Throwback Thursday – First Wildlife Photo & The Camera Used!

Moose, BC Canada.

One of the early pages of my latest book Wild Lives features the very first wildlife photo I ever captured – a moose in British Columbia. Not the most stellar photo in the world, but significant in that it was the start of quite a journey that I am still on today.

I just received quite the surprise gift in the mail from my good friend, incredible author and fellow Photographer Rob Sheppard – a nice note with this “incredible” shot, along with the same style Kodak Brownie Fiesta Camera that I shot it with. Talk about a blast from the past! These cameras were manufactured in the 1960’s, and you could own one for the reasonable cost of $5.95! If you were exceptionally thrifty, 15 cans worth of soup labels sent to Campbells at the time would also suffice!

What was your first camera and the subject that set you on your photography path? Leave a comment below!

Art Wolfe's first wildlife photo of a moose and the Kodak Fiesta Camera of the type it was shot on.

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Tech Tuesday – Memory Cards & Readers, Oh My!

When it comes to memory cards (and card readers), there are considerations to make beyond just the capacity. A larger card might not even be the best option in some cases. When it comes to the technobabble involved in what factors in to selecting the right equipment, I leave that up to my staff member Kyle, who’s now going to pass that information along to you! Everyone has different experiences, so please leave a comment below if you have any first-hand knowledge on the subject to pass along.

memory cards & card reader

Which Brand Do I Choose?

Note – this is NOT a sponsored post; the brands listed here are simply what Art uses and trusts. 

We’ve had a good experience sticking with the Sandisk Extreme Pro line of memory cards. This is a trusted and supported name, and your cards come with a code for recovery software in case you run into any issues. These cards are durable enough that we haven’t needed to use this feature often, but it did come in handy when an older card I had failed. I was able to use the code from one of the newer cards to run the software and recover photos. Your experience may vary, as recovering files once they are deleted is never guaranteed to work. Expect it wont, cheer if it does!

ProGrade Digital also makes very good cards, and excellent card readers. More on that later.

What Are the Common Types of Memory Cards?

Though I am approaching presenting information as it pertains to a Canon R5, the information is general enough to apply to many different camera brands and models. Check with your camera manufacturer’s documentation to get the specifics of which slots you have. If you don’t have your original documentation, it’s likely your manufacturer’s website has a manual to download.

The R5 and many other pro cameras generally contain two or more memory slots. The most common slots included are for CF Cards and SD Cards. Consumer cameras tend have a single SD slot, though in recent years with the size of photos increasing this is starting to change. Keep in mind that there are many different versions of both CF and SD cards. You’ll want to make sure you’re using the right one by referencing the documentation.

CF Cards

CF (Compact Flash) cards are the fastest cards available. If your camera accepts CF cards and you frequently shoot 4K video or in continuous mode, this is the option you’ll want to choose. They are generally more expensive than SD cards of equivalent size due to their greatly increased speed.

Current CF memory cards are called “CF-Express” or “CFE”. They come in three different “types” (A, B or C) which describe the physical dimensions of the card. Having the right type of card for your camera as well as the right card reader is mandatory – they are not interchangeable. If you’re purchasing a new camera, you’ll want to make sure it uses type B or C. Type A is slower technology, but is often the same or more cost-wise based on a limited supply. (If your current camera only supports type A, don’t fret! it’s still a viable and fast card type)

By far the biggest selling point of a CF-Express card is the speed, as CF cards are potentially up to five-times faster than an equivalent SD card. Check the read and write speed of any card you consider purchasing. 1700 MB/s read cards are fairly common, with 3400 MB/s being the latest premium card speed. Just keep in mind your speed is limited by other hardware considerations, most notably your camera’s buffer speed, the source you’re copying to, the cabling, and the card reader. It doesn’t make sense to splurge on the latest, fastest card only to find the performance is about the same due to hardware limits and diminishing returns.

A CF-E Type B with 1700+ read / 1200+ write is the most common option here.

