It’s no secret that soft, diffuse light is often preferred for great photos unless you’re going for a specific style, look, or feel. This quick video shows one reason why soft light is preferable. not only is the location of this village in Mali complex in terms of the many rooftops and structures, the conical rooftops themselves are textured complex pattern. Add in a busy landscape of brush and trees, and there is quite a bit going on.
Shooting this scene in more direct lighting would create a high contrast graphical image that might be interesting, but you would lose the detail that informs the viewer of the context of this location. Most of the materials used to construct this village are from the landscape it’s built upon. Showing the even tones, hues and cohesive nature in which everything blends together helps capture the symbiotic relationship between the people and the land in a way that a high contrast image with dark shadows and bright highlights simply wouldn’t deliver.
As many of you know, my garden is my anchor and, as much as I can, I work to surround myself with the aesthetic that inspires me and nurtures my soul. When I come home from a trip after being strapped to a plane seat for up to 48 hours, I am bone tired and grumpy. But as soon as I arrive home, I am instantly transported to the nature and art that fills the space where I live. Though the spring weather in Seattle has been rainy and cold, I always find time to work in my yard. I get lost in the process of pruning trees, weeding, and devising new planting schemes. My gardening inspiration comes from my travels, especially in Japan and China.
A small urban yard can be an amazing magnet for wildlife; yards can provide us with connections to the natural world as well as places to play and experiment with photography close to home. Once you have a garden or natural outdoor space at your home, it’s easy to set up a camera and go outside! Gardens can also be useful stress-relievers. Going out and concentrating on the amazing insects that visit the flowers in the garden can put you in a better mood, lifting your outlook on life and nature. Focusing through the camera on a composition of native flowers, or trying to follow a native bee, might just keep you grounded and thankful for the beauty of life all around us.
Show your support for local the wildlife habitat by certifying your garden through the National Wildlife Federation website. They’ll provide you with a list of elements you’ll need to become certified to participate as a certified wildlife habitat.
Welcome to another technique Tuesday! Today we revisit creating compelling compositions focusing on wildlife that also give context to their environment. Often times just centering up your subject isn’t the most interesting way to present it, even if your focus is on an animal or person. Unless your goal is to inform the viewer about the specific detail of the subject itself, there is often more to be learned about it’s nature by including the world it lives in.
I also give some tips on how you can ‘break the ice’ with wildlife and increase their interest and comfort level, ensuring they stick around until you get that well-composed shot you’re looking for!
Tomorrow I’m heading south to the Washington-Oregon border for my Columbia River Gorge workshop – stay tuned to the blog for new photos!
At every Photography As Art seminar I present, I’m consistently reinvigorated in my approach by the heart-felt words I receive from participants. The exchanges before, during, and after my presentation illustrate why I take this message of changing the way you see as a photographer and artist on the road.
I received a testimonial from Jack, an attendee of the Portland event this past Sunday, who’s kind words and the time he took to send them are a true pay-off for the energy I’ve put into creating and continually refining the message of Photography As Art.
I was so appreciative of this gesture that I asked Jack for his permission to share his words. He has summarized so well the perspective I hope everyone is able to take away from these seminars. Enjoy!
I attended the “Photography as Art” seminar in Portland this past Sunday. I continue to mine the experience and discover more and more gold.
It was amazing how different it was to be at the seminar versus watching Art on Creative Live. One could not help but feel a connection to Art, the person. He is one of the most open, vulnerable, accepting and receptive people I have been around. It is easy to see how he makes such a strong connection to people all over the planet. Who he is as a person is integral to his art and his photography. What I came away with is much deeper and broader than the content of what Art taught (valuable as that was).
Art is a work in progress. He is constantly changing and evolving. Rather than whining about the radical changes in photography over the past decade, he uses those changes as an opportunity to grow and move in new and different directions. This is a life lesson. I am 81 years old, but I find this lesson as valuable today as when I was 20 (maybe even more so with the dramatic demands of aging). I started my photographic journey in 1950 with a Brownie Hawkeye and an el cheapo darkroom in my tiny closet. What I know is that I am the best photographer and artist that I have ever been right now.
