Monthly Archives: October 2011

Ethereal Photographic Art Show (7) – Darwin Wiggett

So finally, It came to time to write about Darwin Wiggett. This is a very hard task for me. Me analyzing Darwin’s photographs is kind of ridiculous. But I have so many things to talk about his images. Maybe I should talk about why I am so attracted by his images. Before that, let me back to my musician era. It is easier for me.

I went to Jeff Beck concert just 1 week ago days ago. Jeff beck has been my guitar hero since I was a high school student (One more YouTube, Jeff plays Lennon’s song). This is my 5th time to see his concert. Every time, I was knocked out by his 1st note, only one note! His guitar sound came from his finger picking is so distinctive and cool. When he plays ballads, it is unbelievably beautiful and sad but 10 seconds later I hear sort of aggressiveness and anger. Among rock musicians, I cannot think of any other players who can express emotions at his level. There are many technically more advanced guitarists such as Edward Van Halen, Steve Vai, etc. However, Jeff Back really controls a guitar and the sounds. I guess techniques are just tools to express emotion for him. So although his songs are pretty easy to copy, it never be same. To copy his delicate nuance, I had to go up to different level.

Well I should come back to photography. Darwin’s images are, without question, very beautiful. But it is not that simple. I see joyfulness, peacefulness, liveliness; also I feel loneliness, sadness, mysteriousness even intenseness like Jaff beck’s play.

Initially, I thought Darwin’s style is toward high contrast and colorful so it was why his images were powerful, strong, dynamic, and masculine (Kind of opposite from Sam’s images). However, one day, I was looking through his photographic book, “Dances with Light” and I found very delicate tones in clouds, skies, water stream, green grass…everywhere. Sorry to Darwin, but it was a surprising discovery to me. You know…listening to a record after a long time, you get a different impression from before. Don’t you have such an experience? I believe truly great arts are like this….van Gogh, Mozart, Beatles, Django Reinhardt, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest …they contain all sorts of characters and emotions in one piece of the artworks. That is why whenever I revisit the piece, I discover something new and I can glow together.

Well…coping someone’s style or technique is not so difficult and everybody has to do “copy” at one point. But what I would like to acquire from Darwin is his artist sensitivity…from picking up a camera to present images in public. It is not easy and requires patience. Only I can do is to keep shooting. I hope people feel some sort of an emotion from my photos.

Please check Darwin’s web site “Natural Moments Photography” and his blog. Every day, I learn something new from his blog posts.

“Winter Dreams” by Darwin Wiggett

Ethereal Photographic Art Show (6) – Samantha Chrysanthou

Samantha kindly joined the Ethereal Photographic Art show. I think only Sam, Darwin, and myself are showing photos from film. Furthermore, their images were taken by Holga, (toy camera) and printed on vinyl, Yes, it is HOLGA and VINYL. How can her images be more ethereal? Yes, I know, holga does not create such artistic photos.

Although I take landscapes, I am not impressed by nature photography so easily. I tend stop by portraits or street photography more. Honestly, I am following only handful of landscape photographers. Having said that, I have being following Sam’s blog for quite long time because of obviously her fabulous photos, but also because her images make me think so many things. What kind words can I think of to describe her photos….mild, soft, pure, simplistic, subtle, delicate or introvert ….well, I am sure they are completely opposite end
from words like gorgeous, wild, masculine (of course), intense, or bold. I
don’t want to use the word “artistic’ to describe her images since the word is
overused. Anyway, I am sure her images are different from typical –aphrodisiac landscapes.

I mention this many times in my blog, but let me repeat my question, why great photos have to be “WOW” and “Gorgeous” with full of digital effects. I often think about life span of an image. How long people can stand the same “WOW” image hung on their wall in a dining room. 3 years, 3 months or 3 weeks? Who knows? It is no doubt “Transformer” is super entertaining movie and fun to watch (Don’t get me wrong, I love the series). But don’t you feel to watching a human drama in some quiet Sunday afternoon? Are you excited when you scrolling TV channels and find “Independence Day”.   Listening to cutting edge dance music with iPod can be uplifting, but you may get more quality time by listing to live folk music at a local café? I personally think Sam’s images are comparable with Joni Mitchell music. (Sam may not like this). Joni’s songs are somewhat so intellectual.

