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!¬† ūüėČ


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.


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.


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


8 February

Wag Wednesdays (and help for the Cochrane and Area Humane Society)

If you are a member of the oopoomoo Creatives Facebook group you already know that every Wednesday we encourage people to post creative photos of their pets (or anything else with a tail that could be wagged, wiggled or waved). To participate, just post your photo to our group with the hashtag #wagwednesdays – once a month or so we’ll round up the best submissions and feature them here on the blog (with your copyright info of course).


Affie, the puggle, behaving for treats.

Speaking of Wag Wednesdays, we borrowed that slogan from the Cochrane and Area Humane Society which has a Wednesday play group of the same name of which Affie is a member. He comes home on Wednesdays wagged out and wasted!

Affie playing hard at the Cochrane and Area Humane Society

Affie playing hard at the Cochrane and Area Humane Society

One of the needs the humane society has is to get an instant photo printer that can print 4×6 photos that they can use to raise funds by printing photos for clients, adopters and for educational uses. For example, many participants in Wag Wednesday would love to have a printed photo of their dog in action (see the CAHS Instagram feed for examples). If anyone has a used instant digital printer or wants to buy and donate a new one to the CAHS, especially one that can accept smartphone pictures wirelessly, that would be awesome (even if it does not have wireless that will still work as well). Just drop on by the humane society or you can contact us here at oopoomoo and we can deliver whatever you have. Below are a couple of examples of the kinds of printers we mean (older discontinued models are fine as well). And if you have any paper and ink to go with the printers that is even better (the disposables are where the expense comes in).

Instant printers designed to print smartphone photos:

Fuji Instax Share SP-1 or SP-2

Polaroid Zip

HP Sprocket

Instant printers designed to print smartphone photos and memory cards

Canon Selphy CP1200

Canon Selphy CP910

Epson Expression XP640

The puppies thank you!

The puppies thank you!

UPDATE – The Cochrane and Area Humane Society is now the proud owner of a Canon Selphy CP1200 thanks to the kind donation from a wonderful couple from Calgary!

6 December

Walking a Mile in Another Person’s Shoes – Three Weeks as a Kennel Operator

Have you ever wondered what life is like as another person? What’s it like to be on the¬†road¬†as a musician? What does the average day of an elite athlete look like? What does a cattle rancher do day-to-day and month-to-month? Could you handle the pressure of being a gang member? What does a¬†Buddhist¬†monk do for giggles? Sam and I are always wondering about other people’s lives. Fortunately for me, I got to walk in someone else’s shoes for three weeks as an¬†operator¬†of Gone Wild Kennels, a dog boarding kennel, just outside of Cochrane, Alberta.

First a little background: Dave, the owner of the kennel, has not had a vacation or a day off in 39 months! That sounds as bad as being a self-employed photographer! But worse (at least in my mind), Dave has to be at the kennel day in and day out; no little jaunts here and there to get away. Dave is stuck to his schedule of looking after the dogs and that schedule is rigorous! The kennel can hold up to 50 dogs at capacity and Dave’s kennel is unique in that the dogs get about 6 hours of playtime (in a giant fenced off-leash area) per day. You will never visit a more peaceful and quiet dog run. Where else can you see upwards of 50 dogs together being quiet and just hanging out? Don’t believe me? Well check out¬†this video¬†of Dave with 40 dogs. To¬†achieve¬†this feat, Dave is top dog and runs the kennel with a gentle but firm hand. This is the kennel he turned over to me. I like dogs and know a little about dog training but maybe these shoes were too big to fill! We’ll see!

¬©Darwin Wiggett – Dave’s big boots; tough to fill!

Day one was not an auspicious start (read about it here) but after a few days I got the hang of things and got into the routine. And routine and long days are what the job is all about. The dogs are out from 6 to 7 AM and then are fed breakfast. Then I eat, check the kennel email and the schedule of drop offs and pick ups. Out with the dogs again from 8:30 to 11:00 AM. Much of that time is spent picking up poop, hanging with the dogs and dealing with clients that are leaving or fetching dogs. Then it’s lunch and then¬†errands and maintenance¬†of the kennel doing cleaning and repairs and such. There might be a little downtime (a short snooze or soak in the hot tub) but it is back out with the dogs from 3 – 5 PM. Then it’s make supper, have a few hours of downtime and then a final outing with the dogs from 9-10 PM. And I did not have to deal with the horses, the sheep, or the everyday chores of having a small farmyard. Yikes, that Dave guy is about as busy as a Border Collie in a ball factory!

