Fabulous Film Fridays, December 30 – The Final Instalment

•December 30, 2011 • 3 Comments

Well, it’s been a fun project to play with film every week.  I even got out and learned more about the 4×5!  Interestingly, shooting film has increased my understanding of photography in general because you are forced to rely less on trial and error (and digital playback) and think more before you press the shutter.  Darwin and I will be compiling a ‘best of’ to be available on oopoomoo, so stay tuned for that if you enjoyed this project.  We’ll still be using all our film cameras in the future as well.  Thanks for coming along on the Fabulous Film Fridays project!


Fabulous Film Fridays, December 16 – Continuing the Walk

•December 16, 2011 • 7 Comments

We’ve been pretty busy the last week or so with the new website, oopoomoo.  I haven’t spent much time here, unfortunately, and this trend will probably continue!  I haven’t gotten out yet to photograph some fresh subject matter with my film cameras, so I’ll delve into the Holga images made on the same walk as my last Film Friday.  Cochrane has a lot of pathways which is great if you walk your dog several times a day!  A small forest just below the sawmill shelters a variety of critters and is a fave place to photograph.  It was pretty grungy out, so I converted these images to black and white.  So, some more from our walk.

snow covered spruce branches

footprints in snow in a forest

grassy snow and aspen

New Directions

•December 8, 2011 • 3 Comments

Well, we’ve finally gotten our new website up and running!  It’s called, ‘oopoomoo‘ (you’ll have to visit our About page to find out why!).  This is where Darwin and I will be doing our thing:  expect more silly videos, more eBooks on a variety of photography topics and also some exciting, brand new workshops just announced for 2012.  You may wonder why we decided to seemingly throw away all our efforts at building up our own websites and blogs over the last couple of years.  The answer is simple:  it just wasn’t making us happy.  We’ve got a different philosophy on life that we want to share with you over at oopoomoo.  Who knows?  You may even find you agree!

I’ll be continuing this blog until the end of the year, but most of my efforts will be taken up with the site.  So please drop by, look around and tell us what you think!

Fabulous Film Fridays, December 2 — Under the Wire

•December 2, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Whew!  Darwin and I have been working on our new website for the past week, so I’ve been very neglectful of my blog.  Shame on me!  But, for the patient, here at the last minute is my Film Friday picture.  It is from one of Darwin and my daily dog walks.  There is a massive culvert under a road that leads to the mill that processes all the lumber from nearby forests.  The sawmill is almost a fixture in the Cochrane landscape and employs many people, including my neighbour.  Wood is such a beautiful and giving natural resource (when managed wisely) and, when Cochrane is not blowing its pollution towards Calgary on a strong westerly, we can smell the sawdust smell of the mill at work.  I am always of two minds when I inhale the dust of trees at the guillotine:  gratitude for the wooden floor I walk on everyday, and sadness for the loss of life and home for the millions of creatures who made that particular tree-condo home.

Fabulous Film Fridays, November 18 – The Overflow

•November 18, 2011 • 1 Comment

There is a spot along the Kootenay Plains where spring runoff carves a gravelly scar down to Abraham Lake.  In the winter, this stream is reduced to a trickle that ices over, flows over itself, and fans out into frozen pools that lie in wait under powdery snow for the unwary photographer.  The willows, spruce and aspen in this area offer a diverse canvas for creative image-making, a sort of subtle celebration of fine line and dusky hue on display for the intimate landscape shooter.  At your feet you will notice the finger-pools of frozen water (perhaps discovered by accident, after you have stepped from sound snow to suddenly slippery sheet lying hidden under the carpet of white).  While the Lake is the main attraction for visitors, with its showy shallow flanks covered in ice-bubble skirts, I find there is more mystery in the willow woods fed year-long by mountain springs under ice and snow.  The image below was taken with the Linhof panoramic camera and Velvia slide film.

Trees and grass in winter, Kootenay Plains, Alberta

Collections and Series: The Photographer’s Secret Weapon

•November 15, 2011 • Leave a Comment

At the Light Matters:  Creative Expression Masterclass just past (Nov. 2-6), I taught a lesson on the power of collections and series of images.  If you think about it, photographers are always working with collections of images by organizing their photographs in online galleries, selecting images to illustrate a magazine article or even choosing which images to include in a gallery show.  Understanding how to build a cohesive and powerful collection is a very useful skill when it comes to ensuring your expressive goal is transmitted to viewers.  We also discussed during the workshop the difference between a collection and a series and when you may wish to choose one format over the other.  During the workshop, I photographed a variety of images loosely grouped under the idea of ‘shorelines’ and then, in class, we all edited down the jpegs into a small collection.  These are the four images that we felt best illustrated the expressive goal of describing the icy shorelines of the season.  It was certainly a useful exercise for me to have others help edit down my images into a tight, unified grouping!  I hope that the students also found the demonstration useful.  These photos are all from the Kootenay Plains area in the Bighorn Wildland, Alberta.

