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The Art of Nature Photography

Lesson 9 of 12

Online Audience Critique Part 3

Art Wolfe

The Art of Nature Photography

Art Wolfe

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Lesson Info

9. Online Audience Critique Part 3
Work with landscape photography and wildlife photography while continuing the audience critique. Gain insight into composition, lighting, and more through critiques of work from students like you.

Lesson Info

Online Audience Critique Part 3

I love this shot a line of bison across the landscape the dark trees hold jj I and the way that line of bison goes the texture of the sage against the snow a little bit of yellow grass coming in that's really nice study ah bison in yellowstone really really nice there's a couple shots going on here you know the and what we want to do next time you shoot this ashley is put move your camera ever so slightly behind the tree so you just get a little bit of the light coming through the tree and then that f sixteen or f twenty two as we've seen before it creates that perfect star and we want to start here we want stars coming out and right now you're almost there but you have to much son it's just a little peek of the light between and that's when you get that effect there's also a shot here as a panoramic of trunks and yellow bands of trees that's a really interesting shot right in there beautiful leading lines beautiful color stepping ninety nine point nine percent is perfect the only thin...

g is crop it right there see where that dark areas right above the waterfall that holds our ryan when you include that white sky is like an exit so just aim slightly lower crop in this case and is a perfect image it's really well executed I love it you know this is a shot of an animal that actually connect with people because it's like what the heck is he doing down there so it's a cool shot of a dear kind of spying on the photographer really and I shot you know we can talk about light areas distracting this all could be cropped out but that as a theme is a really nice connective shot because that dear and the second one have, uh kind of anthropomorphic field to it's like they're sneaking up on you yeah there's a nice play on the vertical sweep of the water in these diagonals we're not seeing the sky that works I would play in light room on this and just play with the contrast a little bit give it a little more pop but as a composition it works square compositions tell me that it's been cropped and as I said earlier I don't want to be aware its crop so I think I would dial in a vertical thirty five millimetre we could lose some of the composition on the left side and home the eye between this vertical sweep and this diagonal and in the sweep so lot lies right in there so just re crop that out of the square that's my personal opinion about crops I see a square I think okay he's cropped it she scrapped it I don't want to be aware oh okay a cow a cow in oregon ok that the fact that it's an organ cow makes it more meaningful okay, I think the shot really is right there you know that triangle and that triangle there's if I saw the same cow that's what I would play to the strength so the strength is that play of diagonals and I would abstract that I would just play with positive and negative space the rest of the cow and the grass is irrelevant but you could turn that cow into something much more interesting by playing with the up light on the dark. Okay, so here's what I think about this arnold framed the shot to take our eye but I don't quite know where the eyes going you know is the pay off these rocks? Probably not. So the execution of this is perfect depth of field exposure, clarity all those things but I want to be led to something engaging you know I want something is analogous to that clam shell there's going to be something beyond just perfect execution and maybe it's the way these the bedrock is coming out of the sand but there's not enough pattern or color to make that composition sing so you've got to start with an engaging subject to begin with and then do everything you can to have enhanced the subject now glacier's coming down to an inlet in alaska is an engaging subject here's what I would do this I let go the sky we got this triangular wedge of land that's a strong form and then you got this triangular shape of ice so I would have played that triangle and that triangle against each other. I would probably crop it like this and just use those land forms and then included a little bit of the ice to give a sense of place. So that is could be a really tight, graphic image, but by including the sky and the clouds and everything is starts to woo a week and obey by including too much. The strength lies in the glacier and that triangle, dark rock and the floating ice in the foreground and just keep it at that. You know too much. I think those are really cool clouds, but I think the most interesting thing is that overlapping ridges and then the vertical race. So I want to just hold your eye into that and say, all right, by including that it weakens all of this, so just shoot tighter and make it less, you know, cinematic in scale and get the rising out of the middle that's pretty cool iraq and then the way the rock and that that element of the sand almost looks like, of course a tree so that as a subject is kind of cool you know and the uh patty has brought our attention to the rock and the tree I just want to play with a little contrast and bring those lines so that they become a little easier to see and as a subject you might wantto get in close and tried to shoot at a different angle to wear the shine of the wet beach picks up the edges of those lines and makes it a little more obvious. So the subject's great baby just the angle of where you put the camera could make it that a really nice abstract and again I think all this all that the shots somewhere in there choosing to make it a black and white is nice the sun hitting