Archive for the Rants Category

Fabulous Film Fridays – May 20

Posted in Art of Photography, Fabulous Film Fridays, Image Processing and Software, Photography Gear, Rants, Techniques with tags , , , , , , on May 20, 2011 by Darwin

This week Samantha used her Nikon FE and did some cool macro shots of plant leaves using Ilford XP-2 400 B+W film. The results are very different from what digital would give you and the sand-like grain is lovely (and would be hard to fake in Photoshop). Like any tool, this film has its own unique signature. Sure you can try and fake it but why would you? That’s like taking a digital file and running it through a Holga software plug-in. It just ain’t the same as using a Holga. When I see a live band I want a human drummer not a drum machine. Sure the drum machine has more precise rhythm but where’s the personality? I want real; fake is just too plentiful in the world already.

Check out this week’s photos on Sam’s Blog


The World’s Most Popular Camera – the iPhone?

Posted in Articles about Photography, Humor, Photography Gear, Rants with tags , , , , on March 29, 2011 by Darwin

I am so behind the times. I have a cell phone but I never use it (no it isn’t an iPhone;  it’s old, and heavy and still has a rotary dial  and a cord that plugs into a phone jack 😉

I have never sent a text message in my life — I don’t know how. Besides when I leave the office I do not want to be connected to the net or to anyone really; I just want to immerse myself in nature. Plus everywhere I like to go there is no cell coverage, so what is the point of a phone?

But everybody I know has an iPhone, an iPad, and an iDog and an app that walks the iDog. I feel left out.

I was surprised to learn that the iPhone is the most popular camera on earth. What the heck, I thought it was a phone not a camera! For those who love the iPhone check out the geekaphone blog links below — interesting stuff!

Six Articles on the iPhone Photography Series:

Another Canadian Geographic Rights Grabbing Photo Contest

Posted in Controversy, Ethics, Magazines, Rants, Sad News with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 10, 2010 by Darwin

Canadian Geographic magazine hosts numerous photo contents per year through their popular Canadian Geographic Photo Club. The club is a really good idea and the photo contests have great themes and some nice prizes but by entering these competitions your are at minimum giving away your photos to be used by Canadian Geographic magazine in any way it sees fit. That might seem acceptable or the price ‘you pay for winning’ but this right grabs applies to any image entered! Also Canadian Geo partners with ‘sponsors’ for each contest and these partners also get to use your photos however they want. For example, in their Canadian Wildlife Photography of the Year Contest they partner with the Canadian Museum of Nature and in their Heritage Treasures of Parks Canada Photography Contest they pair up with Parks Canada. In their latest contest The Canadian Geographic Annual Contest (26th edition) they team up with the Forest Products Association of Canada (The Voice of Canada’s Wood, Pulp and Paper Products). This quote below is from the contest page and clearly lays out what rights you are giving away:

Canadian Geographic and the Forest Products Association of Canada (in regard exclusively to the “Framing the Forest” category) reserve the non-exclusive right to publish any entry and/or use any entry in its promotional material during or after the Contest without further compensation to the entrants. For FPAC, promotional material shall include without limitation any print or electronic advertising or marketing material such as posters, online images, newspaper ads, television ads, e-mails and social media content. FPAC further reserves the non-exclusive right to publish and publicly display without further compensation to the entrants any or all winning photos as part of a promotional publicity tour of the photos at a date and for a period of time to be determined by FPAC in its sole discretion.

With regard to any photo submitted to the Contest, you, or the owner of copyright in the photograph, retain all copyright. By uploading or submitting any photo to the Contest, you grant (or warrant that the owner of such materials expressly grants) Canadian Geographic Enterprises and FPAC and its affiliates and licensors a world-wide, perpetual, royalty-free, irrevocable and non-exclusive right and license to use, copy, adapt, transmit, communicate, publicly display and perform, distribute and create compilations and derivative works or merchandise from any such submitted photograph to promote the Canadian Geographic Photo Club, its photo contests or FPAC in general.

