Over the past couple years, I’ve made the occasional blog post here on oopoomoo but for the most part, I stay behind the scene working on either the website or new eBooks. I’m quite happy with the artistic career I’ve built in visual design and it has allowed me to have worked on some very interesting products.
But the problem with any desk job is… when we’re not careful, our daily activities can easily fall into the routine pattern of waking up in the morning, becoming focused on the day’s tasks, and the day is over without moving away from the computer screen.
My biggest client happens to be a group of doctors who provide medical education and training to the many emergency medicine doctors around the world. I’ve always known that too much computer time is not healthy but nothing defines motivation better than working with a group of highly respected doctors all day long who continually remind you of the need to move.
It first started with a stand up desk and some went as far as a treadmill desk. More recently, several of us started wearing a pedometer that measures daily steps. Not only does it record and report my shameful daily activities, but it also reports these numbers to my friends, coworkers and clients. A competition that I’m losing.
Measuring activity and seeing real numbers is scary but I have learned a great deal about the 10,000 step theory and just how much that really is. At roughly 7.5 kilometres, this short distance can be a surprisingly hard goal to achieve depending on your daily routines. And unfortunately my daily routine is far from that of a letter carrier.
But the dog’s walking schedule is increasing and I’m sure the grass will be cut much more frequently this summer. It’s incredible how seeing actual results in real numbers creates the desire to better those results. I’m clearly goal orientated.
What does this have to do with photography? Keeping a small step counter in my pocket is a constant reminder to get outside and nature photography is a big part of my solution. In the course of the past 15 years, I have spent an incredible amount of time in front of a computer advancing my career. Some of that time was well spent and some of that time was simply killing time. But all of that time was a slippery slope. There will never be an end to the list of overdue tasks.
What I do know is that photography has created a very nice compliment to staying artistic while being away from a desk. It keeps me outside, moving, and exploring.
If anything, I suppose photography is what raised my appreciation of simply being outside because when I’m outside on the beach, or on the trails, or on the side of a road in some farmer’s field… everything else can wait.
Spring has started here on Prince Edward Island and the only remaining traces of snow are found deep in tree covered areas. For the long weekend, I put all computer work on pause and spent a decent amount of time on the hiking trails in the national park – stroller and all.
The concept of printing actual objects is fascinating. Something that would be otherwise impossible to find or buy might now be possible to create with your home printer.
A future of printing our own solutions to meet our workflow needs is very exciting. Printing your own ideas introduces a market that eliminates factory production costs. Instead of manufacturers producing inventory, followed by packaging and shipping it all around the world to only sit in warehouses or on store shelves, in theory, they could just provide a blueprint file that you give your printer at home. Especially useful for simple replacement parts but maybe even a complete house or a prosthesis arm.
Like all new technologies, it’s still not perfect and has room for improvements but it is however going to be very interesting as the technology becomes more accessible to everyone.
Here’s Where 3D Printers Relate to Camera Gear
With the use of a 3D printer (Stratasys Object 30Pro), 3DPideas has designed an adapter for use with Cokin or Lee filter holders that I believe is brilliant and a problem solver to how I wish to use filters.
I personally prefer to use a screw in 77mm polarizer filter on the front of my lens and, if I want additional filters, I screw the filter holder onto the front of that polarizer.
This creates two problems. The first is vignette because of the extra extension the polarizer creates from the lens and the second is the added challenge of rotating the polarizer independently to the holder. It has worked for me but can be frustrating on many levels.
The Cokin-Z holder works best with sprocket filters (watch Darwin in this video) and proper management of light leak. The Lee alternative requires the purchase of a large 105mm filter. My shooting habits do not match either intended use because both require the large filter holder to use the polarizer.
What 3DPideas has created and printed is an adapter ring that attaches to the hood mount of your lens. It allows me to shoot all day with the polarizer and lens hood but when I want to use an ND filter, I can replace the hood with the filter holder. It has no frustrating screw in threads and it keeps my polarizer rotating independently free. Most importantly, I don’t have to buy a new expensive polarizing filter for a holder I only want to use on occasion.
My initial tests of the adapter proved to be very sturdy and strong enough to endure daily use. However printing materials are still new and while this product continues to be improved and refined, expectations of this rubber-like plastic should be reasonable.
