29 January

Collaborate, Community and Care with Matt Payne

©Matt Payne

Lately, there seems to be a backlash in the photography community against the shallow, narcissistic, insta-famous, celebrity culture that social media can breed. Many photographers are moving away from superficial likes of social media to producing work that has layers and meaning. Outlets for this work range from print exhibitions, self-published hand-made books, niche magazines, art products, and photo essays. There is a growing tide of photographers who want to raise the bar and move photography firmly into expressive art and away from the selfie culture that predominates now. In short, they feel it’s time to build community, collaborate instead of compete and do photography for meaning and care.

It’s for the reasons above that we started The League of Landscape Photographers, League magazine and the Best of the League Award. Fortunately we are not alone. Others in nature photography are also standing up to lend their voices to ‘photography for good’ and are trying to make a difference. One such photographer is Matt Payne, a landscape photographer based in Durango, Colorado who loves the wilderness and uses his photography to generate an emotional response and connection to the natural world. His goal is to plant a seed in the minds and souls of the viewer that can grow into a life-long relationship with the wilderness. Matt is also the host and creator of the popular landscape photography podcast, “F-Stop Collaborate and Listen.” where he talks candidly with other landscape photographers on all topics from technique to ethics. Matt is currently raising funds to seed a $1000 Conservation Award in Photography. We talked with Matt about his podcast, his photography and his conservation award.

Matt Payne – Landscape Photographer and podcaster.

oopoomoo – Why did you start a landscape photography podcast?

Matt – When I first got into landscape photography in 2010, I really wanted to learn as much as possible about the craft from as many artists as possible. I immediately looked to the podcast arena for some interesting podcasts on photography, but never found one that was specific to landscape photography. I felt like it was a niche that was missing a great deal of content and discussion. As the years went by, I really enjoyed the in-person conversations I’d had with other landscape photographers while we were out shooting together. The conversations were rich, vibrant, and touched on subjects I rarely found intelligent discussion about on the internet. Fast forward to 2017, I decided to finally launch my own podcast so that I could have similar conversations with the best landscape photographers across the world and share those conversations with the rest of my peers.

©Matt Payne

oopoomoo – You have only been doing your podcast since April 2017 but you already have 40 episodes! How much time and commitment does making a frequent podcast involve?

Matt – It has been quite the journey so far! Having never done a podcast before, it was quite a steep learning curve at first. I have been able to develop my workflow so that it takes about 5 hours per episode to produce and publish, not including the time it takes to recruit and actually record the podcast.

©Matt Payne

oopoomoo – What have been the most rewarding aspects of the podcast?

Matt – The most rewarding aspect of the podcast is having the opportunity to learn all kinds of different perspectives from a variety of people across the world. It has opened my eyes to various landscape photography practices and ethical issues that I had only before mulled about in my mind. The podcast format has allowed me to personally expand my belief systems around conservation issues relating to landscape photography as well as various topics that have made a real impact on the way that I think about the craft in general. I have literally changed my mind about some topics several times throughout the podcast’s lifespan, which has been really interesting to experience. Lastly, I feel like the podcast can and is making a positive impact on the landscape photography community. It is creating a space where real substantive conversations can be had in a non-threatening fashion by which others can begin to formulate their own educated opinions about a variety of topics that impact the craft and the ethics involved.

©Matt Payne

oopoomoo – What are the biggest challenges of making a podcast?

Matt – At first the biggest challenges were ensuring good sound quality as well as finding people to come onto the podcast as a guest. I think I have figured out the sound quality issues that plagued me early on and am now focusing more on refining the format and the content of the podcast itself. I think the other challenge is keeping the content fresh and trying to not re-hash the same topics over and over again. I am getting great feedback from the community on how to improve and rely on my listeners to provide me with valuable insight and critique to improve.

©Matt Payne

oopoomoo – Let’s face it there are a plethora of podcasts on photography out there some long established (10 + years) and with huge followings. What do you feel your podcast offers that isn’t already in the podcast market?

