24 January

Yoho National Park ebook!

We are happy to announce the latest addition to our How to Photograph the Canadian Rockies series of ebooks! Although one of the smallest parks in the great Canadian Rockies chain, Yoho National Park in British Columbia, is hefty on scenery. As always, our guides are illustrated with loads of images and we offer detailed information on putting yourself in the right time and place to get the best from your visit to Yoho National Park. Be sure to add this must-have ebook to your collection of Canadian Rockies guides!

22 January

Fave Photos from Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park

A big, hearty thanks to all who came out yesterday to our talk, “Winter Photography in Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park”.  We also want to thank park steward Ken Wright for his excellent contribution of images and information and park steward Heather Simonds for loaning us some of her lovely images for the show.  Both stewards are talented shooters and their photographs greatly added to the value of the talk.  As we mentioned in the talk yesterday, we hope to bring many of these talks to Cochrane throughout the year so watch for announcements soon on our next dates!  Speaking of dates, there are just a few spots left in Dave Brosha’s talk next Saturday; we’re really pleased with the turnout since Dave’s a great photographer (and a nice guy!)  If you are coming to the talk, you might want to come for the day because the 28th is WinterFest in Cochrane!  That’s right, crazy Cochranites rejoice in the cold by lighting fires and sipping hot chocolate.  Apparently there’s pony rides, wagon rides, human curling (you’ll have to see it to believe it), arts and crafts, snow sculpting and a giant, 10,000 square foot maze.  I’d like to hang out in the Lumberjack Zone (sorry, Darwin!)  WinterFest is at the Cochrane Lions Rodeo Grounds (109 5th Ave West) and runs from noon until 6pm.  Admission is only $5!  If you’re interested, phone 403-542-5538 or go to www.cochraneevents.ca.

Here are a few of Darwin and my favourite images of Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park from the talk:

©Darwin Wiggett


The rolling hills of Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada

© Darwin Wiggett


Grassy slope, Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada

© Samantha Chrysanthou


Pathway, Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada

© Samantha Chrysanthou

And here are two shots of the same area that reveal our varied approaches and styles.  Who do you think is the ‘drama queen’ of the relationship? 😉

Backlit Fence, Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada

© Darwin Wiggett


Fenceline, Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada

© Samantha Chrysanthou

18 January

Wild In Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers – Real Life Review

Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers

A Guide to When, Where & How

by Paul Gill & Colleen Miniuk-Sperry


From time to time, we will review products, books, photo gear and, well, whatever else catches our fancy.  You may even see food reviews or hiking gear creeping into this category!  We want everyone to be aware that we don’t hold ourselves out as experts at anything.  Our opinions are just that:  opinions.  Always go test things out for yourself.  Our Real Life Reviews are meant as one possible reaction to a product, service or event, and we encourage you to post your own thoughts on our reviews.  Remember, though, that your opinion will have more value if you actually have some experience with the product, service or event in question!  Finally, we don’t receive any monetary benefit to reviewing products as we feel this allows us to put to words what we truly feel.

And with that, we’ll turn to our very first Real Life Review.  Colleen Miniuk-Sperry has sent us her new book, co-published with Paul Gill, and entitled, Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers.  We found Colleen and Paul’s guide book easy to understand, extremely well-organized and deftly attuned to the photographer’s needs.  It’s overall a great addition to guide books on wildflowers.  Read on for the nitty gritty details of our review.


16 January

Giveaways, News and Opportunities

January has finally hit us with an icy slap! Today we hit -30 degrees Celsius and things aren’t looking to improve for awhile. But, where most people hunker down by the fireplace, all of us crazy photographers can rejoice in the frigid temperatures which bring shivery opportunities for unique photos. At what other time of the year can you capture ice fog, crystalline sun dogs, and hoar frost? With a little planning you can go out and still make images even at these frigid temperatures. We are discussing a few ways to combat the cold in our upcoming talk Winter Photography in Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park. This talk has been sold out for a few weeks (probably because the price was right at $2.00 per person!) We don’t usually do talks for twoonies, but the next time we do, we plan to announce it first to our faithful subscribers to the oopoomoo News! newsletter (see the bottom of the linked page to sign up).

©Darwin Wiggett

There are other benefits to subscribing to the oopoomoo newsletter beyond getting occasional first dibs on new talks and workshops. We’ll also be awarding great prizes here and there. For example, anyone who has already subscribed to our newsletter (up to January 16, 2012) is eligible for an exciting prize!  What prize, you ask?

The Prize: A private, half day, one-on-one instructional photography outing with Samantha and Darwin (value $500)!  Yippee! We will be located for the session in the amazing Rocky Mountains just west of Calgary.  This is a great opportunity to ask us (almost) any question, ponder your artistic goals, fine tune your fumbling with camera gear and  just get out and shoot.  If the winner is a friend in foreign climes, no worry:  We’ll swap the session for a funky PDF portfolio critique of 20 of their images instead. These prizes are a way of saying thanks! to those who subscribe to our newsletter.

