Archive for the Instruction Category

The Weekly Photo – August 1, 2011

Posted in Filter, Image Processing and Software, Instruction, Photography Gear, TCBlog, Techniques, Weekly Photo with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 1, 2011 by Darwin

©Darwin Wiggett

Here is a shot of Cataract Lake from the headwaters of the Brazeau River in Jasper National Park. This is just below Cataract Pass before humping up over the pass to get into the Whitegoat Wilderness Area (Canon Rebel T2i, Sigma 17-50mm lens, Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer, f16 – 3 exposure HDR blend using Oloneo PhotoEngine).

©Darwin Wiggett

Upper Brazeau River Canyon in Jasper National Park looking back toward Nigel Pass (Canon T2i, Sigma 17-50mm lens, Singh-Ray Gold-N-Blue Polarizer, f11 – 3 exposure HDR blend using Oloneo PhotoEngine).

©Darwin Wiggett

Upper Cataract Creek Valley in the Whitegoat Wilderness (Canon T2i, Sigma 17-50mm lens, f11 – 3 exposure HDR blend using Oloneo PhotoEngine).

First two winners of the How to Photograph the Canadian Rockies Contest

Posted in eBooks, Good News, Instruction, Techniques, Videos with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 28, 2011 by Darwin

Note: To see all future reviews please note this blog is no longer active, please visit me over at oopoomoo.com

Check out the first two winning entries for the How to Photograph the Canadian Rockies Photo Contest

Week one is Jeff Lewis and his Bow Lake Reflection Panorama.

Week two is Michael Jame’s Vermilion Lake Infrared.

To enter the contest just click on the banner ad to the right of this post and you’ll be set to win a two-day stay at the acclaimed Aurum Lodge in the Canadian Rockies.

If you are keen about learning how to make our own eBooks and marketing them on the web check out this interview with Stephen Desroches and me over at SMIBS TV.

For a recent review of the Rockies eBook see Younes Bounhar’s blog post.

2011 Tours and Workshops – Something for Everyone

Posted in Art of Photography, Artistic Development, Good News, Instruction, Techniques, Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 26, 2011 by Darwin

Below is a listing of tours and workshops available for 2011 and into 2012. Their are only a few spots left in these events so if you want to boost your learning in photography then come join us for a great time:

Fire and Ice Photo Tour – November 10 – 13, 2011

This event is sold out but to be added to the wait list contact the Aurum Lodge or sign up for the 2012 photo tour. This is one of my favorite tours because of the short days with great light and the intersection of new ice with the fiery skies of late fall.

Just Announced! Do to popular demand we have added a second Fire and Ice as of Oct 10. Tour starts Wed. Nov. 16th 5pm to Sunday Nov. 20th 1:30 pm (four nights at Aurum Lodge!), with the option to join a day later (Nov. 17th) for those who cannot make the four nights, but wish to come for three nights only. Cost is C$ 1,359 for the four night tour or C$ 1,019 for the three night tour all in. Contact Alan at Aurum Lodge info@aurumlodge.com to book. Only two spots left

©Darwin Wiggett

Ice Bubbles on Abraham Lake – Winter Magic Tours 2012 – Feb. 23-26, and Feb. 29 – March 4, 2012

It seems that the Ice Bubbles out on Abraham Lake have now gotten a bit famous especially after my 2008 Travel Photographer of the Year Win which featured my Abraham Lake shots. I have taken many photographers out on the ice at Abraham Lake and now their great photos are circulating around and getting lots of views. I have been leading these tours since 2005 (see the results from back then when almost everyone was still shooting film!).

It might seem an easy proposition to just drive up to the lake in winter and get great shots on your own; and yes that is possible. But the ice bubble locations change from year to year, and most people are unaware of the extreme dangers of Abraham Lake and of the other great locations near the lake. That is where your guides (Alan who lives on the shores of Abraham Lake) and I can make sure we get you to the best spots in the best light no matter the weather. And plus you get the fantastic accommodations of the Aurum Lodge which is a nice retreat after a few hours out on the ice at -25 degrees C!

