3 January

50 at 50 Project – Choices, Choices, Choices… and Lessons from Over 25 years of Photography

Samantha and I have been busy making final image selections and doing the stories behind the images so we can launch the 50 at 50 eBook in a few weeks. Stay tuned for that.

I got my start in ‘serious’ photography when I joined Images Alberta Camera Club in Edmonton in 1986. That club was dynamic and had many instructional outings and workshops and I learned a lot from the dedicated members. At the time I was a member, I was honoured to learn from such luminaries as Daryl Benson, Mark and Leslie Degner, and Larry Louie. I thank Images CC for being such a huge influence on my work; I can see that influence reflected over the years in my imagery.

Below are some outtakes that won’t make it into the 50 at 50 eBook but that I thought might be fun to share for the lessons learned from making the photos.

1989 – Spruce trees emerging from fog at Victoria Glacier, Banff National Park

Lesson: This image taught me that telephoto lenses are great for making ‘extractive’ landscape photos that emphasize graphic compositions. I learned that a 300mm lens was a very useful focal length to make compelling landscape photos. As a side note, this image was made with a camera that I absolutely loved and for which I saved many pennies over a long time — the Canon T90. Never before and never after have I had a love affair with a piece of camera gear such as I had with the T90. The photo was made using a Canon 300mm f5.6 FD lens and Fujichome Velvia 50 slide film.

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

1996 – Canoe on George Lake, Killarney Provincial Park, Ontario

Lesson: If you can imagine it, you can make it happen. I envisioned a shot of a canoe on the rocky shore of a lake in Ontario. I traveled across Canada for nine months in 1996 to photograph for my book Darwin Wiggett Photographs Canada. I didn’t have a quintessential image of Ontario for the book so I set out to Killarney to make it happen. I rented a canoe one afternoon and scouted with my compass the shore of George Lake for a perfect location to line up with sunrise. I found one about a 30 minutes’ paddle from my campsite. I convinced the rental company with a $50 bill to let me keep the canoe overnight, and early the next morning I paddled to the spot chosen and made two images both of which have become best sellers for me. This one was an IKEA poster for many years. The other photo appears in the 50 at 50 eBook. The image was shot on a Mamiya 645 Pro camera with a 35mm lens and Fujichrome Velvia 50 slide film and a grad filter.

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

2002 – Cowgirl at Wilcox Pass, Jasper National Park

Lesson: Photoshop makes anything possible, but you gotta tell people when things are not real! In the transition days while I was still shooting film and waiting for digital cameras to become a contender in terms of quality to my medium format camera, I did a lot of Photoshop composite work in the digital darkroom. I would scan my slides into digital format and then mess with them in the computer making scenes that did not exist except in my imagination. In this image I took a cowgirl and her horse from a shot I did in British Columbia and put her into Wilcox Pass in Jasper National Park (where horses are not allowed, by the way).  After people viewed the image and found out it was a composite, they often felt really betrayed. So after that, any time I posted one of my composite images I made mention of the fact. I used to mark composite images on the thumbnails on my website so people could decide if they wanted to view ‘fake’ images or not. No one really seems to care much any more if an image is real or not especially since most photos out there today look fanciful with all the digital darkroom work done to them. Even so it is still important to let people know about composite images so they can decide the value of the image to them as viewers. Samantha and I talk about this idea of ‘how far is too far in post processing’ in a recent podcast interview over at Photography.ca

