Archive for Photography Instruction

Fabulous Film Fridays – December 9, 2011

Posted in Art of Photography, Fabulous Film Fridays, Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , on December 9, 2011 by Darwin

Here are three Holga shots from Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park near Cochrane, Alberta. IF you want to learn more about the park and all of its winter possibilities for photographers be sure to sign up for our Twoonie Talk (2 dollars to get in) on Jan 21, 2012 in Cochrane – for more information please see here.

©Darwin Wiggett - Kodak Portra 160

©Darwin Wiggett - Kodak Portra 160

©Darwin Wiggett - Kodak Portra 160


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

Inspirations – Davisburg Community Church by Kevin McElheran

Posted in Inspirations with tags , , , , on May 25, 2011 by sabrina

© Kevin McElheran

Canon 5dMII, 24 – 70 2.8, ISO 200, 30 seconds, f2.8, AV mode

Night photography or photographing images with little or no light has intrigued me for some time and the moment to photograph the Davisburg Community Church south east of Calgary, Alberta came this very early foggy morning. Being on a self assignment to photograph in thick fog, the conditions were right and with my attention given to the weather forecast, the predictions for heavy fog for the southern area of Calgary and beyond was high so I was ready and out the door by 5 AM.

Always ready for wet conditions, this fog was much like rain as just 10 minutes in it, you’re soaking wet so it’s with these conditions in mind, I have “Rain Sleeves” with me which completely covers the camera and lens in a clear fitted plastic bag. Once I set up the composition for this shot, the camera was locked on burst mode with my remote cable to take shots every 30 seconds. Once focus was obtained and locked, I ran up to the church and lit it up by a small LED light which I waved around. ~ Kevin McElheran

Seminar in Assiniboia Saskatchewan

Posted in Art of Photography, Artistic Development, Good News, Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 21, 2011 by Darwin

Samantha and I are headed to Assiniboia, Saskatchewan on Saturday April 30th to give a 2-hour seminar on The Complete Photo for the Group of 10 Camera Club. For a complete listing of the event and to register click this link. We are also giving some hands on field sessions on Sunday May 1 for interested photographers.  Take a road trip to a really cool spot in Saskatchewan and let the prairie light inspire you!

©Darwin Wiggett

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

Workshops and Tours – Something for Everyone

Posted in Art of Photography, Artistic Development, Good News, Instruction, Techniques, Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 21, 2011 by Darwin

With the official arrival of spring (at least on the calendar if not in the weather), it’s time to think about investing in your photography. Whether you are looking for an intensive instructional workshop, access to unique photo opportunities, or a combination of both, Samantha and I have come up with a number of options that will tickle your shutter bug.

Spring Photo Tour in the Canadian Rockies, May 30 – June 4, 2011 with Darwin Wiggett

This intensive photo tour to grab the best that the Canadian Rockies has to offer is based out of the Aurum Lodge in the Bighorn Wildlands. This tour has been sold out for a long time but, due to a recent cancellation, there are now two spots available. This will be the last spring tour that I am going to lead in the Canadian Rockies. So if you want to see the iconic spots and secret stops and spend full days outdoors absorbing the best scenery that Banff, Jasper, Yoho and the Bighorn Wildlands has to offer, then join me on this epic adventure. Please note that this is tour and not an instructional style workshop. Cost $1639 per person (single) includes accommodations, meals and guiding. For more information see here or the Aurum Lodge website.

©Darwin Wiggett

SNAP! Photography Seminars – Weekend Workshop at Baker Creek, Banff National Park, October 27 – 30, 2011

For those of you looking for a workshop and not a tour, there is still some space available in the SNAP! Photography Seminars Weekend Workshop.  This workshop caters to beginner and semi-advanced nature photographers who are seeking to make an investment in their passion for photography all the while based out of a world-class mountain lodge.  Samantha and I have teamed up with John Marriott to present this, our second annual event at Baker Creek.  Under the guidance of three pro photographers, you will master advanced camera controls, refine your eye for composition and benefit from extensive critique of images made during this intensive, fun-filled weekend.  For more information and a sample schedule, head on over to the SNAP! Photography Seminars website. The workshop is value-priced at $1395 (double occupancy) and includes meals, accommodations and workshop fees (plus we offer a killer, low non-photographer spouse rate!).

Light Matters Masterclass – Creative Expression Photo Workshop, November 2 – 6, 2011

For those of you looking for something different, consider Light Matters Masterclass.  This unique, mentor-ship style workshop is designed for advanced amateur and semi-pro photographers who desire to learn about the dynamic balance between the three fundamental pillars of creative expression: craft, art and profession. This workshop is an intensive learning experience designed for photographers poised to move into the realm of visionary photographer. We have teamed up with Royce Howland and the Aurum Lodge in the heart of the Canadian Rockies to create this one-of-a-kind workshop experience. We are only accepting nine students, so don’t delay with this exclusive opportunity.  For more information please go here. Cost is $2745 per person  and includes all instruction, accommodations and meals.

