Jan 18 2011

Winter in the Canadian Rockies

It’s no secret that I love winter. Other folks bemoan the cold and the ice and the snow but as a photographer, I revel in it. Winter gives me many photographic opportunities that simply don’t exist during the rest of the year. To walk on an ice-bound lake or pond. To visit places that no longer attract crowds simply because it’s “too cold.” Did I mention I love winter?

Winter in the Canadian Rockies

Well, one of my favorite photographers has released a Craft & Vision ebook about one of my favorite things. Darwin Wiggett, a truly gifted landscape and nature photographer, has published Winter in the Canadian Rockies, part of The Print and the Process series at Craft & Vision. Darwin takes us on a journey to some astounding places in Canada using his terrific photographs. Some of the photographs are recent images and some are from the late 80s and early 90s, when he was first starting out as a photographer. Both are beautiful and inspirational.

Following the established format of  The Print and The Process books, Darwin initially shows us a series of images ranging from broad, sweeping landscapes to intimate frozen details of the season. He moves from color to black and white; from bold colors to subdued tones, all of which show us the sometimes different world of winter. He presents his own version of a leaf frozen in the ice, as well as my personal favorite: ice-capped rocks seemingly floating in a smooth, cotton-like water flow.

The Process section of the book goes on to talk about the challenges—and the rewards–of making photographs in the snow and cold, along with some tips about how to keep your camera functioning and yourself comfortable. The biggest takeaway for me, though, comes from the section on cultivating the right attitude. As he says, “Winter is full of glorious rewards; you just need to seek them.”

Winter in the Canadian Rockies spreads

Darwin also offers some excellent practical tips on how to dress properly for winter photography and how to keep your equipment happy (the same as you, keep it warm!), along with some real “insider” tips on winter photography. For example, did you know that if you’re handholding filters, such as ND grads, you need to hold them at the top? Darwin tells you why.

Finally, the last section of the book presents Darwin’s commentary on each of the photographs from the first section, including exposure and lens data. It’s also interesting to see the range of cameras, both film and digital, that Darwin has used over his career.

Craft & Vision’s Print and Process series is a great way to learn more about a particular photographer and their photographs that inspire you. For me, Darwin Wiggett’s Winter in the Canadian Rockies pays homage to a photographic subject I dearly love and shows us a beautiful place in via his inspirational images.

Special Offer for the PDF Version of Winter in the Canadian Rockies For the first five days only, if you use the promotional code ROCKIES4 when you checkout, you can have the PDF version of Winter in the Canadian Rockies for only $4 OR use the code ROCKIES20 to get 20% off when you buy 5 or more PDF ebooks from the Craft & Vision collection. These codes expire at 11:59pm PST January 22nd, 2011.

Jan 2 2011

January 2011 wallpaper

Well. Nothing says “you forgot to post your January wallpaper” quite like an email from your Mom, now does it? Oops.

January 2011 wallpaper

I took this a few days after Christmas while standing on a frozen pond at Summit Lake State Park. At first, I wasn’t too sure about it, but I kinda like the way the horizon splits the image and breaks the “rule of thirds.” Seems kinda appropriate.

So here you go, Mom… and everybody else. I hope you enjoy it.

January 2011 wallpaper — large (2560 x 1600) January 2011 wallpaper — small ( 1280 x 800) January 2011 wallpaper — iPad (1024 x 1024) January 2011 wallpaper — iPhone HD (640 x 960)

Jan 1 2011

The road goes ever on and on…

About three years ago, in January of 2008, I bought myself a late Christmas present: a Nikon D40 DSLR with the 18-55mm kit lens. Oh, I’d fancied myself a photographer for many years, since buying a Yashica 35mm film camera in the late ’70s, but something made me decide to get back into it. Boy, am I glad I did.

Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse

Needless to say, this has been a banner year for me in photography but, rather than looking back, I’d like to look forward to 2011 and what it might bring. Every year, the company I work for has each of us put together a list of goals for the coming year, both personal and professional and, for last couple of years, my personal ones have had much to do with photography. So I thought I’d take that idea and bring it here to my blog and share them with you. I think it will keep me honest if I have some of you following along and making sure I’m making progress, and you may find that there’s something I want to do that you do too, and maybe we can work together on it—or at least share our progress with each other. Just having a “buddy” can sometimes help get you through the tough parts of a project.

