I can hear you all saying, “Another post from Catherine so soon?!” Well, there are several reasons for this post.
First, Sam and Darwin are trying to take some time off this month. As you read in Kennel Boy’s post, he was crazy busy while at Gone Wild Kennels. Sam slaved over the computer most of the time except one day when we both toodled off to Canmore. We spent some time strolling down the main street, stopping for a nice creamy latte and then heading to the deli to purchase a turducken for the festive season.
Keep your eye on the oopoomoo posts because I can see a story here!!! One day last week, Sam and Darwin went out into the forest just to have FUN. No further explanation was given. I don’t believe cameras were involved, so I guess we will leave the definition of ‘fun’ to our imaginations! They deserve some time off so I’ll help them out by doing this post.
Reason two for this post is that I had one more assignment to complete for my Instructor at SAIT (Southern Alberta Institute of Technology). He told us that he was so impressed with our creativity that the doors are wide open for our last assignment. The one restriction is that we cannot do any post production. While working on my assignment I came across a ‘discovery’ that I thought I would share with all of you.
The third reason is that I am not running around buying chocolate, marshmallows, candied fruit, dates and all the other goodies needed for the Christmas sweets. I am not out in the woods looking for a six foot tree which, by the time it gets into the house, is ten feet!!!! (it looked so much smaller in the forest!) AND…I am not fighting off crowds of people, listening to crying babies who are all bundled up in strollers like wee cocoons, or standing in line for one hour only to find out that the 2012 Christmas gift fad is all sold out!! Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE Christmas!!! We celebrated ‘Christmas in July’ because it’s so difficult to get all family members home in December. Yep, this year we had our Christmas Polar Bear on our front lawn, some strands of lights in the trees, our Christmas tree dressed in its best, presents waiting to have their outer skin ripped off, stockings hanging and the wonderful, delicious smell of ……………barbequed hamburgers. Hey! It’s too hot in the middle of July to have the oven on for five hours while the bird cooks!!! We enjoyed our meal on the back deck with family and friends and some even enjoyed a soak in the hot tub! Our neighbours thought perhaps Ed and I had really lost it when we were decorating the front yard with Christmas decorations on July 10th . They were convinced we belong in the loonie bin on July 14th when we were on the deck unwrapping Christmas gifts !!!
Soooooooooooooo, I have some time on my hands. What better way to spend some of that time than writing an oopoomoo post?
Now, to my AH HA moment. The pressure is on. Twenty Continuing Education Students need to be photographically creative. We are a competitive group, in a friendly way, and this is our last chance to ‘show our stuff’. However, I don’t know if I can top the RED BRA in a snow covered tree image shown last week in class. NOOOO, I did not submit that photo.
I should work on my Portrait Challenge Sam and Darwin have given me and kill two birds with one stone. The challenge is to be finished by the end of the year and the portraits are to be of strangers. I need to develop a rapport with them prior to ‘shooting’ them. But, I’ll tell you a secret if you promise not to mention it to Sam or Darwin…….They neglected to tell me how many portraits I am required to hand in. Ha ha ha! I know I can grab one image of a person before New Years Eve so I’m not in a big panic.
For my SAIT assignment I decided to do some water droplets on glass photos. I have never done this before so I knew there would be some trial and error happening.
The first step was to find a small piece of glass. Downstairs I went. After rummaging through some boxes I saw just what I needed – an 8×10 piece of glass from a broken photo frame.
The second step was to get my tail over to the local ‘tires and everything else store’ to buy some Rain X which causes water beads to form when water contacts the glass.
After washing, drying, Rain-x-ing and dropping little droplets of water on the glass it was now time to set things up. Camera was attached to the tripod. Small items to put under the glass included a lizard figurine, red and green confetti, a red and white card shaped like a mitten and one of Ed’s treasured collectors matchbox cars (this is another secret, okay?)
I held the glass between the mitten shaped Christmas card and the lens and played around with distance from the card. I focused the camera on the droplets. Not bad…… good depth of field and you could see part of the card in some of the droplets. Snap. Ummm, what are those funny lines all over my image??? Okay. I need to keep the glass absolutely still. Out come four small boxes. With the glass carefully placed on top of the boxes I snapped away again. Still wiggly lines! Wash, dry and a super polish this time. Snap. Nope! What the heck!?!? Must be poor quality glass!
