29 November

Getting Published and the Power of Print

We’re excited to see more and more photographers are considering printing their work or are still keen on submitting to print publications. As a business with educational offerings in both digital and tangible worlds, we appreciate both; online and in-person experiences each have their strengths. But as recent publishers of League magazine, our boutique print showcase of artful (and ethically captured) photography, we have a soft spot for the way print can bring images to life.

©Samantha Chrysanthou

Perhaps this is because a fine print – or fine printing – has its own way of interacting with light. Choice of paper, process and inks all combine in this magical alchemy to interact with ambient light to create a thing that almost seems to have a presence… view a piece of actual art on a wall and compare that experience to flipping through a catalogue of reproductions and you will know what I mean. With photography, a print is that art on the wall. Print is the photographer’s expression made real in a controlled, deliberately physical sense. That careful selection of materials, like paper and ink, influence the outcome in a way no digital monitor can.

Not all magazines geek out on paper and ink like we do with League. This is understandable since the cost of materials has an impact on subscription price. Yet variety is the spice of life, which is probably why limited edition publishing of niche magazines is enjoying a little resurgence right now.

Regardless of what magazine you submit to, there are some common steps in the process that can help you advance your work before the editors. Based on our experience publishing the first issue of League, we’ve created a free mini guide, How to Be Published, for those photographers seeking to have their work showcased in print. This little booklet (digital, by the way) is helpful for submissions to any magazine. We hope to see your submissions, either to League, or in some of our other favourite print magazines, down the road.

20 October

Grounded by Jodi Sware – A Creative Vision of Prairie Skies

©Jodi Sware

In our latest oopoomoo newsletter, we introduced the theme of grounded (#grounded) – “showcase an expansive sky anchored by a narrow sliver of land”. Jodi Sware immediately sent in a portfolio of images that we just had to share here! Here is what she said about why she includes expansive skies in her work:

I love including our gorgeous, big Alberta sky in my photographs. It was actually a turning point in my photography a few years ago when I realized how much I loved including that big sky in my images. When I started shooting this style I noticed customers and followers commenting on the sky in many images and I believe it is part of my style now. My clients are still the focal point, but I think when framed by a beautiful sky, the images are elevated to art, not just a photo. Clients seem much more willing to order large wall images when our incredible skies are more prominent in the photo.

Enjoy Jodi’s portfolio and be sure to submit your own #grounded image to the oopoomoo Creatives Facebook group or email us your entry for consideration here on the blog.

©Jodi Sware

@Jodi Sware

@Jodi Sware

@Jodi Sware

@Jodi Sware

@Jodi Sware

@Jodi Sware

@Jodi Sware

@Jodi Sware

 

26 September

Would You Photograph if You Couldn’t Share?

The following article appeared in summer/fall 2016 issue (#38) of Outdoor Photography Canada (OPC) magazine. Subscribe to get this great magazine delivered to your mailbox. The latest issue (#43) is one of the best yet!

©Darwin Wiggett

I recently found myself pondering a rather strange question…would I still photograph if I could never share the resulting images with another soul? This thought got me thinking about why people photograph in the first place. Most of us do share our memories, stories, travels, and life events with others. Without an audience to view our pictures what’s the point of making photos? Indeed, among art circles there is the contention that for art to exist there has to be a ‘connection’. You can’t have connection without an audience. By this logic art can only exist if there is someone beyond the artist to view it.

©Darwin Wiggett

The point here is not to debate whether art needs an audience to be art but rather to get to the fundamental question of why we photograph, or why we create in the first place. Beyond recording memories and experiences, I suspect we photograph for many different reasons just like people write or paint or compose music for many different reasons. And, as with other art forms, I think we photograph because of internal and external motivations at heart.

©Darwin Wiggett

Henry Darger was a custodian by day and a painter and writer by night. He spent most of his adult life creating fantastical paintings and writings in his spare time, and no one around him knew anything about his creative life. It was not until after his death when his landlord came to clean out his room that his art was discovered. Henry did not create his pieces with an audience in mind; he kept his art to himself and made his art for his own pleasure or more likely for his own therapy to work through his difficult childhood as an institutionalized orphan. Darger’s motivations and reasons for creating art were internal.

I wonder if there are few Darger’s out there in today’s era of social sharing. I can think of plenty of artists, probably the majority, who produce work for external reasons. They feel they have something to share with the outside world whether that’s simply to share the joy and beauty of nature as they see it or to make social statements about the world around them. They make art showcasing how they see the world but knowing at the time of creation that they will present their work to the world.

