In January, Dr. Samuel Wasser and myself had the pleasure of speaking to a crowded Great Hall about the efforts being made to protect and preserve elephants at Town Hall Seattle. If you weren’t able to make it to the event, the Seattle Channel has made it available for all to watch online.
If you’re inspired to help, visit www.giving.uw.edu/ivory and contribute to a very worthy cause via the University of Washington.
I create books in large part because I know how impactful and inspirational they can be to the right audience. Sometimes all it takes is finding the right perspective to instigate an idea, a project, or even a lifestyle change. What might just be a picture and technique book to one person fills in the gaps for others and can send them down a creative rabbit-hole.
To that end, I make it a point to highlight books that either come across my desk or that I am referred to by friends, peers, and clients (often one in the same!) that leave an impression on me or that I think might be helpful for the photographer who follows my work.
Today I am honored to discuss fellow Tales By Lightalumnist and kindred spirit Peter Eastway’s recently released book, The New Tradition. As a fan of both the traditional photographic works of staple legends like Ansel Adams and Edward Weston as well as the idea that photography can be its own self-contained conceptual art form, this book echos and expands upon this idea. Filled with hauntingly beautiful photographs, each one is accompanied with techniques and anecdotes that help describe Peter’s process and approach.
This is an important book that comes at a great time for photography enthusiasts. Digital photography has in recent years finally shaken many of the stigmas attached to it, and The New Tradition illustrates just that – a new way of approaching photography while capitalizing on the technology we have available rather than shrinking from it simply because it’s not how things were done “back in the day”. We have the ability and opportunity to push things beyond anything these historic innovators ever could, and I can’t help but think if they were still working they would be taking every technological advantage they could find IF it helped convey what they were hoping to communicate with their captures.
I can’t recommend this book highly enough! Order it today as an amazing gift for the photographer and artist in your life!
It’s #GivingTuesday – so it’s a good time to mention the wonderful charitable organizations featured in my recent book, WILD ELEPHANTS: Conservation in the Age of Extinction. Though the book does touch on the troubling plight of elephant populations, we also explore many of the fantastic organizations and individuals who are out there making a difference and providing hope for the future of these animals.
To that end, if you’re feeling charitable this holiday season here is a list of the organizations mentioned in the book. Maybe the nature lover in your life or the person who has everything would appreciate a simple holiday donation in their name? Anything helps!
Hot on the heels of Wild Elephants, I’m excited to announced that the trade edition of Human Canvas is officially published as of today! I’ve forever been fascinated by the traditions and rituals of indigenous people world wide, and as a visual storyteller whom seeks to discover metaphors and relationships in my subjects, the practices of body painting have long been fascinating to me.
In creating the Human Canvas Project, my goal has been to combine the aesthetically complicated form of the human body with the elements of design to create images that are both interesting and immersive upon first glance and rewarding to those who linger longer. Art is subjective, and I truly believe this book has something to offer everyone.
This book build upon the images contained in the luxuriously packaged and printed Human Canvas Collector’s editionwith more images and plates in an affordable package that retains the quality of materials that photo book collectors will appreciate.
Purchase Human Canvas today for yourself or a holiday gift for the artist and photographer in your life!
Good news if you’re in the Pacific Northwest and could use a little photographic inspiration to recharge those chilly fall batteries – the next two weekends will see me back home for a few events, and I hope to catch you there!
As you may know if you follow me, Wild Elephants was published this week. Thank you to everyone who pre-ordered. I’ll be signing those books this weekend so we can send them out! The new trade edition of Human Canvas will also be officially published next week, but we have received those as well. I’ll be attending the Kenmore Camera Digital Photo Expo this Saturday from 10:30 AM til 12:30 PM – come and pick up your signed copy of either or both books! This is always an invaluable event with plenty of resources on-hand to talk about the latest photo tech – don’t miss it!
For those of you in the Seattle and Portland areas, there are still limited spaces remaining for both Photography As Art seminars happening in those cities – sign up to reserve your spot today!
If you’d rather gamble than secure a guaranteed spot, today is the last day to enter your name in our give-away, so check it out and enter your name before midnight for your chance to win a ticket!
I’m THRILLED to announce that Wild Elephants is officially published as of today! This is a big, beautiful book that encompasses a lifetime of photographing elephants and includes fascinating text by notable conservation biologist Dr. Samuel Wasser on the impacts of the illegal elephant trade and other factors affecting these awesome, intelligent beasts. The news isn’t all grim as we highlight the many measures being taken to ensure these intelligent and charismatic animals can continue to thrive.
Wild Elephants is a celebration of these wondrous gentle giants and the renewed efforts countries are taking to protect their natural heritage. We explore what we can do to empower local populations to safeguard the survival of a magnificent species. Over 250 beautifully printed sturdy pages explore Asian and African elephants in a variety of environments, from lush forests to wide open savannas. Individuals and groups are examined through textural details of their thick, leathery skin to their place in the vast herds they belong to.
For those of you whom have already pre-ordered your copy of Wild Elephants, those will be sent out as soon as I’m able to sign them! If you’re near the Seattle area, I’ll be giving a presentation and signing this book with others for sale as well at the Kenmore Camera Digital Photo Expo this Saturday November 2nd from 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM – I hope to see you there!
I’ve only just begun a couple months of heavy travel, but in between I’ll be back in Seattle just long enough to catch my breath. This happens to coincide with the annual Kenmore Camera Digital Photo Expo, which is always a fantastic event full of passionate presenters and the latest and greatest equipment from the digital photography world available for hands-on evaluation!