In 2012, there are two tours available; Feb 23-26, and Feb. 29 – March 4 (this latter tour is already sold out). So if you are keen to photograph Abraham Lake and other great spots this coming winter, then sign up for the Feb23-26 tour before it sells out!

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett - could you find this place on your own?

Basic Tilt and Shift Movements

Posted in Instruction, Photography Gear, TCBlog, Techniques, Videos with tags , , , , , , on July 21, 2011 by Darwin

Anyone who follows my work knows I am a huge fan of Tilt and Shift lenses. These lenses open up so many possibilities for landscape photographers. I am currently working on an eBook that will highlight all the methods to use for creative photography using Tilt-Shift lenses. For now here is a ‘teaser’ video showing the basic movements of a Tilt Shift lens. Before you can use a Tilt Shift lens you need to know the mechanics of the movements. The theory and practical uses of the movements will follow in subsequent videos and in the detailed eBook.

Keeping Your Equipment Safe – by Les Picker

Posted in Articles about Photography, Instruction, Photography Gear, Techniques with tags , , , , , , on July 16, 2011 by Darwin

Keeping Your Equipment Safe

By Les Picker

www.lesterpickerphoto.com

Whether you’re a pro or amateur photographer, traveling any distance with photo equipment today is a major hassle. If you’re crazy enough to put delicate camera equipment through checked baggage; well, good luck. If you take it aboard as carry-on, today’s onerous weight and size restrictions take a major bite out of what you’ll be able to pack (see my blog on packing photo gear: http://blog.lesterpickerphoto.com/2009/05/25/transporting-your-gear/).

For a moment, though, let’s assume you’ve managed to cart your camera, lenses and accessories with you on vacation to Europe (or perhaps to Asia or Latin America). For the first three days all is well as you walk along the streets of Paris, Budapest or Florence, snapping image after glorious image. Then, one of the following disasters occurs:

A. You come back from dinner and find your camera, lens and laptop gone from your room;

B. You are sitting in a restaurant, hang your camera on your chair and when you get up to leave, the camera is mysteriously gone;

C. You are walking down a narrow, crowded street, someone walks by, you feel a slight bump and shove, and a moment later notice that your camera is no longer on your shoulder;

D. A group of adorable children walk up to you, engage you in greetings and then your camera is yanked off your shoulder, sending you sprawling, with bruises to your head and arm.

Actually, every one of the above incidents has happened to my colleagues, all of them experienced photojournalists, savvy in urban environments. With the downturn in the worldwide economy, fewer police on patrol and a ready Internet market for stolen goods, the theft of tourist valuables has become a going business. The question is, what can you do to protect your valuables from theft while abroad?

©Lester Picker

I’m a believer in proper planning, which I believe can go a long way to minimizing the chances that you‘ll end up being a victim. As a seasoned traveler and professional photojournalist, here are my top ten safety travel tips to protect your valuable photo investment. My thanks to Darwin for having me share this with you.

1. Research. Before I leave home on assignment I thoroughly research the areas I will visit. I check the U.S. State Department’s website (http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_4965.html) or  Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (http://www.voyage.gc.ca/countries_pays/menu-eng.asp) for alerts in every area I plan to visit. I also check Trip Advisor (www.tripadvisor.com) for recent incident reports, as well as do a Google search for the city name combined with “crime,” “safety issues,” and other descriptors.

2. Take a checklist. I always keep an updated list of my photo equipment, serial numbers and copy of my receipts with me both in hard copy and on my iPod, in case I have to file a theft report with local police and my insurer.

3. No designer labels. I’m not sure why people do this, but camera bags advertising Nikon, Canon and other high-end brands are neon signs to would-be thieves. Use a bag without the designer name or cut off the one that’s on it.

4. Bag the vest. I no longer wear photo vests in foreign urban areas. Instead I’ve switched to products by ScotteVest (www.scottevest.com) which feature hidden inside pockets, or else I use shirts and pants with multiple pockets to store accessories. Disclosure: I am a monthly photography columnist for ScotteVest, but am not paid to endorse their products.

