Archive for the Artistic Development Category

Last Chance in 2011 for Intensive Photo Learning

Posted in Art of Photography, Artistic Development, Instruction, Monthly Photo Contest, Techniques, Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 15, 2011 by Darwin

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.

©Darwin Wiggett

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 We are looking forward to see you there!

©Darwin Wiggett


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 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?

Some new interview links

Posted in Art of Photography, Articles about Photography, Artistic Development, Controversy, Good News, Humor, Instruction, Photography Gear, Techniques, Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 16, 2011 by Darwin

Sam and I were lucky enough to be invited to a cool photography podcast based out of Calgary called I am Aduro. This podcast is run by Al Del Degan of Aduro Phorography and Andrew Bolton of Zombie Darkroom. We had a great time chatting and laughing with Al and Andrew. Check it out (click on the Listen Now button on the bottom of the link page) and learn what Sam really thinks of Peter Lik’s photography and why I have little respect for most Leica photographers! As well you’ll learn what it really takes to make a living at photography and the underlying theme for the show is fine art nude photography plus there are lots of cool and interesting links.

Speaking of Fine Art Nude work, check out an interview just posted where Sam and I talk about our upcoming Gaia Nudes, Nudes in the Landscape photo workshop. Click here for more.

©Darwin Wiggett

For the Ladies…An Opportunity to Photograph Fine Art Nudes

Posted in Art of Photography, Artistic Development, Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , on June 2, 2011 by Darwin

Based on feedback, Samantha and I have decided to make a change to the upcoming Nudes in the Landscape workshop.  We’re changing the second day, Sunday August 14, 2011 to a ‘Ladies Only’ day.  After talking about the workshop to various photographers, we realized that there is a bias out there that only men photograph nude women in this area of photography.  Definitely that is where most of the images seem to come from, but that is also where our Gaia Nudes concept is vastly different:  not only are we not photographing ‘sex’, but we are also not gender-biased in sourcing our models.  Traditional fine art nude photography ranges from abstract studies of the human form to more glam, playful and sexual posing.  Our workshop focuses on the former idea, with photographers working with both male and female models.  We are also relatively unique in that, as landscape photographers, Nature is always our first love.  How to fit and meld the human form into the landscape is the question of concern to us.  We are not bringing props.  Our models are not wearing high-heels (male or female), gobs of makeup or anything with fur, feather and leather.

So, if you are a female photographer who appreciates natural beauty, but are a bit intimidated or put off by the more er… titillating aspects of fine art nude photography, then this is your chance!  Grab a girlfriend or two and come out to this exciting day.  For the men, we do still have a spot or two available on Saturday, but don’t delay!  You can register at our website,

Who Is This Workshop For, Anyway?

On a broader note, you might be wondering who would benefit from a workshop such as this.  The answer is any photographer who shoots portraits, weddings, boudoir, and yes, landscapes.  The first three might be obvious, but why would a landscape photographer even consider attending a workshop such as Nudes in the Landscape?  The answer is simple:  most photographers who photograph nature appreciate beauty.  Developing your visual muscle to recognize and capture the fine art aesthetic can only help in your landscape photography.  Even more so if you find yourself in a rut and uninspired by your recent work.  Sometimes, a change of scenery jumpstarts your creativity again and infuses new life into all of your photography.  Not sure what the workshop entails?  Well, we will be discussing:

  • the use of natural light to illuminate the scene and the model
  • compositional tips and tricks and how to work with the elements of visual design
  • posing do’s and don’ts
  • communicating your creative vision to the  model.

So, if you are looking for ways to improve your photography, then join us for a fun, informal and creative day and learn how to appreciate beauty in new ways.  Head to Gaia Nudes to view images of this style of photography.

Seminar in Assiniboia Saskatchewan

Posted in Art of Photography, Artistic Development, Good News, Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 21, 2011 by Darwin

Samantha and I are headed to Assiniboia, Saskatchewan on Saturday April 30th to give a 2-hour seminar on The Complete Photo for the Group of 10 Camera Club. For a complete listing of the event and to register click this link. We are also giving some hands on field sessions on Sunday May 1 for interested photographers.  Take a road trip to a really cool spot in Saskatchewan and let the prairie light inspire you!

©Darwin Wiggett

Spring and Renewal

Posted in Art of Photography, Artistic Development, Good News, Instruction, Techniques, Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2011 by Darwin

It has been a long cold winter but things are finally starting to change around here. Photographers are planning outdoor adventures, travel destinations are being researched, cameras are dusted off, shutter fingers are itchy. Time to get out and refresh your creative eye!

If you need a little help or motivation then you might want to consider one of the on-line courses that Samantha and I give over at Nature Photographers Online Magazine. Here you can learn about the The Essentials of Digital Landscape Photography – Part 1: Field Techniques or about Learning to “Speak” the Language of Visual Expression. In these six week courses you get one lesson per week with an assignment. Post your assignment results for critique by the instructor (that’s one of us!). You also get six week access to us to ask your burning photography questions or to get your non-assignment images reviewed (we are your slaves but we don’t do windows… or toilets). The more you put into the course, the more you get out of it. So if you are serious about getting better in photography then consider one of these courses (mine is about learning how to use your gear to express yourself,;Sam’s is about learning more how to hone your vision for personal expression). Both courses start April 1st (no foolin’!). Cost is $295 ($275 for NPN members). Have a great spring!

©Darwin Wiggett

February and March Tour Results – Alan Ernst

Posted in Art of Photography, Articles about Photography, Artistic Development, Inspirations, Instruction, Techniques, Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2011 by Darwin

As always, Alan Ernst, owner of the Aurum Lodge and co-leader on the winter tours has shown his skill at seeing fine images in scenes most of us would pass by. This time Alan gave himself a themed assignment and that self-assignment led to great images. Check out his images and learn about the art of photography from his descriptions below each photo.

©Alan Ernst

Mt Outram and snag – Lumix GH1, 14-45mm lens, F8 at 1/125, – 1/3 EV, Polariser, HDR

When going on a photo outing or even for a week, month or year, try to set yourself a subject “goal”. Having accompanied many winter tours in the past few years, I have lots of images of ice, frozen waterfalls, winter landscapes, etc.. This year I decided to concentrate on Winter Wood i.e. anything tree. Needless to say, I will still point my camera at everything else that looks promising. However, shooting a theme is fun and hones your visual skills, as you will be looking for stuff much more focused. Themes can be specific subjects, patterns, texture, numbers, letters, colours, etc., etc.


©Alan Ernst

Big Bend dead tree – Lumix G1, 100-300mm lens, F8 at 1/1000, +1 1/3 EV

I had photographed this impressive snag on half a dozen occasions before, usually trying to isolate it completely from its surroundings, which tend to be cluttered with little trees sticking out of the snow all over the place. This year, with ample snow cover in the mountains, much of the clutter was blanketed in snow and I decided to go for a landscape extraction instead. Revisiting locations is important as conditions are always different and the more often you go, the more your eye will pick up all the amazing details.


©Alan Ernst

Cold Burn – Lumix GH1, 7-14mm lens, f10 at 1/200, +1 EV

The remnants of a prescribed burn two years ago make for great images along the North Saskatchewan River valley, from charred bark to the relics of an entire forest. The group was photographing from the road as the snow was deep and cumbersome to get through. There were great repetitive patterns there but somehow, it felt like looking from the outside in, rather than being part of it – I decided to romp through the snow bank and immerse myself in the trees, which paid off as I got some pleasing shots in there. When shooting a location, always wander around and look for angles, viewpoints, subject detail other than what caught your eye initially.