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

2010 – Abraham Lake, Kootenay Plains, Alberta

Lesson: Everyone wants big light and colourful sunrises and sunsets but dreary grey days at dusk and dawn make really great moody images. As a side note, it seems that good old Abraham Lake has become an iconic destination for photographers looking for frozen methane bubbles. The lake in winter is dangerous at the best of times but this year the lake is especially treacherous not only because the floods in June have carved out new river channels and eroded shores but also because there have been several cold spells followed by warm chinooks that have caused a cycle of freeze and thaw that makes the shoreline ice (where the bubbles are) fragile. As well, numerous snowfalls have put piles of snow along the shoreline ice seams hiding the weak ice. We do not recommend wandering around Abraham Lake without a guide or photo buddy at any time, but we especially warn against the lake this year. While we do have an eGuide on the area, including some spots where bubbles have appeared in the past, the lake has changed a lot this year so we recommend that those shooters unfamiliar with photographing on ice stay on the gravel shoreline where it is safer. If you feel you have enough experience and do decide to go on the ice, only go where the ice is absolutely clear and you can see the thickness of the ice you are walking on (6 or more inches is recommended by some guidebooks). Absolutely stay off the snow-covered, sloping shoreline and any foggy, milky or fragile ice. Crampons or icewalkers are also a must – see my guide to winter shooting to learn more about winter gear.

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

I’ll have some more stories about my favourite images made over my 25+ year career in the eBook, but for now, here’s a blast from the past: a group photo of my fellow field researchers during grad school!

Darwin in the mid 1980's _ the naked blonde dude (with hair!) on the far left of the photo.

Darwin in the mid 1980’s – the mostly naked blonde dude (with hair!) on the far left of the photo.

18 December

Our New eBook: Sam and Darwin’s 7 Quick and Dirty Processing Shortcuts for Lazy Photographers

Many times we’ve been requested to share our processing workflow. And we never formally did. It’s not that what we do is a top secret or anything. It has more to do with the fact that we weren’t sure if our workflow would actually be useful as an example to anyone. See, we have a secret…we’re lazy when it comes to processing our images. We don’t want to spend lots of time on the computer fiddling with sliders and moving pixels around. We prefer making as many creative choices in the field as we can without sacrificing image quality. As nature and landscape photographers, we really like spending time outside!

We want to be outside making pictures and not inside fixing pictures!

We want to be outside making pictures and not inside fixing pictures!

So what’s changed, you may be thinking. Well, after reading lots of books and watching how other photographers teach processing, we realized that one key message wasn’t really getting out: there is no right or wrong way to process your images. There is only right or wrong for you and your goals. Which means you must take what everyone says with a grain of salt. Just because someone else says you ‘ought’ to manage your images a certain way doesn’t mean that is useful advice for you! Like us, study what other photographers do. Read books. Try things out. Take what makes you happy and achieves your creative vision, and dump the rest. For example, some of our goals are:

  • spend as much time as possible making creative decisions in-camera rather than on the computer (we like being outside, right?)
  • easy and simple is better than long and complicated if both paths lead you to the same point
  •  in photography, creative vision begins in the field when an image is conceived and should inform your processing choices – we only move sliders to further this vision, not for ‘cool’ effects that really just amount to ornamentation
We just want to be outside!

Did we mention we love being outside?

These goals inform our processing. When we took a step back and considered our processing, we realized that, in most cases, we followed seven steps with our images. Because there’s a dozen ways to get to your end goal in processing (but not many books written with the express purpose of shortening your time on the computer through unorthodox shortcuts), we thought we would share what we do with you. A warning though! These shortcuts are not safe, typical or even necessarily recommended: but they work for us, and might work for you.

So here it is, Sam and Darwin’s 7 Quick and Dirty Processing Shortcuts for Lazy Photographers.

7 Quick and Dirty Processing Shortcuts for Lazy Photographers eBook

This Book is For:

  • photographers who shoot in raw format and use Photoshop
  • shooters who want to minimize their time spent processing in their workflow
  • skeptics who want to make up their own mind on what works for them
  • photographers looking for a key shortcut or two to add to their processing repertoire
  • anyone interested in the way we process our pictures (for better or worse)