Anyway, a picture is worth a thousand words. Please check Her blog, Sam’s Rant and her web-site. I hope you can see what I wanted to say. Again, you may not find typical panorama-sunrise landscapes, but photos with profound taste and lovely images…. these are ones I like. Oh, and don’t forget reading her insightful articles as well. I took a hour to read sometimes with my English level.


“In the Meadow” by Samantha Chrysanthou

“Columnar II” by Samantha Chrysanthou

“Columnar I” by Samantha Chrysanthou

Ethereal Photographic Art Show (5) – Wayne Simpson

The first time I saw Wayne’s photos was in the group gallery show at the Resolution Local Art Gallery in Calgary, AB last year. A couple of my photos were also exhibited in the show. When I saw his photos, I was totally knocked out and I felt “I wanna take my photos to my home now. I can’t leave my photos with this guy”. I am quietly competitive so I tried to convince myself my images were good enough….but my inner voice said “His image is better… you cannot not win”. Wayne’s images had really strong impact. To be honest, his displays were at different level from other amateur photographers in that gallery show.

What is shame is I am unbelievably bad at names and I forgot his name after the show. One day, I was browsing Darwin Wiggett’s blog and I found the familiar photos and I was screamed at a monitor, “this is the guy!”. Then I sent e-mail
to him and he kindly responded me. Wayne is actually not only a landscape
photographer but also he is specializing  wedding photography. When I hung around in Banff, I sometimes observe how wedding photographers are doing their job. What I found is the levels of the photographers really vary. Some looked doing terrible job. Well…without any techniques to control light in contrasty sunny afternoon… how can they do professional job? I know I should not compare Wayne’s works and those crappy works, but his wedding photographs are a kind of different in a positive way. One day, I was browsing his blog and I found people in his wedding photos looked “pop” in the frames. So I asked him what kind of lighting he used for the photos. He wrote me back the detailed answer. He uses lighting equipment which can be used in fashion photography, plus honeycombs, gels etc (usually, lighting set up for wedding is
much simpler) . Also he merges the essence of landscape and bring dynamic new
ideas into his wedding photography. I am pretty sure his clients are happy with
his photos and the impression lasts for long time.

Please check his web site and blog. You will find his creative and unique photos and can feel certain mood and emotion in his images. I think this is why I was and am still amazed by his images.

Outer size 28x17


Outer size 22x19


Ethereal Photographic Art Show (4) – Interview with Heather Simonds

In this blog, I am glad to introduce my friend and photography rival, Heather Simonds. However, she denies to be my rival. She said she was not that keen to get up 5 o’clock in morning or shooting in -20C outside. But she misunderstands me. I am so weak in morning so most of my landscapes are sunsets. Then going to local micro brewery; this is my routine. Let’s start the interview with Heather.

Hiro: So let me start from how you stated photography to path to the current position.

Heather: First of all, I have to tell you how thrilled I am to be interviewed by you, Hiro. We have many photography interests, including, learning where photography came from, historically, while we explore our own vision.

My path …Growing up on a rural New Brunswick farm, nature, like wildlife and botany (I have a Master Gardener designation but you might not guess that by the looks of my potato patch) has always been a part of me. In 2002, I came “out of the closet” as a bird watcher after a 9 week family trip to the Andean countries. Given that desire to muck around in nature photography, and living in an area where I can jump in a truck and make a circuit any day NW of Calgary and have an encounter with any of moose, foxes, deer, owls, etc, well, the nature stuff has just been begging for capture. In my family life, as a kid and raising four, I was the “designated photographer” processing leaky black and whites on my plastic camera (I wonder where that thing is?) and scrambling around on the floor to catch dogs and kids at their level. Other than trying to capture the family moment, I don’t think I was doing much more than documentation. In 2004, after practicing law for over 20 years, I shut that door. Shortly thereafter, I
sought repair of a three-year old P and S I had “paid a lot for” at The Camera
Store and walked out of the store with something I hadn’t planned on (a digital
SLR) – have you ever been there? The rest has been an exploration from macro to zoom and everything in between. The Rule of Thirds was waiting to be discovered. I thought filters came in dry cleaners and cars.

Hiro: You are one of the regular winner for any categories of competitions at camera club. Categories of the Foothills camera club competition varies from conventional nature, portraits, botany, architecture to digitally manipulated creative images. How do you categorize yourself as a photographer? Or do you think photographers should specialize themselves for any reasons? Do you usually set a concept for each image?

