It’s Wildlife Wednesday – the perfect opportunity to share a slew of recent images from the recent Japan Photo Journey. Japanese macaques, Steller’s sea eagle, fox, deer, Japanese crane, and Ural owls were present. A Blakiston’s fish owl also made an appearance – the largest owl species in the world, sporting up to a two-meter wingspan – and last but not least, the iconic Whooper swans of Hokkaido.
Revisiting a location such as this where the imagery is iconic can be a real challenge in terms of coming up with a new perspective. When I lead a workshop or provide guidance on a retreat, my goal is to not only ensure you’ll come away with iconic shots, but also to find a unique focus to your photos. I challenge myself no differently. As an example, I wanted my photos of the macaques to capture their action and agility as they would leap from rock to rock over the flowing water, as well as their relationships between one and other. I positioned myself lower to the ground to capture the cranes and swans, trying to choose decisive moments when their wingspans and beautiful feathers were on display.
There are plenty of reasons that every Summer in late July and early August I return to Katmai Alaska to lead multiple workshops. From a new perspective on a location that’s become very familiar to me, to capturing the kinds of shots of the local bears one simply cannot get anywhere else, it always has something new to offer.
I’ll be back there this year, and there are still some spaces available to join me on both tours!
If you’re still on the fence, here are 10 more reasons to join me in Katmai, Alaska this Summer!
1.) Coastal Brown Bears are beautiful and powerful, and to be in the presence of an animal of this magnitude it is humbling.
2.) Capturing amazing images of these creatures is even more magical. There is no substitute for experience in the field, and I’ll be bringing decades of it to our group as well as our interactions on an individual basis.
3.) We have two dedicated pilots, four planes, and a speed boat at our disposal. Not only is this convenient, but it means we have the utmost flexibility to change our plans depending on weather conditions. If the group cannot fly, we can always take the group up to Lake Clark to see the bears fishing for clams, or to see Dick Proenneke’s cabin!
4.) The remote Katmai Coast is the largest intact stretch of uninhabited coastline left in North America, and provides a rich and contextual backdrop for the bears.
5.) The lodge has a top-notch cook, so the group can enjoy delicious meals while reminiscing about the day’s adventures on the tour.
6.) Late July and early August is the peak of the salmon run, and is why we reserve these times with our local experts and accommodations well in advance. The rivers are running with beautiful red salmon, which is an excellent secondary element for fantastic photographs.
7.) I’ve been such a frequent visitor of this location that I can recognize individual bears by sight and in many cases can predict their behavior and identify their strengths, giving us a distinct leg up in capturing them at their best. If an individual is known to be an expert fisher, rest assured I can point them out to ensure we capture the best possible action on the river!
8.) We work with the local lodge owner whom scouts the area before our group arrives to ensure we have a good idea of where the bears are going to be. This cuts down the amount of hiking the group needs to do so we can get right into photographing.
9.) We always find several mothers with young cubs and they are generally not intimidated by humans, so our groups can sit and photograph the cubs as they run and play for hours if we like.
10.) If it hasn’t become clear already, this is a region I know like the back of my hand, and we’ve spent several years working with the same local folks to ensure as much consistency as possible. So few variables and unknowns means I’ll have more time to spend directly working with participants to ensure they all come away with stunning photos!
Check out the events page for more information. These workshops always sell out, so reserve your spot today to ensure you don’t miss out!
This May, I’ll be making a return trip to California’s Monterey Coast originating in stunning Carmel-by-the-Sea with an exclusive opportunity to join limited to just six participants. Assisted by my associate Gavriel Jecan, decades of experience will be available to support you in capturing the beauty synonymous with this location. However, the picturesque landscapes of the coastline are only the beginning, as we will delve into the abstract and many of the themes prevalent in my Abstract workshops and my Photography As Art seminar.
A retreat in a paradise, an exclusive small-group setting, two instructors, and the many lessons and themes of my popular abstract workshops and seminars – What more do you need? Well, fortunately, I have answers here!
1. A retreat in paradise – a gorgeous location on California’s fabled Monterey Bay!
2. At only six maximum participants and two instructors, you’ll get plenty of one-on-one time with us to answer any and all of your questions and provide direction to ensure you get the absolute most out of your time.
3. Go kayaking and photograph otters with the world’s premier nature photographer; if you’ve never kayaked before, rest assured we will have trained guides so you can focus on your photos!
4. Great food! This is a region famous for it’s cuisine – join myself and Gavriel every evening to discuss the day’s shooting.
5. Explore the region that inspired the likes of Ansel Adams and Edward Weston.
6. Get your photography portfolio reviewed! Gavriel Jecan and myself will look at everyone’s work and provide constructive feedback that you’ll be able to carry with you onto future trips.