7 Quick and Dirty Processing Shortcuts for Lazy Photographers eBook

This Book is Not For:
  • commercial photographers with clients who may demand changes to a processed file at any time
  • photographers who enjoy and spend a lot of time processing their work (if you love being creative on the computer, your goals are different from ours)
  • photographers seeking a detailed, step-by-step guide to processing your images
  • beginners (or anyone who shoots JPEG format only) wanting to understand the pros and cons of various editing programs
  •  photographers who want to learn processing in an ‘industry-approved’ and standardized workflow
  • anyone happy with their digital darkroom workflow
  • people who don’t have or intend to learn Adobe Photoshop (or for that matter, anyone who does most of their work in Lightroom)

So… if we’ve whet your appetite and you think there might be a sneaky processing shortcut or two that would work for you, check out our eBook now! We’re heading outside to make images…

7 Quick and Dirty Processing Shortcuts for Lazy Photographers eBook

27 June

Kananaskis Country Closed This Summer? Plus: A Call to Action in Helping out John Marriott

For those of you venturing into Alberta this year, be aware that Kananaskis Country just west of Calgary, home of one of the premiere drives in the Canadian Rockies, will likely be closed all summer due to bridge washouts. Right now both highway 66 and Highway 40 into Kananaskis are completely closed – for updates please visit this site. To see a complete list of the damage done please download this PDF.

Darwin and I were planning on making a new eGuide this summer covering the Kananaskis region, but with all the campgrounds closed….we have nowhere to camp but our driveway!

Darwin, Samantha and Brando camping at home!

Darwin, Samantha and Brando camping at home!

We’re being silly, of course. What we’ve suffered is a tiny irritant compared to what so many Albertans have lost. Close to home for us is the situation of one of our oopoomoo eBook authors: John Marriott almost lost his house and is spending all his time and money trying to get his home back to normal. To see the incredible footage of what happened to John’s home, go to John’s You Tube page.

For a little background as to how John, Darwin and I roll, check out a video we made for our 2010 SNAP! Photography Seminar:

We know not being able to complete our Kananaskis book this summer is a pretty damn small inconvenience compared to what so many Albertans have suffered. We’re proud and humbled by the hours and efforts donated by so many in helping out. As a small gesture, we would like to dedicate this blog post to helping out John and his lovely wife Jennifer in their efforts to rebuild in Canmore. From today until July 31, 2013, we will donate our publisher’s percentage to John on all sales of his amazing oopoomoo eBook, Icefields Parkway: Wildlife Edition.   The cost of the eBook is only $10. We will be collecting no proceeds on sales for ourselves — please share with friends and family to help John and Jennifer get back into their home! Every little bit counts.


16 March

Two New eBooks from the Mastering Composition and Visual Design Series

We are proud to present our latest eBook series on Mastering Composition and Visual Design. We start off the series with two titles; Learning to See Workbook and Compositions BasicsSo much of the information on photography is about the technical stuff like gear and camera settings. Sure that stuff is important; we all need to know how to use our tools. But little attention is paid to the foundations of photography as an art form as a basis for personal expression. Too many photographers are trapped in their development as artists because they can’t see beyond the obvious — they can’t ‘see’. The Learning to See Workbook is about breaking down the barriers in the way of true creative expression. The Composition Basics eBook simplifies visual design down to the foundation of tone and colour. All other compositional tools we use are based on these two building blocks. Composition Basics is a big book designed to guide you through organizing your picture space to tell more compelling stories with your images. We recommend buying both eBooks because they compliment each other well. We so think you need both books that we offer them bundled together for a great price! If you like our eBooks let others know. We love making them and want to be able to offer more so your support now will ensure new titles in the future.

Learning to See600x400


2 March

Free eBooks at the Persistent Vision Seminar March 16

We’re coming into the final countdown for the Persistent Vision photo event in Bragg Creek March 16. Yikes! It’s been hoppin’ at the office — events of this size come with a million little details. But it’s shaping up to be a very fun and informative weekend. While the full weekend is sold out, I hear from The Camera Store that someone is unable to attend and is looking for a photographer to replace them…if you’re interested, this is a GREAT opportunity! Email me today and I’ll put you in touch with The Store so you can buy your ticket.

Sam and Brando eating ice cream

When the seminar is over, Brando and I are gettin’ an ice cream!