©Alan Ernst

Lychen Lord – Lumix GH1, 14-45mm lens, f10 at 1/100, + 1 2/3 EV

Returning from a short walk to a frozen waterfall, I was waiting for one of our participants to catch up. Whereas some people get bored once they’re “done” and stop looking as they’re keen to move on, I always use “down time” to scan my surroundings, looking for details, patterns, flora, wildlife, etc.. Very often it is in these situations, that I find interesting subjects, which most of us including myself would simply walk past or over in their quest of capturing a particular thing or place. This broken spruce twig had fallen on the snow covered creek upside down and reminded me immediately of the living trees in Lord of the Rings.


©Alan Ernst

Shadow Blue – Lumix GH1, 7-14mm lens, f8 at 1/500, +1 EV

Shadows in general and tree shadows in particular make for great subjects, with or without the object that creates them. In this location, where most participants were working on the grand landscape, I was immediately drawn to the interesting patterns, lines and contrast of the tree shadows along the river shore, the trees in themselves being nothing special at all. The location and angle of the sun were tough though and it was impossible to use the shadow as a leading line towards some interesting feature. Thus, I focused on trying to balance the one big tree shadow with the multiple shadows of smaller trees and sandwich them between the shoreline and Mt. William Booth in the back.

©Alan Ernst

Power of the sun – Lumix GH1, 14-45mm lens, f22 at 1/250, + 2/3 EV, ND grad

The Columbia Icefields / Athabasca Glacier area never disappoints, very much so because of the atmospheric conditions which are often different from surrounding areas.

The light during our mid day stop was fairly harsh and I decided to work with the sun, rather than against it… The smallest aperture on your lens will generally give you the nice starbursts, when shooting directly into a pointed light source. More or less flare will always ensue, so make sure your lens is squeaky clean as every fleck of dust will increase that flare. Then, try to work flare so it becomes part of the composition. You cannot avoid it, but moving the camera a little bit, can often make the difference between a nasty flare, an interesting flare or minimal flare.


©Alan Ernst

Stump Morning – Lumix GH1, 14-45mm lens, f13 at 1/20, + 1 2/3 EV, Polariser and ND grad

Continuing the winter woods theme from the previous week, I decided to work this field of dead tree stumps along the shore, while the others were frolicking on the ice. The strong side lighting made for an extremely busy foreground with lots of rocks and snow drifts with amazing texture. They made for great abstracts and detail shots, but I could not find a good leading line towards the background that I was looking for. I thus decided to break all the rules and place the big stump smack in the center, so as to provide an anchor of sorts for the many components included in the image.


©Alan Ernst

Millitreed – Lumix G1, 100-300mm lens, f8 at 1/250, + 2/3 EV

The group stopped along the Icefields Parkway to capture the Spires of Mt Wilson drifting in and out of the clouds. I decided to look for landscape extractions on the slope of the mountain since the light wasn’t that good and I was drawn to the contrast between dark treed ledges everywhere along the mountain side. Most are horizontal bands of trees, but I liked this one best as it made for an interesting diagonal, flanked by two additional lines, which all seem to radiate from one corner.

One of the things I like about the Lumix cameras are the variable aspect ratios, which can be changed on the fly. The 16:9 format is my favourite, but I tend to switch all the time, depending on subject and composition. A lot of photographers seem to stick to the 3:2 or 4:3 formats provided by their camera sensors without putting too much thought into cropping at the point of capture. It is important though to think ahead and decide on the spot, if the image will look better cropped. Very often, this means you will have to change the angle a bit or include / exclude features that might interfere when cropping later. I find that I can often get two or three images of the same subject, which are very different, simply by changing the aspect ratio right then and there.


