Archive for Photo tour

Fall in the Canadian Rockies Photo Tour Results – Alan Ernst

Posted in Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 5, 2011 by Darwin

©Alan Ernst

Bog Birch Branch

Lumix GH2 with Olympus 50mm/f2 macro lens at f 5.6, 1/15 sec, +2/3 EV, ISO 160

Waiting for a sunrise at upper Waterfowl Lake, I wandered off into a meadow. Mist coming off the lake on this frosty morning made for great close-ups of hoare frost covered vegetation. The colourful leaves of miniature birch shrubs caught attracted me but I had to search for a while to find a branch which had a good mix of colour and could be isolated from its surroundings / background without too much clutter. Once I found a suitable twig, I focused on one leaf and then ran a whole series of shots at different apertures to see the difference in depth of field. The exposures at f4 and f 5.6 turned out to be the best with sufficient selective focus while still keeping the background out of focus completely.

©Alan Ernst

Driftwood in the golden light

Lumix GH1 with 100-300mm Lumix lens at 280mm (35mm equiv. of 560mm) at f8, 1/60 sec, +1/3 EV, ISO 320

On our very first morning shoot at Whitegoat Lakes, participants had packed up and were waiting for the rest of the group to return to our vehicles. Sunrise was over, the clouds were turning white and grey, the reflections on the pond were gone. Time to pack up? Maybe not! When photographing in a group, some people will always be done sooner than others and then sit or stand around, waiting for the rest of participants to wrap up. In these situations, I always continue to scan my surroundings looking for worthwhile subjects.

I had noticed a kaleidoscope of colours on the pond caused by the reflection of warm early morning light on Mt. Stelfox when the bobbing driftwood caught my eye. I knew the moving wood in the water would be problematic in this relatively low light and did not want to step up the sensitivity too much (four thirds sensors are not much good above ISO 400), so set the drive to continuous and rattled off a few shots in succession to hopefully capture the driftwood when movement was minimal. One shot turned out to be sharp.

©Alan Ernst

 Mistaya Canyon

Lumix GH2 with Olympus 11-22mm lens at 14mm at f8, ¼ sec, + 1/3 EV, ISO 160 Polariser and 2 stop hard edge ND

In overcast weather we often venture to canyons and waterfalls or into forests, to take advantage of the diffuse light. Mistaya Canyon never disappoints, with many interesting angles, layered rocks and moving water. At this spot, shooting into the canyon upstream, instead of a solid ND, I used a 2 stop hard edge ND in reverse and at an angle, to darken the foreground and white water, while capturing more detail in the dark of the canyon. Although I bracketed for an HDR image, I found to my surprise that the filters applied were sufficient to even out the contrast to use a single exposure with only a small amount of shadow / highlight adjustment.

©Alan Ernst

  Mount Wilson Spires

Lumix GH1 with 100-300mm Lumix lens at 100mm (35mm equiv. of 200mm), at f8, 1/200 sec, +1/3 EV, ISO 125

When passing Mt. Wilson in the afternoon or evening I always crane my neck to look at the jagged peaks towering almost vertically above the Icefields Parkway. Most people drive right by as they cannot be seen until you look straight up. I have many great images of these turrets in all kinds of moody or warm light, shrouded in mist, covered in snow or ice, etc. On this occasion, stopping a little further along the Hwy, I noticed the almost perfect repetition of outlines of the lower and upper mountainsides, something I had never observed before. We were running late for our sunrise shoot but decided to stop anyway for a quick grab shot from the road.

©Alan Ernst

Nigel’s Navel

Lumix GH1 with 100-300mm Lumix lens at 240mm (35mm equiv. of 460mm), at f8, 1/800 sec, + 1/3 EV, ISO 125

Returning from our photo hike to snowy Wilcox Pass, the early afternoon light was still very intense and not overly suitable for overall landscapes. However, the fresh snow which made walking a little challenging by intermittently turning the steep trail to ice, slush or mud, also covered the rocky slopes of Wilcox Ridge and Nigel Peak, making for very contrasty patterns of rock and snow. I managed to get some good landscape extractions but my favourite one turned out to be these amazing folded rocks on the flanks of Nigel Peak, which beat any fault formations I have seen before. I have walked this trail half a dozen times but never noticed it before.