One of the things that makes this event so exciting is that the entire oopoomoo Team is going to be there. That’s right! Stephen, our web guru and eBook designer will be flying in all the way from P.E.I., Catherine, our trusty assistant, will be ensuring things run smoothly and even our eBook authors, John Marriott and Dave Brosha will be present! One of the areas in which the photo industry has changed in the last few years is the ability to be your own publisher: come speak to the pros on how to make, market and manage your own eBook! We have some fun ideas for the oopoomoo booth, too, so bring your sense of humour! (If you know anything about us, you know we’re going to be doing something creative and silly!)

Speaking of eBooks…we’re very excited to officially announce Darwin and my latest books, The Creative Use of Shutter Speed and Exposure Basics Workbook. These two books are part of our Photography Fundamentals series (together with The Creative Use of Aperture) and are designed to allow you to master the camera controls we consider critical for expressive photography in an easy, step-by-step way. Doing things a little differently, but still sticking to our guns on not discounting books after release, we’ve created some bundle options to make your learning more affordable. Check ’em out!

And finally, our guest speaker David duChemin has kindly agreed to provide two draw prizes of the entire Craft & Vision eBook Library — that’s a value of $200 each! Thanks, David for your generosity: someone’s going to go home happy!

Still room in the Saturday, full-day learning event…but time is running out. This is a one-of-a-kind photo event for Albertans and a great way to make new friends and business contacts all the while being surrounded by inspiring images made by Canada’s top photographers. We hope to see you there!

craft and vision library

Win the complete set at Persistent Vision!

27 February

oopoomoo’s newest eBook author is revealed – Dave Brosha with “The Soul’s Window”

Samantha and I are proud and thrilled to introduce our latest eBook author Dave Brosha into the oopoomoo publishing fold. Dave’s eBook, The Soul’s Window, is a must have for anyone who wants to do portraits with the beauty of natural light. Dave takes us down the path of natural light as a starting point to mastering portraits. You’ll learn to ‘see in light’, understand how to deal with contrast issues, know the best camera settings and lens choices for any portrait session and pick the best point-of-view to tell a compelling story. Dave also discusses focusing techniques, the importance of flexible ISO choices, secrets to making eyes ‘pop’ and tips for working with and engaging your portrait subjects. If you want to try your hand at existing light portraiture, then this is  the eBook to get — only $10!


9 February

15 Favorites from the November 2012 Fire and Ice Canadian Rockies Photos Tour

In keeping with our ‘let them age’ photo workflow, I finally present my 15 favorite images from the November 2012 Fire and Ice Photo Tour. In 2012 we had two out of four mornings with fire and we had a lot of ice and snow because the season started off with a good long cold spell. Who knows what 2013 will bring? For those interested seeing the participant photos from this tour please see this link and scroll down a bit to see everyone’s photos!

If you want to explore the Canadian Rockies in the winter on your own, we have three eBooks specific to winter that cover the area we play around in:

Kootenay Plains and Abraham Lake Winter Edition

The Icefields Parkway Winter Edition

Winter in the Canadian Rockies

©Darwin Wiggett - Winter Fireweed

©Darwin Wiggett – Winter Fireweed

North Saskatchewan River at Rampart Ponds, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

©Darwin Wiggett – North Saskatchewan River at Rampart Ponds, Banff National Park, Alberta

North Saskatchewan River at Rampart Ponds, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

©Darwin Wiggett – North Saskatchewan River at Rampart Ponds, Banff National Park, Alberta


©Darwin Wiggett – North Saskatchewan River at Rampart Ponds, Banff National Park, Alberta


©Darwin Wiggett – Nigel Pass view, Banff National Park, Alberta


©Darwin Wiggett – Wounded Sheep at Tangle Falls, Jasper National Park, Alberta

Tangle Falls, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

©Darwin Wiggett – Tangle Falls, Jasper National Park, Alberta

Sunwapta River above Sunwapta Falls, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

