Urban renewal takes many forms. We are busy primates, always changing our environment for better and mostly for worse. For 40 years Seattleites dumped their garbage at the Montlake Dump just north of today’s Husky Stadium. It was just a worthless marsh so why not? Spurred on by a blossoming of environmental awareness in the 1960s-70s, a plan was slowly developed to reclaim the area as a natural laboratory. Today the site is some 50 acres of which 14 acres have been completely restored. It is a long process, beating back the Himalayan blackberries, loosestrife and other nonnative species. It wasn’t until the 1980s that work in earnest began, resulting in the natural marshland in existence today.
We have joined Washington Wild and 108 organizations, Tribes, and elected officials to urge the Canadian Government to stop Imperial Metals from mining the Skagit River headwaters.
The iconic Skagit River begins in British Columbia, flows down through the North Cascades and Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest, eventually ending in the Puget Sound.
Along the way, the river provides critical habitat for grizzly bears, bull trout, spotted owls, and the largest populations of threatened steelhead and Chinook salmon. The fish, in turn, provide food to Orcas, and are central to many Native communities’ cultures and treaty rights.
Puget sound is right outside my window, and frequently I shoot in the western corridor between BC and Seattle – I’m distinctly aware of the ecosystem in question. Decisions made by our neighbors to the north affect us downstream. Moving forward with mining is a direct threat to one of our state’s most beloved natural resources. #ProtectSkagit!
Click here for a PDF with more information on this proposal.
In autumn my home state of Washington shows its colors, deepened and moistened by a welcome rain. I spent time photographing abstracts from the Olympic Peninsula in the west to Icicle Creek on the east side of the Cascade Range. In between I documented my yard for an upcoming book on Seattle gardens and scouted Port Townsend for a new abstract workshop. While I am an avid consumer of news, photography and nature has helped me keep my zen through these tense times. Take a hike, listen to water and the wind, cast your gaze into the reaching branches of a tree, it’s good for the soul.
I started off the month of October by leading a small workshop on the Olympic Peninsula for a handful of intrepid photographers who were ready to be safely out and about. Much of what appears to be fog in the photos is more than likely smoke still heading up north from the many devastating fires in California.
I’m so fortunate to live in such a varied and beautiful location where so many lessons can be taught in one place – from the varied lighting conditions on beaches versus the shadowed canopies of trees along their edge, majestic old-growth trees, and waterfalls to practice longer exposures.
Never be afraid to alter the location around you, as in the shot with the stacked rocks. It’s still possible to stage a scene while staying true to the natural wonders of the location, and in some ways enhance it while getting comfortable with the creative process!
In the photo below, the stacked rocks are not just an attempt to manufacture a subject, or add an interesting foreground element to capture the eye. While both of these things are happening, it’s really the smoothness of the rocks that informs the viewer about the location – the timeless rounded edges that speak of centuries of erosion. it so happens their rounded shape makes them easy to balance and stack.
Tomorrow is Migratory Bird Day! With projects like Migrations and the upcoming wild, I’ve no shortage of photos to celebrate these stalwart world travelers. Enjoy the image gallery!
On the subject of ‘world travelers’, tomorrow morning Parimal and myself will be live at 10 AM on Earth Is Our Witness to talk with “The Big Cat People” Angela and Jonathan Scott to hear the awesome tales that come of over four decades of experience photographing the lions of Africa.
Enjoy the images and we hope to see you live tomorrow morning!
Busy week both here in Art Wolfe land and the world! Sports are returning in limited fashion, political fallout, and conflicts of ideology that are having harmful results (wear a mask! Please – I have many more book projects to complete!). I absolutely enjoyed chatting with Michelle Valberg last night on Earth Is Our Witness. If you enjoyed Michelle’s work, don’t forget to pop over to the Earth Is Our Witness Instagram page and give a photo you like a comment – a lucky winner will receive a free print!
Last night on Tequila Time, I had a bit of fun with a look at some of the antics of my youth, but I also ended on a poignant note. As many of you are aware, the flora, fauna, and livelihood of local fishermen is under immense threat by the proposed Pebble Mine project in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska If the Pebble Mine goes through, the bears will lose, the fish will lose, Alaskans will lose, and Earth will lose. It’s short term gain for the few and long-term destruction for the many.