Please note – I’ll only be available at the expo myself on Saturday, November 2nd from 10:30 AM – 12:30 PM and I’ll have my new books Wild Elephants and Human Canvas on hand to sell and sign, along with a selection of my other popular books.
You should definitely check out both days of the expo if you can. There will be a number of speakers on hand from a variety of backgrounds and companies. There is sure to be something for everyone, and so much information to be absorbed.
If you’re in the market for new equipment, or simply a photography enthusiast looking to gather all the knowledge you possibly can from experts in the field and those with the technical know-how to answer your equipment related questions – take advantage of this opportunity!
Happy Friday! I begin October on the road for a month of travel, and when I return home I’m gong to be VERY busy putting signatures to my new books that have been pre-ordered though my website. We’ve obtained our advance copies of both Wild Elephants and the trade edition of Human Canvas– and both are of the highest quality and look fantastic! If you have held the equally fantastic and award winningTreesbook that was published last year, you know what to expect.
Wild Elephantsnot only features the greatest elephant photos of my career, but also includes text by Dr. Samuel Wasser that describes the issues and most importantly the solutions being employed to protect elephant species in Africa and Asia.
Human Canvasfocuses on combining photography with body painting inspired by the many cultures I’ve encountered around the globe, bringing you a mixture of patterns and textures influenced by the indigenous peoples I’ve encountered on my travels.
Order your copies of Wild Elephants and Human Canvas today to guarantee you receive a signed copy when they are available in the coming weeks!
Every now and again I like to take a break from promoting my own books (Elephants! Human Canvas! – I’m shameless. Oh well – I tried!) to share my recommendations of the works of others with you. Sometimes they are simply educational, while others are inspirational. . . and in this case, both. World culture and tradition has always been as fascinating to me as wildlife. As I have accrued decades of world travel and come to identify the similarities and differences in our cultures, Ive only come to appreciate them that much more.
In Divine Encounters: Sacred Rituals and Ceremonies of Asia by Hans Kemp, we have an excellent photo book that explores the many varied esoteric beliefs of the region both prevalent and obscure.
“The breadth and scope of Hans Kemp’s superb photography captures the expansive yet intimate nature of Asia’s ancient and thriving spiritual traditions.”
I found this book to be inspirational and highly motivating. It’s spawned so many ideas for possible future trips and projects. If you’re planning any trips to Asia in the near future and are looking to fill up your schedule, if you have an interest in world cultures and rituals, or if you simply want to check out some excellent photography, give it a look! Grab your copy on Hans’ website!
AW – Often students in my classes will bring work that shows an interesting subject, but without enough information to tell a complete story. I find that one effective tool for storytelling is using a wide-angle lens close to my subject, so that some of the background is included, creating a valuable sense of place.
I find elephant seal weaners, fattened up and then abandoned by their mothers, to be wonderfully cooperative photographic subjects. With this weaner, I laid flat on the ground in front of it to photograph it on its level.
The hot-spring-addicted macaques in the Japanese Alps are another fun subject. When their own hot springs were invaded by the furry monkeys, the human residents built a monkeys-only spring. This youngster hung around the side of the pool, making a perfect subject for a wide-angle shot, which allows me to add important background and context.
MH – Looking at us with its liquid black eyes, the seal pup seems to be hoping we are his mother coming to feed him. Weaned at three weeks, he seems a bit lost, even indignant, that the tap has suddenly been turned off. With the spectacular landscape of South Georgia in the background, this image creates a sense of loneliness, seeing this solitary pup by himself in this grand wilderness.
In the second image, the Japanese macaques are so human-like that it’s a little freaky. The monkey in the image seems curious, even mischievous, while his peers ignore his proximity to the camera and wallow in the thermal heat. I love seeing an animal in its environment, especially one as unique as this. It enlarges our understanding of how they live and sometimes gives us clues as to what motivates their behavior. Here, the slight distortion of the wide-angle lens enhances the drama of the scene.
Strong Leading Lines
Another important approach to using a wide-angle lens is to work with leading lines. Leading lines have long been important parts of painting and other two-dimensional forms of art. A leading line is simply something that creates a line from foreground to background and leads or directs the eye through the image. It can be anything that is visually distinct, that a viewer is going to notice, and helps define the composition.
You can find all sorts of leading lines in the environment: tracks in the sand, edges of roads, cracks in rocks, architectural structures, and so on. These can be used to direct the viewer’s eye through a composition and toward the main subject. They are an excellent way to help the viewer understand your picture as well as add a graphic element to the design of your image.
Wide-angle lenses help emphasize leading lines. This comes back to the concept of perspective. By getting in close to nearby parts of leading lines, you spread them apart, yet they still go to the same vanishing point in the distance. That creates a very strong change from foreground to background along those lines, something that will dramatically show off the elements of your photograph.
To understand this, think about a railroad track. If you stand on a hill and photograph railroad tracks in the distance so they start at the bottom of your picture and go to the horizon near the top, you will see them heading off to a vanishing point at the horizon. The railroad tracks will be a certain width at the bottom of your composition. If you then put on a wide-angle lens and get right down on the tracks, the width of the tracks will fill the width of your image. The tracks are still going to go off into the distance to a vanishing point, but now they go from the full width of your frame, creating an extreme change from foreground to background.
Don’t be afraid to get close to leading lines in order to emphasize how strong they are. So often photographers back off from subjects like this and lose some of the impact because they don’t have the same foreground-to-background perspective.