©Alan Ernst

Windy Point Sunrise

Lumix GH2 with Olympus 11-22mm lens at 12mm (35mm equiv. of 24mm), at f9, 1/2 sec, ISO 160, 3 stop hard edge grad

Usually we reserve sunrises like these for our November tours, when the likelihood for blazing colours is fairly good. However, it takes a number of factors to provide this kind of light and they generally will only occur 10-15 % of the time between end of September and early April . Our fall tour participants were treated to three very good sunrises in six days and were lucky indeed. The wind was fierce on this morning however, ripping along the lake and around Windy Point. I only managed to get two or three shots from this elevated location, when filters flew out of my hand and my backpack rolled down the hill. I could hardly hang on to my tripod and had to retreat to a lower viewpoint which was far less impressive but also, much less windy…

The regular November tour out of Aurum Lodge sold out a year ago but if anyone is interested, an additional tour has just been added to this year’s schedule, which runs from late afternoon on Wed. Nov. 16th to mid day on Sun. Nov. 20th. Four nights, single occupancy, C$ 1,359 all-inclusive – contact Alan at to reserve your spot.


Spring Photo Results – Alan Ernst

Posted in Techniques, Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 4, 2011 by Darwin

Below are Alan Ernst’s image from the Spring Photo Tour in the Canadian Rockies. For those interested in one of the best spring photo tours in the Canadian Rockies, I highly recommend the tour based out of Aurum Lodge with friend and fellow photographer Royce Howland. To sign up for the Spring 2012 Photo Tour (May 12-16) contact Alan at the Aurum Lodge (

©Alan Ernst

Driftwood at Graveyard Flats

Lumix GH1, 14-45mm lens at the equivalent of 42mm, ISO 125, 1/60 sec, f 13, +1/3EV

Landscape extractions and landscape detail are often overlooked when photographers are out to capture the grand mountain landscape, chasing after the magic light. When the light is less than spectacular, great foreground subjects can often be turned into interesting images on their own. I chose orientation, aspect ratio and focal length to exclude all the clutter around and behind my subject, moving back and forth, sideways and up and down until I had a composition I liked. Strong graphic images like this work great in black & white too.

©Alan Ernst

Mistaya Blues

Lumix G1, 45-200mm lens at the equivalent of 168mm, ISO 125, 1/3 sec, f 10, +1/3 EV, Cokin blue/yellow polariser

Tele-zooms are the ideal lens for landscape detail, as they allow you to crop close and refine your composition from any vantage point, while minimising surrounding distractions. The light was flat and visiting Mistaya Canyon ten times a year or more, I wanted to try something different. I rarely use the blue/yellow polariser and if I do, I generally try to “dial” it back from the peak saturation to avoid that artificial looking colour cast. In this case, I decided to max it out though, to emphasize the mill hole in the rock. Again, I spent a lot of time trying different orientations, angles and aspect ratios, until I found the one which showed only the components I wanted: the mill hole and the rock strata which seem to radiate away from it.

©Alan Ernst

Misty Morning in Kootenay Plains

Lumix GH1, 14-45mm lens at the equivalent of 28mm, ISO 100, ½ sec, f 11, 2-stop hard edge grad, solid ND

Fog is rare in our valley but it always makes for interesting moody shots, no matter where you are. The group of pine trees against the background mist attracted my attention first. After a few shots at various angles and orientations, it just seemed too flat however, so I started looking at foreground more closely to generate a feeling of depth. The young aspen tree worked well compositionally, but the flat backlight made it look dull, even though to the eye the leaves were a strong green. I tried fill flash first, which was too directional and affected the entire foreground. It then crossed my mind that light painting might do the trick, so I mounted an extra ND filter to slow down the exposure and shone a small LED flashlight top down onto the little tree.

