Archive for how-to photography

Visual Wilderness Website is Closing

Posted in Books about Photography, eBooks, Image Processing and Software, Instruction, Sad News, TCBlog, Techniques with tags , , , , , on August 6, 2011 by Darwin

One year ago Jay and Varina Patel and Samantha and I started a website called Visual Wilderness where we hosted instructional eBooks for nature photographers. Our eBooks have been well received and we have had many comments about how much people have learned from these products. But… to every thing there is a time and a season. This week we are announcing that Visual Wilderness will close by the end of August. Here is what we wrote over on the Visual Wilderness website:

What a year it has been here at Visual Wilderness!

When we look back, we are humbled by the support of all the photographers who have visited this site and found useful instruction in our eBooks.  Visual Wilderness was begun because we saw a need for accessible, high-quality instructional eBooks on how to photograph natural subjects.  Based on your comments and support, this belief was affirmed.  We truly appreciate your faith in us!

Looking back, we have also learned valuable lessons.  The photography market has changed a lot over the last two years with many new excellent photography products and services proliferating across the internet.   Being a nature photographer and photo instructor requires the wearing of many hats:  entrepreneur, graphic designer, book-keeper and marketer are just some of the skills of a successful modern-day photographer.  All of these roles take time.  Sometimes in a business you need to take an objective look at future directions.  Each one of the contributing photographers on this site has his or her own individual business offering services from stock, assignments, and prints to instructional products like seminars, webinars, workshops, tours, and eBooks. For each of us, making our individual businesses viable is our first priority, and to do so requires much investment into marketing and promotion. In the end there is little energy left for a ‘community’ project like Visual Wilderness.

So it saddens us to announce that we will be closing the Visual Wilderness website  and the Visual Wilderness store by the end of August 2011 to concentrate on our individual projects. We’ll post links here over the next few weeks about where you can find each of us and what we are doing in this new world of photography.

Before we close our store for good, we are having a big sale on all of our eBooks. All eBooks on the Visual Wilderness site are discounted by 15% until August 31 at 11:59 PM EST.  Just use the code THANKS on checkout to use the discount. Thank you for your support and happy shooting!

Jay, Varina, Samantha & Darwin

Be sure to take advantage of the 15% discount to get great instructional eBooks


The Weekly Photo and Jasper eBook Release – May 16, 2011

Posted in Articles about Photography, eBooks, Good News, Instruction, TCBlog, Techniques with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 16, 2011 by Darwin

The photo below is from one of the iconic photography locations in Jasper National Park. This image was taken from Patricia Lake looking towards Pyramid Mountain at sunrise. I used a Canon 24mm tilt-shift lens and shifted the lens to the left and then to the right to make two photos which I then merged into one panoramic image using photo merge in Photoshop. I also used a Singh-Ray LB warming polarizer to darken the sky and saturate colours and a Singh-Ray 2-stop hard-edge grad to hold back exposure in the peaks and the sky. Click on the photo for a larger image.

©Darwin Wiggett

I am also happy to announce that my latest eBook, Jasper National Park – All Four Seasons from the How to Photograph the Canadian Rockies website is now ready for download. This eBook is an updated and expanded version of the Jasper National Park chapter in my printed book How to Photograph the Canadian Rockies. The new eBook is 181 pages long with detailed descriptions of 60 locations and illustrated with 114 images. If you want to get to the best locations in the right light in any seasons in Jasper, then this eBook is the perfect solution! Thanks to Stephen Desroches for his fine work designing the eBook and to Samantha Chrysanthou for her careful editing.

And stay tuned for another release coming up very soon: The Icefields Parkway – Wildlife Edition by John Marriott

New eBook – Advanced Filters for Digital Nature Photography

Posted in Art of Photography, eBooks, Filter, Good News, Image Processing and Software, Instruction, Photography Gear, TCBlog, Techniques, VWBlog with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 28, 2011 by Darwin

Note: To see all future ebook releases, please visit us over at

Samantha and I have just released our latest eBook on Advanced Filters for Digital Nature Photography.

This eBook continues where our last eBook, Essential Filters for Digital Nature Photography, left off and introduces photographers to advanced filter techniques that lead to creative imagery often impossible to replicate in software.

Learn how to use in-camera filters to create unique and desirable effects. Darwin and Samantha cover the Gold-N-Blue and Blue/Yellow polarizing filters, the 1.5 stop hard-edge grad filter for reflection photos, the Daryl Benson reverse ND grad filter, and specialty ND filters like Lee’s Big Stopper and Singh-Rays trio of Vari-ND filters.

