Archive for photo tours

2011 Photo Tours – Aurum Lodge

Posted in Instruction, TCBlog, VWBlog, Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 19, 2010 by Darwin

For those interested in my photo tours in the Canadian Rockies based out of the Aurum Lodge please note the following status for each tour:

Winter Magic in the Canadian Rockies

  • Jan. 26-30, 2011 (2 spots left)
  • Feb. 24-27, 2011 (wait-list only)
  • March 2-6, 2011 (wait-list only)

Spring in the Canadian Rockies

  • May 30-June 4, 2011 (wait-list only)

Fall in the Canadian Rockies

  • Sept. 17-23, 2011 (wait-list only)

Fire and Ice in the Canadian Rockies

  • Nov. 9-13, 2011 (wait-list only)

Spots for the 2012 season are filling fast now that the 2011 season is almost full so if you are interested contact Alan at to book your spot. For the 2012 dates see this link.

For those interested in photo workshops in the Canadian Rockies for 2011, the following workshops still have space available:

October 2011 Weekend Workshop at Baker Creek, Oct. 27-30, 2011

Light Matters Masterclass: Creative Expressions,  Nov. 2-6, 2011

Be sure to check out Photo Tours vs Photo Workshops to see which product is the best match for your photography. Hope to see you in the Rockies!


©Darwin Wiggett - The Deck at Aurum Lodge

Fire and Ice Photo Tour – Alan Ernst

Posted in Techniques, Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 23, 2010 by Darwin

Below are six of Alan Ernst’s image from the November Fire and Ice Photo Tour. If you are interested in this unique tour contact Alan at the Aurum Lodge to book your spot for 2011 or 2012. Alan has been kind enough to include information on the making of each photo.

©Alan Ernst

Mt Chephren from Waterfowl Lake. Lumix GH1, 14-45mm lens at 14mm (28mm equiv), f11, ½ sec, 2 stop hard graduated filter.

When we arrived at the first location, I initially looked at the round spots in the ice as an interesting foreground. They were only visible well from a higher vantage point, where it was impossible to get a good composition because of the trees along the embankment protruding into the image. I moved down to the shore where this driftwood caught my attention and set the camera up so the wood would point towards the center of the picture and lead towards the spots in the ice and the peak. I then backed off a little bit to include the reflection of the mountain in the ice AND raised the camera to ensure that the driftwood in the foreground would not merge with the dark spots in the ice.

©Alan Ernst

Coyote in Jasper. Lumix GH1, 14-45mm lens at 45mm (90mm equiv), f 5.6, 1/50th sec.

We had stopped to observe a herd of Bighorn Sheep at the side of the road. Normally, we remind our participants to always keep a long lens attached when travelling , as wildlife encounters are most likely along the side of the road and the Jasper area is one of the best locations for wildlife sightings. Generally, I keep a 100-400mm lens and camera set to P, ISO 400, continuous, image stabilisation on, for this kind of situation, which means I only have to pick it up and shoot. For some reason, that morning I forgot to do this and I had my long lens stowed in the camera bag in the trunk. When the coyote appeared, scattering the sheep, I grabbed what I had (standard zoom) and tried it anyway. I knew it was too dark to freeze the motion so panned the camera to follow the movement of the animal at 1/50th sec. I never expected to get anything decent but one out of three frames turned out reasonably well so all I needed to do is crop it.

©Alan Ernst

Patterson Glacier in Banff Park. Lumix G1, 45-200mm lens at 78mm (155mm equiv), f8, 1/320th sec, HDR with three frames at +1 1/3rd and -1 1/3rd exposures.

Returning from Peyto Lake, the sun had disappeared and the light was pretty drab with 100% cloud cover. What caught my eye on Mt. Patterson was the texture and varied patterns of dark and light on the mountain side. The backlit mountain did not lend itself well to a grand landscape so I decided to go for a landscape extraction instead, zooming in on what had attracted my attention in the first place. I chose colour over B&W in this case, because I liked the blue sheen of the glacial ice. I then moved the camera around and played with the zoom until I had a composition I liked, cutting out everything extraneous but keeping the line of trees in the foreground for depth.

©Alan Ernst

Ice at Whirlpool Point, Kootenay Plains Ecological Reserve. Lumix G1, 45-200mm lens at 78mm (155mm equiv), f9, 1/30th sec, +1/3rd exp. comp.

Around sunset, I was looking for a foreground to use with the mountains and underlit clouds (see Darwin’s Nov. 16 blog entry photo). The clouds were interesting but I could not find anything I fancied and the mountain range was turning into a dark silhouette. Thus, I had a closer look at some of the ice patterns and rocks in the ice, when I came across this small rock protruding out of the ice. The almost perfect oval shape and the ice around it caught my eye, so I started looking for a good composition. I tried to balance the heavy rock in one corner with the curved crack in the ice on the left side by placing the two in a diagonal across the frame (which turned 90 degr. clockwise would look like an eye with eyebrow… ). As I take Raw and jpeg combined on most occasions, in this case I set the white balance to daylight / sunny, to accentuate the blue of the ice.

©Alan Ernst

Boulder on Abraham Lake. Lumix GH1, 14-45mm lens at 14mm (28mm equiv), f5, 1/125th sec, 2 stop hard grad over horizon.