I downloaded the images on to my laptop to have a better look at the wiggly lines. Ummmm, these lines remind me of something I’ve seen before…..??? Relaxed and stretched out in my recliner (I do my best thinking in this position) I was in heavy thought and staring up at the ceiling. That’s when I had my AH HA moment! WIGGLY LINES!!! ON THE CEILING!!! The textured ceiling was reflecting on the glass and because of the lighting I was getting a perfect reflection!
I replaced the red mitten card on the table, focused on the wiggly lines and SNAP. Here is what I got.
I put the lizard under the glass and focused on the lizard through the glass. Here is an image of the set up.
Then I focused on the wiggley lines.
The images I shot today were not what I was hoping for but they are kinda neat. I won`t submit any of them for my SAIT assignment but I may come back to this technique at a later date and see what else could be done with glass and ceiling. Perhaps when I succeed with my water droplets on glass project, I will share them with you.
Last week, I was given a photography assignment, from a SAIT (Southern Alberta Institute of Technology) instructor, which sounded rather ordinary until we were told to “be creative”. Ohhh, I like being creative and thinking outside the box. The assignment was to make one image which conveys motion.
I was not interested in photographing the typical car tail lights, cats pouncing on a toy, trains zooming by, or a football game. I thought back to the workshops and tours I have done with Sam and Darwin. I had a great time particpating in their Extreme Saskatchewan Tour in 2010. One day the rain just would not surrender and we were all “sent to our rooms” to do an assignment. “Be creative in your hotel room….photography speaking!” we were told. I chose to photograph the ‘ghost’ in my room. Thinking back to that day, I thought for my SAIT assignment, I would make an image of a ghost walking in my house. Since I don’t have a strobe flash (I was using a flashlight) my images were not showing a moving ghost, just a blurry mess. Now what?? After a few minutes of brainstorming I decided to play with glow sticks in a dark room. Off I went to our local loonie (dollar) store to purchase a bag full of glow sticks.
Before supper I set the livingroom up for the shoot. Furniture was pushed aside and everything was taken off the fireplace hearth and mantle. A black sheet was hung in front of the fireplace (don’t worry, the fire was not ablaze!). This sheet covered all the shiny bits and pieces of brass and glass which might reflect in my images.
The camera, a Canon 50D with a 50mm lens, was on a tripod and placed approximately 10 feet away from the fireplace with a clear ‘running track’ made for me back to the camera. I manually set focus and then set my camera to an 8 second shutter speed, ISO 400 and aperture of f1.8. All that was left was to wait for it to get pitch dark and for me to finish supper (the latter being most important for my ‘creative juices’).
With all curtains drawn, ceiling lights turned off and the hallway night light unplugged I was ready to compose! OOOOOO it’s dark. Tread carefully Catherine! Crack, crack, crack went the first glow stick as I bent it in several places. One click on the cable release and off I went! Quickly making my way, on the left side of the camera, to the fireplace, I waved the stick in front of the black cloth for about five seconds. Excited to see my results, I made my way back to the camera via the track on the right side of the camera. THUD! Zerrin, our Golden Retriever, decided to have a snooze where his blankie USUALLY is. What a kerfuffle! Both of us trying to get up and out of each others way! Me flailing in the dark to grab a tripod leg so that Zerrin wouldn’t knock it over during his frantic escape. Zerrin doing a hind leg split on the wooden floor and me laughing so hard I could hardly get up off the floor! Dog, photographer and camera all survived!
I spent over two hours playing in the dark. Pink sticks. Green sticks. Orange sticks. Short sticks. long sticks. Tri color circles. Numerous speeds and fancy movements with the glow sticks. Check out the images below and let me know what you think. Remember to put your mouse arrow on the images for the image title!
By the way, this would be a fun project to do when the snow is blowing, the wind is howling and it’s just too darn miserable to do outdoor photography.
Need some photography related ideas for the photographer on your Christmas list? If so, check out our Christmas gift list by clicking here or on the photo above to buy eBook coupons, tickets to an awesome photography seminar or even one-on-one instructional photo outings with Samantha and me!
What do you think it takes to get your photos published in magazines? When we ask this question of photographers they almost always say: “It takes a killer photo to get into a magazine!”
Well… a killer photo certainly won’t hurt your chances, but magazine editors look for so much more than a pretty photo! As a photographer friend used to say, “‘your job as a photographer is to get the magazine editor to coffee faster!” The easier you make it for the editor, the more likely they will use your photo. Is the photo a match for their editorial content either stylistically or based on a seasonal need? Does it portray a story that will stand on its own or supplement an article? Is the image prepared to the exact specifications the magazine needs for publishing? Is your pricing in line with the budget of the magazine? We will cover these questions and more on Saturday November 17th from 2 – 4 PM when we bring in professional photographer and former magazine editor Patrick Kane to Cochrane, Alberta to give an oopoomoo Talk: Get Published! Insider Secrets to Shooting for and Working with Magazines. Get the scoop from a pro working both sides of the industry!