Learn how to correct colour casts caused by filtration in post-production, see why a 1.5 stop ND grad is the solution for perfect reflection photos, discover why the Daryl Benson reverse ND grad is an essential filter for prairie and desert photography, and be creative by using ND and Vari-ND filters to ‘paint with time’. Finally, Darwin and Samantha show you the creative power of combining two or more of these filters for expressive and creative photography. The eBook costs $10, is 49 pages long and is available here.

Review of Guy Tal’s Creative Landscape Photography eBook

Posted in Book Club, eBooks, Inspirations, Instruction with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2011 by Darwin

I’ve always been impressed with Guy’s work, so when the second edition of his eBook, Creative Landscape Photography was released, I was pleased to review the book for Guy.  In a larger context, there are many eBooks on offer these days, but sometimes it is hard to know how to evaluate them.  Having gone through the process on both sides, as a producer and consumer of eBooks, I decided to enter the fray from time to time with my two cents on the odd paper book or eBook that comes my way.  Samantha suggested I call this category on my blog Book Club, hearkening back to when people (usually women) would discuss the ideas and themes in books both as a way to learn and socialize.  I liked this idea, and I hope that these reviews stimulate discussion and that you will share your own ideas and opinions on the books being reviewed.

Samantha and I will start things off in Book Club with a mutual review of Guy’s eBook, Creative Landscape Photography.  So step into our living room, grab a virtual cookie and cup of tea (or whisky) and enter the discussion….

“The goal is not to make you creative.  Whether you know it already or not, you already are.  The challenge, rather, is learning to tap into and focus your creativity and to help it find its ultimate expression in a photographic image.”

–Guy Tal, Creative Landscape Photography

Darwin: My overall impression of the book is that it is a complete course in creative landscape photography encompassing the entire creative process from concept to presentation.  Guy divides the creative process into six pillars or phases: concept, visualization, composition, capture, process and presentation.  Each of these phases is discussed in some detail with tips and exercises to help the reader master each section.  The eBook is thoughtful, well-written, sprinkled throughout with inspiring images and essentially is like reading six books in one.

Sam: I agree with you on your impression that the book is comprehensive and thoughtful.  Being a long-term admirer of his work, I wouldn’t expect anything less from Guy!  Guy gets the ‘bigger picture’ that many photographers often miss, and this is captured by the overarching structure and logical flow of the eBook; there is a progression of ideas that is very well organized and presented.  Let’s talk about ‘look’ first and get to content later.

Darwin: Sure, good idea.  The layout and design is elegant and clean.  It looks professionally designed, like you would expect from a high-end publisher.

Sam: Yes, the eBook is exceptionally beautiful in itself which is a graceful note on an educational product.  While the eBook is very polished with few errors, I did have one issue with the main font used in the body of the eBook:  I found this font to be slightly uneven and fatiguing to read after a while.

Darwin: Reading text on a screen is different from reading text in a book so the size of the font and the length of the blocks of text require different considerations.  I do think an eBook is a different beast from a paper book.  Reading 80+ pages on a screen is not as easy as a paper book.  I think eBooks should be fairly short and digestible.

Sam: Although people have devices like Kindle readers or the iPad and reading on these may be just fine.

Darwin: True.  We’re too poor to own an iPad and I do not even know how to text on a cell phone so perhaps  I am not the best judge of that.  Reading on a computer monitor for hours sucks though.  As an eBook author, you don’t want to tire out your reader or make them labour too hard in getting through a page.

Sam: Especially when people may be trying to read them in snippets on a plane or in a cafe over lunch…basically taking a peek in short time frames instead of sitting by the fire with a coffee for hours like I do with a paper book.  I think you make a good point that how people consume online material is different from paper.  I’ve found in designing eBooks that type is tricky; you almost do need professional advice on that one.  From helpful comments we’ve received on our own eBooks, I can see where we need to improve.  This point about the font though is a very minor one; the pages are not too blocky with text but interspersed with images.  Overall, Guy has given a cohesive ‘look’ to the eBook.

Darwin: For example, the page below I find to be very clean and well designed.