Who wouldn't want to learn from these goofballs?

Speaking of goofballs, one of our favorite photographers and writers of all things photographic, Guy Tal, has interviewed the two intellectuals above in a recent blog post. While you’re over at Guy’s website, be sure to check out the eBooks listing below; we think Guy has some of the best eBooks on the market!

Creative Digital Printing

Creative Processing Techniques in Nature Photography

Creative Landscape Photography

Finally, a housekeeping matter:  due to demand, Darwin has added a third Winter in the Canadian Rockies  photography tour to Abraham Lake and the Bighorn Wildland. For those who can come on short notice, the tour is February 8-12, 2012. Cost per person is C$1,359 + GST (4 nights accommodation at Aurum Lodge, single occupancy, all meals/beverages/refreshments, and fees included. Shared occupancy is C$200 less per person). Past tour participants receive 10% off! We are already 50% booked on this one, so if you are interested and can make the date, contact Alan Ernst at the Aurum Lodge right away. For a detailed description of the tour please see this link.

©Darwin Wiggett

6 January

Fabulous Film Fridays 2011 Year End eBook is Available!

For those of you who followed our old blogs you knew that we did a project in 2011 where we posted an image or two each week that we had taken with one of our many film cameras. Sam and I have summarized the project in a free little eBook which is the ‘best of 2011’ from our film outings. Just click on this link or the photo below to download your copy! Please be patient while the eBook loads into your browser because it’s 18MB in size (that is a lot of film grain to transfer across the web)!

Thanks again to everyone who followed along and who showed a lot of interest in film!

3 January

Winter Blues: Enhancing Mood in Monochrome

Most Canadians long to escape the icy claws of winter and head south for sand, sea and umbrella drinks. In fact, book publishers used to tell me that they never allowed more than 10% of a picture book of Canada to be images of winter because, if they did, book sales would plummet. It seems like Canadians simply do not want to be reminded of winter. I used to be the same; I would retire to the fireplace and put my camera into a deep winter sleep. But no more! Over the last seven years, I have actively plunged into the icy cool hues of winter and have created some of my most memorable and rewarding imagery.

©Darwin Wiggett - Abraham Lake Ice Bubbles

The infamous ice bubbles of Abraham Lake in blue monochrome.


21 December

Minnewanka Memories, Part II

I thought I would share my images from our Minnewanka shoot, since they are quite different from Darwin’s.  Without fresh snow, the shoreline was pretty grungy.  And we tracked up the shoreline with our big boots as you’ll see in the last image.  But I had fun making more compressed landscapes and playing with my telephoto lens on the distant fire burn (I think on Mount Astey).  The purplish hue in the last two images is from me accidentally leaving my Singh-Ray Gold-N-Blue Polarizer on my 70-300.  When I took the lens out of the bag, the Polarizer stuck in the cold air and I couldn’t get it off!  I kind of like the purple haze, so I left it in processing.

Shoreline of Lake Minnewanka

© Samantha Chrysanthou

Nikon D300S, Nikkor 70-300mm lens, 1/30s at f16

Lodgepole trunks at Lake Minnewanka

© Samantha Chrysanthou

Nikon D300S, Nikkor 70-300mm lens, 1/15s at f16

Lone pine in fire burn at Lake Minnewanaka, Banff National Park

© Samantha Chrysanthou

Nikon D300S, Nikkor 70-300mm lens, 1/2s at f8

Fire burn, Lake Minnewanka, Banff National Park

© Samantha Chrysanthou

Nikon D300S, Nikkor 70-300mm lens, 1/2s at f8

Rocky shoreline of Lake Minnewanka

© Samantha Chrysanthou

Nikon D300S, Nikkor 17-55mm lens, three image vertical stitch

19 December

Minnewanka Memories

In early December, Samantha and I headed out to Lake Minnewanka in Banff National Park to meet up with and do a sunset shoot with Marc Adamus and Kory Lidstrom. Marc was on a three week adventure of shooting the Canadian Rockies and Kory met up with him for a week. We headed to Minnewanka for some ice on the lake which was just beginning to freeze. Below are my four favorite compositions from the evening. Thanks for the nice evening guys and hope to meet up again sometime! Can’t wait to see everyone else’s images.

©Darwin Wiggett

Canon EOS-1ds MArk III, Canon TSE 17mm lens, 1/10s at f11, Lens tilted for DOF

©Darwin Wiggett

Canon EOS-1ds MArk III, Canon TSE 17mm lens, 1/20s at f11, Lnes tilted for DOF and shifted to make a vertical pano.

