Celebrated all over India since ancient times, Holi is an annual festival which takes place on the day after the full moon in the Hindu month of Phalguna. Originally Holi was an agricultural festival celebrating the arrival of spring. In keeping with this tradition people now choose to celebrate the occasion by throwing brightly colored spices or herbal powders into the air. Symbolically they are ridding the gloom of winter and rejoicing in the colors and liveliness of spring.
On March 14, 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt established Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, along Florida’s Atlantic coast, as the first unit of what would become the National Wildlife Refuge System. There are now more than 560 refuges across the country that protect species and the landscapes they depend upon for survival.
My favorite refuge is the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. After rafting rivers in the refuge several times over the years, I filmed an episode of Travels to the Edge there in 2006, which can now be streamed online!
I’ve been eager to get back to Mongolia for some time now. Although some of the photos I took here on my last visit have become iconic – such as the Kazakh Eagle Hunter and his amazing golden eagle – shooting while the hustle and bustle of Travels to the Edge was being filmed didn’t quite allow me the same flexibility I might have when visiting on a tour. add to this the astronomical leaps we’ve taken in technology since then, and I can’t wait to get back!
We still have a couple of spots left to join our group, embarking on our photo adventure July the 6th. Join us to photograph the Naadam festival, wild horses as the roam the vast steppe largely unmarred by the influence of development, and of course a special shooting sessions with Shaman and Kazakh Eagle Hunters.
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
On this day in 1899 Mount Rainier National Park was established. It would be easy to take this nearby location for granted as I see the mountain nearly every day from Seattle, but it truly is one of my favorite places to visit. At 500,000 years old our local favorite stratovolcano is a geological youngster. Here’s to many thousand more to come!
See it for yourself this fall by signing up for the fall color workshop taking place at Rainier. From the micro to the macro this is an amazing location to photograph wildlife, the landscape and of course the fall color. We always fill these up, so don’t hesitate to sign up early!
I’ve been informed that it’s World Whale Week. . . .Wow, wonderful! As much respect as I have for these amazing and unfortunately endangered creatures, it’s my own self-preservation that comes to mind when thinking about whales.
While filming Travels to the Edge, I was trying to guess at where a whale would surface next for a shot. I had the camera to my eye, prefocused, poised and ready to capture what I hoped would be a magnificent breach 100 yards off the bow – only to have the whale come up right next to the boat, spouting mere feel from me!
It scared me so much I screamed, and the footage from the film crew was rendered unusable as what came out of my mouth next was not suitable for the PBS audience.
Over the years I’ve had many more great memories while working with whales, and looking forward to making more!
Celebrations abound for Lunar New Year among Asian cultures, with various Buddhist traditions marking the occasion. I’ve been fortunate to have experienced the festivities myself in person several times. Some fond memories:
In 2005, I visited Labrang Monastery in the Gansu province of China to witness the unfurling of a thangka – a large tapestry of painted cotton usually depicting a scene from the Buddhist belief system and way of life. The tapestry is carried by the monks up the long hill where it is unfurled and displayed above the monastery.
A few years later, I visited Bhutan and photographed the prayer flags and temple dancers that constitute a part of their lunar new year traditions. The prayer flags have come up several time in my talks and lessons, which might be an indicator of just how fascinated I was with this location. Prayers are inscribed on flags that have been erected in the loftiest, windiest heights so that the gusts turn the flags into tatters and send the prayers scattering to the heavens one fiber at a time.
Finally, in more recent years I witnessed the Setsubun Festival in Japan where elaborate costumes and traditions such as throwing packets of roasted soy beans and burning tree boughs wards off the lingering evil spirits of the previous year and bringing hope to the new one.
Happy year of the Tiger! Enjoy the image gallery above, and check out the episode of Travels to the Edge on Bhutan to learn more about this truly unique culture.
As in 2020, we did what we could to get through 2021. There was a rush to a new normal, but then a backslide. Thanks to the miracle workers at Moderna and Pfizer I was able to get back on the road, traveling for projects and teaching in-person workshops.
I began the year photographing in Kenya, taught workshops in Arizona, Utah, Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, Iceland, and made two trips to Mexico. The highlight of my year was photographing the Mundari cattle-herders and their royal cattle in the South Sudan. This was a trip that I had been dreaming of doing for decades and it finally came to pass.
In September Tequila Time morphed into Art Wolfe Live, a very informal monthly show on YouTube and Facebook Live riffing on current events and photo discoveries and techniques. Parimal Deshpande and I continued with Earth Is Our Witness and there are now over forty episodes featuring discussions with some of the top photographers.
After a long wait for books, Night on Earth was published by Earth Aware Editions. It garnered glowing reviews from both editorial critics and book collectors. In December I was joined by Ruskin Hartley of the International Dark-Sky Association at Town Hall Seattle for a presentation. I also wrote the foreword for Private Gardens of the Pacific Northwest.
2021 keynotes included the Outsiders Landscape Photography Conference, the North American Nature Photography Association, and the Photographic Society of America. It was a distinct honor to be the recipient of the first Fine Art in Nature Photography Award.
I was pleased to be a part of the latest Remembering Wildlife book on African wild dogs as well the We Are Puget Sound: Discovering and Recovering the Salish Sea group exhibition here in Washington.
Despite an inauspicious start I hope that 2022 brings better things. I look forward to doing international workshops that have been rescheduled from 2020 (I am eternally grateful to those who have kept their reservations), working on new book projects, and doing ever more experimentation with photography. Even after decades of shooting, it feeds my soul and is a never-ending source of happiness. I hope to see you in the field or online!
Last month I took a trip to the South Sudan to photograph in specific the Mundari people and their cattle camps – a defining element of their culture. Their great cows with their incredible horns and size are interesting enough on their own, however the interaction and symbiosis between them and their caretakers in the Mundari are truly fascinating.
Photographically speaking, I got exactly what I was after here. Utilizing the smoke from burning piles of cow dung that the Mundari keep at smokey smolder to drive away insects and atop a ladder I was able to capture atmospheric moody images of both the cows, and the people. The contrast of light colored cows and the darker tribesmen also made for some graphic shots as well.
If you missed Tuesday’s episode of Art Wolfe Live, I talked in a bit more depth about this trip, and shared the following video with the audience. Enjoy!
To the Northeast of the Mt. Rainier region across the Puget Sound and bordering the Pacific Ocean before it reaches out towards Japan, the Olympic cost brings a variety of it’s own to the mix. Mossy old-growth forest borders a breath-taking coastline with absolutely no limit on the amount of subjects to photograph – not the least of which is the ever-present possibility of capturing local wildlife.
The recent Art of Seeing Workshop here in Seattle was a huge success, and I know there is also a large contingent of folks in the Portland Area who catch Travels to the Edge on Oregon Public Broadcasting regularly who have been eager for a weekend seminar to come their way. The Seattle seminar sold out – so if you missed out, Portland is just a short trip away!
Join Art for what is fast approaching Abstract Astoria as his most popular and requested workshops! Explore beautiful Port Townsend, a location that embraces both its Native American roots and everything that comes along with being a cultured seaside town. From here we will visit Ford Worden Historical State Park on the hunt for abstract images.