Here are three Holga shots from Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park near Cochrane, Alberta. IF you want to learn more about the park and all of its winter possibilities for photographers be sure to sign up for our Twoonie Talk (2 dollars to get in) on Jan 21, 2012 in Cochrane – for more information please see here.
Archive for the Art of Photography Category
Today is the official release date of oopoomoo! This is a new website that Samantha and I put together that is the one-stop shop for everything Sam and Dar. But it will be more than just a photography site, or a place to get eBooks or workshops. The concept behind oopoomoo relates more to our attitude towards life. Life is short: why not just do the things you love and live a balanced healthy lifestyle? Why not give back a little instead of always taking? Why not live a little softer on the planet? Why not have fun and smile a lot? Well, oopoomoo is our attempt to live that kind of life. We are photographers and photography instructors and we love our work. But we also love nature, hiking, eating, drinking, art, music and, in short, life. We want oopoomoo to reflect our passion about these things, and we want to share our passion for living well with the world. We would love to have you come along!
Ultimately we will be ending all our other websites so we can concentrate on oopoomoo and all the fun and meaningful projects we hope to engage in. So we will stop posting on our personal blogs (both this blog and Sam’s blog will finish at the end of the this year). Ultimately we will also end our personal websites and have everything we do happen at oopoomoo.
Finally, over at oopoomoo we decided affiliates and sponsorships wasn’t our thing. We’ll let others continue on with these kinds of partnerships because they are good at them! We find our time is pretty much taken up trying to live our new philosophy on life.
Drop by oopoomoo and let us know what you think and stay tuned for all sorts of interesting posts on photography and life!
Darwin and Sam
When I am out doing ‘serious’ photography, I have my ‘serious’ camera gear. Usually for landscape photography that is my Canon 1ds Mark III with my four Tilt-Shift lenses and a telephoto zoom (Sigma 120-400mm). But even with my landscape photography pack, I still always have my point-n-shoot camera in a pocket just to get fast grab shots in changing light. For the November Fire and Ice Tour we stopped at the Bighorn Dam west of Nordegg to find fast moving fog rolling through the spruce trees. I made these two quick snaps with the Canon G11 because the light was changing super fast. By the time I could dig out the ‘big guns’ the moment was gone. If I didn’t have the point-n-shoot I probably would have missed the moment! Mostly this is a reminder to myself to always have the point-n-shoot with me.
Here’s the Ice, Where’s the Fire?
This photo was taken on the last morning of the Fire and Ice Photo Tour in the Canadian Rockies which ended yesterday. Unlike most November tours, this tour we were given cloudy and snowy conditions. But even with the lack of ‘fire’ (sunrises and sunsets), the group of intrepid photographers made some great images.
One of the tricks I use in ‘bad light’ (e.g. overcast, grey days) is to set my digital camera to ‘monochrome’ so that the LCD of my camera shows B+W photos. I find it helps to strip away the colour to see compositions in B+W. Often there will be great images out there that speak to be taken even in the ‘crappy’ light. The image is a case in point. In colour it had no life but when I saw how it looked on the LCD in monochrome, I decided the photo was worth taking. If you shoot in RAW format the camera will display a B+W image on your LCD but record a full colour image in-camera which you can use to make B+W conversion later in post processing. I use Silver Efex Pro 2 as my default B+W conversion program (for a 15% discount on the software just enter darwin as the discount code on checkout). Stay tuned for great shots from participants in the following weeks most of whom used the monochrome setting on their cameras to mine wonderful B+W images in the moody light
For anyone wanting to see the new ice in the Rockies and hopefully to get a bit of fire to boot, there is one spot left starting this Wednesday (November 16) until Sunday (November 20). Contact Alan at the Aurum Lodge (email@example.com) to for more information.
Last week Sam posted a comparison of the same subject shot with film and digital. Her point was to show that the two media deliver very different results and that neither was ‘true’ to her experience of being there. Of course, we all know that cameras do not record things exactly like we see them. Some capture devices seem ‘truer’ than others but none record the ‘truth’ (5 human observers to the same event will all ‘record’ or remember the event differently – so what is truth anyway?).
Given that there is no universal truth then it simply becomes a question of what tool (camera, film type, digital sensor type, processing workflow etc) returns results closer to the way you view or want to present the world in your art. Of course you can enhance or alter the capture in processing (either in the digital or chemical darkroom) to get the results even closer to your personal view. I believe it’s always better to use the media that delivers results closest to where you want to end up, rather than shaving a square block down to fit into a round hole (but maybe that is just me, some of you might like the shaving process ).
The two images below were photographed at the Nordegg mine and were taken at the same time as Sam’s shots in her post. The results of the comparison look similar to the Sam’s in terms of colour and contrast. Which you prefer is personal, you might like one better than the other, or you might not like either rendition. Your job as a photographer is to translate what you see and feel about a scene to your viewer. Using the media that gets you the results you want is really all that matters.
Above – Shot with a Tachihara 4×5 view camera using Fujichrome Velvia 50 slide film (I used a flashlight to paint light onto the wheels – the orange cast).
Below – Shot with a Canon EOS-1ds digital camera and light-painted as described above.
Making photos usually does not stop at pressing the shutter. Image making is a three part process and this process was really popularized by Ansel Adams in his series of books; The Camera, The Negative and The Print. In today’s digital world photography world, we capture images in our camera, we process the resulting image (often a RAW ‘negative’) in the computer and then we output our images to print (or the web) so the process has not changed just the technology of how we do the process.
I would add a fourth component to Ansel Adams equation and that is The Person. The camera does not make the image; it is the photographer. What interests you, what attracts your eye, what you choose to include or exclude, how you compose and ‘see’ are individual and personal. So let’s not forget that the end product is the result of the personal vision of the photographer (and this vision can and should carry through from seeing to capture, development and print).
As a photographer who learned and grew up photographically using slide film, I was mostly denied the luxury of carrying my photographic vision beyond the press of the shutter. The end product was the slide (a piece of positive film). The image was ‘processed’ by a lab and there was little ‘creative’ input at the processing stage (save for altering the the exposure by pushing or pulling the development). Really, the film was developed in a set formula to insure that the exposure captured in-camera was the exposure that came out on the slide. And as far as printing was concerned slide film could be printed but with difficulty and serious photographic printers stuck with negative film. Mostly slides were used to hand to publishers who printed the image in books and magazines and calendars (the printing was out of the photographer’s control). The simple point here is that a slide shooter had to use all his or her craft and art in the capture stage. The image had to be finished in-camera. End of story.
I was reminded of the ‘getting it right’ in-camera during a recent Creative Expression Masterclass workshop with Royce Howland and Samantha Crysanthou. For some of the exercises in seeing we needed participants to capture images in-camera using JPEG and the images were not to be processed after the fact. Having to capture what to what you see and getting it the best possible in-camera is great exercise in discipline. Even this former slide shooter realized just how much I have come to rely on ‘enhancing’ my personal vision through the development of the digital negative. The image below is an in-camera JPEG capture and this image reminded me how rewarding it was and is to get a completely finished image in-camera. No post-processing was done on this image save for resizing and sharpening for the web.
Canon EOS-1ds Mark III, Canon TS-E 24mm lens, 1/4s at f11, Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer, Singh-Ray 3 stop soft-edge grad filter.
Samantha and I just got back from the SNAP! Photography Seminars ‘Weekend Workshop’ with John Marriott which, based on the feedback forms was a great success. We had a wonderful group of talented photographers ranging from absolute beginners to semi-pro shooters. Because our location was based in the heart of Banff National Park near Lake Louise it was hard for photographers not to wish for ‘good light’ for the sunrise and sunset shoots. Good light to most of us means richly-coloured skies and warm light skimming across the peaks. Well, the weather did not co-operate with these expectations and we were mostly met with overcast skies.
The problem with expectations is that they blind you to other opportunities which can lead to thrilling images. On the last day of the workshop we all went to Lake Louise at sunrise. Of course, there was no sunrise but instead it was cloudy, then fog rolled in, and then it started to snow. There was some grumbling about the ‘crappy’ light but where some people saw a curse of bad luck, others found inspiration. There really is no such thing as bad light (just bad attitudes ). Below are two images made from the ‘crappy light’ that morning at Lake Louise that show that photographers with an open mind can create amazing images no matter what the conditions.
These two photos were the images that John, Sam and I felt were the most compelling of the weekend (all made in the ‘worst’ light by the way). To us these were refreshing and novel images of Lake Louise. How many more pink alpen-glow images need to be made from here anyway? To see more work by each photographer simply click on their photos. Watch in the future for new workshop offerings from Samantha and myself and new offerings from John Marriott.