©Darwin Wiggett – Sunwapta River above Sunwapta Falls, Jasper National Park, Alberta

Jasper National Park, ALberta, Canada

©Darwin Wiggett – Frosted Hills, Jasper National Park, Alberta

Pobokatan Creek, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

©Darwin Wiggett – Pobokatan Creek, Jasper National Park, Alberta


©Darwin Wiggett – Abraham Lake at Hoodoo Bay, Kootenay Plains, Alberta


©Darwin Wiggett – Abraham Lake Ice Detail, Kootenay Plains, Alberta


©Darwin Wiggett – Abraham Lake at Hoodoo Bay, Kootenay Plains, Alberta


©Darwin Wiggett – Ice and snow on the North Saskatchewan River, Banff National Park, Alberta


©Darwin Wiggett – Siffleur Falls Trail Suspension Bridge, Kootenay Plains, Alberta

7 January

Twelve Favourite Images from 2012 – Winter in the Canadian Rockies Photo Tour (Plus a NEW 2013 Tour!)

Of all the photo tours we do each year, one of my favourites is the Winter in the Canadian Rockies tour because the landscape is reduced to simple graphic elements of shape, form and line. More and more I appreciate the simplicity of winter images (although making them is anything but simple – getting dressed for the adventure is half the struggle!) Each year we offer two winter tours based out of the Aurum Lodge on Abraham Lake. This year both tours are sold out with a wait list. To accommodate those who missed out on booking our regular winter tours, there is still a possibility to see the stark beauty of winter in the Canadian Rockies….  We have set aside Feb. 14 – 18, 2013 for a tentative third winter tour. I say tentative because we need five people to run this tour! So if you are keen on getting the best the Canadian Rockies has to offer in winter and to see and visit secret spots you likely would not find on your own be sure to contact Alan at the Aurum Lodge to register (cost is $1519 plus GST all inclusive! Don’t worry; if we don’t get the five people by January 31, 2013, your deposit is fully refundable this time!) To learn more about the winter tours and what is included please see our tour description page.

Below are twelve of my favourite images from the three 2012 winter tours – to see more photos from these tours go to our Flickr page for Tour 1, Tour 2 and Tour 3. Most of the photos are taken with my tilt-shift lens for the big advantages these lenses give landscape photographers. Plus, I almost always use filters in my photography for these reasons. So get on your boots and gloves and join Alan and me for a winter romp through the Kootenay Plains and Abraham Lake and the Icefields Parkway in Banff and Jasper National Park. Check out the group shot at the end and guess which person is Sam (she has a unique sense of fashion!)


©Darwin Wiggett – Abraham Lake with a 15mm fisheye lens (no filters)


©Darwin Wiggett – The Reflecting Pools (24mm TS-E lens using tilt plus a polarizer and a grad filter)


©Darwin Wiggett – Hoodoo Bay, Abraham Lake (24mm TS-E lens using tilt plus a polarizer and a grad filter)


©Darwin Wiggett – North Saskatchewan River Ice Details (90mm TS-E lens plus a polarizer)


©Darwin Wiggett – Abraham Lake from South Side Windy Point (17mm TS-E lens using tilt and shift, no filters and HDR)

©Darwin Wiggett - Quartzite Boulder Pile, Jasper NP (using a Sigma 120-400mm lens and focus stacking, no filters)

©Darwin Wiggett – Quartzite Boulder Pile, Jasper NP (using a Sigma 120-400mm lens and focus stacking, no filters)



©Darwin Wiggett – Wolf Willow abstract  (Sigma 85mm lens at f1.4, no filters)


©Darwin Wiggett – Sunrise on Abraham Lake from the Belly of Abraham (24mm TS-E lens using tilt plus a polarizer, a grad filter and a 4-stop solid ND filter)


©Darwin Wiggett – Abraham Lake from Hoodoo Creek Bay (24mm TS-E lens using tilt plus a polarizer and a grad filter)


©Darwin Wiggett – Abraham Lake in wind (24mm TS-E using tilt plus a polarizer and a 4-stop solid ND filter)


©Darwin Wiggett – Cline River Canyon (24mm TS-E using shift plus a polarizer)

Fire burn abstract, Kootenay Plains, Alberta, Canada

©Darwin Wiggett – Forest Burn abstract (Sigma 120 -400mm lens plus a polarizer and a 4-stop solid ND filter)

Feb 2012 Winter Photo Tour

Feb 2012 Winter Photo Tour


2 November

Free eBook for the iPad: Winter in the Canadian Rockies (who owns this eBook?)