And speaking of magazines and being published, a little bragging is in order…to date Samantha and I have over 100 published magazine articles between us – yippee! The next issue of Outdoor Photography Canada which will hit the newstands in a month or so will have Samantha featured as the profiled photographer. Samantha and I will also have a feature article entitled: The Successful Photographer’s Two-Step: Getting Over Five Fatal Mis-Steps in Your Images and, finally, I will have my regular Advanced Shooter column this time with the topic Chasing the Icon: a Checklist for Failure?
If you head to newsstands or subscribe to Outdoor Photographer, you will see my image below from Goat Pond in Kananaskis gracing the December 2012 cover! If memory serves, I think this is my fifth cover for this magazine. Sam took a photo of Goat Pond with the same rock in the foreground but in a different direction and had the cover on the December 2008 issue of Pop Photo along with a 4-page spread in the same issue (see below)!
So…I didn’t mention these articles just to brag (honest). Another point that I wanted to bring up is that marketing your images and work these days is all about networking. If an editor has met you or spoken with you, that little bit of ‘real’ contact goes a long way. I bet — all other things being equal — when it comes to picking the next piece to publish, the editor will pick you over some ‘stranger’ (unless you really mess up your little meeting!). But don’t believe us! Your first chance to meet someone in the biz in person, is Pat Kane’s talk this Saturday in Cochrane. So if you’re AT ALL interested in getting your work published, remember that these kinds of chances don’t come by very often. And for those of you not in the area, watch for ways that you can meet key people in your region such as at writer’s lunches, trade shows, or speaking engagements.
To show you examples of a few of our articles that made it to publication, just click on the titles below.
Samantha and I have compiled a webpage listing most of the free articles that we have published on-line (but we are sure we still missed a few). The list of articles is huge and will continue to grow as we add more free content to benefit all who drop by the oopoomoo site. Feel free to share this page with any photo buddy you think might benefit from our ramblings. And thanks for supporting us over the past year!
It seems a popular pursuit in landscape photography is to globe trot to exotic locations mining dramatic landscapes in theatrical light. In the past, the hard work in this kind of photography was the research. Getting yourself in the right place at the right time in the right conditions was a bit of a task. Today, with GPS-tagged photos, location apps and eGuides, finding the world’s trophy locations has never been easier. Witness the ever-increasing crowds lining up for sweet light photos of Maroon Bells, Delicate Arch, the Giant’s Cuaseway or the Taj Mahal. Few locations are ‘secret’ any longer so coming up with unique photos based solely on access and good light is getting harder and harder.
As impressive as it is to see a portfolio of big dramatic landscape images from around the world, these portfolios resonate with us less and less because they are now so common place. The photographers’ portfolios that really impress us are those photographers who can consistently make the extraordinary from the ordinary. Those photographers who find gems in their living room, in the ditch on the side of the highway or in any location most of us would pass over are, in our eyes, true artists. There is a plethora of fantastic images all within eye sight of each of us right now, if only we are open to seeing. Think of Edward Weston’s famous photo Pepper 30. Who would have thought that a common vegetable we get in our grocery bag could be such an evocative subject?
I have occasionally been able to make a memorable (at least to me) photo of mundane subjects that normally I would pass over, but mostly I still rely on the obvious to present itself for me to capture as an image. (Sam, on the other hand, almost always goes for the quiet, personal image of an overlooked subject even when we are in a trophy location with big light.)
In an attempt to grow as artists and to learn to see deeper, we have given ourselves an ongoing assignment; to create ‘something from nothing’. We will pick a mundane location or subject and try and make a photo with personal vision. This is probably easier for Samantha. I know I will struggle because I have been trained for over 25 years to go for the big light!
Of course the danger of consciously forcing yourself ‘to see’ is that you may fail simply by being conscious of intention. The idea here is not to purposely create an ‘extraordinary photo of the ordinary’ that we can show off (that is just another form of trophy hunting and bragging). Rather the goal is the process of seeing. The failures (in seeing) are just as important as the successes. We will show both. I rarely show my failures so this is a big step for me 😉
With that I share with you my first “Something from Nothing” exercise and the thought process behind it. We would love it if some of you tried this exercise along with us. Send us your description and a series of images from your own attempts and if we think the results are instructive we’ll share them here on the oopoomoo blog (email@example.com). Happy seeing!
