Art Wolfe: All About Light

In this special talk, Art displays his favorite shots from around the world to show how the quality and angle of light affect compositions.

Register for free: Art Wolfe October 12th 2009

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Yellowstone Wildfires

A series of about 400 shots that I took while leading a group through the Park on Sept 26th, 2009.
The Arnica fire on the northwest side of Yellowstone Lake in Yellowstone National Park has now burned 9,300 acres and has again required that the Grand Loop road be closed between West Thumb and the junction at Fishing Bridge Lake. The park said the road will be closed indefinitely due to fire activity and hazardous snags falling across the road.

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Art Wolfe, the Sheraton, and Camera Confidence

We have partnered with the Sheraton in Seattle to hold short classes on digital camera basics throughout the summer. Thousands of tourists set to explore the area or board cruise ships stay at the Sheraton every week. We will hold the classes up to four days a week.

John Greengo, a member of the Art Wolfe’s Travels to the Edge crew, is conducting the classes dubbed Camera Confidence. John is a talented photographer in his own right as well as an engaging speaker. He will devote some time to unraveling the mysteries of individual cameras attendees bring to the class. The classes cost $69 for an hour and a half session, with discounts available for Sheraton guests.

To register for Camera Confidence, go to:

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A Luxury Cruise to South Georgia and Antarctica

Our trip to the Antarctic Peninsula with Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris in 2010 is just about full. Now, we have the opportunity to visit the Peninsula and South Georgia on the recently refurbished Clelia II this November. We couldn’t say no. We love the Van Os trips because they land on less-traveled beaches and Joe always allots maximum time for photographers on land. The voyage on the Clelia is designed with unheard-of comfort in mind, complete with piano bar, dvd player in each suite (every room is a suite), and beds in place of bunks.
As I have often said, South Georgia is my favorite place in world. Mountains two miles high bracket tidal glaciers calving into the South Atlantic. Nesting king penguins blanket beaches patrolled by albatrosses and skuas. Comical macaroni penguins shake off seawater on isolated rocks, and giant Elephant seals belch and quarrel.


South Georgia is where Shackleton made his daring mountain crossing to safety after a year and a half fighting for survival after ice crushed this ship, the Endurance. The more hardy among us may retrace his steps on a multi day crossing with legendary guides Peter Hillary and Dave Hahn, the first Westerner to climb Everest ten times. (There is an additional cost for the traverse). I intend to think about them bivouacking on the glacier as I sip a gin and tonic after a hard day of shooting.


After South Georgia we will cruise past the rugged South Orkney Islands through the wreckage of disintegrating ice shelves. The abundance of icebergs is stunning. We will explore the islands and passages along the west coast of the Peninsula, culminating in the Lemaire Channel, one of the most scenic in the world.

The trip runs from November 21 to December 13, US to US. Prices range from $15,995 to $25,995 for the penthouse suite.

If you want to join us, or just need more information, contact us at or call 206-332-0993.

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Art’s Comments on June Photo Submissions

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The June photos were all about atmospheric conditions and showed a marked increase in quality of work, making it harder to decide which were my favorites. Nearly all the images were unique and engaging and made me feel like I was standing next to the photographer. The images all demonstrated fresh, new approaches with high technical quality. Three photos in particular inspired me this month:

(To see all photos submitted in June 2009 on Flickr, click here.)

Forest Rain

Forest Rain by Shane Rucker

Photographing rain is no easy task, but this photographer nailed it! The image is artistic and “feels” wet.


Sunbeams by Stuart May

The rising mist captures the quiet beauty and timelessness of the forest.

Light Becomes Art at Balance Rock

Light Becomes Art at Balance Rock by Stephen Bennett

Whatever the photographer did here (car headlights?), it worked. This image captures the ethereal essence of the subject and conveys a rooted, yet other-worldly feeling.

