Icebergs – Working a Composition

Icebergs and ice are an increasingly important topic in recent years, as climate change is becoming more of a resounding, everyday issue. On a recent trip to Antarctica I developed a personal project of capturing the ice in as artistic of a way as possible. During the day, cruise ship passengers disembarked in Zodiacs to go ashore and view penguins. I have photographed a lot of penguins, so my mission became the ice that was floating in the vicinity. On this particular trip I asked a Zodiac driver to take me over to a distant iceberg that I could see towering over all of the other icebergs. It looked almost like a cathedral, standing out there over a 150 feet above its surrounding neighbors.

iceberg image 1

This first image shows the dramatic angle of the pinnacle of ice as it’s surrounded by smaller icebergs. As usual I circled my subject and look at it from all angles before settling on an image.

iceberg image 2

As we travel around the iceberg it takes on a slightly different shape. This new vantage point allows me to incorporate more of the surrounding icebergs in the foreground.

iceberg image 3

With image number three I am able to incorporate a foreground “bergie bit” (little piece of iceberg) that is found floating around its larger cousins. I am using a 16-35mm wide angle zoom lens and a polarizer to compose this image. My main objective is to balance the foreground ice with the iceberg in the distance.

iceberg image 4

I put on my 70-200mm zoom and circled back around to the location where I captured my initial composition in image 1. I chose to shoot a vertical to emphasize the vertical sweep of this dramatic iceberg.

iceberg image 5

I noticed a distant iceberg with an arch and directed the Zodiac to it. As we headed over to it I put my wide angle zoom back on. I circled this iceberg looking for a point of view in which to include with my initial perspective.

iceberg image 6

This composition reveals the first iceberg in a very beautiful way. I also love the way the green arch surrounds the distant blue icebergs, and how the wide angle gives the image a nice perspective by incorporating some of the blue green ice just below the surface.

iceberg image 7

I decided to go back to my 70-200 to try to pull in that distant iceberg. This lens allowed me to compress the scene while still keeping the strong foreground element of the arched iceberg in my composition. However, because I am further away now, you can see the blue sky above the arched iceberg. I have lost the drama that I had with the last image.

iceberg image 8

I zoomed in to try and eliminate the sky from the previous shot,but in doing so I have lost the top of the distant iceberg.

iceberg image 9

This is my favorite image in the series. It conveys the drama of the arch, it frames the iceberg in the distance perfectly, and it has a nice sense of color with the blues and greens.

The result is 3 or 4 distinctly different compositions of the same iceberg, which demonstrates how perseverance and a change of perspective can yield a stronger set of images.

Learn these and other techniques in our upcoming spring seminar tour to seven major cities throughout the U.S. and Canada. For more information visit the Art Wolfe Workshop Website.



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iLCP February 2010 Newsletter

Are we all about pretty pictures?  This is a question that has been asked many times and in many forums to define the work that conservation photographers do.  The real question however, is, do we want to focus on inspiring people, or do we aim to shock them?

There is a constant tension in finding the right balance between images that seduce and move and those that horrify.  I believe that finding the right mix means the difference between entertaining people and moving them to action.

A carefully edited mix of images, woven into a compelling story, can show both the beauty of what we stand to lose as well as the devastation that our planet’s ecosystems are enduring all around the world.  Most importantly, if we do our jobs right, photography can help us connect the dots to show the impacts that this loss has on human societies, and especially on the most vulnerable among us.

The ways in which the iLCP membership continues to expand and evolve, is a clear reflection of this philosophy.  Although we will always need to rely on beautiful imagery to win and maintain the attention of our audience, we are also committed to working with photographers who focus their efforts on serious photojournalism.  Perhaps the most important aspect of our work, is that regardless of whether images are beautiful or disturbing, they should be truthful and compelling.  Our most valuable currency continues to be credibility; the perception by the public that what we are showing is a true reflection of reality.

Creating beautiful images that depict some of the most devastating and tragic losses our planet’s ecosystems are suffering is the ideal that compels the work of conservation photographers; succeeding in propelling law-makers, donors, government officials, corporations and society at large, is our ultimate mission.

Cristina Mittermeier
Executive Director, iLCP

To read the whole newsletter head to the iLCP’s website.

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Can you see the Common Snipe?

Can’t find it? We will show you later this week.