©Darwin Wiggett



Gaia Nudes – Nudes in the Landscape Photography Workshop, August 12 – 14, 2011

Samantha and I have created a unique opportunity to photograph nudes in the landscape on a private ranch 30 minutes west of Calgary, Alberta. Our sessions are limited to six photographers working with three models to ensure you achieve your photographic vision. Included is a 2-hour instructional seminar and two, 4-hour shooting sessions.  You will learn to pose models and compose  dramatic images that celebrate the human form in both stunning natural landscapes and on the ranch site with old buildings and cars. All property releases and model releases are included so you can use your images commercially.  To learn more about this  rare opportunity to combine a love of the landscape with an aesthetic appreciation of the human form, check out Samantha and my new Gaia Nudes website and the Gaia Nudes Workshop page.  Cost is $995 per photographer. We anticipate this workshop will fill up fast!


©Samantha Chrysanthou


Ghosts and Gullies Photo Workshop 2011 (dates July or August TBA)

Last year’s Extreme Saskatchewan was a popular and amazing event and we have had numerous requests to repeat the tour because everyone loved the access to old cars, farmsteads and awesome landscapes of southern Saskatchewan. The costs, logistics and the timing of the tour preclude doing the event every year. But for this year, we have found a great location just two hours from Calgary that offers many of the subjects so loved from the Saskatchewan tour. If there is enough interest we will organize and host this event which will likely include the following:

  • all meals, accommodations and instructor fees (a Thursday through Sunday event)
  • accommodations in a provincial historic site
  • access to historic old buildings and preserved pioneer town site
  • a photo session in an auto wrecker’s yard
  • landscape photography of badlands, gullies and natural areas
  • photography on private ranch land
  • instructional sessions, critiques and assignments

We are accepting only a small number of participants (8-10). We estimate the cost (accommodation, meals and fees) of this three day workshop to be around $1295 (a bit less for double occupancy). We understand that it might be short notice to run the event this summer, so we are canvasing for demand!  If you are interested in participating and are available this summer on either July 21-24 or August 24-28, 2011 email me and let me know!  Deadlines for serious inquiries is March 23 at midnight MST; first come, first served. We will only run this workshop if we have enough interest; otherwise, watch for it for next year!

©Darwin Wiggett

Inspirations – Confidence Man by Mark Krajnak

Posted in Inspirations with tags , , , , , , on March 13, 2011 by sabrina

© Mark Krajnak

As I like to say…. “There’s noir…and then there’s JerseyNoir.” It’s a widely held belief that New Jersey is a corrupt state. From the politicians in Trenton to the way we’re portrayed on the small screen via The Sopranos and, more recently, Boardwalk Empire. Maybe it’s our proximity to underworld scenes in New York and Philly…or maybe we really are like that…I don’t know.

What I do know, though, is that the noir genre is one of my favorite conceptual photographs to put together and shoot. Whether it’s the Man In The Fedora or a femme fatale,  it’s fun for me to harken back to the to the good ol’ days of mystery and suspense,  when a  bottle of whiskey, a pack of Lucky Strikes and a smoking gat got you through the day, though you always had to look over your shoulder.

The image above is part of my JerseyNoir series, a series of conceptual photographs I started a couple of years ago and have continued to add to. I shoot everything in color JPG/RAW and usually convert these images to black & white using Nik Silver Efex Pro. Silver Efex Pro, and its many filters, usually give me the best results when I do color-to-BW conversions. However, I decided to keep this image in color and not do the conversion.

My lighting here was extremely simple. Camera left was a simple desk lamp, the kind you can find in any homegoods store, loaded with a compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulb. No other on-camera or off-camera flash was used. The minimal post processing included just pulling up the blacks in camera RAW.

The crop here was set up in-camera, and what appeals to me about this image is the use of negative space to the left of the subject.  The constant light also bounced nicely off the polished table while illuminating the smoke from the cigarette. The positioning of the light source provided some separation between the subject and the wall, or else the dark hat would have faded into the background.

Simple but direct. Like a good noir story should be. ~Mark Krajnak

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

Great new Photo Tours with Royce Howland

Posted in Art of Photography, Artistic Development, Image Processing and Software, Inspirations, Instruction, Techniques, Videos, Workshops and Seminars with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 8, 2011 by Darwin

My friend and an amazing photographer, Royce Howland is now offering photo tours out of Aurum Lodge and has just announced his 2011 dates. If you want to go to killer spots in the Canadian Rockies with a photographer who really knows the area,  is a fine instructor, and is  a great artist and a hell of a guy, I recommend you sign up soon for this unique opportunity. For more information please see this link.

And if one instructor is not enough and you want three of us (Royce, Samantha and me) to help you take your photography to the next level with groundings in the art, craft and profession of photography then be sure to sign up for our Light Matters Masterclass to be held November 2-6, 2011