Image of ice and grassy shoreline, Bighorn Wildland

Icy shoreline at Abraham Lake, Bighorn Wildland, Alberta, Canada

Icy shoreline at Abraham Lake, Bighorn Wildland, Alberta, Canada

Icy shoreline at Abraham Lake, Bighorn Wildland, Alberta, Canada

Tune in on Friday for a film image from the same area for Fabulous Film Fridays!

Fabulous Film Fridays, November 4 – Back to Back

•November 4, 2011 • 11 Comments

I photographed the same subject using my Tachihara 4×5 film camera and my digital Nikon D300s.  The images were made within minutes of each other, although the film image shows the coiled hose being light painted and the digital image is a ‘straight shot’.  In this instance, I like both results:  the inky shadows returned by the Velvia slide film are slightly sinister while the more even-toned digital image shows fascinating texture.  The funny thing is, neither image seems to be like how I remember the object.  The film image is more ‘true’ in that the room was very dim with only a faint glow from a window above the hose.  Yet, of course the purple colour is an artifact of Velvia film so the beige hue of the wall is probably more accurate.  In either case, an interesting view of how the medium affects the message!

The film image is above and the digital version below.

Off to the Workshop!

•October 27, 2011 • 2 Comments

I’m heading out to Lake Louise area for the SNAP! Photography Seminars Weekend Workshop.  That’s a long title for a whole lotta learnin’!  We sold out early for this year’s workshop which is a balance of class and field time for optimal learning conditions.  We also build in a lot of image critique time so that participants can get out and practice what they learn as they learn it.  This formula seems to work well, based on last year’s comments.  I’m just excited to be out in some of the lovely locations; it’s a privilege to watch participants’ exercise their new skills!

Herbert Lake (above) and Bow Lake (below), both in Banff National Park, are two of our field locations for the workshop.

We also take a jaunt to nearby Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park.  Aaah, the beauty of the mountains!

Fabulous Film Fridays, October 21 – All Scans Are Not Created Equal

•October 21, 2011 • 35 Comments

I took Tachihara Tim out for a spin this fall on a film outing with Darwin and Hiroaki Kobayashi.  It was pretty sunny except for some shady parts along an east-facing cliff.  The sun was low on the horizon creating some wonderful, golden light.  I used Velvia slide film and made several exposures.  We sent the film to Vancouver for processing, and then we took the slides to ABL Imaging Group in Calgary for scanning.  In the end, I chose only two files to be scanned in because the cost of each scan was $30.  As a comparison, we also photographed the slides on a light table with Darwin’s Canon  EOS-1ds Mark III 21 megapixel camera to see what kind of quality we could achieve by ‘scanning’ in the images ourselves.  Here are the photographs of the slides taken with the EOS-1ds Mark III. (The files were flat so a few adjustments have been applied to bring the photograph closer to the original contrast of the slide film).

And here are the scans from ABL.  I haven’t done any processing on these files, just resized them for the blog and sharpened them the same way and amount as the two photographs above.

I don’t think your first thought when you get a product or service from someone should be, “WTF?”  You’ll have to take my word that the photographs from Darwin’s camera are closer to the actual film images captured (albeit with less luminousity and resolution).  ABL’s rendition are over-the-top in colour and over-sharpened.  Here is a 100% crop comparison of the first set of images.  ABL’s is first (this has not been sharpened; this is the level of detail on the scan given to me) and our ‘scan’ second.

While they may look more punchy on the web, they are nothing close to what I captured.  And ABL had the original slides to compare them to!  The amount of sharpening it looks like has been applied by ABL means when I resize and resharpen, the image gets crunchy and crystalline, fast.  While the crop of our ‘scan’ may look super soft, at least I can sharpen this image after resizing without losing quality.  I don’t get it.  If I’m paying $30 (each) for a faithful scan of my film, then that is what I would like back.  Otherwise, what ‘expertise’ am I paying for?  The real crapper is that hardly anyone is doing these kinds of scans anymore in Calgary so I’m kind of stuck.  Oh well, at least a photograph of a slide can return a result just as good if not better — for cheaper!

So my question for you is…where do YOU scan your large format slide film so that the digital result is as close as possible ensuring you can make an amazing print?

Fabulous Film Friday, October 7, 2011 – Retired

•October 7, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Here is an image from a scrapyard filled with vehicles whose glory days are far behind them.  My trusty holga, Beep really outdid herself with flare this roll (although I may have been responsible for some of it when I opened up the back of the camera because I forgot there was film already in there).  I wonder how many days this truck worked before finding itself retired to the scrap-graveyard, waiting to be crushed into a tin can.