©Alan Ernst

 Morning Dew on Shooting Star

Lumix GH1, Olympus 50mm macro lens (100m equivalent), ISO 125, 1/30 sec, f 10, + 1 2/3 EV, silver reflector

Mist on a calm and cool morning sets the stage for dew on just about everything. Spring is a great time for wildflowers in the area and the soft light created by the fog was ideal. To remove the flower from the distracting background, I had to go as low as I could and point the camera upwards, which created a silhouette against the bright sky. I did want to capture the subtle colours of the Shooting Star however and thus overexposed as far as I could without washing out the background sky. A small reflector to bounce the light back in to the flower was all that was needed to get the right balance, as fill flash would not have worked at this close distance.

©Alan Ernst

Rock and Water on North Saskatchewan River

Lumix G1, 100-300mm lens at the equivalent of 516mm , ISO 125, 1/125 sec, f 8, + 2/3 EV

Rocks around fast flowing water are usually polished smooth, showing the strata and seams very prominently. Various rapids and canyons along the North Saskatchewan display some very interesting patterns in the rock. In this location, the rock is intermittently covered by water gushing over a small fall. Thank God we have digital cameras nowadays… I took over 100 images of this scene at varying shutter speeds to create different blur and they range from no water showing to water only. The best results were the ones which were about half rock, half moving water as in this case.

©Alan Ernst

 Spotlight on Grizzly Bear

Lumix G1, 100-300mm lens at the equivalent of 200mm, ISO 250, 1/160 sec, f 5.6

Springtime from mid May to early July is the best time to see bears in this area. We have been fortunate to see and photograph a few black bears on virtually every spring tour and on some occasions have encountered grizzlies, like this one sauntering along the Icefields Parkway. When driving in this region, it is always advisable to keep a camera with long lens attached and all settings ready for grab shots. I tend to set my camera to Programme exposure mode, ISO 250 or higher, image stabilisation on, and continuous drive. Often there is only time for one or two shots, so preparation is the key.

Amazing Chile/Altiplano Photo Tour with Jay Goodrich

Posted in TCBlog, Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 4, 2011 by Darwin

Got some time in May 2011 to go on an amazing photo tour in a crazy awesome place? Well, then check out this great Photo Tour  to the Altiplano that Jay Goodrich has put together. Heck, if I did not have my own tours booked and filled up in May I would have tried to sneak away on this one. If you go say hi to Jay for me!

©Jay Goodrich

©Jay Goodrich

©Jay Goodrich

Fire and Ice Photo Tour – one spot now open!

Posted in Good News, TCBlog, Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2010 by Darwin

Note: Aug 28 – This spot has now been filled!

One spot has just opened up on my Fire and Ice Photo Tour to the Alberta Rockies (Banff and Jasper National Parks and the Bighorn Wildlands). This tour has been full for some time now but due to a recent cancellation we now have one spot left.

This is one of my favourite tours for several reasons; the date for this event (Nov. 10-14, 2010), at the beginning of the winter season, was chosen to accommodate the many requests for dramatic dawn and dusk skies and the combination of open water and shoreline ice. The day length is also short so no need to kill ourselves with crazy early risings or late evenings (yippee)! And finally we go to locations less well known and rarely visited by photographers. The tour is all about shooting from dawn to dusk (and even after) – this tour is for photographers who want access to great scenes in the best light! This is not a workshop tour but an intense shooting session with me as your photo guide, so this tour is best suited to semi-advanced and advanced photographers and who just want to harvest great images and maximize their time shooting. Participants need to be comfortable with the basics of photography.

