Hot on the heels of Wild Elephants, I’m excited to announced that the trade edition of Human Canvas is officially published as of today! I’ve forever been fascinated by the traditions and rituals of indigenous people world wide, and as a visual storyteller whom seeks to discover metaphors and relationships in my subjects, the practices of body painting have long been fascinating to me.
In creating the Human Canvas Project, my goal has been to combine the aesthetically complicated form of the human body with the elements of design to create images that are both interesting and immersive upon first glance and rewarding to those who linger longer. Art is subjective, and I truly believe this book has something to offer everyone.
This book build upon the images contained in the luxuriously packaged and printed Human Canvas Collector’s editionwith more images and plates in an affordable package that retains the quality of materials that photo book collectors will appreciate.
Purchase Human Canvas today for yourself or a holiday gift for the artist and photographer in your life!
Good news if you’re in the Pacific Northwest and could use a little photographic inspiration to recharge those chilly fall batteries – the next two weekends will see me back home for a few events, and I hope to catch you there!
As you may know if you follow me, Wild Elephants was published this week. Thank you to everyone who pre-ordered. I’ll be signing those books this weekend so we can send them out! The new trade edition of Human Canvas will also be officially published next week, but we have received those as well. I’ll be attending the Kenmore Camera Digital Photo Expo this Saturday from 10:30 AM til 12:30 PM – come and pick up your signed copy of either or both books! This is always an invaluable event with plenty of resources on-hand to talk about the latest photo tech – don’t miss it!
For those of you in the Seattle and Portland areas, there are still limited spaces remaining for both Photography As Art seminars happening in those cities – sign up to reserve your spot today!
If you’d rather gamble than secure a guaranteed spot, today is the last day to enter your name in our give-away, so check it out and enter your name before midnight for your chance to win a ticket!
I’m THRILLED to announce that Wild Elephants is officially published as of today! This is a big, beautiful book that encompasses a lifetime of photographing elephants and includes fascinating text by notable conservation biologist Dr. Samuel Wasser on the impacts of the illegal elephant trade and other factors affecting these awesome, intelligent beasts. The news isn’t all grim as we highlight the many measures being taken to ensure these intelligent and charismatic animals can continue to thrive.
Wild Elephants is a celebration of these wondrous gentle giants and the renewed efforts countries are taking to protect their natural heritage. We explore what we can do to empower local populations to safeguard the survival of a magnificent species. Over 250 beautifully printed sturdy pages explore Asian and African elephants in a variety of environments, from lush forests to wide open savannas. Individuals and groups are examined through textural details of their thick, leathery skin to their place in the vast herds they belong to.
For those of you whom have already pre-ordered your copy of Wild Elephants, those will be sent out as soon as I’m able to sign them! If you’re near the Seattle area, I’ll be giving a presentation and signing this book with others for sale as well at the Kenmore Camera Digital Photo Expo this Saturday November 2nd from 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM – I hope to see you there!
I’ve only just begun a couple months of heavy travel, but in between I’ll be back in Seattle just long enough to catch my breath. This happens to coincide with the annual Kenmore Camera Digital Photo Expo, which is always a fantastic event full of passionate presenters and the latest and greatest equipment from the digital photography world available for hands-on evaluation!
Please note – I’ll only be available at the expo myself on Saturday, November 2nd from 10:30 AM – 12:30 PM and I’ll have my new books Wild Elephants and Human Canvas on hand to sell and sign, along with a selection of my other popular books.
You should definitely check out both days of the expo if you can. There will be a number of speakers on hand from a variety of backgrounds and companies. There is sure to be something for everyone, and so much information to be absorbed.
If you’re in the market for new equipment, or simply a photography enthusiast looking to gather all the knowledge you possibly can from experts in the field and those with the technical know-how to answer your equipment related questions – take advantage of this opportunity!
Happy Friday! I begin October on the road for a month of travel, and when I return home I’m gong to be VERY busy putting signatures to my new books that have been pre-ordered though my website. We’ve obtained our advance copies of both Wild Elephants and the trade edition of Human Canvas– and both are of the highest quality and look fantastic! If you have held the equally fantastic and award winningTreesbook that was published last year, you know what to expect.
Wild Elephantsnot only features the greatest elephant photos of my career, but also includes text by Dr. Samuel Wasser that describes the issues and most importantly the solutions being employed to protect elephant species in Africa and Asia.
Human Canvasfocuses on combining photography with body painting inspired by the many cultures I’ve encountered around the globe, bringing you a mixture of patterns and textures influenced by the indigenous peoples I’ve encountered on my travels.
Order your copies of Wild Elephants and Human Canvas today to guarantee you receive a signed copy when they are available in the coming weeks!
Every now and again I like to take a break from promoting my own books (Elephants! Human Canvas! – I’m shameless. Oh well – I tried!) to share my recommendations of the works of others with you. Sometimes they are simply educational, while others are inspirational. . . and in this case, both. World culture and tradition has always been as fascinating to me as wildlife. As I have accrued decades of world travel and come to identify the similarities and differences in our cultures, Ive only come to appreciate them that much more.
In Divine Encounters: Sacred Rituals and Ceremonies of Asia by Hans Kemp, we have an excellent photo book that explores the many varied esoteric beliefs of the region both prevalent and obscure.
“The breadth and scope of Hans Kemp’s superb photography captures the expansive yet intimate nature of Asia’s ancient and thriving spiritual traditions.”
I found this book to be inspirational and highly motivating. It’s spawned so many ideas for possible future trips and projects. If you’re planning any trips to Asia in the near future and are looking to fill up your schedule, if you have an interest in world cultures and rituals, or if you simply want to check out some excellent photography, give it a look! Grab your copy on Hans’ website!
AW – Often students in my classes will bring work that shows an interesting subject, but without enough information to tell a complete story. I find that one effective tool for storytelling is using a wide-angle lens close to my subject, so that some of the background is included, creating a valuable sense of place.
I find elephant seal weaners, fattened up and then abandoned by their mothers, to be wonderfully cooperative photographic subjects. With this weaner, I laid flat on the ground in front of it to photograph it on its level.
The hot-spring-addicted macaques in the Japanese Alps are another fun subject. When their own hot springs were invaded by the furry monkeys, the human residents built a monkeys-only spring. This youngster hung around the side of the pool, making a perfect subject for a wide-angle shot, which allows me to add important background and context.
MH – Looking at us with its liquid black eyes, the seal pup seems to be hoping we are his mother coming to feed him. Weaned at three weeks, he seems a bit lost, even indignant, that the tap has suddenly been turned off. With the spectacular landscape of South Georgia in the background, this image creates a sense of loneliness, seeing this solitary pup by himself in this grand wilderness.
In the second image, the Japanese macaques are so human-like that it’s a little freaky. The monkey in the image seems curious, even mischievous, while his peers ignore his proximity to the camera and wallow in the thermal heat. I love seeing an animal in its environment, especially one as unique as this. It enlarges our understanding of how they live and sometimes gives us clues as to what motivates their behavior. Here, the slight distortion of the wide-angle lens enhances the drama of the scene.
Strong Leading Lines
Another important approach to using a wide-angle lens is to work with leading lines. Leading lines have long been important parts of painting and other two-dimensional forms of art. A leading line is simply something that creates a line from foreground to background and leads or directs the eye through the image. It can be anything that is visually distinct, that a viewer is going to notice, and helps define the composition.
You can find all sorts of leading lines in the environment: tracks in the sand, edges of roads, cracks in rocks, architectural structures, and so on. These can be used to direct the viewer’s eye through a composition and toward the main subject. They are an excellent way to help the viewer understand your picture as well as add a graphic element to the design of your image.
Wide-angle lenses help emphasize leading lines. This comes back to the concept of perspective. By getting in close to nearby parts of leading lines, you spread them apart, yet they still go to the same vanishing point in the distance. That creates a very strong change from foreground to background along those lines, something that will dramatically show off the elements of your photograph.
To understand this, think about a railroad track. If you stand on a hill and photograph railroad tracks in the distance so they start at the bottom of your picture and go to the horizon near the top, you will see them heading off to a vanishing point at the horizon. The railroad tracks will be a certain width at the bottom of your composition. If you then put on a wide-angle lens and get right down on the tracks, the width of the tracks will fill the width of your image. The tracks are still going to go off into the distance to a vanishing point, but now they go from the full width of your frame, creating an extreme change from foreground to background.
Don’t be afraid to get close to leading lines in order to emphasize how strong they are. So often photographers back off from subjects like this and lose some of the impact because they don’t have the same foreground-to-background perspective.
Today is #WorldElephantDay! Created in 2012 to bring attention to the issues facing elephant populations in Asia and Africa, now is a good time to mention that this fall I’ll be releasing my latest book, WILD ELEPHANTS: Conservations in the Age of Extinction. In addition to being a collection of my career’s best elephant photos, I’ve worked with Dr. Samuel Wasser of the University of Washington’s Center for Conservation Biology to provide context for all of the many issues these creatures face. A portion of the proceeds from book pre-sales will be donated to this department.
Legendary for their size and intelligence, elephants are one of the most charismatic of megafauna. That they are under siege form poachers is no secret, and the rapidity of their declining numbers is horrifying. However, amidst the steady stream of bad news, all is not lost. Ivory prices are declining, global awareness is advancing, and recent government crackdowns are beginning to stem the flow of illegal ivory.
Wild Elephants is a celebration of these wondrous gentle giants and the renewed efforts countries are taking to protect their heritage and explores what we can do to empower local populations to safeguard the survival of the magnificent species.
On the heels of my recent trip to Ecuador where freezing the action of the tiny and quick humming birds there was my primary goal, here is an excerpt on using fast shutter speeds from Chapter 7: Creative Options from The New Art of Photographing Nature. Enjoy!
AW: In this final set of images—of a Gentoo penguin porpoising in Antarctica, of leaping impalas in Kenya, and of whooper swans coming in for a landing on a frozen lake–I have chosen the fastest shutter possible to stop the action, capturing a frozen moment in time rather than a more impressionistic view. In the age of digital, the ability to select higher ISOs and faster shutter speeds allows me to capture a lot more moving subjects in sharp focus in this way, although my preference is still for blurred motion.
MH: The penguin shot is a wonderful example of allowing us to enjoy something unusual, in this case, a penguin “in flight.” This is a split-second event and takes remarkable timing to capture with a camera. The result allows us to appreciate the penguin’s torpedo-like shape, and understand a little better what makes them such speedy swimmers.
All of these images are examples of the camera being able to record something that is either too fast or too slow for the human eye to capture accurately. Fast shutter speeds enable us to savor moments of peak action at a later time and at our own pace. One of the greatest advantages of digital has been the ability to immediately see your results, allowing you to experiment and then make corrections on the spot. This can be especially valuable, for example, when testing different shutter speeds to gauge their effect.
It’s Technique Tuesday, and since the last little tip I shared was a very technical tutorial on creating panoramas in Photoshop and Lightroom, I figured we would go back to the basics with a more universal message that I think will help new photographers and those who may be struggling themselves with tunnel vision alike. With a recently added Abstract Astoria workshop happening soon, and my Photography As Art seminar happening in Seattle this fall, these are some basics I will find myself repeating!
What are you seeing as you photograph? How do you perceive the world and what’s important to you? This is something that goes much deeper than thinking about getting the latest camera with the most megapixels. Good shots come from cultivating the eye. Scrutinize every subject without prejudice. A good photo can be found in rusting debris lying in an alley of a big city or out in a pristine environment. Finding images everywhere is how you practice, how you improve your work. It’s about the subject only in how you frame it, and in the message you send with the photo.
Do you shoot any possible subject, whether a rusting can in a gutter, a grand ceremony in a foreign land, or birds on a beach? Or do you define yourself as a “bird photographer” or a “landscape photographer”? Try not to limit your subjects or how you define yourself as a photographer. Photographing without prejudice opens up the world! You can’t even walk into a grocery store without finding a viable subject. And along the way, you gain practice that cultivates your eye.
You might think that composition comes naturally for professionals like us. Naturally, perhaps, after many years of doing it! There is no question that if you are to succeed as a photographer, you have to take a lot of pictures. This is sometimes frustrating for people who have invested a lot of money in the latest gear and want instant results since you have to take a lot of both good and bad photographs to get better.
There is an old joke about a visitor to New York City trying to get to a concert at Carnegie Hall. After getting a little lost, he saw a man walking down the street with a large cello case. He stopped the musician and asked, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”
The musician looked sternly at the visitor and said, “Practice, practice, practice.”
A concert pianist rarely gets up on stage and gives a bad performance, but only because he or she has had years of practice. That isn’t to say that you can’t get good pictures at whatever stage you are in, but it does point out how important it is to get out and take lots of pictures. Practice does matter.
The Subject, or the Photograph?
One thing that can hold photographers back from finding great images is that they focus too hard on finding the “perfect” subject. Whenever possible, try to avoid “trophy hunting” for subjects. That means going out and trying to find the same subjects that photographers like Art Wolfe shot, or going to major locations and photographing only the big, iconic subjects. Think about that. You can buy postcards of those big, iconic subjects that were shot under ideal conditions. When you start looking for subjects simply as trophies to be captured, you stop looking for the photograph.
If you simply look for subject matter, you’ll often be disappointed because the camera is not looking for subject matter. The camera doesn’t care what your subject is! The camera is simply looking at light and shadow and how to translate that into pixels. It is your job as a photographer to work with your camera to find interesting photographs, not simply capture a subject.
Looking at the art world outside of photography can be instructive. Painters have to figure out what the whole image is going to be, not simply the subject. They have to interpret a scene in a certain way on their canvas, rather than simply pointing a camera at a subject and pressing a button. Seeing through that “lens” can help you navigate the challenge of finding original compositions in the world you walk through every day.
In this book there are very few photographs of the big, iconic subjects that so many others shoot. Art looks for and finds subject matter that is going to translate into interesting photographs that appeal to him. He responds to the world around him as a place filled with photographic possibilities because he is not simply looking for an interesting subject. He is always looking for interesting photographs.