It will take the next couple months to really judge how the material holds up but so far, I really like it. Designing and printing your own solutions to specific problems opens a new door on creativity that can only get better. A+ for thinking outside and beyond manufacture limitations.
My commitment to the fallen leaves project continues to unfold in a trial and error process. Some ideas are working out pretty good — others are failing.
Earlier this winter on a cold morning, my front yard had several frost-covered leaves. My failed efforts to create images of the frost gave me the idea to freeze them. Using a small lunch dish, I froze a single leaf in a block of ice and carved out openings by carefully running warm tap water over select parts to expose edges. Adding new water and refreezing helped add bubbles and textures.
The following images are my results from this single block of ice. All were created with the same setup as before using a 100mm macro lens.
We all know how hectic life can get at times. Careers. Housework to be done. Children or spouses to chauffeur. Groceries to be bought. Emails to write and answer. Coffee dates with friends. Special occasions to get ready for. Dogs to walk. On and on and on! On December 16th I decided I needed a break from the daily chores so Zerrin, our Golden Retriever, and I decided to go for a walk.
It had snowed most of the weekend and the landscape was a beautiful, clean white blanket. The blue Alberta sky showed off the Rocky Mountains in all their glory. Half an hour into our walk I got my break. However, it was not the break I was looking for. I slipped on some ice which was secretly hiding under the ‘beautiful clean white blanket’! DOWN I went. I landed like someone who was preparing to make a snow angel. On my back, arms and legs spread eagle. My body was taking up much more property than needed. My first thought was, “I’m still alive!” My oopoomoo First Aid Training immediately took over my brain. “Hi. My name is Catherine. I know First Aid. Can I help you?” I took inventory of all body parts. Head? Good. Legs? Good. Back? Good. Bum? Sore. Arms? Umm. Left arm is good. Still have dog attached by means of his leash. Right arm? Not so good. The wrist was a wee bit sore. I finally opened my eyes and saw Zerrin’s big brown eyes staring down at me seemingly asking, “What ARE you doing?” I managed to pick myself up, dust off the snow and muster up as much pride as I could, at the same time praying that my ice-jig was not witnessed by anyone. Diagnosis? Broken wrist in two places, needed to be reduced (too bad it isn’t as easy to reduce a waist as it is a wrist!). Seven hours later I walked out of the hospital with a festive green and red cast on my right arm. I have some choice words for how I feel about this very restrictive clump of fibreglass on my arm but I won’t use them because it may tarnish my good girl image Sam and Darwin have of me.
Needless to say, I feel very helpless. Can’t zip my jacket, tie my shoes, do up the button on my pants, floss my teeth, cut my food, handwrite… well, you get the idea. BUT the one thing I can’t do, that bothers me the most, is USE A CAMERA!!! AND…..here is the clincher……I’m going to Joshua Tree Park, California before I get this cast off!
“Okay”, I thought, this cast is not going to get the best of me! I WILL write my January oopoomoo post and I WILL take photographs! I put ALL my cameras on the table and sat down for a ‘fitting’. How frustrating! Too big! Too small! Too heavy! Not a good grip! The Rolleiflex is a definite no go. My Canon 60D is also a no go. Samsung Galaxy has to be held upside down and I can’t reach the power button.
After short-listing the point and shoots I finally settled on my Canon Power Shot S110. The sleek style is comfy to hold and all buttons and dials are easy to control with my index finger.
My seldom used S110 will accompany me on my next trip. One nice bonus with taking a small camera is that it will fit into the purse and there is no need to carry a camera bag….with my DSLR, 40mm lens, 50mm lens, 70-200mm lens, 400mm lens, filters, filter holders, lens baby accessories. That equipment can go with me on my photo trip to Newfoundland this summer when I am cast free!!
As I’ve set up portrait session after portrait session over the past couple years in the creation of my Framed Ink project, I’ve encountered tattoos covering a multitude of colours, designs, and personal reasons behind the getting, or creation, of the tattoo. For most of my sessions, it’s a pretty quick process. I’ve always shot this as a project, and as such I’ve gone into each portrait session looking for pretty much that single image or two that will best represent the ink, the person, and their story. This means that most sessions have gone fairly quickly: 30 or so minutes, I have something I like, and pack up.