What Art made crystal clear was that being an artist and a fine photographer is no sense dependent upon traveling the globe the way that he has. Rather it is all about training the eye. His presentations demonstrated that he sees things that few of the rest of us see. But what he helped us to understand is that what is crucial is that “seeing” is a learnable skill. If we are intentional and focused and willing to work at it, all of us can develop our eyes and see things that we have not seen before. If we were bed-ridden, we could still continue to grow as artists and photographers; we would still have the potential to create some of our best work.
I think that most of us came away with a deeper hope for our creative journeys. Seeing how truly “alive” Art is made each of us aware of our potential to be more truly alive. And for my money that is much more important than art or photography per se.
Even in an environment with an abundance of interesting detail to focus on, like the Pancake Rocks of the South Island of New Zealand, sometimes stepping back with a wide angle lens to give context to those details is the best way to capture them. It can be easy to get caught up in the surreal nature of an unfamiliar landscape and focus too much on the alien details of something you won’t find anywhere else in the world, but it’s that contrast with the more familiar surroundings that can make them feel even more unique.
Here I’ve used a 16mm wide angle lens with, at the time, my Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III. A shutter speed of 1/60th froze the waves in the background while an aperture at ƒ10 ensured the subject of the pancake rocks were captured in full detail. The bright day allowed for a low ISO of 100, so very little noise infiltrates the image.
I hope May is off to a great start for everyone so far! In Seattle, we finally had some warmer weather show up only to be capped off with beautiful storms that reminded us we’ve not quite turned the corner yet. As this post goes live, I’ll be down town preparing to give my talk at the Blue Earth Alliance Collaborations For Cause event. I’m looking forward to sharing a lifetime of work with everyone in attendance.
In observation of mothers day, for the next week we are offering a buy-one-get-one 50% off deal for all Photography As Art Seminars. Use code “PAAMOM17” at checkout when purchasing two or more seminar tickets.
Here are 10 great things you’ll experience and take away from these seminars, and continue reading below to see how you can share your artistic captures and creations with the Photography As Art community!
10.) Spend the day with me! These seminars are very personal to me, and it’s an honor to get to share them with you. Each one is a new experience with a room full of fellow photographers of all skill levels and backgrounds.
9.) Add new ideas and techniques to your skill set! As an educational seminar, this one is obvious – but with something as subjective as art it’s important to note that you’ll come away with tangible, actionable skills to put to use.
8.) Network with fellow photographers! These seminars are a great way to meet other photography enthusiasts in your local area. Who knows, maybe you’ll be inspired to create your own local club focused on utilizing photography to create artistic statements.
7.) Have a good time! Those who know me best know that the human element, humor, and having a warm and genuine good time are of utmost importance to me.
6.) Photography As Art has always been a work in progress. Hear the stories behind many of the abstract photos you may have seen posted on my blog in recent months and years.
5.) Learn from my lifetime of artistic study and work in the field; I’ve been blessed to have lived a life of art and photography, one I’ve never taken for granted. Let me pass the distillation of these experiences on to you.
4.) Along with that lifetime of study comes a background in art history. A large part of interpreting photography as an artistic statement comes from an analysis of some of the greats . . .
3.) . . . and their artistic concepts, explored, can lead to new and inspirational ideas to incorporate into the way you shoot. . .
2.) . . . by expanding your visual imagination and growing your artistic vocabulary.
1.) Ultimately, my goal is to change the way you see. Some have heard me pose this as “ruining your life”, because after this seminar you won’t be able to look anywhere without being distracted by an artistic photographic opportunity!
Be sure to follow me on instagram @artwolfe and share your work! Use the hashtags #ArtWolfe #ExploreCreateInspire and #PhotographyAsArt to share your captures. I might eventually have my staff upload a gallery of some of the best artistic images using these hashtags to share with our Photography As Art community, so be sure to include your information when posting them so we can give proper credit.
It’s also a great place to see daily images like this one. I’ve recently been working with my staff to scan slides from decades past, and this one from the early 80’s in Tibet went up yesterday for #ThrowbackThursday!
Have a great weekend, and I’m looking forward to meeting everyone who will be in attendance in Portland on Sunday!
Now through mothers day, when you purchase one spot in an upcoming Photography As Art seminar, get a second for 50% off! Add two seminars to your cart in our online store and use code “PAAMOM17” at checkout, or call us at 1-206-332-0993 to sign up!