8. Experiential learning at its best. It’s my hope that the lessons you learn on this retreat will be referenced on your travel and photography adventures moving forward.
9. Through lectures, critiques, and instruction in the field, we’ll cover many aspects of my Photography As Art workshop – now is your chance to go all out and put the topics discussed into action!
10. New friends with alike interests – many a friendship has been forged thanks to the balance of levity and learning on our workshops. Here is an opportunity to meet fellow travel and photography enthusiasts!
Spaces on this retreat are extremely limited, and some are already spoken for – sign up today to ensure your spot!
With SNOWMAGEDDON hitting the Pacific Northwest, a timely themed #TechniqueTuesday is in order! This is an entry from Photographs From the Edge, where I’ve combined the stories behind some of my most recognizable career photographs, as well as providing tips, techniques, and camera data for them. Enjoy, and I hope everyone back home is staying safe in the Winter weather!
Canon EOS-1DX, Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, f/18 for 1/250 sec., ISO 2000
This image of bison in Yellowstone National Park really began when I co-led a rafting trip down Alaska’s Taku River a number of years ago. On that trip I met Robert Bateman and his wife Birgit. This outstanding Canadian artist spent time photographing details of rocks along the river’s edge or details of the forest. I had to ask what he was doing. He simply responded that he was taking details that he could later render accurately as details in his paintings.
At that time I had been fixating on getting closer and closer to animals and ultimately getting that classic portrait of that animal almost as if it was a trophy. The analogy was that I was a hunter with the camera. Bateman made me take a serious look at how he would he was less concerned about portraits of animals and more concerned about capturing an animal within the context of its environment. I looked at my own work and started realizing he was right.
Bateman showed that by creating atmospheric conditions and a sense of place, the composition become more nuanced, more intricate, and more involving for the viewer. In the years after meeting Bateman, I think my work became infinitely more interesting by being more inclusive of the environment. From that point forward then I would always look at storms and thick atmosphere as opportunities rather than distractions.
This image of bison in Yellowstone works to carefully include the animal’s environment. With the advent of higher ISO cameras, I can shoot with both a smaller aperture and a faster shutter speed. Here, I was able to capture a herd of animals with great depth of field, and to use a fast enough shutter speed to stop the movement of snow. So in this image of the buffalo in Yellowstone, you can see tiny points of white snow suspended in motion as well as individual animals clearly in focus. To me, this photo recalls some of the great paintings of Robert Bateman.
Photo tip: For falling snow to show up in a photo, you need contrast to set the snow apart from the rest of the scene. In this image, both the dark trees in the background and the dark fur of the bison help bring this contrast to the image. The falling snow behind the bison also lend a strong sense of atmosphere to the shot.
The nature of the photo: Snow is extremely variable in size and shape, which has a strong impact on how it appears in a photo. Very cold conditions can create tiny snow crystals that will appear more as fog than snow in a photo. Large snowflakes can be a bold part of a winter photo.
For more photos and the stories behind them, along with tips and techniques, purchase Photographs From the Edge in my online store. As always, make a request note in your order and I’ll give it a signature!
And if you missed it – check out the gallery of images from my recent return trip to Yellowstone.
Is it a little late to say Happy New Year? Perhaps ‘Be my Valentine’ would be more appropriate. Time flies when you’re out and about photographing like I have been here in the Pacific Northwest (owls), California (bobcats), and Yellowstone (wolves). A few of these predator photos are bound to make it into a top secret book project I am working on. Shhh – don’t tell anyone!
When looking forward at your 2019 schedule, consider joining me for a workshop! I’m excited about what we have in store for the coming year, with diverse locations both new and familiar. Whether you’re looking to join me somewhere exotic and share an adventure or attend one of our recurring fan-favorites, I’ve got a lot on the calendar.
Every day was a learning experience and loads of fun as well! Thank you for being so open to sharing your skills and knowledge. I’m continuing to put this into practice.”
New on the workshop front is a retreat in beautiful Carmel-by-the-Sea in May. We had so much fun last year we’re going back! We’ll be concentrating on abstract photography along this glorious coastline, kayaking with sea otters, and critiquing our results every day. I am offering an earlybird special through February 15th. Please note that this workshop is limited to a small group of 6, and all participants will receive a limited edition Human Canvas book along with a print (a $1400+ value!)
“I enjoyed…the challenges of working in different environments…and I met people from all over the world…Thanks for doing what you do and sharing your love of nature…You make us all better stewards and people…”
When considering any workshop take a look at ratio of instructors/guides to participants. My assistants and I strive to deliver whether you are a seasoned photographer or just starting out, whether this is your first workshop with me or your fourth.
