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


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.


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.


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!












9 July

Artists in Residence – Week One Summary

We started our Artists in Residence program at Aurum Lodge last week on July 1 (Canada Day). After two weeks of intensive packing and cleaning our house for the renters, we packed up Betty-Tina (our 1976 Trillium travel pod) and planned to be on the road by noon. But our trailer lights did not work and so one of our nice neighbours in Cochrane, an electrician, came over to help us out. A couple of hours later we were ready to go and the last thing we packed from the house were Sam’s home-made rhubarb juice popsicles!

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

In hindsight, travelling on Canada Day was probably not the best choice especially because we plodded along with our RAV-4 pulling Betty-Tina at 80-90 km per hour. I’m sure we were the cause of  a few muffled expletives but we were happy sucking on the popsicles and enjoying the scenery. Canada Day was the start of a crazy hot week here in Alberta with high temperatures and dry conditions after a rainy June. Once at the lodge we settled into our wee cabin in the woods that lodge-owners Alan and Madeleine had pimped out for our arrival. Betty-Tina is parked in the trees ready for us should we need to give up our cabin for guests. It took us two days to unload and get settled. On day 2 we were sitting outside our cabin enjoying coffee and a scone slathered in honey that we’d brought from the Farmer’s Market in Cochrane when a black bear meandered around the corner of the cabin units. This was a big surprise more for us and our dog than the bear which was eventually shooed away by Alan. Alan managed to snap a few photos while we retreated into the safety of the cabin. We now look twice before opening the door with scone in hand.

©Darwin Wiggett - A black bear from another time, we did not get photos of the visiting bear because we were hiding in our cabin!

©Darwin Wiggett – A black bear from another time; we did not get photos of the visiting bear because we were hiding in our cabin!

The great thing about hanging out in a lodge is that you meet awesome people. On day 5 Sam and I had our first private instruction clients, Rob and Michelle Avis. Rob and Michelle booked a full day with us and they were a delight to hang out with (and both were quick studies so the lessons went quickly!) The Avis’ are leading edge permaculture instructors and have been a force in the permaculture movement in Alberta. They offer a two week permaculture design course complete with a certificate at the end. Sam took the course last year and it changed her life. I am taking this two-week course starting in a few days myself and I look forward to being charged about this exciting learning prospect! Personally Sam and I think that permaculture is the biggest bang for the buck if we want to heal the planet. Here at oopoomoo we’ve always looked for ways to minimize our impact on the planet – plus we would love to learn how to grow more of our own food in a challenging climate like Cochrane.

©Darwin Wiggett - Michelle Avis relaxing at Little Indian Falls

©Darwin Wiggett – Michelle Avis relaxing at Little Indian Falls

The other thing of note is that on day 3, a wildfire (likely caused by lightening) erupted about 30km west of Aurum Lodge. The billowing, dirty smoke was striking to look at as it rose behind the mountains. We got a few shots of a blood-red sun through curtains of smoke before the ashy air settled through the entire lake valley. It’s a bit challenging to breathe at times until the wind picks up, but with a wildfire there’s a lot to photograph including the golden light reflected through the orangey clouds and the misty look to the forest. The fire is now under control so we’re not threatened at present except for our lungs when the wind changes directions.

©Samantha Chrysanthou - Smoke in the trees makes for beautiful moody photos.

©Samantha Chrysanthou – Smoke in the trees makes for beautiful moody photos.

©Darwin Wiggett - The suns peaks through the ash and smoke.

©Darwin Wiggett – The suns peaks through the ash and smoke.

©Darwin Wiggett - The drama of forest fire clouds!

©Darwin Wiggett – The drama of forest fire clouds!

Being out here is busy. There’s always lots to do, and we help Alan and Madeleine out from time to time as well (except maybe me who is likely banned from serving after I dropped an entire tray of dishes). Even though we are in a unique situation living in a mountain lodge, we still need to carve out precious creative time. For everyone creative time needs to be scheduled just like anything else. Make it a priority and make sure you get it done first thing everyday!