SD Cards

SD (Secure Digital) cards are not as fast as CF cards, but are more available and less expensive. The exception would be the “latest and greatest” SD cards on the market. These can often be comparable in price to a CF card with an equivalent capacity, however they are still not as fast. The reason for the price equivalency comes down to the fact that consumer cameras generally use SD cards, whereas CF cards are commonly found in higher-end pro cameras.

SD cards currently come in three different formats: UHS-I, UHS-II and the most recent UHS-III. Once again, you’ll need to refer to your camera’s documentation but for the most part UHS-II is the standard, with UHS-I being much too slow for most modern cameras. UHS-III is the latest and speediest version, but also expensive and the option to use a CF-E card if possible is more attractive.

You’ll also find SD cards described as “SD”, “SDHC”, or “SDXC”. No reason to get too much into the weeds here – you want SDXC, unless your camera is old enough to not be compatible. SDXC cards are the only ones that will hold more than 32 gb of data, which is in my opinion the smallest card I’d ever want to use with a modern camera.

An SD SDXC UHS-II card is the most common option here.

Card Readers

Card readers are another lengthy post in their own right, but I’ll keep it simple. You’ll want a card reader that reads CF and/or SD memory cards, depending on the cards your camera uses and that you choose to purchase. Simple! Lets take a very small step into the weeds though.


A good card reader can make a big difference. Art was struggling with some of the readers we tried off of Amazon until his good friend and colleague Sean Fitzgerald recommended the readers from ProGrade Digital. We purchased this card reader specific for CF-E type B cards, and he’s extremely happy with the performance. They also make a model that reads both CF-E and SD card types.

As far as technical considerations go, the biggest factor affecting the speed that you have control over when purchasing a reader is the USB version. 3.0, 3.2, and 4.0 are all viable. Anything less than 3.0 will have vastly diminished read and write speed.

Stand-alone CF-E card readers are generally faster than card readers that also read SD cards, so if the speed of copying from your card to your device is critical, it’s something to consider. Often in the field, Art is shooting thousands of photos, and needs to be able to copy them quickly if he wants to download them and re-use the card for more shots. In these cases, being able to copy quickly is critical, and this is why he uses a separate CF and SD card readers.

Final Considerations for Purchasing Memory Cards & Readers

Hopefully this has been somewhat helpful in understanding card types. Obviously there are other options out there and your camera is largely going to determine what you need. Just keep in mind that splurging for extra speed and/or capacity is an amazing luxury to have, but not always the best use of your funds if you’re on any kind of budget.

For example – a Canon R5 includes both an SD and a CF card slot. Instead of considering a 512 GB CF card, you might want to get a 256 GB CF and a 256 GB SD card – that way you have options to shoot and write the same photos to both cards and have a very secure backup so you don’t lose photos. If a card fails in the field, you also have the option to use the other one. You still have the same storage capacity but more flexibility. Some photographers configure their cameras to write the larger, slower-to-copy RAW files to the CF card while sending the smaller, faster JPGs to the SD card.

In the end, CF-E cards are superior as they are faster, usually have a higher capacity, and are more durable than SD cards. SD cards are more common in consumer cameras. It really comes down to what your camera is compatible with, how you use your camera, and your budget.

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Friday Focus – How to Use a Circular Polarizer!

One of the most common and frequently-utilized pieces of equipment in my kit is also one of the most commonly overlooked components – A circular polarizer, or “CPL” as you’ll see them sometimes called. Without getting into the weeds on the science, essentially a polarizer controls the amount of reflected light reaching your sensor, resulting in more saturated higher-contrast images. Although filters have largely been replaced by post-processing RAW images, a polarizer is still an essential component of any kit.

Moab, Utah. Art Wolfe teaches workshop participants the technique and benefits of using a circular polarizer.

