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!
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”!
Following my exhibition opening in Hamburg, I flew off to central Africa. For eight days we endured 110 degree heat; there was no way to escape it, and I was drinking nearly two gallons of water per day. Re-entry to chilly Seattle has been a shock to the system.
For months we planned the logistics of this trip – do we take drones or not? Hire planes or not? While in Hamburg we received word from the U.S. Ambassador to this central African nation that it was not advisable to take the drone, so we scrambled & FedExed the equipment home.
This turned out to be good advice since it was almost impossible to find the elephants from the ground, and we would have needed to locate them before we could send the drones into the air. The elephants are very nervous for a reason; herds in this region, as all over the continent, have been under attack by poachers. However, the African Parks personnel believe they may be calming down just a bit after a couple years of fairly successful anti-poaching enforcement.
We ended up hiring the plane that had dropped us off at the beginning of the trip and had the back cargo door taken off. We flew over the herd, which had divided into two. By the time we departed the park the herd had split into several smaller groups. It was good timing since capturing pictures of hundreds of elephants at once are highly unlikely in the future.
If you are interested in traveling to Africa with me, I am leading a photo journey in Namibia in September of 2018. Add your name to the pre-registration list now!
I’m heading off to Germany today to celebrate the opening of “Meisterhaft-Getarnt”; translated – “Masterfully Disguised”, an exhibition of my work from Vanishing Act, in Hamburg’s Überseequartier. This open-air gallery exhibit will highlight my primary goal with Vanishing act – capturing animals at home in their natural habitat, blending in with their surroundings for survival.
The exhibit runs from March 30th to June 30th, 24 hours a day and admission is free. I will be in attendance tomorrow, March 30th at 6 PM local time.
Northern Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus)
Washington, United States
A tiny saw-whet owl uses blending camouflage to hide among a profusion of muted pussy-willow blossoms. Weighing only 75 to 110 grams (2.6 to 3.9 ounces), or about as much as a robin, the saw-whet owl is one of the smallest owl species in North America. Few people ever see these diminutive raptors because they are primarily nocturnal. During the day, they roost in foliage close to the ground hidden by their cryptic plumage, a mottled brown with white streaks and spots. To enhance the effect, saw-whet owls also use procryptic posturing for concealment: they elongate their bodies to mimic inanimate tree branches, bringing one wing around in front of their bodies to conceal their heavily feathered legs and feet. Northern saw-whet owls inhabit both coniferous and deciduous forests, wherever woodpeckers create cavities for their potential nest sites. At night, the owls silently watch and wait, using their exceptional vision and hearing to swoop down on unsuspecting prey.
Canon EOS-1N, Canon EF 80–200 mm lens with Canon Extender EF 1.4, f/11 at 1/60 second, Fujichrome Velvia 100 film
Save 20% on any Saw-whet in Pussy Willows print 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.
Following up the important and successful Remembering Elephants, Margot Raggett is back with Remembering Rhinos! The Kickstarter is now live and I’d love you all to check it out at and consider giving us your support. Along with many of the top wildlife photographers in the world, I am delighted to be donating an image to this important project. The Kickstarter will pay for the print run, and all subsequent sales of the book will go to anti-poaching initiatives via Born Free.
The Remembering Elephants book project not only produced a beautiful coffee table book; it also raised nearly $170,000 for this important cause. Complete your set, or create one instantly with one of the donation levels that includes both books. Remembering Rhinos is scheduled to be available before the holiday season in 2017 and what better gift for the nature, wildlife, or photography enthusiast than a thoughtful gift that benefits the continued fight to preserve wildlife?
This past weekend was a full one in Texas. On Friday and Saturday I went out photographing with NANPA president Sean Fitzgerald. We found a small flock of the extremely endangered whooping cranes along the Aransas Bay, where they spend their winter. NANPA – the North American Nature Photography Association – will be holding it’s 2017 Nature Photography Summit in Jacksonville, Florida on March 2nd through the 4th.
Green is the theme for 2017, or so says color arbiter Pantone. The Pantone Institute of Color holds a clandestine meeting twice a year to determine a hue to represent the year, and to drive design. I can’t argue with that, having lived in the verdant Pacific Northwest all my life.