3 March

Your Junk Our Treasure

Whew! Lots of great images from February’s newsletter challenge posted in the oopoomoo Creatives’ Facebook group. We’ve compiled our faves here in this blog post. Ha! It seems the ladies smoked the guys on this assignment! Remember to sign up for our Newsletter if you wish to get the monthly challenge delivered to your inbox.

©Barb Kreutter

©Barb Kreutter

©Barb Kreutter

©Barb Kreutter

©Brian Hayward

©Brian Hayward

©Carol James

©Carol James

©Cheryl Wallach

©Cheryl Wallach

©Chris Baird

©Chris Baird

©Chris Baird

©Chris Baird

©Chris Baird

©Chris Baird

©Chris Baird

©Chris Baird

©Chris Baird

©Chris Baird

©Christian Van Schepen

©Christian Van Schepen

©Cindie Fearnall

©Cindie Fearnall

©Dave Williamson

©Dave Williamson

©Dave Williamson

©Dave Williamson

©Drake Dyck

©Drake Dyck

©Gerry Ambury

©Gerry Ambury

©Gerry Hiebert

©Gerry Hiebert

©Janice Braud

©Janice Braud

©Janice Kretzer-Prysunka

©Janice Kretzer-Prysunka

©Janice Kretzer-Prysunka

©Janice Kretzer-Prysunka

©Janice Kretzer-Prysunka

©Janice Kretzer-Prysunka

©Kyle McIntosh

©Kyle McIntosh

©Liz Forrester

©Liz Forrester

©Liz Forrester

©Liz Forrester

©Liz Forrester

©Liz Forrester

©Michelle Wilson

©Michelle Wilson

©Phyllis Fitzsimons

©Phyllis Fitzsimons

©Ralph A. Croning

©Ralph A. Croning

©Riana Vermaak

©Riana Vermaak

©Riana Vermaak

©Riana Vermaak

©Sherry Christensen

©Sherry Christensen

©Shirley Davis

©Shirley Davis

©Veronica Reist

©Veronica Reist

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22 February

Creative Pet and Dog Photography Workshops

We’re excited to announce two new photo workshops for pet lovers! Held at the Cochrane and Area Humane Society, there will be live demos in one and a chance for participants to photograph the animals in the other. Anytime we include animals in a live show there are sure to be hijinks so that’s worth the price of admission alone!  😉

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Come learn some new skills, have a few laughs and polish up your pet photography skills. Check out our two new offerings below.

Better Pet Photography Made Easy!

In this workshop we’ll teach you simple tips and tricks to make your family pet images creative, fun and engaging. If you wish you had the knowledge needed to make better pet photos we have the easy and effective answers! This is not a photo course full of jargon and tech talk but one that focuses on getting awesome results whether you use a smart phone, a point-n-shoot or a dSLR camera. You already have a bond and know your pet better than anyone; the only ingredient missing is some easy-to-learn photography basics to make your images soar. Come and join us on March 5, 2017 at the Cochrane and Area Humane Society for this two-hour fun-filled romp through the exciting adventure of pet photography (complete with live demos). To learn more or to register go here.

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Sit, Stay and Smile: Creative Dog Photography with your dSLR

This hands-on course is for anyone with a dSLR who is interested in making compelling and creative images of dogs using existing light. The magic in great images of dogs occur at the intersection of dog behaviour and the creative use of camera controls. In this four-hour course, we’ll explain in easy-to-understand terms which camera controls create story-telling images and how to make photography a fun game for your pooch. After the 1.5-hour classroom session (with live demos!) students will spend  1.5-hours photographing dogs, on site, at the Cochrane and Area Humane Society. The resulting photos will be discussed in a one-hour critique session so students get immediate feedback on how to improve. To learn more or register go here.

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To whet your appetite for the kinds of tips and techniques we’ll be talking about in the Creative Dog Photography workshop check out our Shooting Blind for Better Action Portraits of Dogs article or look at some of our favourite dog photos.