©Alan Ernst

One of Three – Lumix G1, 100-300mm lens, f9 at 1/800, + 1 1/3 EV

Returning from Jasper along the Icefields Parkway, a stand of trees along the side of the road caught my eye because of the straight tree trunks and the angled shadows, which created a repetitive pattern. Check rear view mirror, stop, reverse and see what we can make of it. There were lots of young trees in front of the embankment as well as little trees and shrubs within the trees so it was hard to “extract” what I wanted. Pacing back and forth and zooming in with a long lens eventually got me a few images free of distractions with minimal subject matter but a pleasing effect. Working a subject, it is important to decide on what is important / makes it interesting and then either putting that into context with its surroundings OR extracting it for a strong graphic effect. You will need minimal gear for this: two eyes, two legs, a tele zoom and a brain, which can co-ordinate it all….


©Alan Ernst

Hang in there – Lumix G1, 100-300mm lens, f 9 at 1/800, +1 EV

Waiting by the car for the rest of the group to tackle the snow humps at Medicine Lake I was scanning the slopes of the Colin Range, which usually makes a great backdrop at sunset. In this case however, it was mid day and relatively flat front lighting, so the big picture was out. Small groups of trees clinging to life at tree line were interesting as they provided a strong contrast to an otherwise medium toned puzzle of rock slabs and snow.

For images like this, it is critical to use your tripod even when you have more than enough shutter speed to work without. Concentrating on your key subject (small stand of trees) and then zooming in and out, panning up and down, left and right, until you find a pleasing composition takes time and, especially when working with a long lens, you will never get the composition where you want it to be. Live view is a great help as what you see is what you get. In this case, there were distracting dark areas or lines, more trees, rock formations which would have been very distracting if included. It probably took all of ten minutes to get a composition which excluded it all and which I liked. The rule of thirds was dumped along the way.


©Alan Ernst

Dead Pine – Lumix G1, 100-300mm lens, f 11 at 1/250, + 1 1/3 EV

And more dead trees… A single dead tree surrounded by living specimens will always stick out and once it attracts attention, there is likely something to photograph. This one caught my eye as I was looking for the sun to see if we would get some clouds for another scene I had in mind. The cloud wasn’t forthcoming but the strong graphic component, extreme contrast and almost monochrome aspect of the scene, made me go for the long tele lens again and pace back and forth until I had it lined up with the mountain behind it. I then played with the aperture to find a setting, which provided enough detail in the background to make it identifiable, but not so much where it would compete with the silhouette in front.


©Alan Ernst

Shadow Dancers – Lumix G1, 100-300mm lens, f9 at 1/1000, + 1 EV

Half the group was waiting for the other half at an outhouse stop near the Crossing. When they did not show up, we decided to backtrack to the N. Saskatchewan River Bridge, where I had noticed potential for a high contrast river scene with a hazy mountain backdrop. The big scene worked, but as I scanned the riverbank for detail, the picture perfect S-curve of a snowdrift caught my attention. Back to the vehicle for the long lens and then try to find an arrangement that worked. Normally, this would call for a vertical orientation, but alas there were too many distractions of trees, rocks, and dirty snow both above and below the scene. I took the scene with 4:3, 3:2 and 16:9 aspect ratio and interestingly, the least likely format (i.e. the furthest from the vertical), worked the best.


Photographer of the Month – Veronica and Alan Barrett

Posted in Art of Photography, Articles about Photography, Artistic Development, Inspirations, Photographer of the Month with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2011 by Darwin

Anyone who follows this blog knows that Veronica and Alan Barrett came on two back-to-back winter tours with me. I was impressed not only by their wonderful attitudes and great company but also by their fine eye and the resulting images each of them made. They continually inspired me with the images they pulled from every location no matter what the light or conditions. What better photographers to feature this month than this wonderfully intrepid couple  who were always joy to hang out with.

Veronica’s Website

Veronica’s February Tour Results

Veronica’s March Tour Results

Alan’s Website

Alan’s February Tour Results

Alan’s March Tour Results

Interview with Veronica and Alan Barrett

Darwin: First of all congratulations on stunning portfolios and images on both of your websites. It was a real joy exploring your fine images. I noticed that both of you have some very specific themed galleries like Veronica’s Shells and Windows and Alan’s Slate and Shaky Trees portfolios. Are these portfolios accidental or purposeful in execution? By accidental, I mean have you over the years shot shells, slate, windows, and blurred trees and then grouped these images together? Or was the work more purposeful and you shot with the portfolio in mind keeping the look and feel of the images consistant within each category?