©Darwin Wiggett - Even if you can't get away for a proper photo shoot, carve out a half hour and make images of the things around you. Here is the grass beside our cabin.

©Darwin Wiggett – Even if you can’t get away for a proper photo shoot, carve out a half hour and make images of the things around you. Here is the grass beside our cabin.

So, we’d like you to join us in a creative challenge every month. This month the task is to take your least used lens (or focal length if you only own one zoom lens) and head out four times this month, using just that lens/focal length. Sam’s least used lens is her 60mm macro lens. She always leaves it out of her pack so I told her she needs to go out this month and make some photos with it. My least used landscape lens is my 85mm f1.4 lens. I always use it for portraits but rarely for landscape and so I will be sure to get out at least four times this month doing landscape work with this lens. Share your story of your least used lens and the images you make in July on our oopoomoo Facebook group for feedback or comments!

©Samantha Chrysanthou - Macro photography with a point-n-shoot not the 60mm macro lens!

©Samantha Chrysanthou – Macro photography with a point-n-shoot not the 60mm macro lens!

13 May

Spring Photography Sale Benefiting the IRIS Photographic Society of Alberta

Stop the press! We’ve got wind of a GIANT Spring Photography Sale benefiting the IRIS Photographic Society of Alberta. If you’re looking for quality cameras, lenses, flashes, tripods and accessories at great prices, then save the date — May 18 from 10-2 at Lofts on the Bow in Cochrane (44077 George Fox Trail).

Besides awesome gear at great prices, you’ve got an amazing opportunity to impress your father-in-law/future wife/difficult boss with your awesome taste in fine photographic art since there will also be photography books and fine art prints on offer.  My Mom has her Christmas shopping done in July hint hint. And the best part is that 10% of the proceeds from the entire sale go to IRIS to support this wonderful non-profit dedicated to using photography as a vehicle for cultural connection and visual story-telling! Yippee! Spread the news!

(ok, ok, maybe not. Since it’s such an awesome chance to get that photographic piece de resistance…you could tweet just your BFFs. Or text your Sunday afternoon fishin’ buddy… Just sayin’ they’ll love you more if you do.)



Sunday May 18, 2014, 10 am to 2 pm


Lofts on the Bow, 44077 George Fox Trail, Cochrane, Alberta  – see map here. Parking available in the gravel lot opposite Lofts on the Bow.


First come first served! Most sellers will be cash only. Please don’t try to haggle/buy in advance — all items are sold as is on the date of the event.


There will be lots of goodies for sale! Below is a partial list with more stuff to be added. Stay tuned for subsequent posts for prices and updates.

  • Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 with adapter for Canon EOS mount (or use it on a Nikon), arguably the best wide angle zoom ever made by anyone, great for landscape and architecture use.
  • Sigma 300-800mm f/5.6 super telephoto zoom, excellent optics and the king of versatility for Canon long zooms, fantastic for wildlife & birds; comes with a Wimberley Mk I gimbal tripod head and a 1.4X converter .
  • Sigma 150-300mm f/2.8 non-stabilized telephoto zoom, one of the best mid-range zoom lenses for Canon in terms of versatility, great for indoor &  outdoor sports, wildlife and more, comes with a 1.4X converter.
  • Canon 24-105mm IS, a very versatile walk-around lens.
  • Sigma 50mm f/1.4, one of the very best “nifty fifties” made for Canon, incredibly bright and crisp.
  • Canon 100mm Macro lens, one of the best macros for Canon.
  • Canon EOS 7D, Canon’s “serious” 1.6 crop camera for heavy use and action shooting; with battery grip and RRS “L” plate.
  • Canon EOS 5D (Mk I), the original gold standard full frame digital 35mm, an excellent starter for landscape use; with battery grip and RRS “L” plate.
  • 2 x Canon EOS 30D bodies each with battery grip and RRS “L” plate; good starter cameras or perhaps useful for IR conversion.
  • A Leica film camera… model number to be announced.
  • Visatec Solo 1600B Studio Flash and Genesis G-800 Studio Flash.
  • Wescott 43 inch studio unbrellas (white and silver).
  • Lightrein 24 inch octo softbox with Lighttools 40 degree egg crate.
  • Beauty dish with diffusers for studio flashes.
  • Studio light stands, snoots, barn doors, and flash gels.
  • Studio backdrops and studio backdrop stands.
  • Studio reflectors, diffusers, and scrims.
  • Slik Professional 4 tripod and Acratech Ball head.
  • 2 brand new Nanook 940 Plastic waterproof cases.
  • Lowepro and Tamrac photo bag.s
  • Canvas and Metal Fine Art Prints at cost (from IRIS photographers).
  • Matted prints from IRIS photographers at cost.
  • Lots of photo accessories, photography books and goodies for photographers.
  • A give away bin with a load of useful stuff.