Shyme - ©Darwin Wiggett - oopoomoo.com

 

31 January

The Best of oopoomoo Creatives 2016

We are thrilled to showcase the best work of our oopoomoo Creatives Facebook group. This group of our students, friends and colleagues have produced creative and thoughtful work over the course of 2016. We are proud of their creative vision… most of the pictures were not taken at far off places or in iconic locations but rather were taken locally of everyday scenes. These 70 images confirm that it’s vision and individual expression that pushes art and not technique, gear or even location. Whether it’s the sweep of curtains across a carpeted floor or blades of grass in a sidewalk crack there is art everywhere if we are open to seeing. We want to thank all the oopoomoo Creatives out there for your continued inspiration and passion. Your great work deserved to be seen and we plan to provide even more opportunities to share your images with the world – stay tuned!

©Al Dixon

©Al Dixon

©Andrew Barron

©Andrew Barron

©Anita Vermaak

©Anita Vermaak

©Ann Nickerson

©Ann Nickerson

©Anna Ferree

©Anna Ferree

©April Henrikson Daly

©April Henrikson Daly

©Bill Warmington

©Bill Warmington

©Bill Warmington

©Bill Warmington

©Brian Hayward

©Brian Hayward

©Carol James

©Carol James

©Carol James

©Carol James

©Carolyn Steingard

©Carolyn Steingard

©Cheryl Wallach

©Cheryl Wallach

©Chris Baird

©Chris Baird

©Chris Baird

©Chris Baird

©Chris Bone

©Chris Bone

©Chris Greenwood

©Chris Greenwood

©Chris Greenwood

©Chris Greenwood

©Chris Hayward

©Chris Hayward

©Christian Van Schepen

©Christian Van Schepen

©Connie Quinton

©Connie Quinton

©Connie Quinton

©Connie Quinton

©Dave Benson

©Dave Benson

©Dave Williamson

©Dave Williamson

©Dave Williamson

©Dave Williamson

©Dave Williamson

©Dave Williamson

©Dominic Byrne

©Dominic Byrne

©Dominic Byrne

©Donna Caplinger

©Donna Caplinger

©Drake Dyck

©Drake Dyck

©Drake Dyck

©Drake Dyck

©Edwina Podemski

©Edwina Podemski

©Elaine Delichte O'Keefe

©Elaine Delichte O’Keefe

©Fran Gallogly

©Fran Gallogly

©Fran Gallogly

©Fran Gallogly

©Frank Schortinghus

©Frank Schortinghus

©George Clayton

©George Clayton

©George Clayton

©George Clayton

©Gerry Ambury

©Gerry Ambury

©Gord Campbell

©Gord Campbell

©Hank Broomfield

©Hank Broomfield

©Heather Donauer

©Heather Donauer

©Huw Jenkins

©Huw Jenkins

©Jane Chesebrough

©Jane Chesebrough

©Janelle Evans

©Janelle Evans

©Janice Kretzer-Prysunka

©Janice Kretzer-Prysunka

©Janet Barclay

©Janet Barclay

©John Foehl

©John Foehl

©Kat Enns

©Kat Enns

©Kathy Stinson

©Kathy Stinson

©Keith Walker

©Keith Walker

©Kelly Kitsch

©Kelly Kitsch

©Kristin Duff

©Kristin Duff

©Liz Forrester

©Liz Forrester

©Liz Forrester

©Liz Forrester

©Lorraine McNeely

©Lorraine McNeely

©Lynn Smith

©Lynn Smith

©Lynn Smith

©Lynn Smith

©Pam Jenks

©Pam Jenks

©Philip Cote

©Philip Cote

©Priya Biswas Miller

©Priya Biswas Miller

©Ralph Croning

©Ralph Croning

©Riana Vermaak

©Riana Vermaak

©Ryan Crouse

©Ryan Crouse

©Shaun Conarroe

©Shaun Conarroe

©Steve Poole

©Steve Poole

©Sue Olmstead

©Susan Olmstead

©Susan Ashley

©Susan Ashley

©Tom Nevesely

©Tom Nevesely

©Tracy Hindle

©Tracy Hindle

28 January

Photography with Meaning – What Do You Do for Exposure?

If you’ve been in photography long enough you’ll get a request from someone to use your pictures in exchange for ‘exposure’. What that means is they want the benefits of your fine photos but don’t want to pay you. Having the privilege of them publishing your photo is reward enough… or so they say. The funny thing is whenever we get these requests they are usually from large multi-national corporations with deep pockets… and a big advertising budget… and yet they won’t pay for quality images. The promise of them exposing your work to a wide audience is often hard to resist but we have found from experience that such exposure always falls flat.

Exposure - Is it worth it!

