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Another Look with Art Wolfe

Lesson 1 of 5

Critique Introduction

Art Wolfe

Another Look with Art Wolfe

Art Wolfe

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Lesson Info

1. Critique Introduction

Lesson Info

Critique Introduction

Hello everyone and welcome to CreativeLive. My name is Kenna Klosterman and I am your host today. This is another look with Art Wolfe, where Art Wolfe is going to be critiquing your images so that we all can become better photographers. Now Art Wolfe is a world renowned award winning photographer and educator. His works, he has over 100 published works whether they are books, magazines, in exhibitions, again, all over the world. He has been photographing for, I think Art, it says over five decades and in every continent all around the world. He is also an advocate for the environment as well as cultures all over the world. So we are thrilled to have back Art Wolfe. (audience applauding) Thank you very much. So how many here in this audience have been critiqued before? So is it a scary process? No, okay well I'll try to make it a little scarier. Actually, the way I critique is to use Lightroom. And as stated before, it's not really (mumbles) on Lightroom, in fact, when I teach, often ...

the students in my classes are far better at Lightroom than I am. But I do know just enough to get the point across and so I do use Lightroom. Imagine when I first started out I was using literally little L-shaped cut cardboard and standing in front of a projector and trying to emulate what I was trying to show in terms of a prop, and now in just a nanosecond I can do it. So it's a very effective way of communicating and transforming an image into where I think it should go. And so I love using Lightroom as a process to communicate. The other thing I wanted to state and I've created a little keynote, a very brief keynote to illustrate what I'll be after over the course of the morning. So it's all about creating movement of the eye and I'm saying movement of the eye is critical because of why? If you look at somebody's work and their eye goes to the photo or the painting, if it was a painting, and stops moving, that's not a good thing. We want to theoretically have all four corners of the entire composition engaging you because the longer you stay with the image, the more invested you are in it, the person that's taking the photo is communicating something to their audience. And so the more your eye moves throughout the entirety of the composition, the more your investing in it and that's where communication occurs. Let me show you a couple of examples. In this image, a shot of some rocks off the ice Atlantic coast, I've carefully constructed the image to where all elements of that composition allows your eye to first go to the rocks in the lower right and move to the bigger rock on the left and ultimately it's replicated with that further rock out there. But all four corners of that composition are contributing to the movement of the eye. In this case, the intentionality of using negative space, the convergence of the shadow and the light on that distant sand dune and converging creating kind of a tension point with the (mumbles) oryx or the gemsbok as they would say in Namibia, all of that is not by accident, but by design. So I'm using space and contrast, but also the convergence of line and its movement of the eye throughout the composition. These leading lines as you've probably heard in other venues, direct your eye to the distant camel train out there in the Sahara Desert. This image happens to be shot about 200 miles north of Timbuktu in the country of Mali. In this case, these monks are in a shrine in Myanmar and paying homage to a Buddha replica, but the entirety of that composition is contributing to the composition. So the monks, the candles, the Buddha, all those engage you and your eye fluidly moves throughout or that's in fact my intent. So the foreground element of the boat and the pilgrim in the boat and that sun rising above the Ganges, there's a relationship between the distance and the foreground, so your eye first starts with the boat and the boat is leading you up towards the sunrise and then back to the pilgrim in the boat. So when things work, you should actually be aware of it. It should happen fluidly and naturally. When there's a struggle maybe something can be changed and then we'll see that in the slides that we see following. So that's my brief look at what I'm after is movement of the eye and you can achieve that through two different ways. So say that these are your subject. They could be pyramids in the Sahara. They could be sailboats on a lake. They could be anything, but they're your subject and for most people, and you'll see this in the photos that follow, we tend to put horizons in the middle and subjects right in the middle, the bullseye. And so that's not a great thing simply because when your eye goes to the subject and it's right in the middle, it generally stops moving. So write what I said in the preceding diatribe, I wanna create movement of the eye and so if the subject's in the middle, your eye stops right where it is located. And so I want people to start to think about the subject and the background and incorporate it. So right now you can see the eye is kind of rotating around the subject so let's now start shooting with the eye and the concept of framing the picture, because most people are so enamored of