Matt – I think the vast majority of podcasts that already existed have more of an educational and promotional purpose. I wanted to create a forum by which photographers could get more personal about their approaches to and beliefs about landscape photography and to allow listeners to gain wisdom through the conversations that occur. The format of my podcast is much more relaxed and unscripted than other podcasts, similar to The Nerdist or WTF with Marc Maron, which allows for more candid conversation that has the potential to go quite deep, exploring a much wider variety of topics. Of course, this is all dependent upon my ability to pull that out of my guests and their willingness to go there. Lastly, my podcast touches on so much more than just landscape photography and photography tips. We delve into tertiary topics that are related and relevant. I like to think that it is an intellectually stimulating podcast and that my listeners appreciate the casual, yet in-depth format.

©Matt Payne

oopoomoo – Most podcasts are free, so is yours but you are asking people to make a subscription donation through Patreon. Why should people spend their money on your podcast?

Matt – I suppose I would pose a similar question to every photographer trying to sell prints or teach workshops. If you find value in something, then I think it is only makes sense to ask those consuming it to financially support it to keep it going, whether that be $1 / month or $50 / month. It depends on what someone feels like they are getting out of the creation and how much they think it is worth to them. A long time ago, my friend David Kingham shared a very insightful Ted Talk with me from musician Amanda Palmer where she explains that as artists, we should not force people to support us, we should ask them to. It creates a special relationship between the artist and the consumer. I personally love the idea that I can create something for the community and that people get enough out of it to feel like they can and should support it to keep it going.

©Matt Payne

oopoomoo -You are raising funds through your podcast to start an annual Landscape Photography Conservation Award. Why is the purpose of the award and why do you think it is needed?

Matt – I’m glad you brought this up because it is something I’m really excited about. Through the first year of the podcast I kept noticing a theme rise to the surface from landscape photographers – that there are a lot of us that feel alarmed about the current state of our landscapes and have a heightened awareness regarding the idea that there is a fundamental relationship between landscape photography and conservation. Time and time again I have heard from photographers that they are quite concerned with the rising popularity of many landscape photography locations and have seen the impacts on those locations. This theme got me to thinking about what we can do as landscape photographers to make an impact on this problem to make it less of a concern. I played around with the idea that we could come up with “rules” that photographers should follow, but I felt like it would be very difficult to get consensus about those rules, so I decided the best thing I could do is to reward someone else that has made a meaningful difference through their photography, practices, writings, or influence. My hope is that if this becomes a large enough financial award, it will further incentivize photographers to want to make a difference too.

©Matt Payne

oopoomoo – Anything more you wish to add about your podcast, your photography, or the state of photographic art?

Matt – I think this is an equally exciting and terrifying time to be a landscape photographer. The art form has exploded in recent years and with the advent of social media it has gone completely off the rails in so many ways, good and bad. We have people digitally manipulating photographs (myself included) and making locations look more incredible than they actually are. While this is incredible in terms of artistic expression, it leaves me worrying about the future of our craft. People not knowing any better will flock to these locations thinking the Milky Way is visible there, only to find that the Milky Way only appears in the opposite direction. People will go look at a mountain scene only to realize that someone has digitally made the mountain look bigger than it actually is. While I applaud the skill and artistic craft that many photographers employ today, I worry that we are collectively sacrificing the future to exploit our selfish gains of today. I am by no means suggesting that we all become purists and only shoot film. I think a middle ground can be reached that both celebrates the artistry of the many talented photographers that exist today, and fosters and perpetuates public trust in the authenticity of our craft and protection of our beloved locations. Before the podcast, I was a strong proponent that photographers should just do whatever they want and that people should only care about their own work and not what people think. While this “feels good,” it is a dangerous game to play by which we are actively auctioning future trust in the art form for more personal success today. I know that by hosting the podcast, I have become a more enlightened photographer, not only technically, but also ethically. I hope those that listen are getting the same benefit. Listeners can join the discussion on our Facebook Group or on our sub-reddit.