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Spring Seminar Tour 2010

THE ART OF COMPOSITION

Drawing form 36 years of international travel, Art will delve into a vast range of subjects; from discovering the subject to elements of design and even new works such as time lapses. Imagery of nature, wildlife and the world’s varied landscapes will round out the curriculum to provide the most comprehensive and imaginitave class available. For more information visit our workshop website. Don’t delay, our first two events in Toronto, Canada – May 20 and New York, NY – May 22 are filling fast.

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Happy Valentine’s Day from ALL of Us at Art Wolfe Inc.

Be my Valentine – Images by Art Wolfe

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New Images from Ninh Binh, Vietnam

Vietnam: Ninh Binh – Images by Art Wolfe

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New Images from Halong Bay, Vietnam

Vietnam: Halong Bay – Images by Art Wolfe

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Hippo on Bing.com

Hippo on Bing.com © Art Wolfe

One of Art’s hippo photographs is the new background image on bing.com.

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Photos from Hanoi

NEW! Hanoi, Vietnam – Images by Art Wolfe

These photos are from two extended walks that I lead our group on throughout the city of Hanoi. They are representational of a constant theme that I am teaching my travel companions – how to create intriguing compositions out of everyday life events. In this series of photographs you will see everything from the frantic traffic to the very quiet and peaceful details. Enjoy.

-Art

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The Eagle Hunters – Working a Composition

Eagle Hunters Image-1 © Art Wolfe

This, the first series of images in a new section on our blog, involves Kazakh eagle hunters in western Mongolia.

These are a very strong people that have a strong sense of culture. One of those cultural icons is hunting with eagles. I wanted to get a shot that really conveys the sense of spacious land in Mongolia, the power of the eagle, and the traditional dress that seems to be seen less and less in the historical cultures of the world today. This first photo basically establishes where we are – two eagle hunters, a horse, and the eagle traversing an open slope on the border of western Mongolia and Kazakhstan.

Eagle Hunters Image-2 © Art Wolfe

In this second photo you actually see how close I am to my subjects. I am using my Canon 1Ds Mark III camera with a 16-35 wide angle zoom lens, which allows me to include a strong foreground subject (the hunters) as well as the dramatic sky in the distance. Also note that the light looks a bit flat in this shot, but from the viewpoint from which I am taking the photo things look completely different.

Eagle Hunters Image-3 © Art Wolfe

In my third image, which is at a right angle to the direction of the sun, I have attached a polarizer to my wide angle. You can see how much more dramatic the light appears. This image also highlights the problems of working with dramatic light – very harsh shadows were cast every time the eagle moved its wings.

Eagle Hunters Image-4 © Art Wolfe

The wing of the eagle is now down, but the man that’s controlling the eagle is casting a shadow on his assistant.

Eagle Hunters Image-5 © Art Wolfe

I decided to get lower and shoot upwards to bring in some of the openness of the sky in hopes of creating  more of a story than in the previous shots.

Eagle Hunters Image-6 © Art Wolfe

The result is that I don’t have nearly the problems of the previous images with the shadows. This is a very satisfying image to me, but in an effort to see what else is achievable, I begin working the scene a bit more.

Eagle Hunters Image-7 © Art Wolfe

I’m standing at eye level again with the hunters, but the problem with this shot  is that the man closet to me is staring straight at me. I try to maintain a little anonymity when I am taking pictures, and would prefer that the subject is not staring straight into my camera.

Eagle Hunters Image-8 © Art Wolfe

I ask him to look straight ahead, but now with movement of doing so, the eagle is staring straight at me. This isn’t necessarily a bad composition, but I would prefer the eagle in a different position.

Eagle Hunters Image-9 © Art Wolfe

I move a little bit further around and discover I love the way the light is falling across the main eagle hunter and his beautiful fox fur hat. However, as you can see, I have moved in too close to get all three in the frame.

Eagle Hunters Image-10 © Art Wolfe

I decide to back off a little bit, and now I am getting what I am looking for. I love the fact that the man in the middle is kind of looking my way, the assistant is looking off to his left, and the eagle is conversely looking off in the opposite direction. There is a nice balance to this image, with no shadows on their faces. In addition, the eagle has nice light on his eye. This to me is a winner.

Eagle Hunters Image-11 © Art Wolfe

I also like this last photo because it has a nice sense to it; the eagle is looking further opposite now, and is even more absorbed in what is going on in the landscape, rather than in what the photographer is busy trying to achieve. Both of these final two images are very strong photos for me, and I am very happy with the results:

good balance of compositon, dramatic light, openness of the land, traditional wardrobes – it all comes together in a very nice way in these last two images.

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