Why would anyone willingly enter this competition where you essentially grant a royalty free license to Canadian Geo, FPAC and ‘affliates’ (whoever those may be)? And yet there are hundreds of entries from photographers.

There are several possibilities.

  • Some people must not read the rules closely and so miss out on the fact that they are granting worldwide royalty free rights to the photos they enter.
  • Some photographers are naive about their rights and the rights they are giving away and have no clue what the rules are asking them to give up
  • Some photographers don’t care. They are thrilled to have their photos published by anyone for any use just for the thrill of seeing their work online or in print.
  • Other photographers are entering strategically. They shoot a lot of material and so are willing to give up an image or two for the chance at winning a prize.

I raise this contest as an example of how many photo competitions are actually just ‘excuses’ to make money (where entry fees are charged) or to get free images for advertising and editorial uses. If you enter photo contests, please read the rules carefully. Are you willing to give up what is asked? Only you can decide. If you want a great site listing some crappy and some good contests to enter go to Photo Attorney (this is also a great legal resource site for photographers)!  Also see my previous rant about Canadian Geographic. And if you want to see what my ‘rules’ are for the photo contests I run on this blog go here

Canadian Geographic Magazine Photo Contest Rights Grab?

Posted in Controversy, Ethics, Magazines, Rants, Sad News with tags , , , , , , on March 7, 2010 by Darwin

Canadian Geographic Magazine and Parks Canada have organized a photo contest entitled: Heritage Treasures of Parks Canada Photography Contest with three categories: Nature in Parks Canada, National Historic Sites, and Visitors at Parks Canada. The grand prize is a $3000 VIA Rail gift card and a Discovery National Pass to Canadian National Parks and Heritage Sites. The deadline is October 29, 2010.

The two paragraphs below are directly cut and pasted from Canadian Geographic’s Rules and Regulations page for this contest:


Winners of the grand prize, the top three prizes in each category and a special mention in the “Nature in Parks Canada” category will have their photo and name published in a future edition of Canadian Geographic, on the Canadian Geographic Photo Club Web site ( and on the Parks Canada Web site ( The participant who wins the special mention for the International Year of Biodiversity in 2010 in the “Nature in Parks Canada” category will also have his or her photo and name published on Canada’s official Web site for the International Year of Biodiversity. Canadian Geographic and the Parks Canada Agency reserve the non-exclusive right to publish any entry and/or use any entry in promotional material. The participant is responsible for releasing copyright to the photo, and this copyright release must be available if the photo wins. All photos will be credited to the author’s name.

Copyright Notice

With respect to any photo entered in this contest, you, or the copyright holder for these photos, retain the copyright. By uploading or entering a photo in the contest, you grant (or certify that the photo’s copyright holder expressly grants) Canadian Geographic Enterprises, the Parks Canada Agency and its affiliated groups a world-wide, royalty-free, irrevocable and non-exclusive right and license to use, copy, adapt, transmit, communicate, publish, publicly display and distribute, as well as create and distribute compilations and derivative works or merchandise from any such submitted photos to promote the contest or any resulting public display. You further grant the Parks Canada Agency the right to archive the submitted photos and to use them as part of educational or business activities. You represent and warrant that you have the right to grant the license set out above.

Here is my perspective and opinion about the rules and regulations:

First, the issue of copyright is totally unclear. In paragraph one, we have Canadian Geographic telling us that “The participant is responsible for releasing copyright to the photo, and this copyright release must be available if the photo wins”. I read this as meaning that Canadian Geographic expects participants and especially winners will hand over their copyright to Canadian Geographic. But then in paragraph two, Canadian Geographic tells us; “With respect to any photo entered in this contest, you, or the copyright holder for these photos, retain the copyright”. Which one is it? Does the photographer retain copyright or not? Or is it only the contest winners who give up copyright? At the very least I think Canadian Geographic should rewrite the rules so we clearly know who retains copyright.