the branches ing against in front of the dark hillsides great there's just too much going on so just tighten it up and played to the strength and the graphic nature of the elements you know you can shoot this a couple of ways as a panoramic just straight across all the clouds that beautiful exposure of the clouds a little bit of land that could be a nice shot or b you walk past all these out of focus branches and you play with that one tree you have to move, you cannot just pull the car off and just shoot through that all those out of focus little tiny trees weaken the bold landscape element so it's always going that last ten percent the last ten feet or scrutinizing the elements and you just can't aim and not shoot I mean it's a beautiful sensitive and I don't know the extenuating circumstances I know it's the light's changing dramatically so a bob's great to get that shot but being in the cool reflective mode as a critique er where you say alright, what could improve it that would improve it those tiny little out of focus branches in the foreground even if they're in focus there so inconsequential they just served to weaken so get beyond them and just use bold land formations. This is called tough love, by the way so I would get rid of the greenest cast the greenest cast on this and that could be again the projection and the projectors talking to your file you've got a kind of that surreal like going on we talked about salvador dali so it's got that dali esque I would first of all correct arising so it's on and on an angle I love the art and the shadow that's a great thing and the dramatic light I would just pull the green out of that and straightened out the horizon and I think you've got a great shot you know the shots right in here forget about that it's right here is the water is the light it's that ray and so the shot lies in there forget all that we just include too much too many too many uh words all right if that's going to be the shot then let's just make it unequivocal put it off center tighten it up forget all that zoom in and make that your shot I mean it's pretty simple this is analogous to that shot down in patagonia we have this really draped tree this powerful tree this is a milford sound down on the south island of new zealand beautiful light dramatic trees heavy and dark clouds are on this thing is beautiful I think it's a really nice shot I would love to see maybe the same view four steps to the right where this is a lot more front and center and you got the tendrils of these branches right in the middle because a lot of the drama on the trees right there and I don't think having it in the frame they're weakens it but that is really nice the tree and the atmosphere conditions of the background play to the strength of the image very nice this works yell tree's in the water the rising mist the dark background all that really works it conveys a sense of mood mist is interesting to note that photos that we sell tend to be like this there they're not obvious locations because when you sell an image or you take a picture that connects with people it's often someplace that you can't quite know where this because when people buy a image and put it on their own walls it's a quiet shot of a forest that we've all walked through we're along a lonely beach that we've all strolled before so you're basically as a photographer reminding your audience that people will look at your work where you've been and it's connecting them to their own history, their own memories so this is a really a nice example of that because we've all been there on the edge of a pond or a stream where the mist is rising you can just see the swirling air that's a really nice shot dead that's also really works because the brightness of the reflection on the water is no darker than the sky so the that ray's coming down at the same time the mist is swirling around really works and turning into a black and white if that's what it is or is just a monochromatic image, I think that really holds together I get it at the first glance and it works throughout yeah, I think the idea of us a boat in in a beautiful water is great as a theme the only thing that weakens this image is that pile of logs and the foreground left I just want to go beyond that maybe step five paces to your right shoot through those two trees at that boat and you'll still get the green emerald green water and maybe it's just a tighter shot all together you know just have the dark part of the tree forget all the light areas of here just zoom in a little bit and just make that the shot but these look like an afterthought I think just dropping a filter down cropping here that's a beautiful part of the shot that really golden light and these textures of the grasses in those trees so I think it's just less it is probably more of a panoramic crop in this image because I think that that and that work together this is also very nice all the grass is the natural grasses whatever these are you know they're not from here so I'm not quite sure the name of these but there's a lot of nice elements textures lines, patterns going on and uh how do we pronounce the name wan soo won il did a great job in capturing that it holds your eye there's no there's no question in other words what this photographer is after by shooting it that way and the fact that they're kind of spending out there's a lot of movement between the grasses so this is a bar now and I think this shot would be greatly improved with darkening those pupils because maybe the photographer use ah phil and flash but dark black eyed owls reflect red light and it's, no different than ourselves in our irises reflect red with a flash and that all is a dark idol. We want that those eyes to be dark it's, a beautiful shot composition works moment everything's is well executed. Michael, we just want a dark in those eyes. Okay? So, you know, I like the fact that jen has now broader level of attention, not to a very intimate level. So, you know, just looking at