Archive for Nature Photographers

The Daily Snap – November 22

Posted in The Daily Snap with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2010 by Darwin


©Darwin Wiggett

Here I used the shallow Depth-of-field available on the Sigma DP1x to highlight the photographer in the background. (The tree was almost up against the lens to get it to be out of focus.


The Essentials of Digital Landscape Photography

Posted in Artistic Development, TCBlog, Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , on September 1, 2010 by Darwin

My on-line course entitled The Essentials of Digital Landscape Photography: Field Techniques starts today (Sept 1, 2010). How does an online course work? Every week on Wednesday you get a PDF to download that has the current lesson. Read through the lesson and the assignment that follows. Then sometime during the  the week do the photography assignment and post your images to the classroom forum for my critique of your assignment. You can view and comment on other student’s work  and as well they can comment on your work. Anytime during the course you can ask questions in the classroom forum and I am there as your ‘guru of answers’ (please don’t make the questions too hard though!!!). In essence you have me as you online mentor for six weeks.

I cover many of the topics that you need to master to capture great shots in the field like equipment essentials for outdoor and nature photography, essential camera settings, understanding and using your histogram, how to pick the right aperture and shutter speed for any scenario, how to see contrast like your camera, how to manipulate light to capture scenes like the human eye sees them ,and all sorts of special techniques like painting with time, infinite depth-of-field, fill flash, light-painting, filtration, diffusion, and selective focus. These are the tried and true techniques I use to make my photographs. If you are interested in signing up simply go here to find out more.

©Darwin Wiggett

The Daily Snap – March 28

Posted in The Daily Snap with tags , , , , , on March 28, 2010 by Darwin

©Darwin Wiggett - Canon G9

A lot of people think that being a nature photographer is super glamorous and must be a great way to earn a living. Most people think it must be like a permanent vacation. If your vacations are spent getting up at 4AM and going to bed at 11PM, if you usually sleep in your vehicle or have an occasional luxurious night in a tent, if you shower once a week (maybe) and if you eat gourmet meals like the one shown above… well then you are ready for the permanent vacation of nature photography.

The photo above is a typical supper for Sam and I while we were on the month long trip to the Yukon and Alaska.

Using Filters on the Canon G11

Posted in Photography Gear, Techniques with tags , , , , , , , , on February 8, 2010 by Darwin

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

When I owned a Canon G9, I bought the conversion lens adapter that Canon made for the G9. I simply attached my Cokin P-holder to the Canon lens conversion adapter using a Cokin 58mm adapter ring and I was up and running using my Singh-Ray filters on my G9. So when I bought the Canon G11, I also purchased Canon’s Conversion Lens Adapter LA-DC58K (the G9 version would not fit of course – thanks Canon!). I assumed that I could simply attach my Cokin P-holder to the new G11 adapter and be off filtering my photos (see photo below).

Well… guess what? The adapter that Canon makes specifically to attach supplemental lenses and filters on the G11 vignettes at the widest lens setting on the G11–see top image in the photo below! What the hell? Why would Canon make an accessory for a camera that does not work properly? Thanks Canon. And to add insult to injury, once a Cokin P-holder and a Singh-Ray drop-in polarizer is added to the set-up, vignetting gets even worse (see bottom image of the photo below).

A solution to the vignetting problem inherent in Canon’s (poorly designed) conversion lens adapter is to buy a 72 mm filter adapter made by Lensmate. This adapter fits onto the Canon G11 in two parts and allows use of 72 mm filters without vignetting. I tried the Lensmate 72 mm filter adapter without any filters and as promised it did not vignette at all. But when I attached my Cokin P-holder with a 72 mm adapter ring and used a Singh-Ray drop-in polarizer vignetting occurred at the widest focal-length setting on the G11.

According to Lensmate, the only way to get around vignetting issues and still use a Cokin P-holder is to slide the P-holder onto the bayonet mount of the Lensmate 72mm adapter and then use a thin mount screw-in polarizer in the threads of the Lensmate adapter (see photo below). If you use this set-up then you have room for one extra drop-in filter in the Cokin P-holder. When I tried this configuration I did not get any vignetting even at the widest focal length setting on the G11. Finally!

With my Canon G9, I could use three filters in my Cokin P-holder. But with the configuration suggested by Lensmate, I can only use two filters with the Canon G11. This limitation is not too serious considering that the Canon G11 has a built-in ND filter (the third type of filter I would normally add). I can still use a polarizer and a grad together on the G11. The main problem with the Lensmate solution is that I needed to buy a separate 72mm polarizer specifically for my G11 – ouch my pocketbook!