A little over a year ago now I sent out a call to action to contact your congresspersons and let them know your thoughts on this project, that only serves to propagate wealth for the few while ravaging this beautiful and globally unique environment that we and future generations will lose out on.
With the recent Army Corps of Engineer’s Environmental Impact Study being labelled as inherently flawed and wholly inadequate by respected organizations such as the NRDC and the obvious interests of the Save Bristol Bay campaign, it’s time to make voices heard. No project ever goes flawlessly. We know this as humans. I do my best to see both sides of a conflict, but when it comes to matters of the environment versus the personal gain of a few individuals whom already possess the means to undertake such an environmentally devastating project, my decision is very simple.
We will continue to fight the good fight! Have a fantastic weekend!
Hard to believe it, but we’ve been doing a weekly live broadcast every Thursday night for four months now. If you’ve been missing out and can make it work with your time zone, make sure you follow me on Facebook and Instagram so you don’t miss out on tomorrow’s live broadcast! I need your help though – in the form of more questions! Leave a comment below with anything you might want to know about photography, my career, or something completely random – have fun with it!
We’ve also added Earth Is Our Witnessto the mix, which is a fantastic way to get to know some of the world’s greatest photographers some of which you’ve likely heard of, and others you should know! The premise of EIOW is to emphasize the ways that we are, by and large, similar around the world, with the same goals, dreams, and wishes for our friends, our families, and ourselves.
This week on EIOW, we will be talking with Canadian Geographic photographer-in-residence & Nikon Ambassador Michelle Valberg on her work in the Arctic and the inspiring stories behind the lives of the Inuit people who reside there.
Tequila Time kicks off at 5:30 PM PST every Thursday on Facebook Live & Instagram.
Earth is Our Witness begins at 7 PM PST on Thursday on Facebook Live & Youtube.
Today is “Monarch Butterfly Day” according to whatever mystical powers-that-be control the hashtags! I’ve had the pleasure of photographing Monarchs over the years at many of Mexico’s renowned preserves that harbor millions of butterflies as they migrate.
It’s with a heavy heart, then, that I make this post – one that should be about the beauty of this creature and the symbolism and joy it brings world-wide. However, tragic events that have befallen a pair of conservation heroes in Mexico should be taking center stage right now until answers are found.
As you may have heard, activists and outspoken critics of the illegal logging activities in preserved areas of Mexico, Homero Gómez González and Raúl Hernández Romero were recently found deceased, both under mysterious and possibly malicious circumstances.
González was an agricultural engineer and the manager of the El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Preserve. Growing up in a logging family, he was a skeptic of conservation efforts and their possible impact on contributing to poverty in the region. His background and education gave strength to his voice when, in the early 2000’s, he became an advocate for curbing the deforestation he was seeing first hand.
I recently returned from my second trip to Eastern Greenland in the last two years and once again it lived up to expectations. From ship to Zodiac, there was a lot to capture in between the wide seascapes and ancient detail in the upheaval of rock formations.
The bedrock of Greenland is some of the oldest on the planet, up to 3.8 billion years old and it shows in the tortuous folds and striations around the ice-free edges of the island. One of the most fascinating spots is called the Skaergaard intrusion, a relatively young formation of igneous rock extruded from the Earth 55 million years ago. Its layers, texture, and line make for a photographer’s dream.
The aesthetics and geological history is all well and good – but the REAL question is, can you find the bacon?!
Wildlife photography can be a frustrating pursuit at times, but you roll with it! In August I had the opportunity to photograph sea wolves in the temperate rainforest of Canada. It rained and rained and rained and the wolves made themselves scarce. Apparently they had moved their den site to another area, but I am pleased with the fleeting images I was able to create.
The surrounding landscape is so varied, from lapping water to rocky shoreline to impenetrable forest that it creates an extraordinarily lush backdrop to these elusive wolves. It was important to me to include the context of the environment, as you don’t find wolves in these kinds of surroundings often. Portraits and ‘hero’ shots of animals can be important to illustrate their personality and demeanor, but may not always inform you of what that creature’s environment and life might be like to the extent of capturing them in the vastness of their natural element.
Think about context and story when you photograph wildlife – and you’ll often come away with a winner!