Heather: Let me step back…I have always been interested in art … Always…. and I believe that is key, the exploration of sensory stimulation, visual or whatever, that keeps you aware, searching, passionate and stimulated. I have been stumbling into galleries, museums, art shows in small towns, acquiring stuff while I was still paying off student loans, gazing at the masters (Kertesz in Paris last fall and Karsh at the Glenbow) and asking why are “these” images timeless?

Hiro: Yes, now remember. I mentioned about Andre Kertez in my presentation at the club. I thought none or not so many knew about the photographer. But you quickly commented about Kertesz by email. I was surprised but also I was convinced again.

Heather: Oh! yes, and squeezing the library for free art and photography resources, pouring over magazines and books to get a broad education on the fly and cheap. One recent influence has been the Palm Springs Photo Festival (search it, you will be surprised at the wealth of talent), which I have attended for several years. The focus is more fashion/ commercial, feeding off LA, but the exposure, so to speak, is second to none. Push into the shadowy corners and learn or move yourself to things out of your comfort zone. As far as photography goes, I guess I am working on the creative process all of the time. Maybe that’s why I have not narrowed as much as others, not to say there is anything wrong with either approach as I think some people find a specific focus (Oliver du Tre who uses one camera and one lens) while others carry a range of bodies and lens and filters. The paths are many, none is true. It really is an outward expression of yourself.

Hiro: I know you try variety of photographic techniques or effects for your images. Nowadays, new techniques or effects are introduced in every social network system and everybody can try them easily on computers. But I sometimes find they remain at the experiment level. On the other hand, when I see your image, their impact comes from whole mood of the image regardless of what effects you used. Also I remember, you mentioned that your raven image was influenced by one of Darryl Benson’s image. I could clearly see the influence
of Darryl Benson in the images, but it still has your taste. How do you approach to new photographic techniques or effects?

Heather: Personally I don’t think the number of years of staring down a lens barrel adds much credibility to photography, except for pros maybe. The images speak for themselves. What’s more, photographers can be competitive, not wanting to share where they shoot, what technique they use, some copy in the footsteps of a winning shot, lacking confidence to explore their own vision. Guy Tal has been outspoken on this topic- it’s just not art.

Hiro: I remember the article by Guy Tal. I agreed with him but it created controversy. Some people do not know the fact they are taking only easy paths. Actually, being influenced requires long process and patients.

Heather: Perplexing, why someone would spend time and money to go to SW US or the Rockies to jostle for position and copy the same images as others.

HiroHa, Ha. because you have developed your own eyes. Photo tours can be beneficial for some types of artists until certain level. But I do understand your point.

Heather: I am more interested in exploring a new site or idea to its fullest, while away time engrossed in the potential of a new technique or discover a location or better still, a rusty old 40’s car. It’s a big world out there. Become engrossed in a scene or concept, work the angles, maybe confine to one lens and camera, fine tune the adjustments, stack filters, refine the vision, lose track of time, then walk
away confident you gave it your best.

Hiro: Sounds like you try everything you can do at a scene on your camera. I know when you are shooting, you look so focused and I am afraid talking to you.

Heather: I am almost always alone and it is special if there is a nature encounter, an unusual bird (quail flew past me the other day as I was shooting LE on the
beach at sunset) or a snake or coyote or something to pass the time while you
are working the shot. Ansel Adams went to the same spots over and over and
over, you know, returning year after year his entire lifetime. People think he
made those great images over a few visits, or happened upon them, but he spent
a lifetime perfecting every one. One or two a year was satisfaction to a
master. I also try not to put off a shoot, having been disappointed when
something old and rusty got hauled away or torn down, or settle into “lazy
shooter syndrome” being satisfied with a grab from a car window. Turn the
vehicle around, park safe, get the tripod out and “just do it”. Of course, this
doesn’t work for wildlife, it’s entirely “be ready or go home”. There is
nothing more rewarding to me than capturing the wild in the eyes, raptor,
coyote or even moose.

Hiro: So what is your usual creative process from picking up a camera to presenting your images in public?