The issue of who owns copyright is huge. I am not a lawyer, but in my 25 years as a photographer, if I gave up copyright, I gave up ownership of my photo. While Canadian Geographic may credit you with taking the photo, the rules do not seem to require this in all the uses they may make of your photo. And, in my experience, if you transfer copyright they can do whatever they want with your photo without your permission. Technically, you no longer have any rights to the photo. You can’t sell it, print it, display it etc. without first getting permission from Canadian Geographic. Giving up copyright to your photos is like handing over your kids for adoption. Are the prizes worth giving up copyright? Only you can decide. For me, I would not enter this contest if I had to give up copyright.

Secondly, this line in paragraph two really worries me: “By uploading or entering a photo in the contest, you grant (or certify that the photo’s copyright holder expressly grants) Canadian Geographic Enterprises, the Parks Canada Agency and its affiliated groups a world-wide, royalty-free, irrevocable and non-exclusive right and license to use, copy, adapt, transmit, communicate, publish, publicly display and distribute, as well as create and distribute compilations and derivative works or merchandise from any such submitted photos to promote the contest or any resulting public display.” So even if the photographer still holds the copyright, simply by entering the competition Canadian Geographic, Parks Canada and affiliated groups (who knows how many) essentially have license to do what they wish with your photos. It might seem that such promotion is only in regard to the photo contest but when I see the word merchandise I get nervous. Does this mean Canadian Geographic can make a t-shirt with your photo and sell that t-shirt to promote future photo contests? If so, you will not see a dime of the proceeds. Maybe this was not Canadian Geographic’s intent but they still have the rights if they wanted to go this route.

If granting a royalty-free right to promote the contest does not worry you, then this line might make you pause: “You further grant the Parks Canada Agency the right to archive the submitted photos and to use them as part of educational or business activities.” To me this means Parks Canada can use your images in any way they want from educational slide shows and web information to actually using your photos in advertisements without any recompense or credit to the photographer. They can even license your photos for a fee to anyone without you ever getting a residual royalty. You might as well just put your photo entries on a disc and hand them over to Parks Canada to use as they wish because, in my experience, by entering the Canadian Geographic contest that is what you are effectively doing.

So… if you plan to enter this contest, be aware of what you may be giving up. I would also suggest anyone who is not happy with the terms of the competition or the clarity of the rules should write to Canadian Geographic with their concerns. More and more I see photo contests essentially taking all rights from the photographers and often entrants naively still enter because they don’t read or understand the rules. Part of the problem in this case is that the rights you are giving up are not clearly spelled out. Go here to email Canadian Geographic your concerns.

For an example of more a photographer friendly competition check out Nature’s Best Magazine’s Rules and Guidelines.

For another example of a rights grab contest see Bob Krist’s entry here

New House Rules

Posted in Controversy, Ethics, Rants with tags on January 28, 2010 by Darwin

In the past, I have approved every single comment that anyone put on this blog. The fact that people even stop by and visit here, let alone take the time to comment, is amazing and appreciated – thanks all! This policy of absolute freedom of expression was not a problem when the vast majority of visitors to this blog are polite, reasonable and constructive. However, after co-authoring a ‘controversial’ review on the Canon 7D, let’s just say that the civility of a vocal minority fell to an all-time low. Indeed, I don’t see the value of name-calling and flaming, it serves no-one. Constructive criticism is always welcomed though. 

From now on I am taking the lead of Samantha Chrysanthou and her blog in following the rules of Netiquette. No prima donna’s, name-callers, princesses, bullies, braggarts, or meanies need waste their time commenting here. Your comment will not be approved or if it sneaks by it will be promptly deleted. This is a blog community about sharing, growing and respect — if you can’t play nice, go find another sandbox. The other 99% of reasonable, mature people who visit here are always welcome!

Back to your regularly scheduled program.

PhotoXplorers… Do we really need more of this stuff?

Posted in Ethics, Rants with tags , , on December 21, 2009 by Darwin


I am sure many of you know of this site already. I always seem so out of the loop on this stuff, I never watch T.V. and only rarely rent DVD’s to watch, so this site is new to me.