¬©Darwin Wiggett – A big part of the kennel owner’s day!

©Darwin Wiggett РGuess what the favorite game is for the dogs?

The biggest skill you need is an understanding of dogs. I could mostly keep them quiet, but unlike Dave I did not have a kennel as silent as a church. And then there is the inevitable dog fight. Dave has them on rare occasions and quickly wades in there and raises hell. Mostly he just yells ‘hey’ and they stop. But they know Dave is serious and that they can get away with nothing. I was new and unproven!Dogs, like kids, love to test limits. And so the first few days scraps were common. To convince the dogs you are boss, you gotta have complete confidence. It is not so much what you do, it is how you carry yourself, but when push comes to shove, you better be the one shoving! And one day it happened. A lady let her dog out of her car outside the fence of the play area and the dogs in the fenced area went¬†ballistic. Dogs are super brave when a fence separates them from other dogs and they hurled every insult they knew to the interloper. I was on the same side of the fence as the lady and her dog madly yelling at the lady to get her dog back in the car. Well one of the dogs snapped and a fight broke out between the two dominant dogs in the kennel. It was not just a minor scrap, it was one of those fights that was for the kill. And that fight triggered three others. There was four balls of flying fur and fury!

Experts say never wade into a dog fight or you will get hurt. A kennel owner’s¬†responsibilities¬†are first to the clients’ dogs; damn your own fingers and toes! So through the gate I plunged and immediately grabbed the dog with his fangs in another dog’s throat. Adrenaline had me grab the scruff of a 90 pound dog ¬†and toss it to the side. All the other¬†subordinate¬†dogs immediately went for the exposed gut of the dog on the ground. I was tossing dogs like a bear tosses logs looking for ants. I was totally pissed off and the dogs knew it. After that wee episode there were no more issues and the new guy in the kennel was accepted as boss. Dave makes it look easy, but the dogs know who the top dog is. Anyone new has to¬†prove¬†themselves to the dogs.

In the end, I have huge¬†respect¬†for the hard work and the skills Dave has as a kennel owner. Many people think Dave has a dream job (hanging out with dogs all day) but don’t judge it until you try it! After three weeks I already need a vacation! But the benefits of living in the country and suffering the views below help even things out! And the dogs were awesome!

©Darwin Wiggett РThe view from the living room window!

©Darwin Wiggett РThe house in the country with the aurora Рtough view to take!

©Darwin Wiggett РBrando came to help out with kennel duties!

©Darwin Wiggett РI loved hanging with the dogs.

In the end, could I be a kennel operator? I think so but only if I shared duties with someone else. I would want to work four days on and four days off! That is a good balance for me. Dave is tougher than that!

©Darwin Wiggett РLooking back it was a great experience!



14 November

Dog Day Afternoon(s) and Mornings and Evenings (and a few stories to tell)

I have a great idea for a mock magazine article¬†I plan to pitch Patrick Kane when he comes this Saturday to Cochrane¬†for his talk, Get Published! Insider Secrets to Shooting for and Working with Magazines. Patrick is a former magazine photo editor and I’ll see if my ‘professional’ pitch for an article can win him over. Will I be able to do things right and land the article, or will my approach be¬†laughable? Come and find out!

Anyway, as a wee hint, I am currently kennel sitting for a friend and am seeing what it is like to be a dog kennel operator for 17 days. Day¬†one involved a dog with explosive¬†diarrhea¬†that plastered the wall and the floor like a bad Jackson Pollock painting. Then the same dog got bit on the paw by another dog and¬†blood gushed like an Iceland geyser over the same walls and floor. Doctor Darwin to the rescue (lucky my first aid is up to date).¬†Another dog tried to bite me because I was the new kid in the kennel (lucky my first aid is up to date).¬† I dropped the automatic door opener for the gate to the property and busted that important piece of technology (anyone know how to override an electronic gate?) And finally, I accidentally switched off some power source to every garage door in the facility (there are three). That makes it tough to get out the kennel vehicle to pick up dog food and stuff. Day two went a bit smoother until the moose hunter showed up the yard looking to shoot something. I recommended the dog who tried to bite me¬†ūüėČ

So… I think I might have a story idea or two to pitch Patrick. (Oh, and if anyone tells Dave the kennel owner about this, I’ll deny it – “Lies, all lies!”)

