A great way to break up the ennui of flying is to play around with aerial photography. Get yourself a window seat, a camera, and enjoy all the amazing landscapes Earth has to offer. I’ve recently been doing this more and more and I am loving it! Google Earth, step aside, Wolfe Earth is now a thing.
But seriously, you can get some great abstract shots and fancy yourself a spy from time to time. This last trip took me over the pole so I was able to get some images of ice break up in the Arctic Ocean north of Greenland, Russian farmlands, the east coast of the Caspian Sea, and the Alborz mountain range in Iran. While on the plane I do set my clock to local destination and try to get some sleep, but it can be very difficult, so I find this to be a very absorbing and intriguing distraction.
Two spots are available to join me in Detroit, Michigan in just a couple of weeks for the first ever Abstract Detroit workshop!
Detroit, Michigan is hard to define these days. Restoration projects abound in the urban sprawl that faced decline for many years. Nature preserves and neighborhoods have sprung up along the way, bringing green vitality to what many think of as a grey urban landscape. Modern commercial districts and the arts combine to form a growing down-town, feeling right at home amidst the array of architectural styles that define many middle-American cities.
Our home base will be the beautiful and modern Aloft Detroit at the David Witney, a modern hotel with every amenity providing the foundation for our retreat together. Over the next four days our explorations will provide opportunities to capture images unique to each participant.
I’m often asked by the curious and uninitiated to briefly explain what makes an Art Wolfe workshop unique to any other photography class you could attend. The answer is as simple as it is complicated – I simply want to change the way you see! I feel I’m uniquely qualified with a background in Fine Art and Art History to ensure you get the most growth out of your participation.
Click here for more details and to register. As the theme of today’s post states – there are just two spots left and it’s only two weeks away – don’t hesitate to get signed up and experience the many complimentary aspects of Abstract Detroit!
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
I’m pleased to be joining B&H Photo Video and the National Parks At Night organization to discuss my most recent book Night On Earth in a couple weeks. How might you catch my talk and many MANY more insights into photographing between dusk and dawn? I’m glad you asked!
The Night Photography Summit
More than 25 presenters teaching over 40 classes and participating in 3 panel discussions on the subject of night photography
February 4 – 6, 2022 – with access for all participants to all recordings of the summit presentations through February 7, 2023!
Everything will be online – find out more information on the official Night Photo Summit Page by clicking here.
You’re a photographer of any skill level who wants to up your knowledge of shooting at night, astrophotography, and much much more!
I also have a number of new workshops being added in the coming months. It’s been tough to navigate the calendar with how fast things change in terms of COVID, but my staff is getting quite good at it and we take every precaution. We may not be able to buy happiness, but we can purchase a little peace of mind in the form of travel insurance and I highly recommend utilizing it, especially during these *deep breath* unprecedented times.
I’ve been busy lately – leading workshops, working on books, and of course working in the yard. That being said I’ve missed Tequila Time and being able to connect with everyone live. While logistically speaking, having a weekly live stream simply isn’t feasible, it’s my goal to bring you monthly stories and lessons from the previous 30 days of shooting and my take on current events as they relate to travel and photography.
To that end I’m happy to announce that Art Wolfe LIVE will kick off next Tuesday, September 28th at 6 pm Pacific, 9 pm Eastern on Facebook Live and YouTube!
Returning for the inaugural episode will be Earth Is Our Witness host Parimal Deshpande. I have a quick video treat from my trip to Iceland to share and comment on, and lessons from that same trip to share – and more! Tell your friends, hope to see you there!
Just a couple weeks left until I open the doors of my home & garden to the group joining me in Seattle for my lecture, field session, and critique under the umbrella of The Art Of Seeing! Before this two-day workshop kicks off, join me on a Friday evening at my home in West Seattle for beverages and hors d’oeuvres as well as an exclusive look at my upcoming book, Night On Earth.
Over the course of this two-day workshop I’ll present lectures infused with lessons from Art History as well as my own hands-on five decades of experience as an artist, photographer, instructor, and world traveler. Then, we will take those lessons out into the field for shooting sessions – see how I work on location and the simple but effective ways to change your approach and perspective to come away with unique shots that speak to your own personal artistic vision!
