When lining up a background for a subject, make sure to give it a clean background to create a more graphic image. In this example I am trying to shoot a Chinstrap penguin in Antarctica where the snowy backdrop isn’t working to make the white belly of my subject pop.
In this video shot on location in New Zealand, Art discusses the equipment used to compliment ideal overcast lighting to take photos in a forest of trees, moss, and lichens. The overcast lighting provides the perfect opportunity to capture the many layered textures of the forest without the distracting shadows and highlights of sunny direct lighting that can often hide or blow out the fine details.
Along with the overcast lighting, a longer lens to focus on areas of interest, and a shutter release with tripod to minimize movement, Art is able to capture the immense detail of the thick verdant forest.
Many people believe that great photographic images are composed in a flash of inspiration; an epiphany that presents itself fully-formed, ready to be mined by the artist there to capture it. This can and does happen, yet most of the time we fumbled towards a great shot, refining the composition with each exposure.
Such is the case with one of my favorite images, featured in this video. For Technique Tuesday, hear me pull back the layers of the many elements I navigated through to get the final shot.
Harsh, direct lighting is not always the best option for shooting. However if you pick your battles, you can turn it into an advantage in creating unique imagery. Shot on location in Bolivia Art points his camera directly at the sun and uses a cactus to shield his lens, capturing effective rim lighting.
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.
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”!
1) Limited to 8 participants (and only 2 spots left now!), this guarantees more one-on-one time with Art in the field. Due to the intensive nature of this workshop it is critical for participants to have an opportunity to work closely with Art so he can thoroughly explain the magic behind complex compositions.
2) Art will incorporate lectures from his popular seminar Photography As Art (also coming to Portland on May 7th!) as it is the main focus of this workshop. If you have seen this seminar and are looking to take the next step with this type of photography this is the workshop for you. Art will drive home the concepts that he teaches during that seminar in the field and will change the way you look at photography altogether.
3) It is extended by one day. This means one entire extra day in the field, providing us with the opportunity to incorporate some of the new locations that Art just scouted this year. It also gives the participants a bigger variety of photographic opportunities and compositions.
4) The extra day also grants us time to incorporate morning critiques throughout the workshop instead of having it at the end. This is fantastic because you will have time to learn from your mistakes while there is still time to photograph in the field.
5) The great thing about this location is that many people do not see the photographic potential that it has to offer, so it is fantastic to open up your perspectives on things. It is amazing to see the transformation of what starts as an old rusty object, and becomes a magnificent piece of artwork.
6) We will take the opportunity to work with 6-stop Neutral Density filters to show people how they can use them in the field to add an ethereal quality to their photographs. The many pilings that the surrounding area has to offer is a perfect subject for this.
7) The accommodations that we have selected are top notch! The Cannery Pier hotel offers nice hors d’oeuvres and wine every evening, granting our participants a chance to relax and socialize after an intensive day in the field.
8) The city of Astoria also has very nice restaurants where the entire group will dine together every evening. It’s nice to have an opportunity to have meals together as you really get to know the entire group better. Many people form long-lasting friendships after attending our workshops together.
9) See Astoria, Oregon which holds the distinction of being the first permanent United States settlement on the Pacific coast and for having the first U.S. post office west of the Rocky Mountains.
10) Don’t forget, you get a Human Canvas Book, with a collectors edition print! Add this wonderful collectors edition signed and numbered book+print to your collection, as an added bonus.
“I took this workshop to begin to develop “seeing” beyond the obvious. This workshop definitely started me along this path. Mr. Wolfe dedicated a morning to instill an appreciation into the abstract world and with his critiques of our images, added to my understanding of abstractions in photography. I plan to bring these elements into my landscape photography to see beyond the obvious.”
Finally, check out the participant photo gallery for some of the amazing images captured in past Abstract Astoria workshops:
When you visit some of the world’s great landscapes, it can be easy to miss the beautiful details beneath your feet. Using a tripod and a small aperture, capture the details that will make your photographs unique and personal while giving context to the location you’re shooting.
For more tips and techniques, my Photography As Art seminar may be coming to a city near you soon!
How images were collected in the past has changed and the world has become closer in terms of access thanks to the advances in travel and technology. As a result, change seems to accelerate and keeping in step becomes a necessary skill. I will share how I research, plan, and execute as well as review and edit for projects. With over 100 book titles, television shows, exhibits, presentations – how does one manage it all and how do projects transition from an idea to achievement? In this segment, I will review my processes for efficiency, economy and how I chart the course to a successful outcome.
2. Ways Technology has Improved my Work
The truth is that technology has been giving artists new ways to share their work for a very long time. Tools and art have evolved together, becoming intertwined. Cameras, software, lenses, even drones – they are all tools for the photographer, the artist, the storyteller. I will share how I have incorporated technology to enhance and redefine my work.
3. Preview to Photography as Art
“Photography as Art” is a groundbreaking seminar created for individuals who want to spark their imagination and discover how to make artistic statements through photography. I will share an excerpt from this seminar created for the creative professional to see and make art in exciting new ways. With art history as a reference point, I explore avenues to maintain inspiration, foster personal style, and discover ways to distinguish your own photography from others.
4. Live Critique
At the end of the program, I will critique viewer-submitted photographs. These photo critiques provide viewers a great opportunity to look through the eyes of a professional photographer and learn by constructive feedback on what makes an image stronger.