Alan: Both the slate and “shaky trees” were specific projects, undertaken with the hope of self-producing a book. The slate images were all made at an abandoned quarry in Wales which we stumbled upon when walking the Pembrokeshire coastline. The first images I made there were medium format capture – and a real struggle, as there was no firm footing for the tripod. When I saw the results though, I realised that the location had huge promise and I have been back there twice, photographing over six days, using a small digital camera with a flip out back. The “shaky trees” collection was inspired by an American photographer, William Neill – a couple of years ago I saw, and was captivated by, some of his images of movement in trees that he had included in one of his books. Never having had any problem taking an out-of-focus shot, I set out to photograph the woodlands of Surrey, the county in which we live, over the four seasons. In an eighteen month period I took close on 20,000 images – most, of course, were rubbish and went straight into the digital bin, but out of the morass I selected 160 shots that pleased me and which have formed the book. All that walking didn’t do me any harm either!

Veronica: The Windows portfolio grew when I decided to make it the theme for my application for an Associateship of the Royal Photographic Society. I enjoy photographing architecture and windows are particularly interesting because I’m a bit of a nosey parker and am always wondering what’s going on inside places I can’t get into! They can be very decorative, either structurally or because of personal touches, and I often see them as ‘frames’ for pictures in their own right. The Shells portfolio was accidental. I was washing my shell collection one summer and realised that the collection itself had some beautiful specimens in it that might be worth photographing and experimenting with in Photoshop during the winter. Then one of our daughters decided she would like some of them for her newly-decorated stairway, so I developed some of them into a set for her. I quite like photographing themes, though, and also have an on-going collection of fire hydrants and drains. I know they sound like odd themes, but I started both collections while in Chile because so many pipes and outlets, and fire hydrants, had been decorated. It’s a means of keeping my eyes open to photo opportunities!

Darwin: Based on your images, you seem to have travelled widely. Where are your favorite locations and why?

Alan: Since my retirement from business we have indeed been fortunate to travel widely. Without a doubt my favourite photographic region is the US, and within that country, the red rock areas of Utah and Arizona, and narrowing it down even further, the Paria Plateau. America has a diverse range of landscapes that as an overseas visitor we can never hope to do justice to photographically, but nevertheless it is almost impossible to make a trip to that country without coming back with some very rewarding images. The Coyote Buttes and White Pocket areas on the Paria Plateau boast some quite remarkable sandstone cliffs, the colours and patterns of which are almost unbelievable to someone who has not seen them for themselves.

Veronica: I love San Francisco, New York, Las Vegas and London, especially the last two which always give me a buzz. I enjoy photographing the modern architecture, especially reflections of old buildings in the glass of the new ones, in the case of San Francisco and NY in particular. London is so much fun to photograph on a Saturday, along the South Bank where there’s so much going on, and then walking along its length to the Tate Modern, and on to Tower Bridge and More Place where so many beautiful shiny office buildings are going up. I don’t get my best images from these places but just enjoy my surroundings. I also really enjoyed the two trips to India that I made, first with a friend to Rajasthan, then with Alan to Kerala. I would really like to go there again as the people are just so lovely.

Darwin: Both of you seem to be able to handle any subject matter from the grand landscape to intimate details to wildlife and more. Do you think photographers are better off shooting only one genre and mastering that specialty? Or do photographers grow more as artists being generalist shooters?

Alan: I suspect that most photographers start off with one main interest and then develop. In my case, I started photographing the “big” landscape – but as I developed my ability to “see” the image, I became aware of the smaller, intimate landscape. It was a small step to take that attribute to photographing details in cities or other manmade scenes. I think that dedicated photographers love the challenge of making an image in any situation, whether or not it is in circumstances alien to their normal environment – rising to that challenge undoubtedly enhances ones seeing ability which can only improve work in one’s core interest.