First, a few guidelines. (Don’t panic. It’s only a few.) To be helpful, a goal needs to be achievable. Stating that one of my goals for 2011 is to photograph on the surface Mars would be pretty tough (though I am keeping that one on the bucket list). However, don’t limit yourself to obviously achievable goals, either. Forcing yourself to stretch a little and to get a little bit out of your comfort zone is a great idea. For me, writing my ebook was a perfect example of that kind of goal. Okay, I was more than a little outside of my comfort zone, but it was still a good goal.

The other thing is, goals need to be measurable. Just saying, “find more time to shoot” doesn’t really help you if you don’t know how much “more time” is. Sometimes, of course, you can’t help but be a little vague about what reaching that goal means because, frankly, being to specific can be a little bit crazy. If your goal is to become more familiar with your gear so you can react and shoot faster in certain situations, I don’t think you necessarily need to time yourself as if you were field stripping a weapon. (Maybe you do?) At any rate, I have a couple of goals where I just want to think I’ve gotten a little better at doing those things and don’t plan to create spreadsheets and databases to decide if I achieved it.

In the end, though, don’t be too married to any of your goals. You might find that opportunities arise that you hadn’t thought of, and just blindly sticking to your goal list instead of adding or replacing goals will cause you to miss out on something great. Be firm and don’t give up easily, but be a little flexible, too.

So here we go. My top ten goals for 2011 are:

10. Find more time to shoot. Wait, what? Oh, okay. Specifically, shoot for at least two hours for one day every weekend with a specific goal in mind. That’s 104 hours of focused practice. More if possible, but only two hours to meet this goal. (No. I’m not starting a 365 project. I have my reasons.)

9. Get better at using my camera. Specifically, spend 10 minutes every day learning one feature thoroughly, e.g., exposure compensation or follow focus. Be able to do the most common things without thinking about it.

8. Teach a local photography class. Already on my way here. I start teaching a 12-week intermediate photography course at the local arts center in February.

7. Lead a local photographic workshop. Similarly, I’m teaching a Saturday photography workshop at the local arts center in February, March and April, separately from the class.

6. Have a gallery showing (or two). Last year in June, I met some folks from a local gallery who expressed an interest in showing some of my photographs. We’ve kept in touch, but the timing hasn’t been right. This year, I’m going to work with them to find that timing and have the showing.

5. Lead my local Worldwide Photowalk. This one’s pretty easy. I’ve done this for the last two years and it’s great fun. It’s also a great way to meet new photographers and learn a little more about the craft we all love.

4. Collaborate. This one is pretty vague in that I don’t have any firm plans at the moment, but there are ideas floating around in my head that I’d want some help with. There have been whisperings in the ether, and hopefully something will come of them.

3. Write and publish at least two more Craft & Vision ebooks. I’ve already started the second one and have some notes and ideas for the third. (Hopefully, Craft & Vision agrees.)

2. Write and publish a print book about photography. No, not a self-published book using Blurb, but a real, honest-to-goodness published print book, through Peachpit, New Riders or the like. This is my “reaching” goal for 2011, much like my “publish an ebook” goal for 2010 was.

… and my no. 1 goal for 2011?

1. Savor every moment of the journey. We all know that there’s no destination here. As David says, it’s not like you suddenly wake up one day, you find your vision, and you’re done. It’s an elusive thing that changes nearly every day and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Over the last year, photography has allowed me to meet new friends, reconnect with some old friends, and generally expand my horizons. But most importantly, it’s made me a better person. Broadening your perspective through new people and places lets you grow as a human being. It can seem like a cliché, but there really is a much bigger world out there than you can fully imagine. It’s full of people and places and perspectives that you simply have to experience and experience them deeply. I’m not naive enough to think that we can all join hands and teach the world to sing, but I really do think if we all took some time to understand each other just a little bit better, many problems would disappear.

There we have it. Oh, one other thing. I’ll report back to you with progress once a quarter. Goals are no good if you write them down and then stick them in a drawer until December. You have to remind yourself sometimes of what you set out to do, even if it’s only to say, “I haven’t done anything with that one yet.”

What are your goals for 2011? Take a minute if you will, and tell me about one of them in the comments. Who knows? Maybe we can work together on something. (Or maybe I’ll just steal your ideas and make them my goals. Hmmm…)

Happy New Year, everyone. I sincerely hope you achieve everything you set your mind to… and more.