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The Wandering Photographer One Day Class

I’m giving a one-day seminar in Seattle on how I travel the world photographing for books and exhibits while filming the Travels to the Edge public television series. Members of the Travels to Edge crew will discuss equipment usage and transport while I will show how I employ the insights of modern painting when composing photographs.
Space is limited to 180 participants. There will a drawing at the end of the day for a Lowepro bag!
Topics will include:
• Composition: changing how you see
• Finding the image
• What’s in Art’s Bag
• Lunch Break – On your own
• Tips: Light, Depth, Movement
• Working with people
• Transport and workflow
• It’s the photograph, not the subject
For more info please contact us directly at or check on Learning on Class fee in $195.

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A Little Bug

I’ve eaten street food in India and Africa, sampled meat of unknown provenance in Mongolia, and dined on unpronounceable meals in the jungles of South America without getting really sick, but a quick dinner of Chinese food at Philadelphia International Airport cut me down. My crew and I were enroute to the Travels to the Edge Field Seminar in Bay Harbor, Maine. I started feeling poorly in our Bangor Hotel. After a brutal night spent trying to decide whether to sit on the toilet or hold on with both hands, I was transported to an ER where the doctors filled me with fluids and antibiotics. I had to skip an evening presentation, a first, but felt well enough to proceed by the time the Seminar began. Glad that’s over. Such is the glamour of life on the road.

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The Law of Climate Change

A few days ago I attended a dinner for the Law of Climate Change and Human Rights Conference in Seattle. Later, I presented “Between Heaven and Earth,” my homage to the Himalaya, to the attendees. The conference brought legal scholars from around the world together to learn about issues related to the rights of those affected by climate change and strategies for assigning responsibility for such impacts.

The event was organized by University of Washington law students, principally Jeni Barcelos and Jen Marlow. I was impressed to learn that students, not faculty, were the engine behind the conference. While I only had a chance to meet a few of the participants, I was cheered to find bright, engaged young people determined to make a difference in the face of immense problems and was honored to be invited to show my work to the group.

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Yosemite Travels to the Edge Field Seminar

Yosemite Valley is one of the wonders of the world, but it’s a tough place to capture color images. By the time light reaches the Valley floor, it has become harsh and lost the golden glow of dawn. For that reason the classic Ansel Adams compositions don’t work as well in color, and there is no point in replicating the compositions of the master. The trick is to find a new way to see a familiar landscape. It’s not the subject, it’s the photograph. The union of composition, light and texture create the effects we desire.

During class, I discussed composition and linked photography to the painting of modern masters. All their techniques, from the use of negative space, to line, pattern, and color, apply in photography.

I saw the limitations of the light as a teaching opportunity at the recent Travels to the Edge Field Seminar in Yosemite. Our group set out early to shoot in shade before the sun blew out highlights. When the sun was higher, we hugged the cliffs, explored narrow canyons, or confined our shots to muted forest scenes or details in shadow. We selected blooming dogwoods, moving water, and forests as our principal subjects.

I asked everybody to concentrate on removing distraction so the eye moves as we intend across the photograph. We don’t want a twig to derail us or a white blob of blurred water to divert attention.

Shooting was fun, but people learned the most during our critiques in a grand room in the classic Ahwahnee Hotel. When looking though a viewfinder, it can be tough to see all the small elements that can sabotage an image, to see how an alternate crop strengthens a composition. We projected the images from Lightroom so I could improve the crop and alter tonality. Most often, the images included too much and simplifying added impact. Day by day I saw improvement in everyone’s images as they incorporated the suggestions.

I teach all kinds of workshops, but none are more satisfying than working with these small groups. I look forward to the next one in Maine’s Acadia National Park next month.

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Travels to the Edge Field Seminars Begin

Yesterday was the first day of the Monterey/Big Sur Travels to the Edge Field Seminar, the first of three (Yosemite and Acadia follow soon). I had planned to give a lecture before we went out to shoot, but the foggy morning was too good to resist. We hurried to a coastline rich in twisted cypresses and surf-carved rock. After shooting we returned for the presentation. This was backwards, but you can’t turn your back on opportunity, which is a lesson in itself.

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