Veronica: I don’t see myself as a landscape photographer, really. I take them because I take photos wherever I am. Many people think that anybody can go out and shoot a landscape but, actually, it takes as much skill and patience as shooting nature. Light plays an enormous part in a stunning landscape, which involves being in the right place at the right time, or an awful lot of luck, and exposures and filters also have to be chosen and set correctly. I don’t have the patience for it at all, although I am trying to acquire some! I do, however, enjoy shooting the more intimate landscape where I can see the picture more easily than in big vistas. I also like to pick on subjects where I can make a close-up picture, either with a telephoto lens or my G11 set to macro mode.

My nature images are as opportunistic as my landscapes – if the creatures are there, then I’ll take the picture, but you won’t find me waiting for hours to get the right shot! We’ve been lucky enough to go on safari in Tanzania twice, which was really good fun and I got some animal images from those, and also to the Pantanal, in Brazil, where the caymans are fairly tame, so easy to shoot. I had to be quick for the bird shots, but was ready and set up for them – and was lucky! I think that if you like making pictures, then you will do so wherever you happen to be…keeping to one genre would restrict my creativity.

Darwin: You both have a fine eye for abstraction. Did this ability take long to develop or was it an innate skill? Who were your influences in the visual world?

Alan: In my case it was most definitely not an innate skill. Like most beginners, I suspect, I had great difficulty “seeing” the image – if I was with someone and they set up their camera then I could immediately see what to photograph, but left on my own I could not pick out the image from the general clutter of the landscape. As part of my self-teaching I started studying photographs – I have probably the largest collection of landscape books in private ownership, over 300 – and I gradually came to recognise that the intimate landscape could be just as captivating as the big picture. The slate portfolio was my first attempt at abstract work and its success led me to persevere until it is now almost second nature to notice the smaller scene.

Veronica: It might be innate for me – I’m not sure. I used to do a lot of dressmaking in another life and particularly enjoyed drawing and cutting patterns and choosing fabric – so already had an eye for shape, colour and texture. Well before I took up photography Alan was already in full-swing and his photographic friends, all cracking photographers, often came over so that they could ‘critique’ each others’ images. I often sat in and listened, and I think perhaps my eye for a composition developed from that, as did my understanding of light and colour. I love colour, texture, lines and shapes, the more graphic the better, and that is what I look for when I am out with my camera. I get a really good feeling from a simple, uncluttered picture that has a flow about it.

Darwin: Photographers are often most excited by whatever they are currently working on. What new projects or locations or types of images have got you all fired up lately?

Alan: You’re right, you always think that your latest work is your best, so it will be no surprise to you to learn that I am currently excited by the Canadian Rockies. As you know, our trip with you in February came out of the planning I was doing for an autumn trip later this year. Despite the challenging weather in February (and despite our frostbite problems), I was captivated by the magnificent mountain scenery and cannot wait for September to come around. The Canadian Rockies do not seem to feature much in UK photographic circles, partly I suppose because if we are going to cross the Atlantic then America offers more diverse opportunities, but that is short-sighted in my view. I definitely can feel another book coming on!

Veronica: I agree with Alan – I currently think that the Canadian Rockies have pulled some of my best images out of me. But then I thought that about Boston and the leaf close-ups which I shot in other places in New England! We are shortly going off to shoot some derelict buildings somewhere not far from Berlin, and I’m looking forward to that. I want to take the opportunity to experiment with some HDR as I really enjoyed Bruce’s images of dereliction which he showed us during your last photo tour. I think that if it’s done gently and not ‘over-egged’ with the saturation slider, as so many images are, it is a very effective treatment.