Spend the day with Art as he discusses art history, design, and imagination – and how to utilize these elements to turn every day photographs in any location into artistic photographic statements. Change the way you see the world around you!
Photography As Art is coming soon to the following cities:
A metallic sheen washes over King Penguins as they look on towards the breaking waves of Gold Harbour, South Georgia Island.
Save 20% on any Silvery Shores of Gold Harbourprint purchased this month. These Open Edition prints are printed on EPSON Premium Photo Luster paper using archival EPSON Ultrachrome inks. Art signs the print with a silver acid-free pen. Get more information about our Fine Art prints here.
Last week I posted about additions and changes to my upcoming workshop schedule, and I wanted to take some time to expand on this as they begin to fill up. Despite the lack of bright sunny weather, spring is here. The days are longer, and the overcast lighting is perfect for the purposes of taking photographs in the beautiful landscapes of the Pacific northwest.
In less than a month, I’ll be leading a Columbia River Gorge workshop. From waterfall-laden rainforests to grasslands, this workshop will encompass a variety of subject matter – and good food from local restaurants to boot! My goal is to not only provide tips and techniques for shooting the varied landscape, but I’m also excited to announce that we will be lending 6-stop neutral density filters to participants to use for nighttime captures of waterfalls. I’ll also provide all participants with personalized copies of my how-to book, The Art of the Photograph.
As of this post there are six spots remaining to join me, but with only weeks to go it will fill up quickly!
I’ve scheduled another Lake Quinault retreat for October. Not only will we be photographing one of the more lush and green rainforests you’ll find, we are also providing a full day of instruction on Adobe Lightroom, as well as printing tips on EPSON printers. Come away from this workshop with new skills in the field, a better understanding of powerful and affordable photo editing and organizational software, and beautiful print or two!
We are a couple weeks away from Photography As Art in Scottsdale, Arizona at the Scottsdale Center for Performing Arts on May 13th. Sign up now to spend the day hanging out with me and learn how a lifetime of photography and a background in art can change the way you see the world around you. Be inspired to capture interesting and unique images!
While browsing my website, you may have also come across a couple new additions. Many people have asked me about the equipment I use in the field, and to that end we’ve created the Art Wolfe Recommended Gear page. All items listed here are items I use in the field or in some cases as I travel or edit my photos. The Featured Partners on this page are also all companies who’s products we use both in the field and in our office.
We’ve also launched the Pro Tours page – workshops led by my associates Gavriel Jecan, Sean Fitzgerald, and Yuri Choufour. I can’t be everywhere at once, and these instructors have traveled a great deal with me over the years.
Lastly, enjoy some of my latest exhibitions and photos! I was recently in Hamburg, Germany and cut the ribbon on my first ever open-air exhibit, Meisterhaft Getart. Over 50 large format prints from my book Vanishing Act are on display for free all day all night on the streets of Hamburg’s Überseequartier through June 30ths. If you find yourself in Germany, check it out!
I’ve also recently returned from central Africa, where little shade and 110 degree temperatures made for a grueling trip – but I couldn’t be happier with the variety of wildlife I was able to capture. On the ground, I was happy to find a variety of wildlife mingling within each shot. From the sky, we were able to capture the magnificent elephant herds who’ve come together in search of dwindling water sources, and in unity against the attacks of poachers in the region.
The ƒ-number you choose for a particular shot is an important element when it comes to framing the story of the particular shot you’re looking to achieve. The ƒ-number can be a bit confusing to novice photographers, as the higher ƒ-number means a smaller aperture and a greater depth of field. In turn, a greater depth of field means more detail in the background of your shot.
In this video, I was on location in Antarctica shooting gentoo penguins. Their environment and community is as important to their story as each individual. Shooting at a high ƒ-number to capture this detail helps inform the audience that the story I chose to tell encompasses that environment as an element as important as each individual penguin.
On a related side note, have you ever wondered how to type the fancy “ƒ” on your keyboard to give your photo comments a little bit of flair? It’s simple really:
Hold down the “alt” key, and using the 10-key pad on the right of your keyboard, type “0-1-3-1”. Let go, and you’ve got your fancy “ƒ”!
A little simpler on a mac – just hold down “Option” and type “f”!