If you do not want to spring for an extra polarizer  for your G11 and you already own a drop-in polarizer for your Cokin P-holder then simply understand that you’ll need to zoom out slightly from the widest setting on the G11 to avoid vignetting with the Lensmate and a Cokin P-holder (the price you pay for saving money). So for those photographers interested in using filters on the Canon G11 (or Canon G10), the Lensmate System will work perfectly but it will hurt your wallet especially if you need to buy a separate 72mm thin-mount polarizer.

The Canadian Landscape Contest – Richard Siggins

Posted in Monthly Photo Contest with tags , , , , , , , on January 23, 2010 by Darwin

Richard Siggins

©Richard Siggins

This photo was taken on our second trip to the Canadian Rockies. We fell in love with the parks on our first trip and came back the very next year for our 25th Wedding Anniversary. We were staying in Jasper and got up early to be at Patricia Lake for sunrise. We were the only people out shooting that morning, it was quiet, the lake was peaceful. It was a perfect place to be. I had been shooting for a while and was about to move on to another location when the sun broke through the clouds and lit up the hillside on the opposite side of the lake. The surface of the lake was still smooth and I was already set up on this little platform shooting the canoe. Talk about being in the right place at the right time! The funny thing was when we got back from our 9 day trip I completely missed this photo when going through the two thousand or so I shot on that trip. My wife saw it and said “what about this one?” This photo now hangs in our living room at home as a reminder of that special trip.

The Canadian Landscape Contest – Chris Martin

Posted in Monthly Photo Contest with tags , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2010 by Darwin

Chris Martin

©Chris Martin


Title: Cold Water, Dark Rock

Location: Elbow Falls, Kananaskis, Alberta

Text: I went to Elbow Falls after a few days of snow in early October last year wanting to capture the start of winter. This photo was made with the help of a tripod set up on an outcrop of rock just above the falls. It was before dawn so a 25 second exposure was required to create the image I wanted to make. The cool, almost monotone, color palette of the elements in the photograph convey the mystery of the early morning and the beauty of the winter season that I enjoy so much.

Technical Details: f/11 for 25 seconds

Guest Posting – Younes Bounhar

Posted in Artistic Development, Guest Columnist with tags , , , , , on April 21, 2009 by Darwin

I have always wanted this blog to be about life as we live through the lens. How do we, as a community of photographers, see the world not only through our lenses but through our living? In this spirit, I am happy to host photos from photographers in any genre (hence the LLTL monthly photo contest). As well, I would love to hear your ideas, rants, opinions and musing about our craft. If you have something you want to share on this blog feel free to send me your stuff. Below is a piece from Canadian Photographer, Younes Bounhar.

Stacking the Odds in Your Favor

Landscape photographers seldom get any credit for the amount of work and dedication required for their craft. I often here comments such as “wow he’s so lucky, that sky is incredible!” or “I could have pulled it off had I been there!” The fact is, to consistently produce high-quality images there is no such a thing as luck! The only luck you get is the one you make yourself. So, how do you stack the odds in your favor? 

©Younes Bounhar

©Younes Bounhar

•1-    Get out there and  get out there often.

As much as there are times I wish my camera would just go out there and get me some incredible pictures, it has remained, to this day, an unfulfilled promise. Simply put, the more you are out there, the more you are likely to shoot in awesome conditions. Spectacular light rarely waits for the week-ends (as much I hate it!), so whenever you get a chance, grab your camera bag and head out to your favorite spots (make sure the camera is in the bag though!). 

•2-    Know you gear.

I always like to hammer the fact that it is not the gear, but the photographer that makes the shot. That said, you can’t realize your vision unless you know what your gear can and can’t do, and that you can get it to do what you want it to do. Know your camera inside out, know exactly what each of your lenses can and cannot do. It is not when the light shows up that you should try to figure out how your split density filters work…be ready to seize the moment when it comes and don’t let your gear get in the way. 

•3-    Know your subject.

Whether you are visiting a new location or paying an old friend another visit, if pays to research your subject ahead of time. It’s hard to shoot a moonlit scene on a new moon or tide pools at high tide. Know when and where the sun rises and sets. Check out the moon cycle and the tides to maximize your shooting opportunities. Whenever I go out on a shoot I also make sure I get to my location at least an hour or two ahead of time because it allows me to carefully study the location and plan out potential compositions. 

•4-    Familiarity breeds success.