©Alan Barrett

©Alan Barrett

©Alan Barrett

©Alan Barrett

©Alan Barrett

©Veronica Barrett

©Veronica Barrett

©Veronica Barrett

©Veronica Barrett

©Veronica Barrett






Darwin: Based on your images, you seem to have travelled widely. Where are your favorite locations and why?
Alan: Since my retirement from business we have indeed been fortunate to travel widely.  Without a doubt my favourite photographic region is the US, and within that country, the red rock areas of Utah and Arizona, and narrowing it down even further, the Paria Plateau.  America has a diverse range of landscapes that as an overseas visitor we can never hope to do justice to photographically, but nevertheless it is almost impossible to make a trip to that country without coming back with some very rewarding images.  The Coyote Buttes and White Pocket areas on the Paria Plateau boast some quite remarkable sandstone cliffs, the colours and patterns of which are almost unbelievable to someone who has not seen them for themselves.
Veronica:  I love San Francisco, New York, Las Vegas and London, especially the last two which always give me a buzz.  I enjoy photographing the modern architecture, especially reflections of old buildings in the glass of the new ones, in the case of San Francisco and NY in particular.  London is so much fun to photograph on a Saturday, along the South Bank where there’s so much going on, and then walking along its length to the Tate Modern, and on to Tower Bridge and More Place where so many beautiful shiny office buildings are going up.  I don’t get my best images from these places but just enjoy my surroundings.  I also really enjoyed the two trips to India that I made, first with a friend to Rajasthan, then with Alan to Kerala.  I would really like to go there again as the people are just so lovely.

Workshops and Tours – Something for Everyone

Posted in Art of Photography, Artistic Development, Good News, Instruction, Techniques, Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 21, 2011 by Darwin

With the official arrival of spring (at least on the calendar if not in the weather), it’s time to think about investing in your photography. Whether you are looking for an intensive instructional workshop, access to unique photo opportunities, or a combination of both, Samantha and I have come up with a number of options that will tickle your shutter bug.

Spring Photo Tour in the Canadian Rockies, May 30 – June 4, 2011 with Darwin Wiggett

This intensive photo tour to grab the best that the Canadian Rockies has to offer is based out of the Aurum Lodge in the Bighorn Wildlands. This tour has been sold out for a long time but, due to a recent cancellation, there are now two spots available. This will be the last spring tour that I am going to lead in the Canadian Rockies. So if you want to see the iconic spots and secret stops and spend full days outdoors absorbing the best scenery that Banff, Jasper, Yoho and the Bighorn Wildlands has to offer, then join me on this epic adventure. Please note that this is tour and not an instructional style workshop. Cost $1639 per person (single) includes accommodations, meals and guiding. For more information see here or the Aurum Lodge website.

©Darwin Wiggett

SNAP! Photography Seminars – Weekend Workshop at Baker Creek, Banff National Park, October 27 – 30, 2011

For those of you looking for a workshop and not a tour, there is still some space available in the SNAP! Photography Seminars Weekend Workshop.  This workshop caters to beginner and semi-advanced nature photographers who are seeking to make an investment in their passion for photography all the while based out of a world-class mountain lodge.  Samantha and I have teamed up with John Marriott to present this, our second annual event at Baker Creek.  Under the guidance of three pro photographers, you will master advanced camera controls, refine your eye for composition and benefit from extensive critique of images made during this intensive, fun-filled weekend.  For more information and a sample schedule, head on over to the SNAP! Photography Seminars website. The workshop is value-priced at $1395 (double occupancy) and includes meals, accommodations and workshop fees (plus we offer a killer, low non-photographer spouse rate!).

Light Matters Masterclass – Creative Expression Photo Workshop, November 2 – 6, 2011

For those of you looking for something different, consider Light Matters Masterclass.  This unique, mentor-ship style workshop is designed for advanced amateur and semi-pro photographers who desire to learn about the dynamic balance between the three fundamental pillars of creative expression: craft, art and profession. This workshop is an intensive learning experience designed for photographers poised to move into the realm of visionary photographer. We have teamed up with Royce Howland and the Aurum Lodge in the heart of the Canadian Rockies to create this one-of-a-kind workshop experience. We are only accepting nine students, so don’t delay with this exclusive opportunity.  For more information please go here. Cost is $2745 per person  and includes all instruction, accommodations and meals.