Early November is generally the best time of year for colourful sunrises and sunsets, warm light throughout the day with a low angled sun, clear skies without haze (ideal for nighttime photography and star trails too), mist rising off the water in the mornings and a combination of open water and ice along the shore lines of Abraham Lake. With a little luck, we may also be able to witness the Bighorn sheep rut in the Jasper National Park. Usually, at this time of year, the mountain tops will be covered in snow, whereas the valley bottoms may still be dry or only have a light snow cover. However, temperatures can be significantly below freezing already and there is a possibility of snow squalls.

If you want to experience the Canadian Rockies without crowds but in a great transition season and be guided to secret spots and hot spots, then this tour might well be for you. For more info and to sign up contact Alan at the Aurum Lodge. To see sample photos, see the images below or check out the participant’s photos from 2009. Group size is limited to 6 or 7 participants only.

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

2010 Spring Photo Tour Results

Posted in Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 28, 2010 by Darwin

For those interested in the photos participants took during my Canadian Rockies Spring Photo Tour this May and June just click this link.  If you are interested in coming with me next spring, May 30 to June 4, 2011, then I suggest you book soon as this tour sells out quickly. This will be my last spring tour in the Canadian Rockies so here is your last chance to come with me for great spring scenery and wildlife. For more information about the tour please click here and to see photos from previous spring tours check out my Spring Rockies Photo Gallery.

©Darwin Wiggett - Canon EOS-1ds Mark III, Canon 300mm lens

©Canon EOS-1ds Mark III, 24mm TS-E lens, Singh-Ray Gold-n-Blue polarizer

Extreme Saskatchewan Photo Tour 2010

Posted in Good News, Inspirations, Techniques, Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 5, 2010 by Darwin

UPDATE – May 7 – Tour is now FULL

(if you want to be added to the mailing list for new and upcoming tours and seminars email me at and you’ll be on my ‘first notice’ list – this tour sold on in two days so being on the list gives you right to first refusal)

Over the years, I have had many requests for the ultimate photographers’ tour:  who would not want to immerse themselves day after day in gorgeous landscapes where the gentle hand of nature contrasts with the skeletons of human ambition? 

Well, that tour is here.  I am teaming up with Samantha Chrysanthou and Branimir Gjetvaj for Extreme Saskatchewan on June 16-20th, 2010.  On this tour, we will introduce a small group of keen photographers to the wonders of the southwestern corner of the Saskatchewan prairie:  imagine stepping softly in the giant, rippled dunes of the Great Sandhills, surveying the folded terrain of the South Saskatchewan river coulees or  training your lens on the intricate details of abandoned barns and the rusty relics of agriculture. Not only will we photograph the classic “big blue sky” and rippling prairie grass-scape , but we have also obtained exclusive access to private properties.  This means we have property releases and written permissions so you can sell your work legally. No worrying about trespass laws or angry farmers with shotguns! That’s handy, eh?

©Darwin Wiggett

As I mentioned, we are deliberately keeping group size small and are accepting only 7 participants.  Our focus is on ensuring you have the best opportunities to ‘get the shot’ and, as well, to have 3 instructors at your disposal for any questions you may have.  This tour is for all skill levels–with 3 instructors available and offering tips and advice along the way, all your photo questions will be answered. So if you want to learn how to light paint, use key landscape filters or work creative, long exposures then this will be the tour for you!

©Darwin Wiggett

But be warned:  this tour will be demanding creatively.  There is no Fairmont on the prairie!  No wimps, complainers or princesses – we are looking for photographers who are super enthusiastic about the photographic rewards available on this tour.  We will eat, sleep and breathe photography for the intense duration of the tour. The days are long but the rewards are huge – you will come back with some of your best work ever!

©Darwin Wiggett

So… if you are passionate about taking your photography to the next level, or you’ve always wanted marketable, property-released images of rural life, then email me at for details. Are you ready for Extreme Saskatchewan? We want to hear from you!

 Below is a sampling of images from some of the places we will visit: 

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett

©Darwin Wiggett