©Matt Payne

To learn more about Matt go to his website and he can be followed on social media on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. As well, Matt will be hosting Samantha and me as guests on his Feb. 7 podcast where we will talk about ethics, art, publishing and building community in photography. We hope you can join us. Now until the end of February anyone who kicks in a $50 per month donation on Patreon to Matt’s podcast will receive a free subscription to League Issue 2.

7 January

Best of the 2017 Daily Themes – #subtlesunday

For the last few months of 2017 we challenged our oopoomoo Creatives Facebook group with submitting works to a daily theme. For Sunday the theme was #subtlesunday. Below are some of our favourites from the Sunday submissions. Congratulations to all for inspiring work!

Be sure to click on each image to see them larger for full effect. And if you want to participate in our daily challenges be sure to sign up for our oopoomoo newsletter and get our Born Creative eBook for free!

©Antonio Aleo

©Avi Cohen

©Avi Cohen

©Carol James

©Chris Bone

©Chris Greenwood

©Diane E Weiler

©Diane E Weiler

©Elfie Hall

©Gail Burstyn

©Guy Kerr

©Janice Kretzer-Prysunka

©Janice Kretzer-Prysunka

©Jeremy Calow

©Katherine Keates

©Katherine Keates

©Keith Walker

©Keith Walker

©Lawrence Sauter

©Lawrence Sauter

©Lloyd Dykstra

©Pam Jenks

©Pam Jenks

©Pam Jenks

©Royce Howland

©Sheila Wiwchar

©Simon Barker

©Ton Nevesely

6 January

Best of the 2017 Daily Themes – #selectivefocussaturday

For the last few months of 2017 we challenged our oopoomoo Creatives Facebook group with submitting works to a daily theme. For Saturday the theme was #selectivefocussaturday. Below are some of our favourites from the Saturday submissions. Congratulations to all for inspiring work!

Be sure to click on each image to see them larger for full effect. And if you want to participate in our daily challenges be sure to sign up for our oopoomoo newsletter and get our Born Creative eBook for free!

©Avi Cohen

©Brian Hayward

©Darlene Willment

©Diane E Weiler

©Gerry Hiebert

©Janice Kretzer-Prysunka

©Katherine Keates

©Keith Walker

©Lloyd Dykstra

©Mrinal Das

©Pam Jenks

©Riana Vermaak

©Riana Vermaak

©Shaun Conarroe

©Tom Nevesely

©Veronica Reist

5 January

Best of the 2017 Daily Themes – #fineartfriday

For the last few months of 2017 we challenged our oopoomoo Creatives Facebook group with submitting works to a daily theme. For Friday the theme was #fineartfriday. Below are some of our favourites from the Friday submissions. Congratulations to all for inspiring work!

Be sure to click on each image to see them larger for full effect. And if you want to participate in our daily challenges be sure to sign up for our oopoomoo newsletter and get our Born Creative eBook for free!

©Avi Cohen

©Chris Manderson

©Diane E Weiler

©Diane E Weiler

©Dominic Byrne

©Don Wotton

©Janice Kretzer-Prysunka

©Jean Paul Gaboury

©Katherine Keates

©Katherine Keates

©Keith Walker

©Keith Walker

©Keith Walker

©Kristin Duff

©Kristin Duff

©Lloyd Dykstra

©Quincey Deters

©Quincey Deters

©Ralph A Croning

©Robert Skoye

©Royce Howland

©Sean AJ Simmons

©Sheila Wiwchar

©Simon Barker

©Sue Olmstead

©Thomas Gibson

©Vicki Brown

©Wendy Stevenson

©Wendy Stevenson

4 January

Best of the 2017 Daily Themes – #threesonthursday

For the last few months of 2017 we challenged our oopoomoo Creatives Facebook group with submitting works to a daily theme. For Thursday the theme was #threesonthursday. Below are some of our favourites from the Thursday submissions. Congratulations to all for inspiring work!

Be sure to click on each image to see them larger for full effect. And if you want to participate in our daily challenges be sure to sign up for our oopoomoo newsletter and get our Born Creative eBook for free!

©Avi Cohen

©Avi Cohen

©Carol James

©Chris Baird

©Chris Bone

©Chris Bone

©Christian Van Schepen

©Christian Van Schepen

©Claude Hamel

©Darlene Perkin

©Diane E Weiler

©Drake Dyck

©Gail Burstyn

©Gary Galger

©Jeremy Calow

©Katherine Keates

©Keith Walker

©Keith Walker

©Kristin Duff

©Kristin Duff

©Lawrence Sauter

©Len Langevin

©Lloyd Dykstra

©Lloyd Dykstra

©Mike Kapiczowski

©Pam Jenks

©Pam Jenks

©Quincey Deters

©Sheila Wiwchar

©Sue Olmstead

©Tom Nevesely

©Tom Nevesely

©Wendy Stevenson

©Wendy Stevenson

3 January

Best of the 2017 Daily Themes – #weedywednesday

For the last few months of 2017 we challenged our oopoomoo Creatives Facebook group with submitting works to a daily theme. For Wednesday the theme was #weedywednesday. Below are some of our favourites from the Wednesday submissions. Congratulations to all for inspiring work!

Be sure to click on each image to see them larger for full effect. And if you want to participate in our daily challenges be sure to sign up for our oopoomoo newsletter and get our Born Creative eBook for free!

©Avi Cohen

©Carol Iles

©Chris Baird

©Chris Bone

©Diane E Weiler

©Diane E Weiler

©Diane E Weiler

©Gail Burstyn

©Gail Burstyn

©Gail Burstyn

©Janice Kretzer-Prysunka

©Katherine Keates

©Katherine Keates

©Katherine Keates

©Kristin Duff

©Lawrence Sauter

©Lloyd Dykstra

©Lloyd Dykstra

©Michael John Perkins

©Pam Jenks

©Phyllis Fitzsimons

©Quincey Deters

©Quincey Deters

©Sheila Wiwchar

©Simon Barker

©Simon Barker

©Simon Barker

©Tom Gibson

©Trever Miller

2 January

Best of the 2017 Daily Themes – #terrifictreestuesday

For the last few months of 2017 we challenged our oopoomoo Creatives Facebook group with submitting works to a daily theme. For Tuesday the theme was #terrifictreestuesday. Below are some of our favourites from the Tuesday submissions – this was one of our most popular themes!

Congratulations to all for inspiring work. Be sure to click on each image to see them larger for full effect. And if you want to participate in our daily challenges be sure to sign up for our oopoomoo newsletter and get our Born Creative eBook for free.

©Ann Nickerson

©April Henrikson Daly

©Bernice MacDonald

©Chris Baird

©Chris Bone

©Darlene Perkin

©Derek Chambers

©Don Wotton

©Doug Blunt

©Gail Burstyn

©Gail Burstyn

©Gerry Hiebert

©Katherine Keates

©Keith Walker

©Lloyd Dykstra

©Mike Kapiczowski

©Pam Jenks

©Phyllis Fitzsimons

©Sean A. J. Simmons

©Sheila Wiwchar

©Tom Nevesely

©Wayne Simpson

1 January

Best of the 2017 Daily Themes – #morningbluesmonday

For the last few months of 2017 we challenged our oopoomoo Creatives Facebook group with submitting works to a daily theme. For Monday the theme was #morningbluesmonday. Below are some of our favourites from the Monday submissions. Congratulations to all for inspiring work!

Be sure to click on each image to see them larger for full effect. And if you want to participate in our daily challenges be sure to sign up for our oopoomoo newsletter and get our Born Creative eBook for free!

©Avi Cohen

©Christophe Potworowski

©Diane E Weiler

©Janice Kretzer-Prysunka

©Keith Walker

©Keith Walker

©Linda Mellstrom

©Mike Kapiczowski

©Royce Howland

©Royce Howland

©Tom Nevesely

©Wayne Simpson

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).

31 January

The Best of oopoomoo Creatives 2016

We are thrilled to showcase the best work of our oopoomoo Creatives Facebook group. This group of our students, friends and colleagues have produced creative and thoughtful work over the course of 2016. We are proud of their creative vision… most of the pictures were not taken at far off places or in iconic locations but rather were taken locally of everyday scenes. These 70 images confirm that it’s vision and individual expression that pushes art and not technique, gear or even location. Whether it’s the sweep of curtains across a carpeted floor or blades of grass in a sidewalk crack there is art everywhere if we are open to seeing. We want to thank all the oopoomoo Creatives out there for your continued inspiration and passion. Your great work deserved to be seen and we plan to provide even more opportunities to share your images with the world – stay tuned!

©Al Dixon

©Al Dixon

©Andrew Barron

©Andrew Barron

©Anita Vermaak

©Anita Vermaak

©Ann Nickerson

©Ann Nickerson

©Anna Ferree

©Anna Ferree

©April Henrikson Daly

©April Henrikson Daly

©Bill Warmington

©Bill Warmington

©Bill Warmington

©Bill Warmington

©Brian Hayward

©Brian Hayward

©Carol James

©Carol James

©Carol James

©Carol James

©Carolyn Steingard

©Carolyn Steingard

©Cheryl Wallach

©Cheryl Wallach

©Chris Baird

©Chris Baird

©Chris Baird

©Chris Baird

©Chris Bone

©Chris Bone

©Chris Greenwood

©Chris Greenwood

©Chris Greenwood

©Chris Greenwood

©Chris Hayward

©Chris Hayward

©Christian Van Schepen

©Christian Van Schepen

©Connie Quinton

©Connie Quinton

©Connie Quinton

©Connie Quinton

©Dave Benson

©Dave Benson

©Dave Williamson

©Dave Williamson

©Dave Williamson

©Dave Williamson

©Dave Williamson

©Dave Williamson

©Dominic Byrne

©Dominic Byrne

©Dominic Byrne

©Donna Caplinger

©Donna Caplinger

©Drake Dyck

©Drake Dyck

©Drake Dyck

©Drake Dyck

©Edwina Podemski

©Edwina Podemski

©Elaine Delichte O'Keefe

©Elaine Delichte O’Keefe

©Fran Gallogly

©Fran Gallogly

©Fran Gallogly

©Fran Gallogly

©Frank Schortinghus

©Frank Schortinghus

©George Clayton

©George Clayton

©George Clayton

©George Clayton

©Gerry Ambury

©Gerry Ambury

©Gord Campbell

©Gord Campbell

©Hank Broomfield

©Hank Broomfield

©Heather Donauer

©Heather Donauer

©Huw Jenkins

©Huw Jenkins

©Jane Chesebrough

©Jane Chesebrough

©Janelle Evans

©Janelle Evans

©Janice Kretzer-Prysunka

©Janice Kretzer-Prysunka

©Janet Barclay

©Janet Barclay

©John Foehl

©John Foehl

©Kat Enns

©Kat Enns

©Kathy Stinson

©Kathy Stinson

©Keith Walker

©Keith Walker

©Kelly Kitsch

©Kelly Kitsch

©Kristin Duff

©Kristin Duff

©Liz Forrester

©Liz Forrester

©Liz Forrester

©Liz Forrester

©Lorraine McNeely

©Lorraine McNeely

©Lynn Smith

©Lynn Smith

©Lynn Smith

©Lynn Smith

©Pam Jenks

©Pam Jenks

©Philip Cote

©Philip Cote

©Priya Biswas Miller

©Priya Biswas Miller

©Ralph Croning

©Ralph Croning

©Riana Vermaak

©Riana Vermaak

©Ryan Crouse

©Ryan Crouse

©Shaun Conarroe

©Shaun Conarroe

©Steve Poole

©Steve Poole

©Sue Olmstead

©Susan Olmstead

©Susan Ashley

©Susan Ashley

©Tom Nevesely

©Tom Nevesely

©Tracy Hindle

©Tracy Hindle

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