©Darwin Wiggett



Gaia Nudes – Nudes in the Landscape Photography Workshop, August 12 – 14, 2011

Samantha and I have created a unique opportunity to photograph nudes in the landscape on a private ranch 30 minutes west of Calgary, Alberta. Our sessions are limited to six photographers working with three models to ensure you achieve your photographic vision. Included is a 2-hour instructional seminar and two, 4-hour shooting sessions.  You will learn to pose models and compose  dramatic images that celebrate the human form in both stunning natural landscapes and on the ranch site with old buildings and cars. All property releases and model releases are included so you can use your images commercially.  To learn more about this  rare opportunity to combine a love of the landscape with an aesthetic appreciation of the human form, check out Samantha and my new Gaia Nudes website and the Gaia Nudes Workshop page.  Cost is $995 per photographer. We anticipate this workshop will fill up fast!


©Samantha Chrysanthou


Ghosts and Gullies Photo Workshop 2011 (dates July or August TBA)

Last year’s Extreme Saskatchewan was a popular and amazing event and we have had numerous requests to repeat the tour because everyone loved the access to old cars, farmsteads and awesome landscapes of southern Saskatchewan. The costs, logistics and the timing of the tour preclude doing the event every year. But for this year, we have found a great location just two hours from Calgary that offers many of the subjects so loved from the Saskatchewan tour. If there is enough interest we will organize and host this event which will likely include the following:

  • all meals, accommodations and instructor fees (a Thursday through Sunday event)
  • accommodations in a provincial historic site
  • access to historic old buildings and preserved pioneer town site
  • a photo session in an auto wrecker’s yard
  • landscape photography of badlands, gullies and natural areas
  • photography on private ranch land
  • instructional sessions, critiques and assignments

We are accepting only a small number of participants (8-10). We estimate the cost (accommodation, meals and fees) of this three day workshop to be around $1295 (a bit less for double occupancy). We understand that it might be short notice to run the event this summer, so we are canvasing for demand!  If you are interested in participating and are available this summer on either July 21-24 or August 24-28, 2011 email me and let me know!  Deadlines for serious inquiries is March 23 at midnight MST; first come, first served. We will only run this workshop if we have enough interest; otherwise, watch for it for next year!

©Darwin Wiggett

Inspirations – Marc Koegel

Posted in Art of Photography, Artistic Development, Inspirations with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2011 by sabrina

© Marc Koegel


Canon 5d Mark II 338 seconds at f/5.6 at 100 ISO with 16-35mm Ff/2.8 L @ 17mm

I shot this image as part of my Canada Prairies Series in September of 2010. This series of black and white photographs is geared to document the vanishing farm architecture of the region, focusing on old wooden grain elevators, farming equipment etc…Many of these structures are being taken down and demolished every day, and with them, a part of Canadian history is vanishing.

I have been photographing for this still evolving series for the past 2 years. Esthetically, I choose to work with wide-angle lenses, often with tilt and shift capabilities. Most of my images, including the one pictured, are assembled from multiple photographs merged into one large panorama. Using these techniques, I can achieve a perspective otherwise non-obtainable. It was important for me to show large sky areas, as these regions are often called the ‘lands of the living sky’. Furthermore, I utilize very long exposure techniques, which results in the dramatic cloud formations. Images are taken with exposure time of 5 to 30 minutes and longer, using very strong ND filtration. The long exposure technique captures the clouds in motion, but the structures remain still. Each image represents a fraction of time and thus history of each structure I capture. I hope it will do its part to conserve the all important memory of this region.

Images are captured in RAW and converted to black and white in Adobe Photoshop CS5. ~Marc Koegel