“A workshop with Art Wolfe is so much more that a photo shoot at a beautiful location. It is an opportunity to grow and try new things with a master artist and superb teacher.”
– Bill O.
I look forward to meeting new friends and seeing old friends on my travels this year! My goal is nothing less than to change the way you see.
Wishing You the Best of Light! Click an image or description below to find out more about all of my upcoming workshops!
Not even the government can shut down Yellowstone! This vast volcanic caldera has always delivered photographically for me. I headed out with some close friends and in a few short days were able to photograph wolves, coyotes, bison, otters, and two horns, big & prong. I caught one otter rolling and gamboling in the snow and sliding across the ice of the Yellowstone River; and there was an energetic young ram who put on quite a show leaping back and forth across a rocky hillside.
Enjoy the photos – more to come soon from Japan. It’s just days away, but two spaces have just opened up. There is also one spot remaining to join me on a trip to India in March to photograph the Holi festival as well as tigers – grab it before it’s gone!
Much has been made of the Kumbh Mela lately because it is such an extraordinary event – a mass Hindu pilgrimage, largest in the world. Each Kumbh, tens of millions of pilgrims descend upon one of four Indian cities to celebrate and bathe in sacred rivers.
The location for the Kumbh Mela rotates each time, roughly every three years, with smaller celebrations occurring at each city during various off-years. These dates are dictated by the Vikram Samvat, or historical Hindu calendar.
I’ve had the pleasure of visiting during this spectacular event multiple times throughout my career:
2001 – Allahabad
This visit to Kumbh Mela ended up producing one of my most popular images – Spiritual Journey.
This occasion was a “Maha” or “Great” Kumbh Mela – over 120 million people attended!
If you’re ever able to attend this historic spiritual event, it’s well worth the trip to witness the spirituality and dedication of the pilgrims who attend. Though popularity and exposure has risen over recent years, it’s a sacred event that exemplifies spirituality through the dedication and sacrifice. Rarely seen in the public eye, the Kumbh Mela offers a rare chance to witness the emergence of the sadhus, or holy men, who spend most of their lives in isolated meditation and deprivation who come and further display their dedication through discomfort as they bathe in the melted glacial waters of their sacred rivers.
An upcoming Ardh Kumbh Mela takes place this year in Allahabad (officially known as Prayagraj), and the next Kumbh Mela will happen in 2022 at Haridwar.
One of my favorite things to do when I have a couple extra days at home is to take a quick day trip to the Fraser River Delta in British Columbia. It is a haven for birds and birders and I concentrated on the short-eared owls and harriers that were hunting for rodents in the tall grasses. As I did earlier in the month at Pt. Reyres, I practiced with my new Canon EF600mm f/4L IS III USM lens, shooting mostly with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.
In addition to the birds of prey, I captured some of the best bufflehead images I’ve ever taken. Usually they look like little black and white sea ducks floating in dark water, but in the low winter light their feathers become a colorful iridescent rainbow.
The Lake Quinault Retreat that we have put together is fast becoming one of my most popular workshops. The small-group setting in conjunction with accommodations at the esteemed and historic Lake Quinault Lodge sets the stage for the quintessential Pacific Northwest experience in the lush Quinault Rain Forest. I’ve been visiting this location for many years, and yet I always find new experiences and subjects to focus on. There’s simply never enough time! And this is specifically why you visit with an expert – my thorough knowledge of the area will allow us to adjust our shooting plans on the fly, whether it be for weather conditions or simply the group’s desire to explore the various features of this location.
For a limited time we are offering an Early Bird discount on this retreat – save a few bucks and treat yourself to an engaging, instructive get-away in this iconic location on the Olympic Peninsula. Couples are welcome on this trip as well, so if you’d like to roll your photographic excursion into a get-away with a partner, they are welcome to join us for critiques and meals.
It was nice to spend some time at home and breath deep after nearly 7 weeks traveling through November and December, but I can’t stay still for too long. Following the new year, I took a trip down to Northern California to photograph wildlife at the Pt. Reyes seashore with the help of my good friend Daniel Dietrich. With Daniel’s expertise on the location, I was able to put my new 600MM Canon lens to good use photographing bobcat, otters, several bird species and more. It was a quick but fruitful trip, and an excellent way to start the new year as I begin to drill down on new upcoming book projects.
If you’re planning to be in the area and looking for a knowledgeable guide, check out Daniel’s website!
I hope everyone’s new year is off to to a great start – leave a comment below and let me know where you think you’ll be headed in 2019!