For this year instead of looking for my ‘best’ pictures of 2013, I thought I would share a themed body of work. That seems like an oopoomoo thing to do. After all oopoomoo really promotes projects and self assignments as a way to grow as an artist. So here I present the theme ‘prairies’ using images taken from 2013. Happy New Year everyone!
We asked oopoomoo team member John Marriott to highlight 2013 for us. Here is what he said:
When Sam and Darwin asked me to put together a Top Ten of my 2013 images, I immediately panicked and wondered if I’d actually even edited 10 images from 2013 yet. Thankfully, I’d edited at least a few of my faves from the year, so here you go, a taste of 2013!
The year was highlighted by two different amazing lynx encounters in Banff and Jasper national parks, but also featured a trip to Yellowstone and a host of photo tours across Canada to super exotic locales like Spuzzum and Rockglen (I’m kidding, the photo tours actually did go to some pretty cool places, like the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary and the Great Bear Rainforest).
And of course the year 2013 would not be complete without me mentioning my favourite part of the year, when my wife and I lived the thrilling life of wannabe adventurers and evacuated our house in Canmore to avoid a small amount of water rushing by our house. Two months living in a hotel is a very, very long time, so needless to say, I’m ready to say a hearty goodbye to the year that was, and welcome 2014 in with a giant hug.
We say: great collection, John! If you like John’s work and want to know where he finds his animal subjects in the Canadian Rockies be sure to pick up a copy of his fantastic eBook: The Icefields Parkway Wildlife Edition.
Sam and I have been hard at work the last couple of weeks putting the final touches on a new eBook called Sam and Darwin’s 7 Quick and Dirty Processing Shortcuts for Lazy Photographers. Right now Stephen is putting spit and polish on the eBook design. So stay tuned for this eBook coming up soon!
We developed this eBook in response to numerous requests on how we process our photos. We’ve always been hesitant to share our methods… not because they are secret or innovative but because we do things all ‘wrong’. Wrong? Well, let’s just say that the Kelbys and Lyndas out there teaching image processing would be appalled by our unconventional workflow (and we would probably fail their courses)!
But (and here is the important point) our method works just fine for us, delivering results every time with little fuss. And we get our images processed fast. So we thought we would share what we do in the hopes that some of our shortcuts might help you shorten your time processing on the computer so that you can have more time for creative photography in the field.
In the meantime to help you save even more time be sure to check out our article: Image Storage and Retrieval: Are You a Cherry Picker or a Bean Counter?
Are you ready to be a lazy photographer?
This year’s Badlands, Buicks and Old Buildings: The Prairie Workshop was a roaring fun event with our participants coming back with awesome and surprising images! Below are each person’s results along with some thoughts on the making of the image. For those interested in the 2014, event click here for more information.
A salvage yard emits a certain type of melancholy. Not only do you sense the physical waste of industrialization – – one can imagine some dreadful wrecks associated with the leftover scraps. These jewel tones of shattered glass laying on the dashboard could have left a hole in someone’s heart.
I keep coming back to this photo when I look at my BBB 2013 photos, because it is just such a majestic shot of a stately and robust old work truck. The colours are attractive, with the rusted paint, green grass, blue sky and field in the background. The headlights, the chrome “necklace” around the front, and my favourite is the mirror. It just proudly sticks right out there, and isn’t symmetrically offset by one on the other side. Even the dilapidated wood box shows up a little. It is so classic old farm Alberta.
So this flowering bulb stood out among the native grasses and the fields, it was begging to be photographed. I carefully took a position over top and tried not to disturb the bulb as it looked like it may fly apart with the slightest touch, so I didn’t dare touch it. I shot this with a 100mm macro lens and took several images, each image a little bit deeper into the bulb as shown here. In the last image, though slightly out of focus due to the gentle breeze, I noticed a small green grasshopper was staring back into the lens !!
I came to the workshop to improve my vision and techniques for landscape photography. I was prepared with my tripod, filters, cable release and level bubble. As I was set up and geared up to photograph the cool old falling down barn, I was also half watching one of the horses that was nearby. I noticed that it was purposefully walking from yellow flower to yellow flower to eat them. Camera comes off tripod, cable release disconnected, ND grad pulled and level bubble not necessary. I pre-focused on the next flower victim and when the horse came into the frame I got the shot. I like the simplicity of it. The horse eating yellow flowers.
For three days, we were all captivated in the subject of photography, from short informative seminars and sun rise picturesque opportunities, to prairie sunsets with windmill backdrops, captivating light painting and of course non-stop photography talk from equipment to technique all filling our bottomless toolbox of knowledge. I really liked this ‘retired truck’ at the auto wrecker’s yard.
It was a very hot afternoon on the Central Alberta prairie, spent walking up and down rows of ‘seen better days’ vehicles at an auto wrecker’s. I decided to stretch out on the grass between two of the neatly arranged rows. My eyes were drawn to an off white station wagon. Hey, that’s not just a station wagon – it’s a hearse! Oh, I bet if it could talk it would have lots of stories to tell. Other vehicles in the compound could perhaps talk about trips to a family farm, the big city zoo, grandma’s house or exciting shopping trips. The hearse would have no such stories. My goal when I made this photo was to have viewers think solemnly about the many trips this vehicle made down busy city streets or quiet rural roads to the local cemetery. Maybe it would evoke memories within the viewer. I don’t want to make viewers sad, just contemplative . I have several different shots of the vehicle but I like this one the best because I could imagine people standing on the street watching the hearse go by and seeing through this window, wondering who was going to their resting place. I set the camera on a tripod and composed the picture so that the grasses were not merging with the curtains. In order to keep my reflection out of the window I had to use the cable release. The photo was taken as a colour jpeg. I changed it to black and white because it reflects the mood I am trying to portray.