Sam: In terms of content, there is a great deal of information to take away for $9.95.  And the content is well explained and accessible.  I love reading Guy’s thoughts on all things photography-related and enjoyed the quality of communication in this eBook.  I did, however, sometimes find myself just warming up to a topic when Guy would then move on to the next concept.  His writing is so instructive and style so unobtrusive that I gained great understanding in a few sentences yet was a bit thirsty for more on a few concepts.

Darwin: I agree; you get huge bang for your buck.  It’s undervalued for the amount and quality of content there.  I know Guy has more to say on each concept so, like you, I am left wanting to hear more of his thoughts in some sections.

Sam: I think I know what he is trying to do though, which is create that overarching structure to guide the entire creative process.  This is very useful, but I do hope he will have more to say on some key concepts in the future.

Darwin: One of the best parts of the book was the idea of the six phases to the creative process.  I found some sections quite detailed relative to other parts of the book, like the capture section, while other sections seemed a bit superficial, such as the composition section.

Sam: Although Guy did add insightful comments on framing and balance, overall the section on composition was more of a summary of some common ‘rules’ out there which surprised me a little.  Guy does come from a viewpoint that we are each responsible for developing our inner artistic voice and one thing that impresses me about this eBook is how he always seems to be guiding, never imprinting his way of doing things over his readers’ artistic sense.  So I would have liked to see more than just a listing of the usual ‘camera club’ rules of composition.  On the other hand, he does exert readers to be brave and experiment with these ‘rules’ seeing them more as suggestions than prescriptive points.

Darwin: I learned many new things in other areas.  For example, in the capture section it is obvious that Guy knows his tools and has great technical knowledge.  There are gems for even the most advanced photographer.

Sam: I completely agree!  But the beginner will find concepts set out clearly and succinctly when in other publications these concepts are all too often left unexplained or improperly described by other photographers.  Guy discusses topics like metering and the basics of lens function which I rarely see explained so well.  I like to know the ‘why’ of things as a foundation to the ‘how’ so this is a great resource that way for all shooters.

Darwin: The light bulb and notepaper  icons direct readers to  key tidbits which I liked.  They break up the text and are not only an interesting design element but help summarize and add to the information in the eBook.

Sam: Guy is a powerful thinker and has a talent for putting in those key elements that are often overlooked by other instructors.  For example, his inclusion of the image frame in the discussion on composition of an image is excellent.  I also respect how at the very beginning he nails down some critical concepts like the difference between an image and a photograph.  We don’t think about that often enough, in my opinion, yet it is essential to artistic growth to develop that consciousness around the artistic process.

Darwin: And one way he encourages a conscious and thoughtful approach to photography as an art form is with the unique lessons included in the eBook.  Guy has given the reader the tools he or she needs to advance in photography; now it’s up to the reader to make that investment.

Sam: I agree; the lessons are well done.  The reader can advance at his or her own pace.

Darwin: I think Guy is one of the most talented writers in the photography industry today.  Readers who are tired of the superficial coverage of photographic topics and interested in delving deeper into the philosophy and art of photography may wish to subscribe to Guy’s thought-provoking blog.

Sam: Definitely.  So in summary, we highly recommend this eBook, right?

Darwin: Yes.  So far, it is one of the best eBooks on the market.

Sam: Maybe in the future there will be more development of some of the concepts behind the six phases; although, I think Guy will be doing that with at least one pillar in his next eBook, right?

Darwin: I think the next eBook, Creative Processing Techniques for Landscape Photographers, goes into more detail on the processing component of photography.

Sam: Great!  We wait, with bated breath….  Eat your cookie, Darwin.

Darwin: Drink your whisky, Sam!

For anyone who has read the eBook, tell us what you think!  What did you like or dislike?  Any suggestions for Guy?

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

Interview with the Visual Wilderness Team

Posted in Articles about Photography, eBooks, Humor, Marketing, TCBlog with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 8, 2011 by Darwin

Check out this interview with the Visual Wilderness team. Want to learn what makes us tick, and how we got together and what we do? Of course, some secrets are revealed (like my special fitness program) 😉

The Visual Wilderness Team

Good Photos in Bad Light eBook

Posted in Art of Photography, Articles about Photography, Books about Photography, eBooks, Instruction, TCBlog, Techniques with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 4, 2011 by Darwin

I just created a free eBook over at Visual Wilderness about tips and techniques for making good photos in bad light. Click on the photo below if you are interested in downloading the eBook.

Note: Visual Wilderness is no longer active, to get the ebook please go to this link: