Wildlife Wednesday: Critters at Mt. Rainier


I’m heading to Mt. Rainier tomorrow to kick off our summer workshop, and prior to doing so Gavriel Jecan and I went to do some quick scouting. We will do this as often as possible before workshops, especially those happening up here near home. Usually there isn’t much photography involved – just as assessment of conditions and opportunities. This time however, we encountered a few adorable critters to share – Pika, and a long tailed weasel, most notably. Unfortunately the former is a common snack for the later! We also happened upon a golden-mantled ground-squirrel. Hopefully we can find these and more when we return with our group!

Just a few shots here for not, but stay tuned for a much more in depth collection of photos from Mt. Rainier next week! The fall workshop at Rainier has sold out, but if you’re interested in jumping on one of my other pacific northwest offerings, there is some space left in the Lake Quinault Photogrpahy Retreat in October; there’s no place like the Olympic forest in the fall and we will be adding some printing into the mix!

 

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New Photos from Katmai, Alaska!

New photos from this year’s Katmai Bear-stravaganza! This trip posed some new challenges to navigate, but this is why we work with the best in the business as far as our on-location support is concerned – and I think in the end it also inspired some new and unique images from a location I have made a point to visit every summer for the past 5-6 years.

The most notable thought that comes to mind in reflecting on these consecutive years visiting Katmai National Park is the familiarity I now have when I see individual bears as well as their families. I can recognize particular bears from previous visits both by their physical traits as well as the varied techniques they employ to hunt for fish. Some bears might even have a unique lumber to their walk or a discernible demeanor in how they react towards other bears as well as humans.

I’m starting to recognize physical traits in the young bears and can associate them with their mothers and other family members. One thing is for certain – these bears are reproducing, and there is a healthy population to be found here. This (with caution) bodes well for both their success as a species and our opportunities to photograph them in this remote, beautiful location.

I’ll be leading two more workshops in July and August of next year, and my associate Gavriel Jecan will also be heading up his own tour next summer – sign up now, as the multiple trips indicate – they sell out fast!

 

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Technique Tuesday: Diagonals

Often you’ll hear artists talking about diagonal lines within a composition. Diagonal lines can be very important to an image because of how they affect the mood and visual impression of a scene. However, diagonals are not just about line. You can have diagonal shapes and patterns as well.

Diagonals are always dynamic elements within a picture. They create a strong feeling of movement because the eye wants to move along a diagonal. There is something about the human mind that wants to follow a diagonal line. We will also follow a vertical line up and down, though we won’t really follow a horizontal line. Putting a diagonal line in with a vertical or horizontal line will create a very dramatic contrast. That can be a dynamic way of using a composition, but it can also be very distracting and disturbing for the viewer. You have to be careful about how you are using diagonal lines, shapes and patterns.

Diagonals also give a very strong dynamic feeling to an image because most diagonals in the real world are objects that have some sort of tension to them. A diagonal will typically be something that is moving or has the potential of movement. Diagonal objects in real life can look like they are ready to fall down so there is always a certain tension there. In addition, we know that if something that can move is placed on a diagonal surface, it is going to move down that surface because of gravity. That doesn’t mean that diagonals used in your photograph are looking like things are going to fall or roll down – it just means that there is a tension and movement there that people react to.

There is something very interesting that happens with diagonals when they are combined with horizontal and vertical lines. They can look like they are a support beam. Think about when you play the game, hangman. Most people draw the hanging post with a diagonal line between the vertical and horizontal lines to make it look like it has more support.

Okay, all of this can seem very esoteric and not very applicable to that landscape with a stream running through it. Yet as you start to look at that scene, you will start to see diagonals there that can help structure your composition and create a stronger design. Once again, becoming aware of these elements of design will help you use them within your composition.

Excerpt from “The Art of the Photograph” – pick it up today in my online store!

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Workshop Wednesday: Lake Quinault Photography Retreat


Fall in Washington state is gorgeous, and what better way to celebrate the season than to be part of an intimate group of photographers exploring the lush Olympic forest on my Lake Quinault Photography Retreat? This region is the gift that keeps on giving; a location that I can never seem to get enough of as far as photographic opportunities go. I always leave feeling like there is so much more to explore, and this exclusive small group setting is my opportunity to share what I see with you in hopes I can pass on four decades of knowledge to you.

Along with this very personal look at a region I’m particularly familiar with, I’ll be providing lectures and critiques. We will also have equipment on hand Epson during our time at the Lake Quinault Lodge for demonstration – take home prints of your best photos from our time together!

Sign up now, this Photo Retreat will sell-out as Autumn approaches!

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Technique Tuesday: Quality of Light & Time of Day

Full midday sunlight is usually the worst for photography. Its direct overhead lighting produces flatness of form and washed-out colors. Most professional photographers choose mornings or afternoons, when light moves toward the warmer end of the spectrum. But it is not just for warmth of color; early and late in the day, the tonal range is less extreme. Digital cameras can record more subtle gradations of tone than was possible with film, but are still limited in how much dynamic range they can capture in a single photo. Under conditions of extreme contrast it is not always possible to record the full range of values.

You could think of the image sensor as being like the human eye, but not nearly as sensitive to the full range of light. In bright light, the eye can see all the tonal values from the brightest highlights to the darkest shadows because the iris automatically adjusts to the different light levels. Our brain also tells us what to expect. For example, a scarlet tanager registers the same color red in our mind, even though we might see it in sunlight or in shade. Cameras, however, have a smaller parameter of sensitivity. Their response to tonal extremes varies depending on the specific sensor used in a given camera model.

(early morning) Twelve Apostles, Port Campbell National Park, Victoria, Australia 80-200mm lens (in 200mm range), f/16 at 1 second, Fujichrome 50

AW: I first photographed the Twelve Apostles, sea stacks off the southern coast of Australia, early in the morning, which resulted in a very pastel image.

Late Afternoon – f/16 at 1/15 second, Fujichrome 50

MH: This series reminds me of the famous painting series, by French Impressionist Claude Monet, of the Rouen Cathedral. He always painted the façade from the same vantage point, but under different light conditions at different times of the day and year. The resulting comparisons were a symphony of color tapestries with varying vibrations and moods. The cathedral was not the point. It was the effect light had on its appearance.

Sunset – f/16 at 1/8 second, Fujichrome 50

Unlike the tourist who stood on the edge of the Grand Canyon, snapped his photo, and then said, “Okay, let’s go, I’ve got it,” we could stand in the same spot, every day, 365 days of the year, and have 365 different images. The subject will be the same. But it will not look the same because the lighting conditions will differ.

After Sunset – f/16 at 2 seconds, Fujichrome 50

Color, as we saw in chapter 4, elicits an emotional response. Mood by itself can be the subject of a photo, as it is in these four images. But more important, mood is one emotional link the photographer shares with the viewer. Each of us can probably pick a favorite. It might be interesting to ask yourself why you like one more than another.

Excerpt from “The New Art of Photographing Nature”.

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New Photos from Arctic Canada!


Before heading to Katmai for workshops for the next couple weeks, I visited the Canadian Arctic. We had a great time with beluga whales, caribou, and polar bears. Most of the underwater shots were taken using the camera in a Nauticam housing (thank you, Backscatter Underwater Photo & Video!) suspended from an interesting contraption made from broom handles, bolts and rope, which enabled us to shoot without getting into the water. This was far more effective than when we struggled in the water to get close enough, which the belugas didn’t seem the like at all. Once we lowered the contraption into the water the whales became so curious that we had trouble keeping them from getting too close. The milky waters were so filled with sediment that sharpness became an issue. Despite the fact that the whales are largely in focus, they appear otherwise. With the polar bears I took the perspective of tiny bear in the big environment. The caribou, photographed with a 50MP Canon EOS 5DS, was a happy bonus.

I hope you enjoy checking out what I was able to capture here, and I can’t wait to see what Katmai holds for us this year!

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Workshop Wednesday: Join Me for Fall Color in the Pacific Northwest!