On our last morning along the beach near Allstones Creek. I found the light and clouds over the mountain and the pounding surf very appealing but could not capture it well because of the extreme contrast which called for HDR. So instead, I started to look at some of the colourful and interestingly shaped rocks along the beach. Because the light was so drab, I needed an interesting shape / colour to make it stand out and when I found this one, tried to put it in context with the lake and mountains surrounding it. As I don’t have a tilt-shift to get the infinite depth of field, I chose to go the other way and use differential focus with a wide aperture, in order to make the rock stick out from the background. I chose the 16:9 image ratio to concentrate on the rock and include a bit of background to make it a landscape shot rather than a detail only.

©Alan Ernst

Ice pattern on Abraham Lake. Lumix GH1, Oympus 50mm macro lens (100mm equiv), f13, 1/10th sec, – 1/3rd exp. comp.

One of our participants stayed over following the tour, so the morning after I went out with him for another morning shoot at Preacher’s Point. It was not overly colourful as there were too many clouds; again I decided to concentrate on the ice and rocks in the foreground and came across this ice bulb in an almost circular hole, about 2 inches across. Initially I took the entire subject with the hole in the ice and the bulb which looked good on it’s own. However, looking at it on the screen I thought I wanted to close in a little more on the interesting shape of the bulb (about ½ inch across), so cropped a vertical section out of the horizontal image and came up with this one… Whereas the original shot turned out as simply another interesting ice detail image, cropping out 60% on the right, made it a much more abstract and intriguing composition.



New Fall 2010 Photo Tour in the Canadian Rockies

Posted in Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 12, 2010 by Darwin

The fall photo tours that I run out of the Aurum Lodge are very popular and sell out 2 years in advance mostly because we have small groups (6-7 participants), we go to lesser known places, we get you to the right place at the right time and we shoot hard core all day long. Plus the lodge is great and the price is really reasonable for an all inclusive adventure (except transportation which is by car-pooling).

I am happy to announce that the Aurum Lodge has added a second fall tour on September 28th to October 3rd of this year this time led by Royce Howland and Alan Ernst (owner of the lodge). Alan has been on every tour I have ever done out of Aurum Lodge and really knows the area better than anyone plus he is a fantastic photographer. Royce has been on three Aurum Tours and is also familiar with the area plus he is one of the best photo instructors I know of both in the field and in the classroom. I am confident anyone who signs up for this tour will get great photo opportunities and fantastic instruction.

If you want the pleasure of being on one of the best Rockies photo tours out there, then grab this opportunity before it is gone. For more info click here

©Darwin Wiggett - Canon EOS-1ds Mark III, 24mm TS-e lens

The Daily Snap – June 22

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

©Darwin Wiggett - Canon G11

Well… we survived the Extreme Saskatchewan tour… let’s see torrential downpours, flash floods, swarms of mosquitos, greasy mucky roads, collapsed highways, sleepless nights, dangerous abandonded buildings,  high winds, heat stroke, the flu, moldy motel rooms and crappy country music radio… the list goes on. Crazy photographers! Here is a self portrait from one of the days when the sun finally came out. I was a little stir crazy. Does it show?

Diversify or die… or maybe teach?

Posted in Workshops and Seminars with tags , , on March 20, 2009 by Darwin

I know a lot of nature and outdoor photographers who make a living selling their photos through stock agencies. Since 9-11, stock sales have plummeted and never really recovered much. Now with the economic meltdown, stock photo sales are even lower than ever. To make up for lost sales, many photographers are looking to diversify their incomes. Some are expanding into fine art print sales, some are self-publishing books and e-books, some are selling images directly to clients, some are working part-time at other jobs.

A large number of professional photographers are turning to teaching as a way to make extra money. For example, Art Wolfe is now doing intimate small workshops for photographers. In the past, it would be unheard of to have such intimate access to Art Wolfe! For many of us, getting to learn from the masters of photography is an amazing opportunity! To learn more of Art’s efforts to diversify see here. Other new or long-time photographer/teachers in the field of nature photo teaching are John Shaw, Freeman Patterson, Daryl Benson, Authur Morris, George Lepp, Wayne Lunch, and  Marc Adamus.

But… some people can teach and some can’t. Those who can most often teach because they love sharing and they want to see their students grow and improve. They simply cannot help themselves; they love teaching as much as taking pictures. These photographers really contibute to the art and craft of photography and expand the profession. 

Then there are those pros who teach only for a paycheque. Seldom will they put in the time, the care, and the attention needed to really make a workshop, seminar or photo tour a meaningful experience. They put in the minimum work required and expect that if they show up that is good enough. 

So, like anything, buyer beware. My hope is that people attending courses by big-name pros get the quality instruction they deserve for the money paid. I am optimistic that the large numbers of  ‘luminary’ pros entering the teaching market is less about making a quick buck and more about the photographers seeking a way to give back and enrich photography while being fairly compensated. I am sure they will be a few pros in if for the wrong reason, but those that are will soon find themselves doing other things to diversify their incomes; afterall the internet is a great place to find out if the instructor you are interested is has lots of positive reviews are not! And the market will reward good teachers.