©Darwin Wiggett

There are dangers to both approaches. For those who do it purely for internal reasons there is a danger that what you create will be too personal for anyone else to understand should it ever be seen. On the other hand, because the work was not created for an outside audience it will be pure of intent. When producing work to share with others the results are often more accessible but there is the likely possibility that the responses of your audience will inform the content of your art. I see this latter point a lot in photography where social media responses to a photographer’s work colour what and how they photograph. Personal work that does not get a lot of ‘likes’ is abandoned for a style of photo that generates many positive responses. There is the real danger of creating homogenous and predictable or fashionable and trendy work.

©Darwin Wiggett

In the end, I think we all need to look at why we photograph and what camp of artists we generally fall into. Are you a navel gazer or a social sharer? Once you know your true motivations you can then try and avoid the pitfalls that lie in wait with either approach. In my own photography I started out making images purely for my own purposes without expectation or need to share. Later on my photography became all about sharing what I saw with others. It soon began to feel like I was creating for an audience and not for me. I am now returning full circle to creating for internal reasons and I feel a new spark of inspiration. Will I ever share this new work? It’s hard to say but for now I am creating a new body of work just for me and it feels great. So would I photograph if I couldn’t share the results with anyone else? The answer for me is a resounding yes! What about you?

©Samantha Chrysanthou

17 August

Audra Shields Compares and Contrasts – 7/365 Mentorship

Photographer Audra Shields completed our 7/365-The Mentored Photo Project course this summer. Not content with just extra homework during the summer, Audra’s project also involved a challenging theme that encouraged viewers to dig beneath the surface of the presented image. Entitled Juxtapose, Audra invited a comparison between buildings in the neighbouring streets and roads of her home in Ohio. Here is her project theme in her own words:

Juxtapose: To create an image collection of contrasting buildings displayed in pairs, provoking viewer curiosity to consider circumstance, history and inhabitants.

Wander through Audra’s world and wonder about the stories of the people who live and work in these places. Visit her website to learn more about Audra’s commercial and fine art photography!

Interested in an intensive mentorship like Audra’s? There’s only 1 spot left in November’s 7/365 – The Mentored Photo Project.

©Audra Shields

©Audra Shields

©Audra Shields

©Audra Shields

©Audra Shields

©Audra Shields

©Audra Shields

 

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4 August

7/365 Mentorship Project – Niru Karia Abstracts the Beauty in Flowers

This summer, several keen photographers set aside their precious time to work on an intense online mentorship project with us. Rather than loll on the beach with a summer paperback, these intrepid photogs braved the heat, laden with camera gear, to create a unique photo project of their own. Niru Karia is one of our students who completed the 7/365 – The Mentored Photo Project course. Self-described as a “baby” in photography, you wouldn’t know from Niru’s work that she has only been photographing for a year!

©Niru Karia

Niru’s project was to explore and photograph the shape, colour and texture of flowers. This involved skills such as composition and learning to see. Niru gave us permission to share her work with you so we can all enjoy her careful observation and artfully abstracted images.

©Niru Karia

©Niru Karia

©Niru Karia

©Niru Karia

©Niru Karia

©Niru Karia

©Niru Karia

©Niru Karia

©Niru Karia

Interested in your own intense, one week photography mentorship? Dates for fall 2017 are now open. Don’t miss the early bird pricing!

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18 July

Atmospheric Haze: A Landscape Photographer’s Dream or Nightmare?

This article was first published in Outdoor Photography Canada magazine over one year ago. To keep up with the freshest content from top Canadian nature photographers we highly recommend subscribing.

The view from Bald Butte during a hazy sunset (Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, Centre Block, Saskatchewan)

Nature photographers like their landscapes pristine; generally, we don’t want to see any ‘hand of man’ in our pictures but rather we want to present nature in her purest and finest form. So we venture forth in hopes of recording clean and crisp mountain, desert, and forest landscapes. When nature photographers encounter atmospheric haze it dampens their enthusiasm for making pictures like chores ruin the day of a kid on summer holidays. We know of many photographers who have cancelled trips to areas like the Canadian Rockies when they heard that forest fires have obscured the clear alpine skies. It’s a shame that our preconceptions of what’s good and what’s bad colours what and how we take photos. Atmospheric haze can offer up unique opportunities for stunning photography if we’re open to seeing beyond our expectations.

The low tonal contrast and scattered light of atmospheric haze kills colours so why not work with this condition and make B+W images that emphasizes the subtle gradations in tone in the scene (Lower Waterfowl Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta).

 

Forest fire haze creates scattered particulate matter that helps add drama to the sky (Upper Brazeau River Valley, Jasper National Park, Alberta).