Come on out to Cochrane and meet the IRIS gang and get some good deals on photo gear and support a great non-profit photography organization. See you there!

Luckily for everyone Sam is keeping all of her film cameras ;-)

Luckily for everyone Sam is keeping all of her film cameras 😉

Gear Sale poster 8x10 vertical


18 January

Building Community through Food

Think about how important food is in our culture. We court over food. We donate food to those in need. Food factors into gift-giving and takes a special role during holidays and gatherings. We gather as a family over a common dinner table. (In my house growing up, the TV went off during dinner and we didn’t answer the phone.) We teach our children an elaborate set of rules and mannerisms that govern the world of food. As we learned in school, food, shelter and clothing are the three basic human needs of pure physical survival.

©Darwin Wiggett - Yummy!

©Darwin Wiggett – Yummy! 

What does food have to do with photography? Here at oopoomoo, we donate every year to a charity or non-profit to support the efforts of these organizations in creating a healthy, sustainable and diverse planet. This past year, we donated our photography services to the Cochrane Cookhouse in recognition of the incredible work that this organization performs for the community. While we could just have handed over cash, it seemed a good opportunity to meet and engage with Cookhouse staff and volunteers by offering our photography and editorial services. The experience was awesome! We’d already attended some of the excellent classes offered by the Cookhouse, such as learning how to can and preserve, make your own cheese and yogurt, and cook up a mean (and healthy) ethnic meal. But by donating our time and skill, we got to learn more about the talented and hard-working people who bring such fun and educational programs to our town.

©Darwin Wiggett - Craig Westhaver of gourmetfoodstuff.com

©Darwin Wiggett – Craig Westhaver of gourmetfoodstuff.com

Let’s face it: food security and the quality of our food and water are going to be (some would argue they already are) defining issues in Canada in coming years. Certainly the plentiful bounty we experience, and the copious food waste we produce, are already trends pointing to an unsustainable food production cycle that will be reset, whether we plan for it and manage it or it just happens to us. That’s why entities like the Cochrane Cookhouse are so important: not only do they offer opportunities to learn the lost art of producing and storing your own healthy food, but they also provide opportunities to connect with your neighbours. In a political climate of short-sighted economic policy and ‘business as usual’ backroom deals, it’s even more important for citizens to directly engage with such grass-roots groups. If you’re lucky enough to have one in your community, support it, share information about it and above all treasure it.

©Darwin Wiggett - Sam on dish duty at the Cookhouse

©Darwin Wiggett – Sam on dish duty at the Cookhouse

30 December

The oopoomoo Team – 2013 Year in Review – Sam and Darwin

Rather than try and pick our best images for the year (what does ‘best’ mean anyway?), we thought we would share with you images that reinforced lessons for us:

Lesson 1: Film is still fun and nothing beats getting it right in the camera!

©Darwin Wiggett - Cochrane in fall with a Fuji GA645 camera using Fuji 160 film

©Darwin Wiggett – Cochrane in fall with a Fuji GA645 camera using Fuji 160 film

Lesson 2: Toy cameras such as the Holgas give unpredictable but funky results. Forget Instagram, this is the real thing! 😉

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett – Holga film camera with Ilford XP-2 400 film

The boneyard - Holga camera with fuji film. ©Samantha Chrysanthou

The boneyard – Holga camera with Fuji 160 film. ©Samantha Chrysanthou

Lesson 3: Short telephoto lenses are perfect for intimate landscape photography!

