A Day with Art Wolfe

Seminar at the Hilton Alexandria Old Town, June 5th, 2010

By Emma Canfield, Nature’s Best Photography

Art Wolfe, who is probably best known now for his series on Public Television, “Art Wolfe’s Travels to the Edge,” but has also produced more than 65 books and videos of photography and instructional material on photographic technique, recently gave an all-day presentation in Alexandria, Virginia, to an audience of serious amateur photographers. The day was a personal and engaging journey through the creative process of photography as Art Wolfe sees it, starting with some of the fundamentals of composition, and moving on through specific examples.

Art talked about his “Ten Deadly Sins of Composition,” which was a really fantastic summary of what NOT to do as a photographer! As a Junior Photo major at RISD, I felt he gave a great summary of all the basics of composition and technique, whether the audience was serious amateurs or professionals. He covered all the important aspects of composition, including line, and how it controls the viewer’s response to the image, the use of color, texture, lighting, and depth of field. He really focused on the use of light to create drama, and how a simple change in the lighting can completely change the impact of a photograph.

One of the more interesting sections of his presentation was his explanation of his favorite lenses, and what he uses them for. Ranging from the use of extreme fisheye lenses to create humorous close-up portraits of animals, to telephotos for dramatic portraits, Art listed his favorite lenses: 14mm fisheye, 16-35mm wide angle, 24-70mm “heavy” lens for capturing complex groups, and one of his favorites, the 70-200mm, which he feels helps romanticize the subject. He stressed that having the right lenses is much more important than the body of the camera; since the lenses let you change your perspective to capture the perfect image of the subject. He stressed the connection between the right lens and shooting a good full frame; he usually doesn’t crop his pictures at all, focusing on those that captured the frame perfectly. Art ended the session with a Q&A session, and discussed some of his upcoming projects, such as a series on dogs, since they play such a prominent role in human culture. He is also planning on serializing the seminar series on DVD, so photographers can purchase individual technical topics.

If you would like to dig deeper into the topics that Art covered, please click on the lecture notes below, which cover the topics in depth, in the order that they were presented.

Thanks for reading!


Art Wolfe Seminar notes


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