On Location: VARANASI

BLOG: Varanasi January 2011 – Images by Art Wolfe

Art is leading a photo workshop in India for two weeks and he’s starting to send back photos! This first batch was taken on the ghats of Varanasi. It is the holiest city in Hinduism and has been a cultural and religious center for thousands of years. A ghat is a set of stairs leading to a holy body of water, in this case, the Ganges. Some are public, some private; some are used for ritual bathing or cremation, while others are used for quotidian uses such as laundry. Whatever the use, they are always a center of colorful display—even the reflections in the water are beautiful!

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CHINA:March 25 – April 7

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On Location: In Search of Cattails

BLOG: In Search of Cattails – Images by Art Wolfe

It sounds odd, but I have been looking specifically for cattails lately.  They make for beautiful layered shots of color and texture.

This past weekend I went out shooting with Libby and David, who orchestrate my workshops.  We headed out to Washington’s Sauk River, dodged the rain squalls, and got some lovely shots.

The Sauk is a tributary of the Skagit River and drains from the Cascade Range.  It has the reputation of being a great flyfishing river. It is also very, very wet.
The moss swells on the bigleaf maples and hangs in long wispy tendrils from the alders.

And then finally I found the cattails, standing tall and golden against red twig dogwood, with pale green forest beyond.

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On Location: Nourishing the Soul

BLOG: On Location – Nourishing the Soul – Images by Art Wolfe

Yesterday I was feeling more stressed than usual so I decided to take a day & go and shoot in my backyard—literally and figuratively.  I took off before dawn and headed toward Mt. Rainier.  The mountain (volcano) was haloed in lenticular clouds at sunrise, then the light quickly flattened out into a snow sky.  I then concentrated my efforts on the Carbon River, the outflow from the Carbon Glacier on Rainier.  There has been a cycle of freezing and thawing this winter due to the La Nina weather pattern.  The icicles are particularly interesting with their nearly iridescent grooved patterns—not unlike a shining blade of a samurai sword.
Back at home in the late afternoon, I photographed a bonsai tree in my backyard at sunset.  It was a good day.

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Best Places in 2011

Before the New York Times picked them as their best places, we did for workshop locations for 2011:

Olympic National Park

April 22-24, 2011

BLOG: Olympic National Park – Images by Art Wolfe

Iceland

July 4 to July 13, 2011

Story Set: Iceland – Images by Art Wolfe

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On Location – Two Washingtons

Blog: On Location Washington – Jan 2011 – Images by Art Wolfe

In the last week I have photographed in two very different agricultural areas of Washington State. Some may remember my earlier post on the Palouse last fall. That was such an interesting location that I decided to go back and shoot more. The old abandoned farmhouse has such a dramatically bleak appearance, especially in the severe gray tones of winter.

I followed up that outing with a drive north to the Skagit Valley, where snow geese and trumpeter swans overwinter in the farmers’ stubbly fields. We’ve experienced a glorious stretch of weather, which has been icy cold and dry with bright blue skies. During this type of weather there is always an inversion and it makes for tremendous sunsets.

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On Location – ANTARCTICA

I just returned from another eventful and gut-wrenching Antarctica sailing.  I was one of the few not affected by seasickness in the brutal crossing of the Drake Passage.

This was a very lucky trip.  We managed to dodge two major storms, one of which disabled the boat I sailed on last year.  When we returned to South America, there were tours and boats backed up waiting for a break in the weather.

While waiting to embark the Ushuaia in Ushuaia, I photographed psychedelic macros of peeling paint on metal buildings and the next day we were at sea heading to Half Moon Island in the South Shetlands, and then on to the Lemaire Channel and other ice-bound islets.  On one of our exploratorations off the boat I saw young Gentoo penguins play-acting nesting behavior.  They were trying to “hatch” rocks and build nests.

Take a look & enjoy!

NEW! Antarctica – Images by Art Wolfe

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On Location – India

For years I resisted going to India.  When I was shooting for my book The Living Wild, I realized that tigers were a critical animal I needed to photograph.  In March 1999 I went to Ranthambhore National Park and since then I have been back to India more times than I can count.  It has become one of my favorite countries to photograph in—the colors, festivals, wildlife, and ancient traditions are astounding and enchanting.

To track tigers you venture out on elephant-back with a mahout.  Photographing from an elephant is difficult at best but a necessary challenge.  The forest is alive with birdsong and then suddenly you hear it:  the spirited, scolding call of the hanuman langur, meaning a tiger or even a leopard is near.  These ever-alert primates are the eyes and ears of guides and researchers alike.

I have never been so excited as to see a tiger in the wild.  There is really nothing like it and the experience never grows old.  Experience it for yourself and travel with me to India in January.  There are three spots left for this marvelous trip.

BLOG: On Location with Tigers – Images by Art Wolfe

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On Location – Northern California

I rarely do assignments, but recently I traveled to California to do a shoot for the award-winning winery Sequoia Grove .  It is a wonderful winery in Napa which has a partnership with the Sequoia Parks Foundation to protect habitat for the magnificent trees.

Following the commercial shoot in Napa, Jay Goodrich & I headed to the ghost town of Bodie, a State Historic Park north of Yosemite National Park. An old gold-mining town that was abandoned by its last residents over 50 years ago, it offers terrific photographic opportunities of “arrested decay.”

The open road of the Eastern Sierra beckoned after a quick stop in  Yosemite, and we caught Owens Lake at sunset.  Most of the water from the Owens River has long since been diverted to the Los Angeles Aqueduct, but some flow has now been restored to the lake.  At dusk when the shallow, alkaline waters are still, the reflections of landforms and the endless high plains sky are superlative.

Back in the Bay Area we rented a small plane and flew over the San Francisco Bay.  Over 90% of the Bay’s marshlands have been lost, but now some areas are slowly being restored for wildlife habitat.  From the sky, the marshes offer amazing array of abstract geometric patterns and colors.

BLOG: California Autumn – Images by Art Wolfe

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On Location – Patzcuaro, Mexico

Art was just in Patzcuaro, Mexico, photographing the Day of the Dead festival.  During this holiday families gather for prayer and remembrance of departed family members.  They clean and decorate cemeteries and churches, and celebrate life. Here is what Art had to say about the experience-

“Most Americans don’t deal with death in a straight forward manner.  As a culture we tend to make it a subject of much avoidance.  When I was asked to shoot the Dia de los Muertos in southwestern Mexico earlier this month, I approached it with great interest and naivete.  As I photographed in the days leading up to the holiday, I began to understand just how important it is, even more so than Christmas.  I was deeply moved by the way the community prepared for the Day of the Dead, vigorously cleaning churchyards and decorating cemeteries in colorful blankets of flowers, glowing candles, and overflowing baskets of food.  The holiday is not sad, but rather a celebration of life and love and family.  What I initially thought would be somber was, in fact, hugely uplifting and illuminating, both spiritually and photographically.”

NEW! Day of the Dead, Mexico – Images by Art Wolfe

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