Something from Nothing – The First Attempt
One day while doing the dishes I noticed the vases in the windowsill were reflecting colours on the metal of the sink. I took a half an hour off of house duties, grabbed my camera and snapped a few photos.
Like most of us, I found myself immediately attracted to the brightest colour and contrast of the scene. I started with the reflections spilling across the drain. The image below is probably the most obvious and was the ‘gimme’ image that had to be made first!
Next, I tried to move beyond the obvious and work pure colour and shape in a more abstract representation. The image below relies on the geometry inherent in the scene (circle, triangles and line) along with the coloured reflection but is a little more subtle. I used a shallow depth of field to focus attention on the foreground metal.
I wanted an even more abstract representation of the sink and drain and shot through the reflection on the edge of the sink to show a hint of the subject emerging through the coloured reflection. This is the image I like the best from the series and represents for me a marriage of pure abstraction of colour and shape with an anchor of reality. I also like how the frame is divideded into triangles of reality in monochrome and abstraction in colour.
I then tried to work the lines of the facet and taps but didn’t really get anything evocative but rather just predictable and boring. Notice I still couldn’t get away from the draw of colour!
In the end, I had one image that I liked. None of the results here are ‘extraordinary’ but the process really helped me tune my eye. Now that I look at the overall image of the kitchen I see things I missed while I was fixated on the coloured reflections. For example, in the upper left of the photo the bottom of a wine glass contrasts strongly with a silver bowl. That might make an interesting photo. Also the soap bubbles on the counter would make an a decent abstract macro image. There are dancing shadows on the tiles above the taps that would be worth a look. Personally, I think I was too fixated on the reflections to see the other visual gifts that the scene contained. This exercise makes me want to try the kitchen sink again to see if I can see a little deeper next time. I gotta go and get the dishes finished. Who knows what I might find!
The photo above was taken at the Jökulsárlón lagoon below the Vatnajökull glacier in Vatnajökull National Park, Iceland. This was one of the few cloudy mornings we got on our trip; mostly it was sunny and clear! The original scene was lacking in colour and felt a bit dull to me (see image below without filters) so I pulled out some filters to juice things up a bit.
First, I used a 3-stop soft-edge grad filter pulled down to the top of the ice to even out the exposure, then I added the Gold-N-Blue Polarizer to colour the reflective water in rich blue. Finally, I dropped on a 10-stop solid ND filter to get my exposure time to 30 seconds to smooth out the choppy water. The filtered image looks strikingly different than the ‘straight’ shot (for me the filtered image ‘feels’ what it was like to be there). Anyway, I challenge those photographers who believe camera filters have no place in digital photography to take the image below and make it look like the image above in software 😉
Speaking of learning, below we list our upcoming workshops and photo tours that still have space in for this year. If you have friends that need help with their photography then send them to us and we’ll help make them better photographers! Details on how to register are found through the links below:
July 5 – 8 – Kootenay Plains and the Nordegg Mine Tour, Alberta Rockies – visit a spectacular but lesser known area of the Canadian Rockies plus get rare and unique access to one of the largest abandoned briquette coal mines in North America.
August 23 – 26 – Badlands, Buicks, and Old Buildings, Alberta – join us on a prairie tour and workshop where we hunt down historic buildings, visit an auto-wrecker’s yard, and photograph the badlands of south-central Alberta.
September 7 – 8 – Weekend Photocram Part I with Sam and Darwin hosted by the Foothills Camera Club, Calgary – we’re happy to be in our own backyard for this one (surprisingly, we aren’t often teaching workshops in the area)! If you’re near Calgary, don’t miss this opportunity for an intensive weekend of photography instruction to take your photography up a notch or two! Contact Dana at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information
September 14 – 16 – Weekend Photocram Part I with Sam and Darwin hosted by the Whitehorse Camera Club, Whitehorse, Yukon – head north to the incredible Yukon for our first ever weekend Photocram workshop in Whitehorse! Contact Walter at email@example.com for more information.
September 21 – 23 – Weekend Photocram Part III with Sam and Darwin hosted by the Grande Priaire Photo Club, Grand Prairie, Alberta – this is the third year in a row that Grande Prairie has invited us back to instruct at this popular Photocram event. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information
September 23 – 29 – Fall Colours in the Canadian Rockies – this is our most popular photo tour and it fills up two years in advance! We have just had two cancellations so grab your chance to get in on this tour now rahter than wait two years!
