared somehow.  The stuff that doesn’t need to be chopped, cooked or even refrigerated tends to be less healthy (e.g. processed).  That’s because the more processed a food is, and the less it resembles its original form, the more unhealthy it probably is.  Along with good ‘ole salt, more chemicals are used to extend its shelf-life and more lab-created, synthetic materials substitute the fresh flavours found in natural foods.  When you return to a basic food palette, most processed food you used to enjoy tastes like salted cardboard.

Along with a busy time of visiting and travel, we have been working in the office on the new and exciting things we hope to do this year for oopoomoo.  The feedback to our new business has been wonderfully positive with lots of ideas from the oopoomoo community – that’s you!  But it’s surprising how almost incompatible a full work-day is with a healthy lifestyle (we are sure many of you can relate).  You have to be very organized.  As self-employed workers with a new business, we work more than eight hours a day.  Finding the time to fetch ‘fresh’ food from the grocery store (how old produce is by the time it gets here and how much nutrition is lost during travel is probably another issue) and then wash, chop, combine, cook and serve—three times a day—is like a part time job!  This isn’t even factoring in the exercise program which takes a minimum of at least one and half hours per day! And did we mention that we still need to walk the dog three times over the course of a day as well? Whew, when to sleep?

Remember how in our original post we decided to live 80/20?  80% ‘good behaviour’ (active lifestyle, moderate portions, healthy foods) and 20% for our fave treats and eating out.  After the struggle of staying on a rigid 100% hard core diet/exercise schedule with only minor interruptions, we’ve decided that the 80/20 lifestyle is a more sustainable program. If we go hardcore we’ll likely just do the yo-yo weight ups and down that is common with any diet. We hope that by building in an allowance now for changes in schedule and travel, we can still slowly lose weight but still be flexible enough to ‘roll with the lunches’ so to speak and maintain this for the long term.

Some stats:

Darwin has lost 7lbs and is holding steady (even after sneaking the occasional peanut butter sandwich when Sam wasn’t looking)!

Sam has lost 6lbs and is still sloooooooowwwwllllyyy losing more (but she has gotten more muscle and so weight only tells part of the story — she can now bench press Darwin’s Canon 1ds Mark III no problem!).

We both feel great physically overall and we actually don’t miss fries, or potato chips or other junk food. It just does not taste good to us any more (but beer still does!) Some things probably won’t change.

(How are all you hard core P90X people doing??)

1 January

Happy New Year! Self-Improvement, Photography Style

‘Tis the season of self-improvement, and what better way to improve oneself than setting a creative goal like becoming a better photographer!  But ‘better photographer’ is pretty vague, isn’t it?  Sometimes it helps to come at these kinds of things sideways.  We often advise our students to try a project for a set period of time if they feel like their photography is in a rut.  The project should be as detailed as possible, with a finite time and a measurable goal.  You also want your project to be realistic so that it is achievable.  Many shooters were inspired by the ‘Daily Snap’ project Darwin took on at his old blog in 2010 but photographing every day may not be realistic for all of us.  A good project that is very effective but a bit less time-intensive might be to choose a nearby location and visit this spot once a week for several months, making images at different times of day, in various weather and when you are in different moods.  This kind of a project helps you learn to see by challenging you to find something worth photographing even after you become familiar with (and often desensitized to) a location.  It also improves your self-awareness of what motivates you to click the shutter and how your state of mind influences your photography.  By keeping your images, you’ll have a ‘photographic record’ of your evolution through the project…and maybe even an image or two that you are proud of taking and that is worth sharing.

How do you continue to develop your artistic skill as a photographer?

McDougall Church near Morley

© Samantha Chrysanthou


McDougall Church near Morley, Alberta

© Samantha Chrysanthou

21 December

Minnewanka Memories, Part II

I thought I would share my images from our Minnewanka shoot, since they are quite different from Darwin’s.  Without fresh snow, the shoreline was pretty grungy.  And we tracked up the shoreline with our big boots as you’ll see in the last image.  But I had fun making more compressed landscapes and playing with my telephoto lens on the distant fire burn (I think on Mount Astey).  The purplish hue in the last two images is from me accidentally leaving my Singh-Ray Gold-N-Blue Polarizer on my 70-300.  When I took the lens out of the bag, the Polarizer stuck in the cold air and I couldn’t get it off!  I kind of like the purple haze, so I left it in processing.

Shoreline of Lake Minnewanka

© Samantha Chrysanthou

Nikon D300S, Nikkor 70-300mm lens, 1/30s at f16

Lodgepole trunks at Lake Minnewanka

© Samantha Chrysanthou

Nikon D300S, Nikkor 70-300mm lens, 1/15s at f16

Lone pine in fire burn at Lake Minnewanaka, Banff National Park

© Samantha Chrysanthou

Nikon D300S, Nikkor 70-300mm lens, 1/2s at f8

Fire burn, Lake Minnewanka, Banff National Park

© Samantha Chrysanthou

Nikon D300S, Nikkor 70-300mm lens, 1/2s at f8

Rocky shoreline of Lake Minnewanka

© Samantha Chrysanthou

Nikon D300S, Nikkor 17-55mm lens, three image vertical stitch

17 December

The FAT Project

The following contains images that are not for the faint of heart!  It also does not have much in the way of photo tips and suggestions, so if you are in a rush, you may want to avoid this post wherein Darwin and Samantha bare all (ok, almost all–this is a PG site after all) on their road to health, happiness and a better world.

These days are over!


3 December

The Compressed Landscape

In the last year or so, I’ve found myself making the occasional odd photograph.  What I mean by odd is that they seem to have the air sucked out of them; they are pressed landscapes, flattened like a pretty flower in a heavy book.  It’s an optical illusion created in part by compositional design and focal length, of course.  But I like it because I can use my creative photographic toolkit to portray reality in an unusual way.  Gets one thinking!

rocky outcrop at Whirlpool Point, Bighorn Wildland, Alberta, Canada

© Samantha Chrysanthou - Folded Landscape


Lodgepole trees and the Sawback Range

© Samantha Chrysanthou - Peek-a-boo Sawback Range, Banff National Park


snowy shore and lone aspen tree by a blue lake, Abraham Lake, Bighorn Wildland, Alberta, Canada

© Samantha Chrysanthou - Life at the Edge

28 November

Dessert Before Dinner: What is Your Business Style?

The one thing I’m learning about being self-employed and running my own business is that I have—seemingly simultaneously—too much control over my daily tasks and no control at all.  Let me explain.  When I worked in a law office, someone else (my boss) decided how much work I should have and generally the hours I had to be working there.  Even if I did not have much to do, I still had to show up at work.  In the office, we used to call this ‘face time’.  If you didn’t appear to be just snowed under with work, you soon would be, so while you had to be at the office, you also might lay low to avoid a big file landing on your desk at 6:00pm on a Friday.  But if you had too little work, then you weren’t going to make your billable hours that month which would hurt your plan to ask for a raise at contract renewal time.  So stressful!

Sam thinking

Now, no one sets my hours, and I don’t have to do face time.  But ironically, no one tells me when it is safe to quit working either.  Weekends?  What are these days of the week called ‘weekends’?  Oh sure, you are saying, you don’t need a weekend because you can just pack up and go to the mountains any time you want!  But it is not that simple.  When you run your own business, you do the work of 10 staff people.  You are not just a photographer, writer and teacher, but you are also your own secretary, ad-man, graphic designer, copy editor, CEO, COO, CMA and, well, you get the idea.  There is always something to do which means you have to physically book your time off (and then not cancel on yourself when a big problem lands on your desk at 6:00pm the day before your scheduled day off).  It is harder than it seems.