I really love traveling and photographing new areas with a fresh pair of eyes. The reality, though, is that I can’t travel all year long and as such am bound to shoot areas I am fairly familiar with and I this reality to my advantage. First, because I know I can go back anytime, I don’t have any pressure to get the wide-angle, cliché shot, or any shot for that matter. I can just take the time and experiment to my heart’s content until I get something I am satisfied with. Second, by knowing the area, I can also better predict with greater certainty where the light conditions will be the best on a given day and as such increase my odds for a successful shoot.

©Younes Bounhar

©Younes Bounhar

Photographer of the Month – April 2009

Posted in Image Processing and Software, Photographer of the Month with tags , , , , , on April 6, 2009 by Darwin
©Tony Kuyper

©Tony Kuyper

This month I want to highlight the amazing work of Tony Kuyper.  Tony’s work in the deserts of the American southwest is not just more of the same old, same old. Tony offers a fresh eye and perspective on this oft photographed landscape. I love Tony’s abstract, graphic images and his feel for colour, light and design. His vision of the desert is fresh and exciting.

When you look at Tony’s images, you immediately notice the finely crafted compositions and the sensitive eye to capture, in a stunning way, what most of us would simply overlook. Look closer at Tony’s images and you will notice immaculate and superb processing skills. Tony knows how to use Photoshop to translate his vison of the world into a fine print. I have several of Tony’s prints and they are absolutely stunning!

The great thing about Tony is his open and willing nature to share with others. Many photographers that develop a specialized technique for shooting or processing images guard their ‘secrets’ jealously. Tony does just the opposite; he happily shares his in-depth knowledge about Photoshop and offers numerous tutorials  on his unique processes for digital darkroom work.

I have seen many tutorials on Photoshop by many photographers and most often these tutorials add nothing useful to my own workflow. But Tony’s Photoshop tutorials and actions are different, they are incredibly useful and functional especially for landscape photographers. I particularly like his luminosity masks and the automated actions he created for masking have been one of the most useful additions to my processing workflow! I now use luminosity masks on about 75% of the images I process. I am not sure how I lived without using Tony’s luminosity masks!

If you want to take your image processing to the next level and if you use Photoshop, I highly recommend all of Tony’s tutorials. Thanks Tony, for the great ideas, wonderful images and your sharing nature!

Outdoor Photography Canada

Posted in Magazines, Marketing with tags , , , , , on March 31, 2009 by Darwin

I thought I would put a plug in for Outdoor Photography Magazine (OPC). This young magazine (9 issues old) just keeps getting better with each passing issue! The latest edition is no exception with lots of meaty informational articles and lovely imagery. I am also happy to have a feature called “Expose Right“. This article lets photographers know how to get the best possible exposures with digital cameras in a simple two-step process. I find that the majority of photographers do not understand how to get optimal exposure from their digital cameras. I hear far too many complaints about noisy files from the latest batch of digital cameras. If you have noise in your files, then you have exposure problems and the camera is not to blame! Expose right and you will not need to use noise reduction software and you’ll get the best possible files from your camera.

OPC is also a magazine that showcases the work of photographers across Canada. If you are Canadian and shoot outdoor and nature imagery, then submit to OPC and have your work showcased. The magazine pays the highest rates I have seen for photo rags and really showcases photographer’s work nicely. While you checking things out, enter the Spring 2009 photo contest (April 30th deadline) for prize goodies and maybe even subscribe to the magazine. This is a magazine worth supporting. I do have a slight bias though!

Outdoor Photography Canada - Spring -issue 09

Photographer of the Month – January 2009

Posted in Photographer of the Month with tags , , , , , , on January 16, 2009 by Darwin

Each month I highlight a photographer who has work I really admire. This month I want to introduce Youssef Ismail. I first noticed Youssef’s work over at Nature Photographers , one of the best nature photo sharing sites on the net. Every image that Youssef posts floors me! His work is full of inticate detail and flawless design. And the images are anything but stagnant nor simple technical perfection; there is a life and ‘spirit’  in his work that often defies description–amazing! His work resonates perfectly with how nature makes me feel. I wish I had such a sensitive eye. Many of the images Youssef does best are things that most photographers would just walk by or worse, step on! He really knows how to make intimate scenes come alive.

And… for you gear junkies, he is old school. Youssef shoots with film and a 4×5 camera.  Just confirms to me that gear is really the minor component of fine photography; the eye behind the lens is what really matters. Great work Youssef! 

Youseff Ismail Website

Youseff Ismail Website