Below are three images I made with Einstein our glass lens Holga which is really sharp in the center of the frame but soft towards the edges. I think Holga’s are great for old abandoned things;the look of the images matches the feel of the subject. I used Fuji NPS 160 film. Click on each image to see a larger view.
Whew! Autumn is just getting started and Samantha and I are very busy with tours and workshops. Fall is always a prime time to be out either photographing on a tour or learning the art of photography in a workshop, and this year we’re seeing a lot of keen shooters out there! In fact, almost all of our joint workshops are sold out at this juncture! Luckily, though, we still have some space in the PhotoCram Workshop held in Edson, Alberta Sept. 30 – Oct. 2, so if you are looking to invest in your photography, this is a great opportunity (and last chance!) to catch some fall colour while also honing your craft. Edson is not too far from world-famous Jasper National Park so you may want to extend your learning with a little side-trip to catch the start of the elk rut in Jasper.
What is PhotoCram, you may be thinking. Well, Sam and I have developed a special, intensive learning experience that strikes the balance between improving your technical skills (and we mean REALLY understanding creative use of aperture, shutter speed, histograms etc.) and artistic development. (You can see the topics we are covering listed below).
Class sessions are reinforced with practice during field sessions, and student assignments ensure that concepts are understood on a working level so that your learning stays with you after the weekend is over. We have designed this event so that both beginners and advanced shooters will gain significant benefit. The folks in the Edson Camera Club have done an excellent job in keeping the costs for this workshop low so that price is less of a barrier. The workshop costs $300 for Edson Photography Club members and non-members are welcome at only $350. These prices are a steal for such a concentrated burst of learning (just compare to other workshops — including our own!) so thanks Edson Camera Club for bringing this opportunity to photographers.
To sweeten the deal, we are giving away as a door prize a custom 16×20 canvas print ($350 value). Also we are drawing a name from registered participants for a 1/2 hour, 20-image private portfolio critique with Samantha and me ($200 value). Anyone registered in the Edson PhotoCram I event will have their name entered in the draw.
Creative Camera Controls Made Easy
Are you mystified by f-stops and shutter speed? Want to know how to pick the right aperture and shutter speed every time? We will reveal the three simple rules that will take the guesswork out of the technical aspects of photography. Think of it as ‘new math’ without the hard numbers. Once camera controls are mastered you will have the tools needed to master artistic expression.
The Camera and the Creative Eye
The most essential skill you can master as a photographer has little to do with camera controls and everything to do with conceiving a photograph before you snap it. We will guide you on the path to mastering the ability to ‘see’ the potential of an image in the jumbled, visual world around you.
Personal Style and Creative Vision
Are you afraid of your photographs being lost in the vast array of images out there? Does photography feel stale to you? We will speak on the evolution of personal style in photography. What is personal style and where does it come from? Learn to shoot from your soul and let your inner artist flex its muscles. See how two photographers shooting the exact same subject at the same time will produce very different results when each photographer is shooting from the heart for personal expression.
How to Make Money with Your Photography
The industry of photography has undergone a sea change in the last decade. Learn the essential tips and techniques used by the pros to help sell and market your photos. You can make extra money selling your photos but being an artist is not enough, learn the business skills needed to get your photos seen and purchased by the world.
For more information about the Edson PhotoCram event contact firstname.lastname@example.org. We are looking forward to see you there!
I use three HDR programs and each has its strengths. In the past I mostly used Photomatix (the most popular HDR program out there). I really like its ‘exposure fusion’ mechanism to create realistic-looking images from high tonal range subjects. Lately I have been using Oloneo’s Photoengine because I find it simpler and faster to use and it gives wonderful realistic-looking results. If I want the grunge, cartoon-look from HDR I will use PhotoMatix. If I want artsy-looking HDR I will use Nik Efex HDR Pro. This latter gives me lots of control over making images that are less grunge and more painterly. I especially like Nik for making old subjects look nostalgic (hint the preset “Granny’s Attic’ is fantastic). The image below is a single exposure photo run through Nik Efex HDR Pro using “Granny’s Attic” with some customization. The original shot was shot hand-held using a Canon G11 point-n-shoot camera. Click on the photo to see a larger version. The original capture is included for comparison.
If you want a 15% discount on any Nik product, just use my name, darwin, as the discount code on checkout.