There are two kinds of polarizers – make sure you pick the right one. You’ll want a circular (not linear) polarizer with quality glass. No sense in ensuring you have quality gear only to skimp on the glass at the end of your lens! I use the fantastic filters from breakthrough photography. Polarizers also come in warm and neutral tones. A warm polarizer does the obvious – warms up the colors of your shot! It also has the added bonus of helping to cut through haze and atmosphere. A neutral filter will give you something more, well, neutral – making it a great place to start post-processing.
Moab, Utah. Art Wolfe teaches workshop participants the technique and benefits of using a circular polarizer.
Using a polarizer is fairly simple. There is more to just slapping one on and shooting, however. Polarizing filters have a ring to adjust the amount of the effect. I watch my LCD screen while rotating the filter to see the results happen in real-time. This is useful when shooting water as well. I will dial between capturing a perfect mirrored reflection on the water’s surface, or bypassing the reflections entirely to see into it’s depths. The later helps me immensely when photographing subjects like the salmon-hunting bears in Katmai.

If you’re photographing landscapes a polarizing filter is a must-have. Leave a comment below if you have a polarizer you’d recommend. I also love hearing about the creative ways you’re using them!

Moab, Utah

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Flashback Friday – Spring Solar Eclipse!

On April 8th we’ll be able catch a total solar eclipse here in the United States, as well as Canada and Mexico. I’ll be in Seattle when it happens, so my viewing will only be partial – but I’ve had the pleasure of having some incredible opportunities for capturing these serendipitous moments in recent years.

In 2019, I made it a point to get down to Chile to catch the total eclipse. I have shot eclipse moments in the past but this time armed with Canon’s lightweight 600, a 2x and 50mp 5D… I was not only able to get the shot I came for – but cropping in you can even see solar flares along the edge of the sun (below)!

One of the most important tips for photographing the eclipse is to make sure you’re prepared to capture it in a variety of ways, both by zooming in for isolated details of the eclipse itself, but also connecting it to the environment. Framing it with trees or other terrestrial structures to establish a sense of place tells a greater story. My eclipse-shots are generally 1-second exposures at a low ISO around 400 using a long lens with extender, but there are a lot of factors you’ll need to consider. B&H has a great post on their Explora blog about photographing the eclipse.

A few years prior to Chile, I was also able to capture the annular event in one of Tanzania’s most remote National Parks, Katavi. This was a stop on a wildlife trip, and while I was able to capture some incredible photos of hippos and crocodiles, the eclipse stole the show!

I also captured an eclipse in Australia back in 2002. For that trip, I was shooting for Edge of the Earth, Corner of the Sky. I wrote an extensive blog post on that experience a few years back if you’re interested in more photos and stories!

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So, You Got That New Camera For Christmas – Now What!?

Happy New Year – hopefully everyone had a rejuvenating holiday season! If you found a new camera, lens, phone, or other equipment under the tree and you’re looking to get out and shoot, you might be wondering where to start. Obviously there are technical hurdles to leap that are going to be specific to your setup, but the easiest way to learn is to just get out and do it, learning from mistakes, and focusing on one aspect at a time until it all comes together.

I also have a couple of well-reviewed how-to books on the subject, packed with great information on how to get going – sold individually, or as a bundle. And, when you’re comfortable enough with your camera – why not check out one of the many upcoming workshops and put your new equipment and knowledge to use in the field? Either way, I’m excited for you and your upcoming photography adventures in 2024!

The Art of the Photograph

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Happy Halloween – Last Minute Costume Idea!

Why not go as the worlds grea. . . er. . .most humble wildlife photographer?! From one of my most iconic exploits, use the knit hat and stuffed seal provided and be the life of your local party! Not SPOOKY enough for you?! Malarkey! The fear of corrupted cards and drives haunts us all to the very core! *shudder*.

Camera sold separately!

Happy Halloween everyone – have a safe and fun weekend!

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Wildlife Wednesday – Underwater at Wakatobi, Indonesia!

A very famous French diver once called Indonesia’s Wakatobi an underwater Nirvana. I am not going to quibble with Jacques Cousteau. Last week I traveled with very good friends and serious underwater photography gearheads (which I am not) to this island archipelago. My friends endured lost luggage and had to rent equipment, and I, a fish out of water doing underwater camera work, battled against stronger-than-expected currents, a leaking mask, and balky SD cards. Fortunately on the last couple days of shooting things worked themselves out  and I managed to get a few really nice photos that will fit very nicely in the huge new wildlife book coming out next year!