Atmospheric haze results when smoke, dust and other dry particles accumulate in relatively dry air. Most of the time we blame human activity on atmospheric haze and consider it un-natural. For example, in the fall, activities from the harvest of cereal crops stirs up dust and particulates that results in hazy conditions. Fires burning, dust from gravel roads and particulate pollution from industry also creates atmospheric haze. But atmospheric haze has been around longer than humans. Lightning strikes burn vast tracts of forest, volcanoes spew out tonnes of particulate matter, wind storms churn up dust from dunes… the list goes on. So rather than fight or avoid haze, embrace it! Haze is a natural part of nature.

Atmospheric haze, in this case caused by a forest fire started by a lightning strike, looks blue because short blue wavelengths of light are bounced off of particulate matter in the air to be recorded by our eyes and cameras. To retain the blue cast be sure to keep your white balance set to ‘daylight’ or ‘sunny’.

 

When haze kills colours turn to monochrome.

Atmospheric haze does several interesting things that can be used by the creative photographer. First, it reduces contrast in the scene due to the scattering of light by the particulate matter. These low contrast scenes look moody, ethereal and even painterly. Second, haze selectively scatters light waves with shorter wavelengths, like blue, being scattered more than red wavelengths. This is why haze and smoke look blue – the blue wavelengths bounce off and are recorded by our eyes (and cameras). Red wavelengths tend to pierce through the particulate matter and so in backlit situations we see warm colours coming through the haze. Anyone who has seen the sun through thick smoke knows the sun appears as a reddish ball even at mid-day because only the red wavelengths of light are passing through the smoke. As photographers, we can use this natural filtering effect of light bouncing off of or moving through haze to add further mood to our photographs. Indeed, atmospheric haze creates incredible mood and ambience. Just ask anyone who has travelled to India or China whether haze has added to the mood of their travel photos. You’ll get a resounding yes!

Mid-day sun becomes an orange fireball when filtered through thick smoke.

Winter winds churn up blowing snow, ice and dust causing hazy conditions in the distance (Abraham Lake, Alberta)

And so, when it’s hazy, don’t give up. Your expectations of clear, crisp, and contrasty nature scenes has evaporated. Advanced shooters see the potential in the murky skies. Look for scenes where the blue, low contrast light works with the subject to give a dream-like mood. Or, find situations where the glowing warm backlight creates an ethereal glow. Some of my favorite images have been created when nature (or human activity) created atmospheric haze and I was open to possibilities beyond my expectations. Rather than the haze being a nightmare that destroyed my nature outing, it became a dream that allowed me to create memorable images. Happy hazy shooting!

Dust from a gravel road creates beams of light when back lit by the sun (Water Valley, Alberta)

Hazy days help add mood and atmosphere to scenes we would normally pass by (river path in Cochrane, Alberta).

13 June

Best of the League Award – Freeman Patterson

As many of you know, Samantha and I started League magazine and the League of Landscape Photographers as an outlet for photographic creativity with a conscience. League members photograph the world around them in accordance with high ethical standards and they make imagery with purpose, meaning and integrity. League photographs engage, question and challenge the viewer. League and the League of Landscape Photographers seek to raise landscape photography to a personal expressive art that comments on the world around us.

Samantha and I always acknowledge and reward those in the photographic community who are doing exceptional work and who inspire and teach others to do the same. We can think of no other photographer in Canada (or the world, for that matter) who has done so much to raise landscape and nature photography to an art form and to encourage photographers to express their creative vision than Freeman Patterson. Many of you will know Freeman and will have been influenced, inspired and moved by his work. Freeman’s influence weaves through both Sam and my work and our teachings. Indeed, we think that subconsciously Freeman’s influence germinated the seed which became League. So who better to honour with the inaugural Best of the League Award than Freeman Patterson?

For those photographers not familiar with Freeman’s work, we highly recommend you head to your nearest library or book store and pick up at least one of his many books on photography, creativity and seeing. Our three personal favorites and a must read for all expressive photographers are Photography and the Art of Seeing, Photographing the World Around You – A Visual Design Workshop and Embracing Creation. We also highly recommend any of his life-altering (no exaggeration) workshops – anyone who has been on a Freeman workshop will talk and talk and talk your ear off about how amazing it was!

Talking creative expression is all the rage in photography right now especially in the wake of all the fascination with the gear of digital capture. But Freeman laid the foundation long ago by teaching photographers to embrace their creative self. So much of what is in vogue today by those teaching ‘creative vision’ is based directly or indirectly on Freeman’s early teachings. Thanks to Freeman we can all finally move away from gear and technique into what truly matters, create self-awareness and develop personal expression.