PhotoXplorers follows an adventurous band of guerrilla art force photographers/urban explorers as they ‘slip’ behind the barricades to capture haunting images of abandoned buildings and structures from around the world. The production values of the videos, and the photographs made by this group are amazing. I really think there is a tonne of talent here and I am sure most of us would love to access the subject matter these guys photograph (old mega-factories and abandoned urban buildings). Watching the videos is entertaining to say the least with the MTV-style flashing frames and jumping music.

But… my concern with PhotoXplorers is the glorification of the illegal explorations of private properties (yes, they say not to do it… but that is like having your parents tell you not to smoke dope, will most people really listen?). Rather than go through appropriate channels to get permission onto private property, these guys trespass to get the photos they want. Photography already has a bad name and photographers are facing more and more restrictions daily as the general public sees us as uncaring mauraders who steal privacy and break laws.

Out in the real world photographers are not trusted. No wonder! Over and over the theme that getting the photo is all that matters is recurring on many photo websites and forums. Indeed, there are numerous websites already dedicated to telling people how to get to these abandoned places and how to ‘sneak’ in unlawfully. PhotoXplorers further feeds into the machismo warrior mentality that too many photographers already have.

What ever happened to ethics and morals in photography?

Comments on our Canon 7D Post

Posted in Controversy, Image Processing and Software, Photography Gear, Rants with tags , , , , on November 12, 2009 by Darwin

The Results Are In!

We’d like to thank everyone who generously took time out of their day to respond to our review of the Canon 7D camera.  Here is what we’ve learned from the feedback we have received:

  • to avoid the problem of diffraction with the Canon 7D, you should only shoot at an aperture of f8…no, wait–make that f7.  Oops, our mistake, that should be f6.8.  Or is that f5.6…??  
  • according to numerous photographers the files from the 7D are not to be processed in Canon’s DPP…some of you said Adobe Camera Raw was the best…and then again, perhaps it is Capture One 5.0…?
  • well, we’re pretty sure now that you should only shoot in jpeg and compare only finished, processed images!  Hmm… but then some people suggested you should shoot raw and then sharpen ‘optimally’ for each camera which sounds pretty smart… (if only we knew what sharpen ‘optimally’ meant–for output to what?)
  • we’ve seen the errors in our way in using manual focus; only auto focus after microadjustments are made is the way to go.  Oh wait–that’s right, some of you championed our use of Live View and manual focus–damn which way is best? Can we get some consensus here?

But seriously. 

We’re poking fun here because, obviously, we are not all going to agree on whether the 7D is a good camera for the nature/landscape shooter.  And we are not attempting to resolve this debate!  What we are doing is revealing our  tested opinion based on how we shoot.  And the 7D does not cut it for us.  We shoot primarily landscapes, use apertures from f8 to f16 and mostly use Adobe products to process our images.  This system works fabulously for all of our cameras (The Rebel Xsi, 1ds MarkIII, Nikon D300s) and we are satisfied with it.  If the 7D is like a little sports car that requires constant tweaking, coaxing, fine-tuning and a leg-up from software, we won’t buy it.  We like cameras to work ‘out of the box’ as they are advertised to do.

But don’t believe us!  We urge you not to believe any reviewer.  The only way you can be fully satisfied is to go out with an open mind and test the 7D against other cameras in the ways in which you shoot.  And then you can safely make up your own mind.

For a little levity on the subject go here


©Darwin Wiggett - shot with the Canon 7d


Canon 7d, aperture f5.0, fill flash, auto-focus

Ramble On – Musings on Photography

Posted in Artistic Development, Inspirations, Rants on September 23, 2009 by Darwin

Jim Goldstein has a highly rated podcast called EXIF and Beyond where he interviews photographers and photo industry types in-depth. This week he has me as his victim. You can hear me ramble on here.

Darwin above Lake Abraham, Alberta

Darwin above Lake Abraham, Alberta

Nature Photography and Photoshop – How Far is too Far?

Posted in Controversy, Ethics, Image Processing and Software, Rants with tags , , , , , , on August 8, 2009 by Darwin

Jay Goodrich recently wrote a guest column on this topic for this blog. If you haven’t read it yet, I encourage you to read his thoughtful ideas here and share your comments.