5. Airport security. How do you safeguard from theft those camera accessories that you might need to store in your checked bags? I use PacSafe products (www.pacsafe.com), which are lined with slashproof Exomesh titanium and also come with a long wire and lock. I put my camera accessories into the PacSafe bag(s) and lock them to the interior rollbar. Since I’ve used these bags I’ve not had a single theft from my luggage (I have had six previous checked luggage theft incidents all over the world).

©Lester Picker

6. Hotel security. Always lock your photo equipment in your hotel safe, even if out of your room for a few minutes. If the hotel does not have a safe or you have too much equipment to fit into the typically micro-sized safes, invest in a PacSafe 140 or PacSafe 85. These titanium mesh bags fit over your luggage and then you secure the luggage and bag with the provided lock to any solid surface. Hotel room tip: I advise against securing a bag to the bed frame, since frames can be easily disassembled, or to the leg of a desk, which can be quickly sawed or broken. Instead, use your PacSafe wire and lock to wrap around the toilet bowl. By my reckoning, any thief who goes through the trouble of turning off the water supply, unhooking the toilet tank from the bowl and making off with my luggage is a deserving thief, indeed.

7. Insurance. Make sure your equipment is insured and updated.

8. Distribute your memory cards. As a pro I’m paranoid about this, but then again I have to come home with the goods. Whether pro or amateur, make backup copies of your memory cards and distribute them separate from your camera equipment. It’s one thing to lose your camera. It’s another thing to lose vacation memories. Buy a cheap portable backup drive for less than $100, back up to your laptop each night, or upload to a favorite photo-sharing site (see my blog on backing up your images: http://blog.lesterpickerphoto.com/2009/06/02/backing-up-your-digital-images/).

9. Be street savvy. Brush up on local scams, such as the cut-the-camera-strap-and-run, motorcycle-pull-and-drive, cute-little-kids scam, and bag-lady-on-bus scam or whatever the latest ones happen to be. Don’t leave your camera on a table, chair or counter. Use a camera strap reinforced with wire.

10.  Don’t be heroic. This is injury- or life-saving advice. If thieves confront you, remember that your equipment is not worth injury or death. Give it up and file a police report immediately, then contact your insurer.

Les Picker is a professional photographer whose work has appeared in National Geographic books and magazines and dozens of other major magazines and newspapers. He travels widely throughout the world. His blog is: http://blog.lesterpickerphoto.com


©Lester Picker

What’s in my F-Stop Bag? (a landscape photographer’s bag of goodies)

Posted in Camera Review, Filter, Good News, Instruction, Photography Gear, TCBlog, Videos, VWBlog with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 5, 2011 by Darwin

Note: To see all future reviews please note this blog is no longer active, please visit me over at oopoomoo.com

One of the most common questions I get is about what gear I use and why. Of course, it does not matter too much about the gear. I get the same kind of photos whether I use my Canon G11, Canon Rebel or Canon 1ds Mark III; the only difference is in the quality of the files and the ergonomics and speed of the camera; the Mark III files can be enlarged to a greater size and is the fastest camera I own.

I have numerous other cameras and I use the one that offers the controls and features that I need based on what I want to shoot. I might use a Holga for mid-day ‘arty’ snaps in the city, the Canon Rebel for backpack trips, the Mark III for action, or a camera phone for everyday happy snaps. There is no perfect camera, just as long as you have one with you!

The same thing goes for camera bags and backpacks. I have numerous bags each one designed to do a different job. I use a different bag when I am biking, hiking or car touring. But over the last month or so I have standardized my  ‘landscape’ photo system into one bag that I am loving whether I use it for car-based shooting, short hikes or overnight back-country trips. My new bag of choice if the F-Stop Sartori EXP. This bag is the big gun of the F-Stop line and is touted as their ‘expedition bag’. For me it’s not too big but definitely can handle a lot of gear from my full landscape kit’ to everything I need for a couple of nights in the back-country.

What I like best about F-Stop bags is that they are convertible and you can put as much or as little camera gear in the packs as you need simply by swapping out the ICU’s (internal camera units). I use a small ICU for backpacking and take my Rebel and one or two lenses; the rest of the pack is filled with essential back-country camping gear. For everyday use I use a large ICU in the Sartori to hold my complete landscape photography kit with room left over for essential snacks, clothes and other useful items necessary for short hikes and messing around in nature close to the road.