Samantha and I have used Blurb in the past to make on-demand printed eBooks. Once you figure out the colour management (they have a great resource on that topic), you can make a book filled with images that look just like the images on your calibrated monitor. Very cool! All of our Blurb printed books showed faithful colour reproduction and good printed quality.

When Blurb announced a service where you could turn your existing books into eBooks formatted for the iPad and iPhone, we thought that was pretty slick. You can also use their drag-n-drop templates to create a new eBook from scratch. So I took one of my existing books on Blurb, Winter in the Canadian Rockies, and converted it to an iPad eBook. I don’t have an iPad so I can’t vouch for the quality of Blurb’s conversion software, but you can be the judge! Download it for free and tell us your thoughts. All we know is that, because the eBook is formatted for the iPad, it does not play nicely with any other devices.

We found in our research for The Art and Craft of the Photography eBook talk some things about Blurb and other template-based eBook publishing sites like Apple’s iBooks – Author that are disheartening — especially for those of us who wish to sell eBooks. Even though you paid to have the eBook made through these sites, you don’t actually own the eBook but just license your content. Technically we could not sell or give away our iPad version of Winter in the Canadian Rockies on the oopoomoo website. All links and any commerce has to go through the Blurb or the Apple affiliate store. Blurb takes 20% of your eBook price and Apple takes a further 30% (so if you sell through the Apple store your share is 50% of the selling price). In our talk tomorrow, we discuss ways to make and market eBooks so that YOU are the owner. Plus, we have information on the software, the e-commerce sites and the design tricks you need to know to make a ‘killer’ eBook. Come and find out more if you’re in our neck of the woods!
It’s buyer beware out there. If you use web services to make your eBooks, you pay for your convenience in loss of ownership.
29 October

Get Published! Learn how to make your own eBooks and work for magazines

We are thrilled to bring you two exciting seminars this November on how to get your work published. The first seminar is on the Art and Craft of the Photography eBook on November 3 in Cochrane, Alberta. Samantha and I will present a detailed talk on the art and craft of making your own photography eBook. Whether you are interested in compiling your wedding photos into a special digital album or showcasing your once-in-a-lifetime trip — or even if you plan to market and sell your eBook to a larger audience — we have loads of practical advice on how to do it right. Benefit from our experiences both positive and negative on the ‘meat and potatoes’ (and even the chocolate pie!) of making an eBook. To register click here.

©oopoomoo – Page 9 of our Aperture eBook

Have you ever wanted to have your photos published in magazines? Or have you dreamed of getting assignment work with prestigious publications? If so, have we got a talk for you! We are proud to be bringing you photographer and former photo editor Patrick Kane to Cochrane for an informative talk entitled: Get Published! Insider Secrets to Shooting for and Working with Magazines. Pat will walk you through:

  • the production cycle of a typical magazine revealing how stories are developed
  • what photo editors look for in telling those stories
  • where photo editors find images
  • why some images get chosen over others
  • how to pitch your work to editors, and
  • how to get your portfolio noticed (and published!) in such fast-paced and competitive market.

Whether you’re looking to sell images or pitch feature photo essays to the top magazines on the newsstand, Pat will give you a behind-the-scenes look at the industry and offer advice, tips and tricks to help get your photography on the printed page. Be sure to visit Pat’s webpageblog, and Facebook page to see the breadth of this talented photographer’s work! To register click here!

©Patrick Kane