For all of Freeman’s influence, his respect for people and the environment, his tireless sharing and mentoring of photographers, and for his lifetime body of artful, thoughtful images, we are honoured to award Freeman the Best of the League Award! We are thrilled that Freeman shared with us a moving story and portfolio of images that will be published in League this September. Subscriptions to League end June 30 so if you want this collectible magazine on your book shelf subscribe now!

 

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3 June

oopoomoo May Photo Challenge Results – Juxtaposition

For May 2017, we challenged oopoomoo Creatives to photograph and interpret the theme of Juxtaposition. Below are some of our favourite entries. Our photo challenge for June will be released in the next oopoomoo newsletter (sign-up here and get our Born Creative eBook for free!).

©Tracy Riddle

©Pam Jenks

©Michael Greenlaw

©Mandeep Bal

©Kristof Lauwers

©Keith Walker

©Keith Walker

©Kathy Stinson

©Janice Kretzer-Prysunka

©Janice Kretzer-Prysunka

©Janice Braud

©Janice Braud

©Jan Clark Lyall

©Henrik Fessler

©Connie Quinton

©Christian Van Schepen

©Christian Van Schepen

©Bernice MacDonald

©Alan Garner

17 May

Spring and Summer Mentorships for Creative Photography

Here at oopoomoo HQ we enjoy helping people become better photographers (e.g. hone their craft) but what truly gets us excited and what we LOVE to do is help photographers become artists. We are all creatures born to create, and in photography the image is the conduit for personal expression. Channeling your vision through that conduit is easy if you know how to use your tools (the technical part of photography) AND if you are in touch with yourself, honour who you are and know what you have to say (the visionary part of photography). To help with both these aspects of photography, we are offering small group mentorships this summer designed to immerse you in the technical craft and artful expression of photography. Where will your personal vision take you?

Mastering the Creative Potential of the Tilt Shift Lens – June 18, 2017

For us, no other other tool in the camera bag offers as many technical and creative advantages as the tilt-shift lens. With a tilt-shift lens you can correct keystoning in-camera, make seamless horizontal and vertical panoramas, create giant, megapixel monster images, alter the plane of focus for incredible apparent sharpness independent of aperture, and manufacture dreamy, blurred and miniaturized-looking images.  And, best of all, every one of these techniques is created in-camera with nary a pixel altered by less capable software substitutes! The possibilities are almost endless. In the hands of an artist, a tilt-shift lens is a superhero paintbrush! To create art you still must master the brush, but once you do, your creativity will be unleashed and your photography will never be the usual ho-hum. This three-hour hands-on workshop will have you the master of the Tilt Shift lens so that you can use its potential to express your creative vision!

7/365 – The Mentored Photo Project

The Mentored Photo Project is a week of intense self-discovery through photography. With the guidance of us, your mentors, Sam and Darwin, you will conceive of, plan and execute a small photography project. A mentored photo project engages many different creative skills and is a rewarding way to transform your ideas into a guided, published reality. Several of our past mentored students have gone on to expand their projects in a way that has positively influenced their development as creative artists. Limited dates available! Register before May 31 and save 40%!

The Power of Composition and Light – May 27, 2017

This full day seminar in Medicine Hat, Alberta covers The Language of Light in Landscape Photography, Harnessing the Power of Tone for Compelling Images, Working Advanced Compositional Patterns in the Landscape, and Putting it all Together: Creative Landscape Imagery. We have a special announcement regarding this seminar…we’ve opened up a special offering of our popular online course,  Resolve: Discover your Creative Self for seminar attendees! We’re also pricing this informative and insightful course at $95 (regular price $150) to encourage everyone to participate in this unique course! See you at the seminar!

 

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3 May

oopoomoo March Photo Challenge – Emergence from Henrik Fessler

In our last blog post we showcased images on the theme Emergence (#emergence) submitted though our oopoomoo Creatives Facebook group. In this post we want to highlight an image we received via email from Henrik Fessler. We love the photo and wanted to share it here on the blog. Henrik says of the image:

Every spring I feel the urge not to miss out the bloom of things after a long gray and dull winter. After a short blossom phase of 2-3 weeks everything is switched back to “normal” spring mode. That way, I have the sense of emergency to not miss the phase of plants’ emergence phase (-;  To celebrate this magic period, here’s my submission (It’s a magnolia tree in our small city park taken at Bruchsal/Germany). On a technical note: it was taken with a 60 year old GDR lens -Carl Zeiss Jena Biotar 58mm F2-, with an APS C Camera and a cheap focal reducer … I do not want to bother with a bulky full frame camera any more (-;

©Henrik Fessler

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