My new daily routine for 17 days

©Darwin Wiggett РGuess what the dogs want to do?

17 October

Fall in the Canadian Rockies Photo Tour Results – Dan Wotton

Below are the six favorite photos that Dan Wotton sent in from the Fall in the Canadian Rockies Photo Tour. Dan is a returning veteran of previous tours and a workshop and is a proud new owner of a chocolate lab puppy.

Here are Dan’s images and comments:

Interestingly enough, I didn’t pick any photos of the grand mountains. I liked the details and compositions of other photos.¬†The Smokey Mountain was probably my favourite during the week. I just really liked the layers and the flow of the lines.

©Dan Wotton

In the colour reflection photo I liked the progression of colour from yellow to red to green. The scene stood out to me with the red colour as we don’t get too much reds in the fall out here in the west.¬†

©Dan Wotton

I liked the different bands of colour from the different trees progressing up the mountain.

©Dan Wotton

I liked the way the texture and form of the rock stood out in black and white in the photo of the falls on the North Saskatchewan River.

©Dan Wotton

The mood of this photo stood out for me with the silhouette of the raven in the scraggly tree and the sun trying to break through the fog.

©Dan Wotton

I usually sharpen most of my images but I liked the more painterly effect for this simple composition at the Nordegg Mine.

©Dan Wotton

And here’s one of the newest addition to the family, Hudson.¬†

©Dan Wotton


23 April

Shooting Blind for Better Action Portraits of Dogs

One of our favorite dog photography techniques is something we call “shooting blind” (or, as Darwin perhaps inappropriately puts it: “c’mon doggie follow the wiener!”). The photo below shows Darwin getting ready with a Shiba Inu puppy. First, you want to set your camera to ‘tracking’ auto focus and choose a wide angle lens or wide focal length. Hold the camera down close to the dog and take a few quick steps backward while holding out a bit of wiener in the other hand toward the dog. As the puppy starts to play this intriguing game with you, randomly press the shutter button as you move backwards. Do all this without falling down and hurting yourself! Sure you’ll get a lot of crappy photos (and a few bruises and licks) but in almost every attempt you’ll get one winning shot and lots of laughs!

¬©Samantha Chrysanthou -Darwin getting ready to use the “shooting blind” technique

Here is the keeper from Darwin’s shoot with the Shiba Inu above:

©Darwin Wiggett РCanon 24-70mm lens at 38mm, 1/640s at f5, ISO 400

If you want to try this with your dog, here is our suggested workflow:

  • We prefer overcast days for this technique because the light is more even and the details in the dog will record beautifully on your camera sensor. If you shoot on sunny days make sure that the dog is mostly front lit.
  • Grab a wide angle zoom lens. On a full frame camera we find that 35mm is about the perfect focal length to use (on cropped sensor cameras try 24mm).
  • We set our camera to aperture priority mode and usually pick an aperture between f5.6 or f8.0 to get a decent depth-of-field to cover slight focus errors.
  • For overcast days we set our ISO to 400 which gives us decent speeds (1/250s or higher) with apertures in the f5.6 to f8 range.
  • Set your camera on predictive or tracking auto focus (see your camera instruction manual if you don’t know how to do this) and be sure to have all the auto focus points active because you don’t know exactly what your framing will be; with all points active, chances are good one of the points will lock focus on some part of the dog.
  • Put your camera on high speed motor drive.
  • Cover the viewfinder eyepiece with a piece of dark tape or cloth so the camera meter is not fooled by bright light coming in through the viewfinder.
  • Pick a location where you have plenty of space to run backwards and there are no dangers (like trees, cliffs or highways).
  • Call the dog over and give it a piece of wiener.
  • Lower the camera to the dog’s eye level, hold a piece of wiener over the camera with your free hand call the dog’s name and have it chase the camera and wiener as you run backwards (this is called multitasking!)
  • Shoot a series of photos until your camera buffer runs out or you fall down or the dog jumps you!
  • Stop laughing, catch your breath, reward the dog with the treat and then review your images. If you got one good one you are lucky! If you didn’t get anything good then adjust as needed (more or less shutter speed, different framing, different background etc) and try again.
  • We think the unusual framing and interested expressions on the dogs’ faces create dynamic images. And you really can’t help but have fun doing this!