©Darwin Wiggett - Waterton National Park

©Darwin Wiggett – Waterton National Park

©Darwin Wiggett - telephoto landscape.

©Darwin Wiggett – telephoto landscape.

Lesson 4: Wildlife does not have to fill the frame to make interesting environmental portraits.

©Darwin Wiggett - Jasper National Park

©Darwin Wiggett – Raven in Jasper National Park

A surprise in the woods ©Samantha Chrysanthou

A surprise in the campground – ©Samantha Chrysanthou

Lesson 5: The object doesn’t really matter — but composition and light are king. There’s magic in the everyday!

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett – Criss cross

coffee dregs

Coffee Cup – ©Samantha Chrysanthou

Lesson 6: We love long exposures during the day.

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett – from the Buicks and Badlands workshop

Lesson 7: Sometimes having fun and experiencing nature is way more important than photography!

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett – Waterton National Park

Lesson 8: Shoot a variety of things to avoid a creative rut and keep working on your photo skills.

Build creative muscle by shooting a variety of subject material! ©Samantha Chrysanthou

Build creative muscle by shooting a variety of subject material! ©Samantha Chrysanthou

Old pine in snowstorm

Bastion in the storm. ©Samantha Chrysanthou

Lesson 9: The value of projects is not to be underestimated for feeding your creative soul!

Light on grass and dead spruce

Last Light (shot for the Pressed Landscapes Project) – ©Samantha Chrysanthou

Rocky creek bed

The Creek Bed (shot for the Pressed Landscapes Project) – ©Samantha Chrysanthou

Lesson 10: Shoot what’s important to you.

©Darwin Wiggett - Darwin and Brando - shadow dudes.

©Darwin Wiggett – Darwin photographing Brando – the shadow dudes.

4 September

IRIS Photographic Society of Alberta – Old Cars and Copyright Fundraiser

Join Samantha, Peter Carroll, Ian McGillvrey and myself as we teach you about the finer points of asking permission and getting a property release from car owners at the Cochrane Classic Car Club Show and Shine this September 15.  The video below shows you what not to do and has a few tips on how to properly approach a car owner for permission to photograph. We have pre-negotiated a few owners to sign releases for participants who sign up (we have made the process a little less scary for first time street photographers). As well, we discuss in detail issues of copyright, model and property releases before we head to the streets. And finally we’ll give your images a detailed critique at the public showing of participant’s favorite photos. Learn how to avoid the most common mistakes photographers make when taking pictures of public events, and learn what your rights are as a photographer when it comes to your images. If you enjoy taking and sharing pictures of parades, rodeos or other public events, the skills taught during this unique workshop are not to be missed!

To top it off, this great event is a fundraiser to support the IRIS Photographic Society of Alberta! So come out and have some fun and learn the ins and outs of street photography. For more information about the event please check out this link!

Thanks to Dave Lovell of Gone Wild Kennels for his great job as the car owner in the video!

And thanks to our local sponsors, Legacy Guitar and Coffee House and the Nan Boothby Public Library — you make learning opportunities like this one possible!

12 July

Foggy Film Fridays – A Walk with Brando the Dog and Einstein the Holga

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!  😉

©Darwin Wiggett - The Pathway to the Bow River in Cochrane

©Darwin Wiggett – The Pathway to the Bow River in Cochrane

©Darwin Wiggett - The Cochrane Waste Treatment Pond (the 'poo' pond)

©Darwin Wiggett – The Cochrane Waste Treatment Pond (the ‘poo’ pond)

©Darwin Wiggett - The Bow River and Jumping Pond Creek

©Darwin Wiggett – The Bow River and Jumping Pond Creek

©Darwin Wiggett - Mitford Ponds

©Darwin Wiggett – Mitford Ponds

©Darwin Wiggett - Mitford Ponds

©Darwin Wiggett – Mitford Ponds

3 July

Turning Point – Heather Simonds on “From Eureka to Defining Moments”

Heather Simonds sends us her Turning Point Image and a great observation about how a eureka moment can slide up into a defining moment:

©Heather Simonds

©Heather Simonds

From Eureka to Defining Moments

Eureka moments happen often enough but not so for Defining moments.