One of the more challenging aspects of photographing underwater in this and similar locations are venomous fish – in this case, scorpion fish. On top of managing the underwater camera system while trying to stay steady in a difficult current and not scaring away my subjects, I also had to keep myself from disturbing the sea floor. At one point my underwater guide and myself were balancing ourselves on a tiny wooden dowel stuck into the sea floor to try to stabilize ourselves. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it – enjoy the photos!

I used a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV camera with an EF8-15mm f/4L FISHEYE USM lens in a Nauticam underwater housing.

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Technique Tuesday: Shooting the Aurora Borealis

Recently my staff received the following question in regards to the above image:

“Was this photo a single shot, an HDR composite, or some other technique?”

Short Answer:

this is from the good ol’ days when you shot a slide (single exposure in this case) and waited a few months to see if anything turned out…

Medium answer:

All the details – Canon EOS-1N, Canon EF 17-35mm lens, f/2.8 at 30 seconds, Fujichrome Provia 400 film, Gitzo G1325 tripod.

Loooong Answer:

The aurora borealis, or the “northern lights” as they are often called is an atmospheric phenomenon that occurs as electrically charged particles from the sun make gases glow in the upper atmosphere. Despite the dryness of this scientific explanation, it is difficult to view the aurora borealis without experiencing a sense of wonderment and mysticism. It remains one of the most dazzling sights in the natural world.

To get this image, I flew to Fairbanks, Alaska, then drove eight hours north to the Brooks Range on the famous pipeline road to Prudhoe Bay. The Brooks Range lies within the Arctic Circle and thus provides a more predictable chance to see the aurora borealis. I timed my journey to coincide with a half moon because the snow-clad range would be properly illuminated by the half moon’s light. A full moon might actually have been too bright during the required 30-second exposure. I discovered that despite the fact that the aurora is in continuous motion, a 30-second exposure is usually fast enough to yield proper exposure and reasonably sharp lines within the displays. When I photographed this display, I was unhappy with its color, which appeared to be a dull, pale green. When I returned home and developed the film, I was delightfully surprised to discover that the film picked up the reds.

This photo is featured in the book “Edge of the Earth, Corner of the Sky” as well as being available as a fine are print.

Are there any photos in my collection you’d like to hear the story behind? Drop a comment below – your suggestion could spark an idea for a future blog post!

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#MondayMemories – Serendipity in Goa, India.

You never know what you will find when wandering around a city with a camera in hand. When light and subject and circumstance come together, magic can occur.

In this particular case, the facts behind the shot are nothing special. Workers had been putting gravel onto the parking lot of a restaurant in Panjim, Goa, which kicked a lot of dust into the air. Pedestrians were simply going about their business. However, when backlit by a late sun, the scene became street art–performance art. The activity of putting gravel down created an amazing atmosphere for a nicely layered image.

Standing back from the scene, I used a 70–200mm zoom, which enabled me to shoot a series of shots without interfering with the people so that they would not pay attention to my presence. I positioned myself looking directly into the late afternoon light so that the dust kicked into the air would be filled with light. I was not so much concerned about capturing details and faces of the people, as much as I was with the positions of the bodies within the frame. I kept shooting and reframing the shot as the scene changed every couple of seconds when the workers threw on the next load of gravel and different people came through the scene. I love the layering effect of the light and dust that comes from the backlight.


Photo tip: Dust, rain, humidity, fog, haze all add dimension to a scene when shot with backlight, light behind the conditions. It creates atmosphere and interesting changes in tonality and light, as well as creating layers in depth. Be careful that bright atmospheric conditions do not cause your camera to underexpose the scene.

Camera & settings used: Canon EOS-1Ds, EF 70–200mm F2.8 lens, f/7.1 for 1/160 sec., ISO 100

Excerpt from Photographs from the Edge.