Every so often, however, I’ve come across a tattoo, or a story, that stops me dead in my tracks – usually because of the story. This was one of them. This is Niel’s.
“I got my tattoo in memory of my third son, who passed away. He was known as the “Little Viking” around town – he put up quite the fight as he was going through his surgeries. It’s in memory of him.
Jonas was born with a congenital heart disease. Basically, he had one side of his heart that didn’t form – so only one pump. There are surgeries they can do to make it work so he went through some surgeries when he was a baby. When he was just about three he went in for the next round of surgeries; his heart was so weak that when he did the one surgery his heart basically fell apart. They actually removed his heart…and he was the first child in medical history they’ve actually done that to.
So he went on the Berlin Heart – which is a mechanical heart – as the first child in the world who ever had his heart removed completely (the mechanical heart was doing all the work). He was on the Berlin for ten weeks while we hoped and prayed for a transplant. Unfortunately, during those ten weeks… any time you do anything for the first time you never really know what the outcomes are. His other organs started shutting down so at ten weeks he fought what he could do and his other organs were shutting down so we made the decision, as a family, that that was Jonas’ time. He missed his third birthday by five days.
This isn’t my first tattoo. My first tattoo, it took me two years to figure out what I wanted and another year to get exactly what I wanted done. This one here was literally an hour. It was right. I went to my uncle’s 60th birthday party in Manitoba…I phoned up this guy who was fully booked for 4 months but he rearranged his schedule and went in and got it done. It’s important—to have something all the time to remember Jonas by. We have our memories, but for me it’s important to have this tattoo, to remember my son – this awesome little guy – and he only made it to just about three, and it’s in his memory. I’m proud of it.” – Niels Konge
This image, “Little Viking”, was photographed as part of my “Framed Ink” project – a collection of portraits spanning three years of various people’s tattoos and the stories behind them. This project will be released as an eBook by the oopoomoo team early this year.
Hey everyone! We wish you all the best for 2014. Stride boldly into your future!
What’s in a top 10? Are they the best of the year? And if so, how do you define best? Everyone has their own set of standards on what justifies a great image and everyone is unique in what visually pleases their eyes. For my year in review, I’m going to honour that title and simply talk about the past 12 months.
Brace yourself, summarizing my year is going to take many more than a selection of 10. The following are surely not all winners but here are my most memorable photographs of 2013. More often than not, the memory is triggered heavily around the story that accompanies it.
Story #1: Mount Rundle, Banff National Park
It took me over 2 months to get away from the desk and creating images this year. The start of 2013 for me was kick started by a planned trip to Alberta to visit with the rest of the oopoomoo contributors. Our first stop with a camera was at Vermilion Lakes – low hanging fruit for some – but overwhelming for me. It took some time to ignore the iconic mountains but eventually, I found myself focused on the patterns in the snow.
Story #2: Abraham Lake Bubbles
It’s late in the season for crystal clear bubbles but Darwin, Sam, Catherine and I traveled up to Aurum Lodge at Abraham Lake. It was my first visit to this popular place and glimpse into the home base of oopoomoo workshops. The scratches and cracks in the ice looks like some type of deep space warp speed.
Story #3: Castle Mountain
Is Castle Mountain too easy? Maybe, but as I traveled up and down the highway alone in my rental car, I really had no idea of where I should be. Castle Junction is where I stopped the car, squeezed through the frozen fence and walked along the ice cold water. I live on a sand bar with no true wilderness. The feeling of being so small and surrounded is hard to explain.
Story #4: Missing Tulips at Parliament Hill
This is more of a lesson than anything else. I was in Ottawa during the tulip festival and on my first day, I made the decision to travel light and scout tulip patches. Walking from Ottawa to Gatineau is no quick stroll but I found this great full-of-colour tulip garden with Parliament Hill as the backdrop. It was in the shade and the range of brightness was just too much for a handheld photo. I made a note to return the next day but obviously an opportunity passed, is an opportunity lost. After swearing a bit, I made the image anyway.