Finally we will wrap it all up with what tends to be a participant favorite session – the critique, where I’ll take a look at your images from throughout the weekend and give my advice on how they might be improved, or recognition of a job well done, along with answering the “why” in each instance.
Hope to see you there! Space is limited as we allow for room for social distancing. Please note – to keep myself and my assistance safe and to streamline the process of acquiring venues and accommodations, we ask that all workshop participants be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Short but sweet today, as our group arrives at the lodge up here in Katmai, Alaska. I missed out on visiting last summer, so I’m excited to see how things have changed in the past couple of years. My visits to this region have been so frequent that I’ve grown to recognize individual bears over the years – hopefully they haven’t grown up or changed too much in that time! Here are some of my favorite shots from this location over the years. Each time I go to this location, I have a new goal in mind. It’s interesting to look back and see how my shots and focus has changed from year to year. This time I definitely want to get some artistic shots of the beautiful vibrant salmon to illustrate many of the things I talk about when I speak of “changing the way you see”. I mean it! Stay tuned for new photos when I return!
This will be the first of two sold-out tours happening back to back – check out my events page to get your name on the list early for next year’s tours so you don’t miss out!
I’m in the midst of going through all my photos from several recent workshops – all back to back, so my editing time has been limited! I did pull a few of my favorite shots from Oregon’s Lost Lake, looking out to Mt. Hood – the tallest mountain in the state, and also a dormant stratovolcano.
I often talk about the many ways to shoot a subject, and even from essentially the same vantage point you can find ways to make even a giant mountain feel different, and tell a different story.
For starters, the environmental portrait! This is a great way to open when sharing your photos, giving context to the scene. Here the calm lake is prominent, framed by the iconic evergreens of the pacific northwest. We get a good sense of place for the looming mountain.
Here we have the same elements – the lake is still present as well as the trees, but the mountain has become front and center. The lower sun is casting warmer hues on the mountain, separating it from the background. We still get a sense of place, but the mountain has become the star!
Here, the mountain is definitely the star feature. The lakes and trees still inform a bit of the environment, but the great mountain is free of the framing branches that kept it from feeling quite as prominent.
And finally – a vertical that takes us back to the sense of place – standing under the shady limbs of the evergreens. From all these shots, you can see from the forms and patterns on it’s surface that my angle on the mountain hasn’t changed – just taken a few steps one direction or another, gotten down lower to the ground, or tried a different focal length. Small differences can completely change the results of your shot!
While I’m always adding new workshop location destinations to my list, it’s inevitable that I end up photographing in many of the same locations time and time again. Part of the draw of an Art Wolfe workshop – especially here in the Pacific Northwest – is the expertise we have on these locations. So how do you find new ways to challenge yourself while coming away with new images from a location that you’re already familiar with?
Aside from the obvious, try to find new conditions and lighting. A night shoot can completely change a composition as the light sky darkens and the scene becomes a study of star and moonlight. Go outside your comfort zone and toss a lens on your camera that you hadn’t really considered, like a wide angle or fish-eye trying different points of view and perspectives.
Most importantly – move! Depending on the lens you are using, moving a few feed can make a huge difference. Move around, turn your body – get low to the ground. Abstract your subject into studies of color, shape, and form. The ideas are endless! Just a small example – I spend so much of my time at home working in my garden, yet it’s always surprising even to myself when the inspiration takes me. I can grab my camera and spend hours seeing it from a new perspective.
In the good old days of film ISO 100 was considered fast and on the margins of the day with every increasing exposure times you had no choice but to pan with your subjects as they moved. Today we’re getting spoiled with digital cameras that yield acceptable images at exceptionally high ISOs.
So this is a reminder to dial back to good old ISO 100, even put on a polarizer to lose another stop or more and put some emotion and action back in your shots. It takes practice – try this technique with the wind blowing a field of flowers, a crowded market, street scenes… it’s not just for animals.
When using a tripod the contrast of tack sharp architecture and blurred people can be very effective. Share your results if you have some as well!