If nature and fall color are subjects that interests you there is no better place than the Pacific northwest to capture the vivid warm hues of turning leaves against the deep greens of the evergreen pines. In October the weather is still generally warm enough to get out into this lush and earthy rainforest comfortably with often overcast skies presenting ideal lighting for capturing all it has to offer. I’m leading two workshops here at this time and whether you are local to the area or have thought about visiting, each will provide their own unique look at the beauty I’ve appreciated over a lifetime of being a resident of the region.

First on the list is the Rainier Fall workshop – this one is sure to be a sell-out with few spots remaining, so if it interests you I implore you to sign up soon! The fall color here is especially satisfying to capture, framing the warm colors of autumn leaves against the cool blues of the distant mountains and skies. The emphasis here will be on creating compelling compositions in nature. Gavriel Jecan will also be on this trip to provide extra instruction and support.

Second is an expansive trip into the Quinault rainforest. At only 8 participants with multiple instructors, this small-group photo journey will focus on nature photography techniques and capturing high quality images – and then, with our time spent at the beautiful Lake Quinault Lodge we will print those images on Epson’s latest state-of-the-art photo printers and have a demo on how to ensure you’re outputting the best possible images captured during your time in the field.

Sing up today, these workshops will fill up quickly as fall approaches!

Mount Rainier Fall Workshop with Art Wolfe – October 11-14, 2018

Lake Quinault Photography Retreat with Art Wolfe – October 17-21, 2018

 

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New Photos from the Volcanic Activity in Hawaii!

Two months after it started, Kilauea is still erupting – even forming a new island off the east rift zone. Last week a friend and I made an all-too-quick trip to the Big Island to photograph some of the action. With the help of Bruce Omori we were able to get in the air above the eruption, as well as along side it from a boat. It is a stunning scene of earth’s power. The vog is so volatile that it creates it own weather, colorful clouds and swirling vortices that resemble nebulae of outer space.

As for the boat ride, it is not for the faint of heart. The water is extremely rough and there is always the chance that a sudden and violent explosion where the searing lava meets the cooler water (relatively speaking – it’s still over 100 degrees from our readings, about the temperature of a scalding hot tub!) will hit the boat.

Big shout out and thank-you to Bruce Omori for helping us on our trip! Check out his website and facebook page for the latest in volcano activity. If you want to see the eruption contact him – I couldn’t recommend his guidance enough!

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Travel Tuesday: India Holi Festival & Tigers Photo Journey 2019


In spring of 2019 I’m excited to be leading an epic photo journey to India where we will not only experience the color and good cheer of the Holi Festival, the majesty of the Taj Mahal, and the culture and history of Delhi – but the natural beauty of Bandhavgarh National Park as well. If you’ve ever contemplated what the ultimate India experience would be like, here is your opportunity to savor exactly that! We will observe and photograph the iconic as well as the atypical, assuring that the photos you come away with will represent the unique nature and variety of this adventure.

The two main attractions that are the namesake for this particular trip and set against the backdrop of this ancient land are, of course, the Holi Festival and the tigers of the region. The “Festival of Colors” is traditionally a jubilant recognition of the arrival of spring, and has become a celebration of positivity and good cheer world-wide, and it is here where it all began.

In addition to the Bengal tiger, Bandhavgarh National Park offers a rich diversity of fauna and flora, including leopard, striped hyena, macaques, langur monkeys, sambar and chital deer, Indian wolves, Indian hare, and monitor lizards – just to name a few of the species we hope to encounter.

Space for this photo journey is limited, with some spots already spoken for. Check out my events page for a more in-depth itinerary of our travels together, and sign up now to ensure your spot on what is guaranteed to be a once in a lifetime adventure where you’ll make new friends who share your passion for photography and the world’s great places!

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Save 50% on Creative Live Courses Through 7/20!

Creative Live is having a site-wide sale beginning today and running through the rest of the week, and followers of my blog and on social media can save an additional 10%!

This is a great resource for a wide variety of endeavors, from technical photography knowledge, software packages, Art and Web design to lifestyle, finance and fitness classes. Of course, I’m biased and will recommend you check out my courses, but with such a big sale happening I’ll understand if you want to check out some other stuff!

One of CreaiveLive’s biggest sales of the year runs through July 20th, 2018 – use code CLArWolfe at checkout to get the bonus discount!

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