Story #5: Stanhope Beach, Prince Edward Island
This was my only black and white image of 2013. I don’t know why I don’t do this more often because I do fall in love with the results. The deep blacks work much better than the dull blues of the day. I’m working on seeing past the colours.
Story #6: Misty Morning Sunrays
Chasing mist and fog early in the morning on side country roads can require a bit of luck. Completely soaked from the tall unmaintained grass, my focus was on a field of buttercup flowers with patches of lupins. This image was created as I was packing up for the morning and about to call it quits.
Story #7: Prince Edward Island Erosion
Thundercover beach is a popular location. Both for photographers because of the unique sea stacks and for teenagers and their beach parties. I have visited this location – codenamed teacup rock – many many times, but it was this time that I found these recently fallen sandstones that I feel really shows the effects of erosion. They were gone on my next visit. We lose an average of 0.5 metres (1.6 feet) on the south shore and 1.5 metres (5 feet) on the north shore per year.
Story #8: A Bee in Flight
At the end of 2012, I said I wanted to capture a bee in flight. It was a challenge that felt both impossible but achievable. I was completely shutout this year for island wildlife but am fairly satisfied with my first attempts at insects in flight.
Story #9: Rotting Abandoned Pier
PEI has many piers that most would consider an eye sore. Actually, everyone should. Photographically speaking, they can be quite interesting.
Story #10: Northern Lights, PEI National Park
The further north you live, the less impressive the aurora borealis may be but for PEI, it’s a very rare occurrence. During a very active season, you might be lucky enough to see them off the north shore once or twice. If you happened to be there on one of those special nights, it’s a real treat.
Story #11: Victoria Range Light
This range light visible from the highway is not accessible to the public. It’s at the edge of a farmers field and surrounded by residential properties that I’m not willing to trespass across. I was full of excitement when I learned that one of those properties was a relative of a relative by marriage. Permission granted and a checkmark on the bucket list.
Story #12: Turbine Power
Prince Edward Island is covered with power generating turbines on both ends of the island. There are just shy of 100 turbines across 6 wind farms and as of 2013, 20% of our energy is generated by the wind. A local developer created this cool little tool that compares live current wind speeds against energy generated. I have seen it as high as 80%.
Story #13: Rough Coastal Surf
Most island days are windy and wind can create violent surf conditions. If you’re willing to get wet, anchor yourself down in knee deep high tide water, some interesting illustrations of erosion can be made. I could do this for hours and hours. No two waves are the same and it’s hard not to think the next one will be ‘the one’. It takes real effort for me to leave a location like this.
Story #14: Island Fishing
I hired a fisherman to take me out so I can view the island from their perspective. I didn’t really know what to expect but while we were there – he asked if I would be bothered by him doing a little bit of fishing. Sure, why not, it’s an experience, how bad can it be? Well, it turns out those mackerel jigger’s are brutal.
Story #15: Hay Bale Sunset
PEI is small and getting lost is an accomplishment in and of itself. With no set goal in mind, I was chasing a particular cloud and the fading light up and down back dirt roads of farmers’ fields. It’s not too often I need a gps to figure out where I am.
Story #16: Storm over Covehead
Chasing storm clouds requires a bit of luck. You can see them developing but it’s hard to predict where they will be. Weather moves very quickly across the island and after originally driving in the wrong direction, by the time I got ahead of this one, I only managed to frame 5 shots before it was all over. I love the cotton candy sky. The speed boat coming back in to port is just a bonus.
Story #17: North Shore Tides
Playing at the edge of a moving tide is so much fun with so much potential. Angles, directions, different shutter speeds and the unpredictable crashing waves has so much excitement and anticipation of what will the camera record next.
Story #18: Aerial of Confederation Bridge
I have had the opportunity to fly several times this year. A mix of personal work, tourism work and commercial work has kept me in the sky. I love flying and looking at the geography from above. What’s difficult, is predicting good flying days for photography. Some days, the visibility is pure awful. On this particular day, visibility was not ideal. It actually kind of sucked but even though you can’t see the buildings and landscape, the fog and shapes were attractive. I was frustrated at the time but this one is growing on me.