Sometimes a Eureka moment strikes as events unfold before you. The rapidly changing and dramatic sunset colours have the prepared, latched to a camera, hoping for one outstanding image in the pack. Darwin and Sam give each other the old high five, as one more impressive sunset folds into darkness, handily captured in their boxes.  Sometimes you know you hit the H*** S*** button when you check your camera back and zoom in for detail. “That old geezers discerning eye is in focus, hurrah!” More often than not, it is when, cozied up at home, you perceive images on the big screen with all their glory, surrounded by reams of software bells and whistles, clicking and sliding and zooming until one jumps out and you “Eureka” yourself into a frenzy yelping “Bagged a winner!” to Fido (who is definitely not amused).

 With macro photography, an image, combining soft, supportive background elements and a complementary mini world, does not usually warrant a heartfelt “Eureka” outburst until this latter stage. You just can’t tell what that bokeh stuff is doing, lurking around in the carefully selected but shifty depth of field. Is it too much, is it too little? At the same time, fear presides over that testy front subject; such a thin slice in focus, suppresses an otherwise joyous eruption. Alas, it just might not be dead sharp in all of the critical areas.

Luckily, on first observation of this image, I discovered in a small world, intriguingly upside down and perfectly in focus, and the background complemented in tone and colour spread, prickly stems contrasting with painterly blends, and thus, a long forgotten Eureka reaction. However, it was a realization that elevated it from the Eureka standard up to a Defining moment. I had just returned from a once in a lifetime Tanzania safari, the type of trip that has you graduating from irrationally shooting everything the first few days to much wiser selective clicking. Shooting elephants and lions and zebras and warthogs daily takes its toll and there is some relief with safari ending and tired trigger fingers taper off into relaxed mode. Ho Hum to the Big Five, give me a new animal to shoot! A snake, maybe… The first morning back home in Canada, jetlagged, I lingered in my garden, fuzzy borage everywhere dripping with droplets recently soaked by an early morning shower, inhaling the freshness that only comes from a recent downpour on the foothills, pondering the goodness a Canadian summer morning offers. I stood surrounded in a haze of sparkling, intriguing water droplets, their magic reinforcing “there is no place like home” yet weary from travel, especially punching the shutter. With hesitation, but newly inspired by what was calling attention and curious as to what could become of it, I grabbed the magic box and sticks and my trusty canine and headed out on my own safari in the backyard.

How does a Eureka moment slide up into a Defining moment? Perhaps, when an image gives you insight into your emotions and subtly teaches you a truth if you are willing to observe.  Images await everywhere, you just need to explore with purposeful determination, ever mindful, and, often you don’t have to venture far from the familiar on your own doorstep.

6 March

‘Around Town’ Persistent Vision Photo Contest Winner – Tracy Hindle

We are pleased to announce that Tracy Hindle was chosen by Winter Photographics as the grand prize winner of a full day pass to our upcoming photography event, Persistent Vision. The photo had to be taken in Cochrane Alberta (Around Town). Here is what Tracy had to say about the making of the image:

Cochrane Lanes Bowling Alley – when making this image I originally had one thing in mind.  A lady I know from bowling was turning 90, yes 90, and she still bowls AMAZINGLY!  She beats me almost every time.  I wanted to make a special birthday card depicting different aspects of bowling and headed down to the lanes to take pictures.    End result – she was thrilled.  The bonus for me once I got there was the challenge of taking action pictures of the ball hitting the pins.  Trying to freeze that moment when there is ultimate contact with low lighting and no flash.   I hope to go back and try again, and again, as I really enjoyed it.

When I saw your contest looking for pictures from “Around Cochrane” I wanted to submit something that I thought no one else would think of and possibly had not already been done before.  Dare to be different in my interpretation of – A “round” Cochrane,  I thought this picture captures not only the beauty of the balls, but the essence of the game with the allies and the pins just out of focus.


©Tracy Hindle

©Tracy Hindle