Heather: Inspiration comes from life, pure and simple. I am always looking, and I am grateful that the practice requires close examination of things others walk by without a sideways glance.  Better to go through life examining it closely than missing the point. Landscapes, one of your specialties –well, I don’t like to get up early in the AM (although it is almost always rewarding when I have a good fox encounter) and I am not much for -20 to capture a nice ethereal mountain shot with a leading line of deer footsteps.


Heather: I am happy with long exposures, creamy, melting, surreal, wispy, and, the bonus is, if you block out enough light some great ones can be captured mid day. A few years ago I read a Popular Photography article by Darwin Wiggett about stacking filters and I basically spent the summer doing slow exposures, waiting for images to come up on the screen (kind of like film- the image is more mystery than a straight shot), taking a lot of stuff that was not that great (like thistles waving in the breeze for 60 sec) but I did realize that each image is unique and it beats trying to copy other winners.

Hiro: As mentioned before about mood, I often hear people describe
your image as “warm”, “gentle”, “soft”. I agree with them. Regardless of subject matter, types of photography, or photographic techniques you used, your images have certain character, which can be described as warmth, softness, or delicateness. Where do you think these feeling of your images come from? Is it a result of some influences by other photographers or artists?

Heather: Pay attention to tones- oh, yes, I am a stickler for keeping a nice range from shadows to light. Mood is critical, impact is key.

Hiro: Your article was published in Outdoor photography Canada issue #16 –
Winter 2011
. Moreover,  now, you are an official park photographer of Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park. Could you explain how you got the position and what are actually your activities /contributions to the park as a photographer?

Heather: The writing stuff comes from many years of drafting documents as a lawyer, picking away at language. Writing fits and I have ideas jumping around in my head most of the time, a notebook handy when something needs to be recorded. The fox article (Outdoor Photographer – Foxy Photography) was on my doorstep screaming to be shared, and it was a no brainer, with foxes endearing us to our canine friends. As Park Photographer at recently opened Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park, I have been writing articles park related for the newsletter as well as shooting several events including the August opening (politicians love to pose but they aren’t patient), and, as a bonus, I am now putting on regular workshops, trying to keep the topics varied and interesting. You never know what doors are slightly ajar, waiting to be opened.

Hiro: What is your goal as a photographer? So you set a load map?

My Goals- Recently, you lured me into the realm of studio lighting when you showed me your setup so that is my next experimentation. I had a couple of model shoot srecently that went so well I am anxious to line some more up. Mostly concept shots at this point. More writing (running a blog started in the summer is always there to practice on. Now that the nest is empty (and the barn!) more travel is looming. This fall I pretty much toured every back road in northern Vermont and New Hampshire (the Great North Woods), touched the
Laurentians and just finished a late fall west coast visit where the leaves were still on the trees. It’s hard to believe that fall lasts so long in other parts of Canada. Stay tuned this winter, for Vietnam and over a  month in India, a cornucopia of street material, no doubt.

Hiro: Thank you for taking your time today.

Heather: Thanks again, Hiro.

Here are Heather web-sites

“The Pier” – Heather Simonds

“Weather Watch” – Heather Simonds

Photographer 11 - Entry 05 Matte Paper 8x10 -

“The Raven” – Heather Simonds

Ethereal Photographic Art show (3) – Keith Walker

Keith Walker is a professional photographer specializing aerial photography, obviously residing in Calgary, Alberta. He is also a great talker. I never be bored when he started talking about his unique experiences in helicopters and his digital Hasselbrad. One day, he showed to me his series of photographic books, and I was so impressed by his bird-eye images. I did not know, until I saw his book, huge scale but interesting patterns are formed not only in nature but also in manmade structures. I often cannot tell what is the pattern in a picture. It is a magic by God’s hand. Figuratively speaking, if macro photography were quantum mechanics, aerial photography would be cosmology discovered by Einstein.

But surprise is not only his aerial photography but also he crafts wonderful photo arts or photo paintings. Nowadays, it is not difficult to try photo-arts digitally. We can see many photo-arts in Flickr or anywhere. However, I am hardly impressed by these images. Actually, I tried the effects, but I could not get what I expected. I always ask what is an photographer’s intention, to be honest they look gimmicky to me. However, after I saw Keith’s photographic book and his cooperative work with the famous Marine photographer, Tim Wright, my eyes opened. He uses a more sophisticated photo editing software than Photoshop, and reproduces delicate touch of brush or pen. They were totally new to me. Please check out this website,

Let me repeat, he is a full time photographer…but he said to me one time he still took a camera and tried some different areas of photography as a hobby in his spare time. He continued he did not like an typical photographer’s attitude to complain when they could not get the best conditions they expected. Please check out his Personal Photography & Artwork site and his aerial photography site as well.