Story #19: Aerial of Fishing Boat
Intimate details from the air is a rush. Hanging out an opened window and zipping over a fishing boat at low altitudes is wild. Having a pilot that is well experienced with photographers is a bonus and can get you in the correct position before you even have the thought to ask for it. Did I already mention how much fun it is to fly?
Story #20: Linking PEI to New Brunswick
The Island’s Tourism Commission had given me an open assignment for the summer to photograph a wide variety of subjects that highlighted touristy type things. New bridge images was on that list. It’s just a bridge and although it’s something I see on a very regular basis, it is still a structure that impresses me every time I see it, 16 years after it first opened. Walking along the rocky beach below never gets boring.
Story #21: Battling the Crowds at Covehead
This is an image all about the story. I can plan for a full moon. I can plan for sunset. I can scout a location. But I can not predict a tour bus full of people. Having the full moon rise while the sun is still setting only happens once per month and in late September, the tour buses should be long gone. Not today. After arriving and setting up a tripod, I looked behind me and saw a bus load of American tourists walking up the beach behind me. I wish I had a photo of me standing there behind a tripod with a large crowd of iphone shooters on both sides.
Story #22: Charlottetown’s Busiest Cruise Ship Season
With 69 calls to port and 139,476 crew members and passengers, 2013 was our busiest season for cruise ships. On this particular morning, 3 ships were arriving between 7:30 and 8:30am. It was a good morning to have a backup plan if for some reason, you mess up the first arrival. It’s hard to believe that from the cool morning fog coming off the water, I couldn’t even see the first two ships. I could hear them but there was a white blanket between us. It cleared up quickly.
Story #23: Island Rolling Hills
Strathgartney provincial park has a parking lot that looks over the rolling hills in central PEI. It’s a great view of the west river on any clear day but add some fog, fall colours and some morning light, and the level of excitement rises.
Story #24: Fall Heritage Roads
2013 had a dark shadow of a new but very controversial highway at the expense of some of the few remaining old growth wood lots. It’s a mess but has created a new access point to a single lane dirt road I had not previously traveled. I still don’t have a fall heritage road that I’m completely happy with but I now have a new and closer to home road to explore.
Any photographer who shoots a lot will tell you that trying to narrow down to their strongest images in a given time frame is a really tough job. I’m no exception. In 2013 I photographed I would say approximately 75,000+ images across pretty much every genre of photography one could imagine, from landscape to creative portraiture to commercial to wedding to photojournalism.
I always hesitate to call any body of work my “best” from a given time frame – as I know my own tastes will change and what I like today I may not like so much a year from now. That said, in pulling together this collection, I pulled out what either struck me, challenged me, or generally made me feel more complete as an artist in 2013. I hope you enjoy!
For this year instead of looking for my ‘best’ pictures of 2013, I thought I would share a themed body of work. That seems like an oopoomoo thing to do. After all oopoomoo really promotes projects and self assignments as a way to grow as an artist. So here I present the theme ‘prairies’ using images taken from 2013. Happy New Year everyone!
We asked oopoomoo team member John Marriott to highlight 2013 for us. Here is what he said:
When Sam and Darwin asked me to put together a Top Ten of my 2013 images, I immediately panicked and wondered if I’d actually even edited 10 images from 2013 yet. Thankfully, I’d edited at least a few of my faves from the year, so here you go, a taste of 2013!
The year was highlighted by two different amazing lynx encounters in Banff and Jasper national parks, but also featured a trip to Yellowstone and a host of photo tours across Canada to super exotic locales like Spuzzum and Rockglen (I’m kidding, the photo tours actually did go to some pretty cool places, like the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary and the Great Bear Rainforest).
And of course the year 2013 would not be complete without me mentioning my favourite part of the year, when my wife and I lived the thrilling life of wannabe adventurers and evacuated our house in Canmore to avoid a small amount of water rushing by our house. Two months living in a hotel is a very, very long time, so needless to say, I’m ready to say a hearty goodbye to the year that was, and welcome 2014 in with a giant hug.
We say: great collection, John! If you like John’s work and want to know where he finds his animal subjects in the Canadian Rockies be sure to pick up a copy of his fantastic eBook: The Icefields Parkway Wildlife Edition.