Exposure – Is it worth it!

On the other hand, when it comes to small community groups with no budget for photography they will often bend over backwards to try and pay you and give exposure that is respectful and meaningful. These groups need great visuals and they know the value of the image. Samantha and I love working with local groups who have causes we believe in because they offer the best kind of exposure. We get to meet real people, develop friendships and feel like we make a difference in the community. And of course we are happy to provide our services for free because we feel great helping them do good work. And feeling great charges up our creative juices and we get excited about photography all over again! Now that is the best kind of exposure!

What do you do in for ‘exposure’ and how has it worked out for you? We love to hear about it!

Chef Darren MacLean at rooftop veggie garden, Calgary, Alberta

Chef Darren MacLean at rooftop veggie garden, Calgary, Alberta

Portraits of local musicians

Portraits of local musicians

Passive solar tiny home - Hereabouts B+B, Cochrane, AB

Passive solar tiny home – Hereabouts B+B, Cochrane, AB

Local CSA farm portraits

Local CSA farm portraits – Seeds to Greens

Permaculture 'permablitz' in Calgary, Alberta

Permaculture ‘permablitz’ in Calgary, Alberta

Local organic farming practices

Local organic farming practices

©Darwin Wiggett - oopoomoo.com

Portraits at the local humane society

Humane Society dog portrait

Humane Society dog portrait

8 December

Where’s Your Photography Honeypot?

Darwin and I have a secret photo place we go to. It’s close by, it’s easy to access and it almost always delivers something. Here are some images from an outing to the  historic Cochrane Ranche site made last spring.

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Samantha Chrysanthou

We only spent just over an hour, but had a much higher ‘keeper rate’ than usual from a photo outing. Normally, we delete around 90% of the images from a photo shoot. (Yes, DELETE, as in permanently toss. Hey, junk is junk! By now we usually appreciate the difference between a good image and a mediocre one – and we still have those “what was I thinking?” stinkers that also end up in the digital trash can.) But our keeper rate from this last spring visit was over 80%! This makes us very happy. Here’s the breakdown:

Darwin: 46 exposures, 16 unique compositions, 13 keepers

Sam: 42 exposures, 18 unique compositions, 15 keepers (ahem, note my slight edge in quantity if not quality…)

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

Notice also that, even though we are sometimes standing shoulder-to-shoulder, we still come away with our own unique style with the same subject matter (Darwin always warms things up!) Good honeypots offer a variety of ways to interpret a place for the creative shooter.

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

Do you have a local photo honeypot? Where do you head when you have limited time but are hoping for good returns?

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Samantha Chrysanthou

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30 November

The Urban Tiny House

Here at oopoomoo we are interested in people who have carved their dreams out of the impenetrable bedrock of societal structure. One local person who has done just that and who is a huge inspiration to us is Jackie Skrypnek. For years Jackie has quietly volunteered behind the scenes in the local food, environment and social sustainability movements. Jackie puts in the work because she believes a better world is possible. She is not looking for accolades or awards; she is looking for results.

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Jackie, Samantha and I all have Permaculture Design Certificates (PDCs) from Verge Permaculture in Calgary. Part of the mandate or being a “permie” is to take action and do something that makes a difference in the world. Jackie has done just that. She has transformed her backyard from lawn into an ecologically sustainable food production centre which provides fresh, organic food for her family and friends. And she and her husband, Bryan, have built a passive solar tiny home in their backyard that will operate as an educational B+B teaching people about passive solar design, smaller footprint living and permaculture gardening principles.

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The tiny home is only 247 sq feet but packs in sleeping, bathroom, kitchen, living, and dining areas. Jackie designed the tiny home and Jackie and Bryan built it themselves — it’s a work of art! Jackie battled the town bureaucracy to make the first tiny home B+B in Cochrane happen and now, through her perseverance, Jackie’s dream is ready to share with the world. On December 4, from 1 – 3 PM, Jackie is having an open house in Cochrane so you can see the tiny home for yourself and maybe even win a one night stay (there is a draw!). For details on the open house just download this PDF. If you can’t come, we’ve taken a few photos to show you this amazing little tiny home. Congratulations Jackie and Bryan! Cochrane is proud of you!

The Hereabouts Tiny Home website is now live for bookings!