that squirrel in a log or the bird on a stick or the mountain in the frame, that they don't even consider how they're framing it, they're just making sure the mountain's the bullseye. And so what I would love and what I'm going to be encouraging in the morning's lecture and critique is to incorporate the subject better within the framing that you're taking. So now we've boxed in those two triangles and now I'm gonna either walk forward or put on a zoom lens and fill the frame. And you can see now that the entirety of that composition is balanced. So you'll hear the word balanced. And that is implying movement of the eye throughout the entirety of the composition. So let's further this along by saying in this particular case, the white triangles are the positive space and the black is the negative. You've heard in the past positive negative space. Its subject and background is positive and negative. So here's a case of some rocks I piled up on the shore along the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the white sky, the bleached out calm and cloudy skies that we see in the northwest is the backdrop, but now you can see that I'm abstracting the subject. Those rounded rocks that I piled up are the main subject, but the background is brighter than the dark and they are playing now with the positive and negative. That background now is every bit as important as the dark silhouetted rocks. So I'm intentionally trying to bring in that background to contribute to the overall composition. So there will be a lot of photos where I'm gonna be talking about positive and negative space and here's a shot of a shrine is Bali where the blue triangles define the shape of the shrine, but you can see how they are contributing as well as the foreground shrine. So I'm thinking always as I'm composing a subject, whether it's a person, a wildlife, a landscape or an abstract, I'm always looking at the background as importantly as I'm looking at the subject, and in this case the shrine, I could not shoot that shrine without being aware of how those blue triangles of sky intercede, interject themselves into the composition. In this classic portrait of Maasai taken last year in Tanzania, that I brought in a white sheet from Seattle to use as a very flat white backdrop, but then I composed these Moroni or young Maasai warriors to create that triangular space between them and that space around their heads was very well thought out, so it's not a random image. And because they're so symmetrical, I put the division between them right down the middle. So I'm playing with a new concept called symmetry, you know, the balance in nature. But every part of that composition is not random, not an accident, but very stylized and there's a lot of work that I do that with. And balance can be achieved through negative and positive space or the elements, the lines, the textures, the patterns. And in this particular case, the lines of these overlapping corrals are playing with the subject, these three horses taken in Eastern Washington. So every part of that composition is contributing to the greater whole. It's also an image that shows negative space and expanse. And this is a Japanese maple taken here in Seattle at the Arboretum. And you can see how the lines within that maple are kind of fanning out throughout the entirely of that panoramic composition. So I'm trying to achieve movement of your eye. Your eye would naturally follow all those very beautiful curved branches of this Japanese maple, but the intent is to fill up the entirety of the composition as much as I physically could given the subject. And here's a surface of a lava lake on the top of a volcano. And again, the fractures within that lava fan out and fill out then the composition. So to reiterate, there's ways of achieving balance both with playing with positive and negative space and there's ways of achieving balance through lines and textures and patterns. So let's go to the images. And not every image that I'm gonna be talking about will exemplify what I've just covered there, but these are the underlying reasons for why I critique images and we'll talk about it.

Class Description

Join legendary wildlife and conservation photographer Art Wolfe, as he critiques a select group of nature photographs. In this curated review, you'll get expert insight into improving your work in the field and through post-processing so you can begin capturing unforgettable images of the world.

Art critiques images in the following categories:

  • Wildlife
  • Landscapes
  • Abstract Nature Photography
  • Portraits and Travel


Sal Ahmed Photography

Nice to have well known and our local world famous Art Wolfe to critiques our works.Glad to have a chance to have him critique my Hummigbird image with a top score. Is like to me winning an award. Thanks Creative live for the opportunity.

Tanya Lillie

What an amazing opportunity to learn from a master. Thank you Art Wolfe for sharing your expertise and teaching us to simply take "Another Look." Thank you Creative Live for yet another great session.

Bob & Lorraine

Outstanding class with Art Wolfe's critique of student's work. Thrilled one of our images (Snowy Egret) was selected, honored Art felt it needed no other cropping and even though it was one of the last images reviewed and short on time, would have loved to hear if the image required any other adjustment. Will try Art's "Highlights down, Shadows up" in Lightroom Classic to see if the image looks any better.