Jay has just posted a piece on his blog on the same topic written by Samantha Chrysanthou and me. For a direct link to the piece go here. We would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Also be sure to check out Samantha’s blog for more thoughtful articles on photography.

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

Guest Columnist – Jay Goodrich

Posted in Artistic Development, Controversy, Ethics, Guest Columnist, Image Processing and Software, Rants with tags , , , , on August 5, 2009 by Darwin

Nature Photography and Photoshop – How Far is Too Far?

by Jay Goodrich


There are two schools of thought here. One is that limiting the use of Photoshop in nature photography restricts our creativity as photographers. The other is that the over-use of Photoshop compromises the integrity of nature photography. So who’s right?


When someone looks at an astounding photograph, the first question they often ask is, “Is this real?” What is this need we feel to label an image real or not real, true or not true, fabrication or reality? It’s one thing if the purpose of the image is documentation. Reality is important in photojournalism, for example, or to portray the shrinking of a glacier. But what if the purpose of the image is simply to capture beauty, or to startle the viewer? What then does it matter if the artist altered the original photo? Does it look less beautiful hanging on the wall, or less striking on the cover of the magazine?


For some reason, we as viewers often feel “cheated” if we find that a photo has been altered, as if the photographer somehow is lying to us. But if we look at nature photography as simply another art form, then isn’t post-processing photos in Photoshop simply another medium in that art? How do we determine how much alteration is acceptable, and when the artist has gone too far?


How do we draw the line between creative license and misrepresentation? There are so many people out there imposing “the rules” of image making, that drawing the line can become convoluted and quite frankly impossible. Who are these rule makers and what gives them the right to create ideals such as “no HDR”, “no over-saturation”, “it needs to happen in camera”, “no merging of two or more separate subjects”? People have been making rules since the dawn of photography. In the film era, the discussions were regarding exposure, composition, film type, and the like. These rules existed because if you did not expose correctly, there weren’t any images to view. In present day it seems as if people are rule making as a way to control creativity. And why would we want to limit ourselves in that way?


There isn’t a photographer, painter, architect, musician, or otherwise successful creative out there who hasn’t bent or flat-out broken the rules in his or her career. Have you ever taken a flat, colorless sunset image and pushed your white balance to 9000 degrees Kelvin to yield a perfect orange glow from nothing? Or taken a backlit, rim-lit shot and pushed the sliders to the far right with a Levels Adjustment Layer in Photoshop? Think these processes go beyond the standard accepted rules of how far is too far? Miguel Lasa of Spain went beyond when he used the aforementioned Levels technique to take the prize in the Creative Visions division of the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition for 2008.


We are in an ever-changing photographic world now. Digital cameras become more powerful with each new generation, and the same holds true of our software. Imagine what Photoshop CS10 will be able to do. So how far is truly too far? That is the question. Guy Tal said it best in one of his recent blog postings:

Certainly any freedom can be abused, but this is no reason to demonize the technology that enables it. This is especially true for creative tools. To put it simply, those who use the tools for the sake of using them will always produce gimmicks and clichés. This is true of any art at any period in time. Those who see such gimmicks and blame the tools are not much better, though. Ultimately the artist is responsible for the art. If the result fails – the artist failed; not the tools. 


I believe that it is up to you to decide how far is too far. Your failures will be your own, as will be your successes. Create to discover your vision, and utilize “the rules” as guidelines, but also as a springboard to take your work beyond the rules. Bend them and break them every time you click the shutter and post process those images in Photoshop. Throughout history, success has always been achieved by those who listened to everybody else, and then said, “What the hell, I’m doing it my way.”


The two images that I have included here are near copies. One has star trails and the other does not. I know what you are already thinking, “Which one is the original?” Did I pull the stars out of the original image with the Spot Healing Brush Tool to create the second image? Or did I adjust my light levels giving the star trail image the alpenglow of an amazing sunset? Good question. My question to you is, does it really matter?


©Jay Goodrich

©Jay Goodrich


©Jay Goodrich

©Jay Goodrich