October 11 – 14 – Ladies Only Photography Workshop in Banff Alberta – tailored to the ladies this workshops takes the mystery out of the arcane technical side of photography so you can do what you do best – tell stories with your camera!
In preparation for our photography Destination Photography workshop at Island Lake (remember, we’re experimenting with pricing and this workshop is now ‘Pay What It’s Worth’!), Darwin and I decided to cook up something from the Island Lake Lodge cookbook. Here is an image of the appetizer on page 60, Wild Sockeye Salmon Tartare with Spicy Guacamole and Taro Chips:
I cheated a little since I couldn’t find any taro root (what is that, anyway?) so yams had to do. And I swear I thought we always had a jar of capers lurking in the fridge but darned if the little caper-goblin didn’t get to them first! My attempt of this recipe lacks the artful touch of the chef; my salmon tartare is a dumpy, sullen hill of goop rather than the artful tower it’s supposed to be. But blame me, not the recipe! Luckily, on Wednesday, June 27 we’ll be learning how to quickly and easily photograph delicious appetizers prepared by the talented chefs at the Lodge (who will do a better job at food styling than me, I think). You can download the schedule for the workshop here. The good news is, although stacking guacamole and raw fish takes skill, we photographed this tasty snack in just a few minutes with minimal gear. And that will be the focus of the talk on June 27, “Basics of On-Location Food Photography” because you want to eat your delectable delight before it collapses! Or, if you’re at a farmer’s market or bazaar, you need to be able to capture quick moments on the fly. For this shot, I mounted the camera on a tripod but with a high ISO you can often get enough shutter speed to hand-hold in well-lit areas (especially if your lens has a setting that reduces vibrations). And that is one secret to appetizing food photography: sit by a bright window and work with natural light to eliminate all manner of problems photographing indoors. We bounced a little light into the shadowed side of the appetizer by holding up a raincoat with a white, plastic interior to the left of the dish. (If no one is looking, and your spouse isn’t glaring at you yet, those little side plates also make good reflectors!) Here is the same scene but shot with a polarizer to reduce some glare off the saucy juices (and without the napkin for a cleaner comp):
Easy-as-pie! And the appetizer was deee-licious! Did I mention workshop attendees receive a complimentary copy of this beautifully photographed cookbook? If you can’t join us in Fernie for this workshop, we’re pleased to announce that the Foothills Camera Club has invited us to teach a special workshop created just for the Club in September, 2012. The Club has kindly opened the doors to this workshop to members of the public — and we’ll be in Cochrane at the historic RancheHouse! Check out the weekend schedule here; it’s an intensive weekend with class time balanced by practice in the field. Dates are September 7 – 9, 2012, and the price for Club members is $300 and for non-members only $350! If you can’t swing the cost of the Destination Photography workshop — even at a Pay What It’s Worth discount — then this is your chance to catch a great program here at home. The Man in Charge is Dana Naldrett so please email him (email@example.com) for more information or to register. Limited spots!
Now, what else can I cook up from that cookbook….
Darwin and I are pleased to announce our second eBook on the Kootenay Plains region: Kootenay Plains Spring, Summer and Fall Edition. We’re continuing in the ‘special places’ tradition started with the first eBook on this region so you’ll find lots of cultural and ecological notes on the importance of the area alongside pages crammed with info on great spots to take pictures. This is a varied and gorgeous place that is off the beaten path of the federal parks, so be sure to grab the guide and visit the area if your photographic wanderings take you up to this neck of the woods. This guide is lavishly illustrated so, even if you can’t make it to the area, you can be an ‘armchair traveler’ for ten bucks!
In other news, you may have noticed that we’ve sneaked another tour into our roster. On July 5-8, 2012, Darwin and I are leading a photo tour of the Nordegg mine, the Brazeau Collieries. This fascinating industrial complex is largely intact (if not operational) and offers intriguing glimpses into the past workings of a coal mine. From wide angle building views to the most detailed study of a rusty hinge, this place has something to please every shooter. We’ll spend a day and a half here with exclusive access. Plus, we’ll also visit some natural highlights of the Bighorn Wildland and Kootenay Plains. With only 8 max registrants, and the only photo tour we offer to this incredible region in the summer months, this tour is a great opportunity! Like always, we’re based out of cozy Aurum Lodge where we recharge our super-photo-powers by tucking into Madeleine’s fine, home-cooked meals. To learn more, see our write-up here and to register contact Aurum Lodge.
Here are some old film pictures of the mine.