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7 October

Our Obsession with Gear

This article was previously published in Outdoor Photography Canada several years ago. To get these articles when they first come out please subscribe  to the magazine. 😉

We’ve all heard the old saying: “It’s not the camera that makes the picture, it’s the photographer.” Why in music isn’t there a similar refrain? “It’s not the piano that makes the music, it’s the musician.” Or in art? “It’s not the brush or the paint, but the painter.”  We rarely care about what brand of brush an artist uses; we care about the art produced. So why is it that, invariably, the first question asked of photographers is, “what kind of camera do you use?”

Photographer with King Penguin at Fortuna Bay, South Georgia Island ©Darwin Wiggett - oopoomoo.com

Photographer with King Penguin at Fortuna Bay, South Georgia Island
©Darwin Wiggett

We think the problem with photography is that photographers use a tool that records images directly from reality.  There is no implied ‘interpretation’ in using a camera. It’s seen as a device which objectively records the ‘real’ world. As such, we think that the better the recording device (the camera), the more accurate the reality, and therefore the better the photograph. And so it goes. As photographers we become obsessed with getting better and better gear. Our camera, lenses and accessories become the ends to the means and the means to an end. We become slaves and lovers of the technical aspects of the endeavour. Art is forgotten if even acknowledged at all.

©Samantha Chysanthou - oopoomoo.com

©Samantha Chysanthou

In photography we are less likely to think like an artist. An artist uses his or her tools as a means of inner expression. Art is about telling the world who you are and what you think. Art is not reality; it’s an interpretation of your personal reality. Photographers mistakenly believe that the more they know about gear, tools and technique, the more accurate their representation of reality. Of course, nothing is further from the truth. Obsession with gear and goodies only gets in the way of communicating any message whether that message is journalistic or artistic. In photography we spend precious little time developing vision and voice. Mostly we just want to play with goodies.

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Aspen Trees and Abraham Lake – ©Samantha Chrysanthou

For photographers who want to advance beyond gear obsession into the realm of artistic expression, we recommend several approaches:

  1. Take a bare minimum of gear with you on photo outings. We have written about this before but remind you about taking only a camera and one prime lens like a 50mm lens to help you hone your ability to see and express yourself with a single tool.
  2. Think of your photography not as a hunt for single trophy shots but instead in terms of a project. Pick a topic (e.g. garbage, trees, puddles) or a conceptual theme (isolation, power, contrast) and develop a body of work that speaks to the topic or theme. Project-based photography will help you concentrate more on the message than the medium. Gear quickly becomes secondary and diminished in importance compared to artistic expression.
  3. Take a course in photography that is about leaning to see and expression. Avoid courses that discuss technique or gear. You want to exercise your creative expression and not your wallet. Buying more gear, software or camera goodies will not help you. Invest in discovering your creative eye. One option is our Resolve: Discover Your Creative Self  eCourse which is targeted so that you discover what makes your creative clock tick.
  4. Instead of reading on-line reviews of cameras and lenses, book off a day a month to go to art galleries and check out paintings, sculptures and visual installations. Take a notepad and jot down why the art appeals to you or not. Relax and really look at the pieces. What is the art telling you about the artist?
  5. Don’t try too hard; let your subjects speak to you. Don’t force a technique or a conscious attempt at style. Just respond and soon your photos will be created from within and not as a result of blindly jabbing at the shutter of your high-priced optical recording device.
  6. Get off the camera control crutch. Go back to fully auto or program mode in your camera and just shoot intuitively. Don’t think, just respond.

Of course there is a lot more you can do, but hopefully these little exercises will get you off the obsession with gear and on to the discovery of your self!

Ripples on Horseshoe Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada ©Darwin Wiggett - oopoomoo.com

Ripples on Horseshoe Lake, Jasper National Park
©Darwin Wiggett

14 September

Student Project Mentorship – Life is a Highway with Chris Bone

Highway 762 is different things to different people; just another road on their way to somewhere else, a destination for cyclists and motorcyclists, a place to drive slowly while viewing the scenery, the route for an annual cattle drive; and probably more besides. I intend to peel back my familiarity with the subject in an attempt to reveal what I see as the essence of this short, 22 km highway.

Meet Chris Bone. Chris is someone who travels Highway 762 a lot – whenever he wants to get anywhere from his home, in fact. While there may be more iconic stretches of pavement in the world, 762 has its own particular charm. But if you are setting a mentored project for yourself, and you want to push yourself to see something… deeper than scenery, more unexpected than cliché, is a road a good subject matter to choose?