©Darwin Wiggett

Canon EOS-1ds MArk III, Canon TSE 17mm lens, 1/4s at f10

©Darwin Wiggett

Canon EOS-1ds Mark III, Canon TSE 24mm lens, 3.2 at f10, lens in portrait orientation and shifted left and right to give a larger image.

Thanks for looking! Darwin

15 December

Glacier Discovery Walk in Jasper – What Do You Want?

There is a proposal by Brewster to build a a 400-metre interpretive boardwalk and a glass-floored observation platform extending 30 metres out over the Sunwapta Valley at Tangle Ridge Viewpoint just north of the Icefields Centre. According to Brewster, “The Glacier Discovery Walk will enable visitors to engage with this dramatic landscape in a way that was not previously accessible to the majority of Jasper Park visitors”.  Their illustrations of the proposed structure are intriguing.  To learn more about this proposal click here or on the photo below:

Brewster says the function of the walk is so that “visitors will experience a guided interpretive walk… [that] will contain interpretive stations highlighting the ecology, geology, glaciology, Aboriginal history and social history of the area.” Of course, there will be a charge to walk the glass walkway (visitors will be bused from the nearby Icefields Centre.)

Some people are very excited about this proposal (meaning more revenue for the park and for travel companies — mostly Brewster).

Environmental groups such as The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is opposed to the development for the following reasons:

  • It would set a dangerous precedent for renewed commercial development in our mountain national parks.  If this goes ahead, what will be next?
  • The long term impact on wildlife, including mountain goats and big horn sheep, cannot be predicted with confidence: there just isn’t enough data.
  • It would contravene Parks Canada’s own policy that says that “Only outdoor activities which promote the appreciation of a park’s purpose and objectives, which respect the integrity of the ecosystem, and which call for a minimum of built facilities will be permitted.”(Parks Canada Guiding Principles and Operational Policy, section 4.1.3). Read entire policy here.
  • There is no evidence that this would meet the objective of connecting Canadians with the natural heritage in their national parks.
  • There is little evidence that this infrastructure-focused development is what Canadians want for their national parks. The survey the company conducted was not representative of the views of all Canadians, but focused primarily on bus tour customers.

If you want to have a say in whether this project goes ahead or not then please drop a line by December 16, 2011 to:

THE HONOURABLE PETER KENT – Minister of the Environment
email: Minister@ec.gc.ca
819-997-1441 (tel) or 819-953-0279 (fax)

Jasper National Park, Parks Canada Agency
Fax: (780) 852-6229
email: Greg.Fenton@pc.gc.ca.

Sheep at Tangle Viewpoint using the already spectacular natural view!

What do we think? Well, we have grave concerns about these kinds of ‘theme park’ developments.  We go to Jasper (and all our natural areas) to get away from man-made structures and human-altered environments.  We also try to minimize our impact on the Parks as much as our business allows.  To get great views, we hike the wonderful trails in the Park.  While we appreciate that Parks Canada may be under pressure financially and searching for ways to make the Parks more profitable, we believe some things have inherent value that can’t be measured by how much they make some company rich.  We have heard that this area is important for critters like mountain goats and bighorn sheep which might be displaced so that humans can get a better view.  There just doesn’t seem to be enough information for us to measure the benefits of this development against its potential costs.  What are your views?

10 December

Paralyzed by Choice

©Samantha Chrysanthou

Photography asks us to make too many decisions. What aperture should we use, what lens, what camera, what ISO, what filter, what angle of view etc. etc. All of these choices can become confining! We often need constraints to keep us creative. That is why we love to reduce our choices. When we do, we seem to make better art.

A common way that we make it easier to be creative is to leave most of our camera gear behind. Often we’ll just take one camera with one lens. Even more restricting but liberating is restricting yourself by only using a prime focal length lens like a 50mm or a 24mm. Reducing choices forces you to use your tools more creatively. The more creative you are, the better your art.

One of the cameras we love the most is the Holga. A Holga is a plastic camera that uses medium format film (remember film?). It has only two exposure settings (sunny or shade), two shutters speeds (1/60th of a second or bulb), and four focus settings (infinity, group, couple or portrait). The camera forces you to really see by limiting your technical choices. Once past the hurdles of technique we are free to really ‘see’!

If you don’t like film, then a point-n-shoot digital camera or even a smart phone camera can also very liberating. It seems that when we put away the ‘serious’ cameras and bring out the ‘play’ cameras that we immediately get creative simply because we put less pressure on ourselves to perform. Point-n-shoots free you to try things, experiment and just be silly. Surprisingly the results are often more refreshing than anything our big expensive, menu-driven top-end cameras give us. So… be brave, reduce your choices and free your creativity.