Here are a few more photos we captured using this technique:

24-70mm lens at 28mm, 1/400s at f6.3, ISO 800

24-70mm lens at 34mm, 1/500s at f6.3, ISO 400

24-70mm lens at 40mm, 1/200s at f4, ISO 400

24-70mm lens at 39mm, 1/100s at f5.6, ISO 400

24-70mm lens at 34mm, 1/640s at f5, ISO 100

Canon 24-70mm at 42mm, 1/640s at f4.5, ISO 400

24-70mm lens at 35mm, 1/800s at f7.1, ISO 400

24-70mm lens at 32mm, 1/400s at f4, ISO 400


7 April

Our Favorite Dog Photos

For Easter, we thought we would share a subject dear to our heart – dogs! Below are 20 of our favorite photos of pooches, puppies, and pound dogs. We hope to get out and photograph more of our furry friends this year. If you’ve got a favorite Fido you want photographed, we’d be happy to come over with our bag of hot dog treats and bribe your puppy for photos!

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Samantha Chrysanthou


©Samantha Chrysanthou

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

4 February

Brando Update (and ‘On Missing the G11’)

As promised, we have an update on Brando. Thanks to the oopoomoo community for such a great response to our camera gear sale to raise funds for cancer treatment for our dog Brando. Brando’s prognosis is excellent and he goes to Western¬†Veterinary¬†Specialists in Calgary on Feb. 6 for four days of treatments. It’s expensive but we think Brando is worth it! We hope for many more camping trips with our furry side kick. Below is a photo of a happy Brando headed to the Yukon in 2008.

Brando packed up for a month long camping trip to the Yukon

I thought it might be hard to sell all that cool camera gear but the fact is I don’t miss any of it. But I sure would miss Brando if he wasn’t around waiting for his walks each day. The only piece of camera gear I miss just a little is my point-n-shoot digital camera, the Canon G11 (that went to a really good home BTW.) I can’t believe how often I reached for it to make a happy snap or to play with while out doing errands or walking. One day in the future I will get another point-n-shoot because I find the little cameras keep my eye ‘tuned’ in between ‘serious’ shooting. Here are the last photos I made with the G11; all are made either around the house or while walking around Cochrane. Thanks for looking!

©Darwin Wiggett - Water drops on the hood of a car

©Darwin Wiggett - It's so cold even fire hydrants need toques!

©Darwin Wiggett - Window light still life

©Darwin Wiggett - Living room wall abstract

©Darwin Wiggett - The Cochrane IGA Store

©Darwin Wiggett - Remnants of fall in winter

©Darwin Wiggett - Worm Railway

©Darwin Wiggett - Railroad Sign

©Darwin Wiggett - Going Shopping

©Darwin Wiggett - Self Portrait with the G11

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? РFeb 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!


24 December

Sit, Stay and Smile – Easy! Outdoor Dog Photography

We are very happy to announce our first oopoomoo¬†how-to photography eBook –¬†Sit, Stay and Smile – Easy! Outdoor Dog Photography¬†(there will be lots more new titles coming in the future!)

We have been photographing dogs for years for ¬†stock photography, ¬†for magazine¬†assignments, and for our local humane society. And now we bring all our tips and tricks on dog photography into one detailed eBook. The most¬†challenging aspect of dog photography is understanding how to make photography a fun game for your pooch — we teach you how!

We give you the guidelines you need to get your subjects ‚Äėpaws‚Äôitively performing for the camera! In addition, you‚Äôll learn the essential techniques behind the lens to pull off great photos no matter what breed of dog you are photographing or what outdoor lighting situation you find yourself in. Anyone who has struggled to make exciting photos of dogs will benefit from this eBook.

To learn more simply click on the photo above Р only $10 CAN!

You can get this eBook for free by signing up for our Easy Outdoor Dog Photography to be held on April 28th, 2012 in Cochrane, Alberta.

Big shout out to our amazing eBook designer and all around amazing collaborator on all things webby РStephen Desroches! Stephen helped us design this website and did a spanking job on this new eBook. Plus he is a great guy and a fantastic photographer.  Check out his blog as well.