It’s certainly not an easy choice! That’s Chris’ project statement above, and his portfolio of ten images below. In some ways, Chris was easy to mentor: he needed little guidance on goal-setting, articulating his idea or curating a final collection. We think he has come up with a very thoughtful story about Highway 762 as portrayed in his photo essay below. We suspect Chris will continue to travel everyday roads and come away with something unique to say about the experience.

©Chris Bone

©Chris Bone

©Chris Bone

©Chris Bone

©Chris Bone

©Chris Bone

©Chris Bone

©Chris Bone

©Chris Bone

©Chris Bone

©Chris Bone

©Chris Bone

©Chris Bone

©Chris Bone

©Chris Bone

©Chris Bone

©Chris Bone

©Chris Bone

©Chris Bone

©Chris Bone

For previous students’ mentored projects, click here.

1 September

Student Project Mentorship – Barb Kreutter

I’m not going to say much about Barb’s results from the 7/365: The Mentored Photo Project. There’s not much to say…because they’re excellent! Fresh seeing, working with everyday objects, many shot in bright daylight…how many of us can come away with such a strong, compelling portfolio? And Barb was quite prolific (you can see more results at her website), generating several other themes than the one represented in these ten images. Her keeper rate was astounding, so we found the best way to help Barb going forward was an exercise in curating her collection. Congratulations, Barb, for an incredible body of work!

Barb’s project statement:

Through the use of composition and pattern, I will uncover the extraordinary in the everyday world around me.

©Barb Kreutter

©Barb Kreutter

©Barb Kreutter

©Barb Kreutter

©Barb Kreutter

©Barb Kreutter

©Barb Kreutter

©Barb Kreutter

©Barb Kreutter

©Barb Kreutter

©Barb Kreutter

©Barb Kreutter

©Barb Kreutter

©Barb Kreutter

©Barb Kreutter

©Barb Kreutter

©Barb Kreutter

©Barb Kreutter

©Barb Kreutter

©Barb Kreutter

 

24 August

Iceland, Abbotsford and Beyond!

Here at oopoomoo HQ we are getting set for a busy season of teaching, talking and taking (photos of course).

First up, we are thrilled to be part of a photo print exhibition on September 8 at Resolve Photo in Calgary. The print show is called RAÐLJÓST and the show features the work of fifteen local photographers who’ve traveled to — and fallen in love with — Iceland. Inspired by the Icelandic word “raðljóst” (which translates to “enough light to navigate”) the photographs seek to show Iceland interpreted creatively by each artist. Sam and I got a sneak peak at some of the prints going into the show and we are thrilled to report that you’ll discover an Iceland unlike anything you’ve seen before. And seeing these finely crafted prints in person reminds us that a key aspect of photography is not only posting photos to the web but also the tangible pleasure of viewing them as works of art in the form of prints. Some may even argue that the pinnacle in photography is a finely created print! Rather than show off the works here on the website we encourage you to come in person and enjoy the surprising views and luscious nature of fine art photographic prints of Iceland. For more information please check out this link.

©Darwin Wiggett - Mývatn Lake, Iceland

©Darwin Wiggett – Mývatn Lake, Iceland

Second, speaking of creative vision and personal expression, we want to remind you that oopoomoo will be in Abbotsford BC on October 22 to present our new show, “The Visionary Photographer”. In this show we’ll cover topics designed to take you into the realm of photographic artistry:

  • The Confident Artist and The Art of Visual Perception
  • Creative Lens Choice and Camera Controls for Visionary Photographers
  • Advanced Compositional Patterns for the Visionary Photographer
  • Personal Style and Creative Vision: The Metamorphosis of an Artist

Early bird pricing on this show ends August 31, so be sure to register soon if you plan to go. Plus we’d love to reconnect and meet BC friends old and new.

Whaling Station Remains, Whaler's Bay, Antarctica ©Darwin Wiggett - oopoomoo.com

©Darwin Wiggett

And finally, you may have noticed the fine work coming from students completing our 7/365 – The Mentored Photo Project eCourse. We are thrilled with the inspiring work of our students and have shared their July results. Watch for more awesome projects from our August students coming soon to the blog! If you have a photo project in you bursting to be seen, we have four private mentorships available this September.

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

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