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#TequilaThursday – Easy Instagram Quick-Start Guide!

My life will always be about travel and explorations. When restrictions are relaxed – and both myself and my staff have done our due diligence to assess risk factors to ensure we travel safely – you can bet I will be back out there in the field leading workshops in the safest manner possible.

That brings us to the question:“What becomes of Tequila Time with Art when Art is travelling again and not always home?” 

The answer? I don’t intend to stop doing Tequila Time, and in fact, time zones and connections permitting, I’m truly fascinated about the possibilities of sharing what I can while I’m on the road.

I need your help though if you’re tuning into Tequila Time via Facebook rather than Instagram!

The fact of the matter is that going live on Instagram is a much more convenient tool for the format we use on Tequila Time. When I’m traveling again, I simply can’t add more equipment to my pack or steps to my setup to support multiple platforms. I am aware there is both hardware and software that exists to make this easier, but I don’t need one more process to deal with on my travels. To that end, we’ve created a quick and simple guide to getting started on Instagram for everyone willing to make the transition!

Enjoy the guide and drop your Instagram handle in the comments so we can trade follows! We will follow this post up with one focused on publishing your own content next week. For now, lets just get you started!


STEP 1: Creating Your Instagram Account

The good news is that if you are already on Facebook, joining Instagram is easy as they are owned by the same company – you can use your Facebook login information to sign up for Instagram. First you’ll need to choose which platform or platforms you’ll need Instagram on. The most popular method is through a smartphone app, and here you will also do the majority of your uploading of images.

iOS/iPhone App download
Android App download

You can also create an account through any web browser by going to


When you create an account, be sure to create a username that is unique, memorable, and easy to type for others so you’re easy to find!

STEP 2: I’m in, Now What?!

If your only goal is to view Tequila Time then the only thing to do is find me, follow me, and wait for Thursday’s at 5:30 PST!

What you should be seeing on your smart phone should look somewhat like the left side of the image blow – it might differ slightly from the Android app or the web browser version, and since you may not be following anyone just yet your feed is likely not populated. The color coding on the right will help us break the interface into four sections explained below.

Let’s start from the bottom and work our way up:

Main Menu Navigation:

The yellow section is your navigational bar that will take you to the various parts of instagram. The house icon is your home screen, and it encompasses what you see in both the cyan and green areas above. The magnifying glass is where you would go to search for members, posts or other content. The square with the + in the center of the menu is where you do your own personal uploading and posting of photos with comment. The heart is where you can see your interactions with other members whether that be someone’s like on your photos, a comment, or more. Finally, the circular icon on the right represents your personal Instagram feed, and you can go here to see what your personal page looks like to others whom visit you.

Your News Feed:

The blue area is your feed, much like your news feed in Facebook. Again, it’s accessed via the house Icon on the lower bar. When those you follow post new photos, they will appear in your feed. Here you can see my good friend Daniel Dietrich has posted an owl that is apparently also an exercise enthusiast. Under the photo you can use the heart icon to quickly “like” Daniel’s photo, or hit the text blurb to leave a comment. The paper airplane would allow you to share Daniel’s post either to your story or to other people directly. Finally on the right you can bookmark the image to visit later. this feed can slide up to reveal more posts.

Activity Feed:

The green section is where you can see recent activity from people you follow who are most active. This is an important section – when I go live, you’ll see my icon in this list with the “live” tag on it. This is where you’ll want to go on Thursday’s at 5:30 to join me! This section slides horizontally to reveal more folks you follow.

Title Bar:

Finally at the top of the page is the red section. On the left is a camera icon, and you can go here to take photos and videos with various filters, but most importantly this is where you would also start your own live broadcast if you wanted to! Again you have the paper plane icon on the right where you can share the page to others.

With this info you should at least be able to create an account and find me, as soon as this evening at 5:30 for today’s Tequila Time! This post is already long – next week we will follow up with instructions and tips for uploading your own photos and getting some followers.

See you tonight!

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