Who is going to be the next photographer? Just stay tuned.

“Passion for Dance – Havana Cuba” – Keith Walker

“Big Old Dinosaur I – Havana Cuba” – Keith Walker

Ethereal Photographic Art show (2) – Our photographers

I think it is about time to introduce some of the photographers exhibiting their photographs at the Ethereal Photographic show.

Walker McBryde: He joined this show from Canmore, Alberta. He is showing quite strong image of the waterfall in a vertical panorama format. What catches my eyes is its bronze color tinged finish. I am really curious how it was done. Was it done digitally or on the process of printing?

“Waterfall” – Walker McBryde

Jean Parboosingh: She is also from Canmore, Alberta. I checked her Flickr site and I found her remarkable travel photographs. Wow, how many places she has visited. But I am truly impressed by her everyday-life photographs, especially images of the flowers and the plants. They are not simple snap shots; some artistic tweaks are applied. Check out subtle blending of colors  in her flower images.

“Silver Birch Tree Trunks” – Jean Parboosingh

Annett Wichmann: I know Annett from a local camera club and we have many chances to appreciate her photos since she is one the regular winners of the club competitions. I am always impressed by not only her creativity but also photographic techniques and her knowledge to achieve own artstic view into the frames. But it may not be surprising since she runs art classes at her store, Kensington Art Supply.

“Floral Dream” – Annette Wichmann

Dana Naldrett: His images are, according to his explanation, “new series of photographs with an environmental theme”. He printed his images directly on  Aluminum board, which I wrote in my previous blog post.

“Birth of the Earth” – Dana Naldrett

Craig Taylor: I know Craig from the camera club as well. He is extremely eager to try new things; As far as I know, he has tried  studio lighting, light painting, star trails, night photography, and even film.  His extensive knowledge of photo techniques and software always surprises me. Although his concepts varies from one image to another, he still achieves high quality images.

“Ascension to Joy” – Craig Taylor

Candace Belliveau: I have known Candace since I started shooting digital, and she is one of close photography friends. Infrared photography has been part of my photographic expression. However, Candy started IR photography even before me. She intensively shoots IR photography and create fabulous images.  So I could say IR has been one of her styles. Establishing own style is really important as an artist, isn’t it? Although I turn my IR image to pure B&W, she keeps original red-orange color which just came out from her IR modified camera. This gives truly ethereal feel. I am expecting her to open own website.

“Totem” – Candace Belliveau

Lisa Mercer: Oh, Lisa! She did great job again for this show. I can write about her extensively but I put just an introduction this time since I wrote about Lisa in my previous blog post. Her unique vision and tone never betray viewers. In addition to the last blog post, she has opened her website and started photography business. Congratulation to Lisa’s new voyage. Please check out her web site.

“Swing” – Lisa Mercer

More artists will be coming next blog posts. Stay tuned.

Ethereal Photographic Art show (1) – Free your mind

I have not posted blog for long time….because I have been so busy organizing a group show in October at a local gallery inCalgary.

I have been questioning meanings of photo competitions recently. I know categories have to set and there must be RULES.  On the other hand I started thinking why I can’t place my hands in my landscape photographs, like one of
images I found in Darryl Benson’s photo book. Why do images have to be always super sharp? Why does it have be “WOW” to get a ribbon?

When I was thinking about the theme of this show, I did not want one which was going to limit types of photography. But finding meaningful as well as catchy words was really difficult process. One day, I found a good word in Sam’s Rant (Samantha Chrysanthou’s blog). It is “Ethereal”.

Through this word, I wanted all photographers, including myself to set mind free and expect everybody to craft images to achieve her/his imaginations. It could be done on a camera at the location, or can be done on a computer, or with development chemicals, like one of my images. As a result, wide variety of artistic photos from 15 photographers are exhibited at the Resolution Local Art Gallery in Calgary, Alberta.  Please check out our Web-gallery. I believe they cannot be described as the simple word, “WOW”.

More info about the show is here. I am planning to write about all photographers in the future as many I can. Stay tuned.