If you want to see more neat features and other reviews of F-Stop bags check out these links: F-Stop Bags – High and Dry and Ben Horton’s Review.

For me F-stop bags are the most comfortable and well-designed packs for the active outdoor and nature photographer. I highly recommend them. The only complaint I have about F-stop packs are that they are designed for people with average to longish backs. Most women and shorter guys (under 5’6″) may find the shoulder straps and belt system too long to sit properly on the body. Samantha found this out the hard way when she tried to steal my F-Stop bag only to discover that even for a taller woman like her (5’7″) the strap system is too long. Sam also tried out a Loka and a Tipola pack and tested it on other woman and all the F-Stop packs had the same short-coming — the torso of the bag was too long for most women.

So… F-Stop needs to make some packs in smaller versions for the torsally challenged photographer! Or, at least make a series of packs with an adjustable harness. For me I am happy because all the F-stop bags fit me perfectly (and so I got to keep all the bags Sam tried to steal!). Seriously though,  if you are short or a woman I would hesitate at his point to order an F-Stop bag. But for all you average-backed and long-backed dudes, you’ll likely love this or any of the F-stop packs. For now this a guy’s dream outdoor and nature pack (the perfect purse for the rugged boy in us all!).

Note: F-stop is one of my sponsors; I get to tell it like it is and F-stop in no way influenced this review. I love the packs, Samantha wants to love them but they just don’t fit most women.

UPDATE: Good news, I just heard back from F-Stop and the good news is they plan to release a short torso version of the Loka pack this fall! Also the F-stop packs have really filled a niche and everyone loves them so supplies are a bit short at the moment because the bags sold even more briskly than anticipated!

To learn more about the Sartori Pack and to see every piece of camera gear I use for landscape photography watch the video below:

(warning, in the video I called my cable release a ‘polarizer’ — the mind is the first thing to go — always wear a helmet, the brain is a delicate organ!)

A list of the camera gear harmed in the making of this video:

Canon EOS-1ds Mark III

Canon 24mm TS-E Mark II

Canon 17mm TS-E

Canon 45mm TS-E

Canon 90mm TS-E

Sigma 120-400mm lens

Cokin Z-Pro Filter Holder

Singh-Ray Filters

The Lee Big Stopper

F-stop bags

If you are in the USA and buy from B+H Photo you are supporting this blog with tiny bits of coffee money (I might even buy an occasional beer on special days!). If you are in Canada please buy from The Camera Store simply because they are the best store in the country!

Darwin at the Columbia Icefield with an F-Stop Sartori EXP pack

The Weekly Photo – July 4, 2011

Posted in Art of Photography, Image Processing and Software, Instruction, TCBlog, VWBlog with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 4, 2011 by Darwin

The image below was taken on the Spring Photo Tour in the Canadian Rockies – this is of Abraham Lake from Windy point with a rain storm over Kiska Peak. I used a Canon 24mm TS-E lens tilted to give max apparent DOF. Lately I have been processing my colour images with the B+W conversion program Nik Silver Efex Pro 2. First I process the RAW image the way I want it to look in Camera RAW using Photoshop CS-5 (see original image in this post). Then I convert the image to a pleasing B+W using Silver Efex watching carefully to get the tones in the image exactly the way I want them. I layer the original processed colour image over the converted Silver Efex B+W image in Photoshop and then change the blending mode of the colour layer to “Color”. The result is an image with the contrast of the processed B+W but with the colours of the original file. Remember you can get 15% off of Silver Efex using my name for the discount code at checkout  – darwin (not darren!). In a future post I will have a step-by-step ‘recipe’ of how to make funky colour images using Silver Efex Pro 2. Of course, some people will prefer the original, some will like the conversion – but knowing how to use the tools given to you, you’ll be able to produce images that please your eye (and in the end that is all that matters).

©Darwin Wiggett - Silver Efex Pro 2 conversion

©Darwin Wiggett - original colour image

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