I am a very novice photographer and have become interested in the way light can influence an image. After an evening of painting several objects and small buildings with light, I enlisted the help of my wife Catherine and friend Darwin to assist me in the light painting of a historic Alberta ranch home. Catherine shone a light on the house allowing me to focus properly. I put the camera on bulb setting and had Catherine and Darwin run around and paint the house with their flashlights. With their help I obtained my ‘best painting with light’ image.
Being able to immerse the dark cabin in a sweep of light from a flashlight helped to create this moody historic scene.
I certainly enjoyed my time in Alberta. Hard to pick only one picture but this one from Dry Island Buffalo Jump was a personal favorite.
Samantha, Ian McGillvrey and I went on a 5-day backpacking trip to Waterton Lakes National Park in late July. The intent of the trip for me and Sam was primarily a nature hike, although I did manage to get in some shots at sunrise and sunset most days. Here Ian and I present our favorite three big grand landscapes at sunrise. Yes, these are big light, wide lens views of the the park’s landscapes! Sam took the point ‘n shoot camera and no tripod, so she didn’t partake in these early morning low light sessions. To see all three of our ‘alternative’ views of Waterton, stay tuned for the next post. And the video at the end shows a fast 12-minute sunrise at Lone Lake (a frame every 30 seconds) – to see the video larger click here.
Last Friday, I woke to a foggy morning in our hometown of Cochrane. I grabbed Einstein our ‘sharp’ Holga film camera and Brando our faithful dog and went for a walk in the fog. I shot 10 frames of fog on Ilford XP-2 B+W film and ended up with five images I liked. Holgas and film work great in moody light and I love that what you shoot in the camera is what you get – if you mess up there is no fixing the shot later. And you can never predict the results; there is the element of surprise that is intriguing. I also like the look of the images I get from the Holga… forget Instagram or software plug-ins, this is the real deal! 😉
Chain Mail Chicken’s first adventure in his journey around the world was with Chris Manderson a participant in last week’s Winter Photo Tour. Chris had Chain Mail with him for a few days. Below is their story as told by Chris:
Here are my chicken photos. I wanted to send you a bit of a motivational narrative behind the photos, so you’re getting a few more than asked for, to support my train of thought. I was also going to vehemently deny the ‘mean’ and ‘cruel’ characterizations of my treatment of the chicken in your blog, but then decided I’d own that too. Chain Mail Chicken got me thinking about Canadian History in a strange way too… My first motivation was to consider the environment in which we were shooting – the Canadian Rockies in winter, and in particular Abraham Lake…that lead me to thinking ice…and in particular chickens in ice. So, with that in mind, I decided to encase the hapless Chain Mail Chicken (CMC) in a block of ice – thinking of it encased in ice and reflecting the morning light. As it turned out, encasing Chain Mail Chicken in ice was a bit more of a challenge than I’d anticipated, given that it wasn’t actually that cold. So, after two days of trying to get a clear block of ice, what I ended up with was another touchstone of Canadian history (and doomed explorers)…namely John Torrington and the Franklin Expedition
(Interestingly, I learned that some people call poor Mr. Torrington a Canadian Mummy…had I known that earlier, there would have been an entire tableau involving gauze and a rubber chicken…)So, instead of CMC encased in a block of ice, I ended up with photos of the chicken emerging from the ice of the Lake; frost-covered and not reflecting the morning light in the least.
Back on Highway 11, the obvious scenario emerged – why did the Chain Mail Chicken cross the road?
And in fact, did CMC make it across? Some think this is an existential question: http://www.toomanymornings.com/?p=1075. I just think it makes for an interesting picture, so I spent the rest of my time with CMC exploring that theme instead, with a few photos along the Icefields Parkway:
And finally safe and warm in Darwin’s pocket!
In keeping with our ‘let them age’ photo workflow, I finally present my 15 favorite images from the November 2012 Fire and Ice Photo Tour. In 2012 we had two out of four mornings with fire and we had a lot of ice and snow because the season started off with a good long cold spell. Who knows what 2013 will bring? For those interested seeing the participant photos from this tour please see this link and scroll down a bit to see everyone’s photos!
If you want to explore the Canadian Rockies in the winter on your own, we have three eBooks specific to winter that cover the area we play around in:
What are your favourite apps?
I’m not sure how I ever lived without GPS. I have it in my car, I have it in my camera, and I have it on my phone. At any given time, I can open up a map and get an aerial view of my location and find my way around. It’s a very exciting time for geography related tools which has direct benefits for photographers.
There are an unlimited number of apps available for photographers but one of the lesser known options in the classic desktop app Google Earth, is light simulation. Sure, there are apps like The Photographer’s Ephemeris that can provide fantastic data for where and when the sun will rise and set – but what if you could actually see it? Google Earth can do that for many locations.
This is most useful for large landscapes and would have little use in the prairies.