pretty pictures, you know, you can either take pictures of flowers that look like they belong on the seat package selling the seeds of that flower or you, khun abstract it. And earnest haas, with his book creation, made a study of going into flowers and abstracting them and making them really engaging. And I think I see the beginning of that. I almost want to look around to the right and look into the face of this pedal. I want a little more to go on because the only place that's in focus is that one ridge and I want just a little more to go with. But I think jen is right on the right path, on taking flowers as a theme and going in and abstracting so that's interesting, I think that the sharpness of the head of the horse and the tail stands out the I think the exposure here is a little funky I don't know what's going on that we have no detail whatsoever in the grass maybe that was my intent or just a wrong exposure but regardless I think if we turned this image into a black and white, then the whiteness of the vegetation where it's prancing would be very forgivable when it's a color image it looks a little washed out, so turning that until black and white might be a better choice and then I would also use a neutral density filter grady in and bring it in. So uh this area's dark going to the band where the horses and I think that alone would transform that that's what we do when I critique in my seminars I'm as I said earlier using libra um I'm sitting behind the computer and saying what I'm describing and you khun absolutely in seconds transform and image into something miraculous but you have to start with a really good image and this is a really very good image to begin with me the power of the horse, the art of its neck the fact that legs are blurred and out of focus all gives interest to this image it takes it away from being a horse shot to being something more artistic so amy has a great starting point I would just maybe turn that into black and white and here you know, this is where the moon dictates the composition by wanting to include the moon we weaken the composition, you know, the play of that land formation and tree it almost wants to be a tighter shot playing with those two formations the color and the banding is there we don't need everything in there and the moon is so inconsequential it doesn't really serve the purpose of inclusion so the land the shot is between the bold land formacion the tree silhouetted against beautiful light but what happens by wanting that moon in there? We put this right in the middle and now you I've drawn it into that putting things in the middle flattened sings out I think this is a very nice connection between these two puffins I would just tighten it up just a little bit and, uh be very happy and that's really nice very, very nice. Yeah, I would I would just forget about this nothing up here it's all about the trees, the eyes, the lake and the swans and the ducks it's all about that. So we need to make put cream it toe where that's the bigger emphasis on that, anything above here really we don't need we don't need it it's all right there false calabar is a great subject there's a lot of beautiful lines my thoughts are let's frame it from the bottom let's crop it there we don't want this start with that water but that's the drama and the sweep of all what's going on in here and I think we could lose that dark area is diagnose sweeps water there's a lot of a lot of things going on in here but that may be too much I think that really works I think the cumulus clouds air powerful I like that old doc I love the fishermen or the people in the boat that's a really nice example of a vertical the vertical sweep of the clouds played against the context of you know, turbulent water you know a lot of wind on that water beautiful yeah. You know the shots right in here it's just a tighter shot you know, all this kind of washed out out of focus for only weakens it so let's just crop around that forget everything left of that and that's just you know I do that with my work all the time if I haven't if I wasn't close enough to the subject I'm going to crop it after the fact but right now that's a really nice back lead power dick pounding bear all those kind of things soft background really works just a slightly tighter crop on that okay, I think this looks old world it's beautiful I think if you scan this uh okay save we want just a little more meat in the sky we've gotta have a little more detail I love all this forgive this person with iphone wait till they're finished there they don't belong in the shot this looks old world I like the fact that could been shot five hundred years ago we just want that sky a little more part of it if that much of the sky is going to be president there's and there's textures in the clouds this is what we want and we live at a time when we shoot in raw we can do that so this photographer worry either shot with a j peg or they shot with film but in today's world if you shot that in rod there's no reason we can't exact all the detail in the clouds and have that beautiful composition it's a great composition except for the person with the iphone now you know if you should in the opened east colorado's the big open plains so that's one thing you know you have open space but everything's precious you know the windmills precious the lion offense's tiny the road in the distance is tiny we just want to choose the subject and make it a little more dominant and could be the windmill against the road but everything's now just a little too uh small in the frame that's really cool great job vanessa I think that's really an interesting shot the sign of a good wildlife shot is without the animals is an interesting shot and without those big horn does her big horn it's a really nice graphic image with the bighorn sheep it's even better that's amazing great moment really nice and I love the scale of this lone surfer surfboard out at the edge of the oceans scale on this epitomizes the edge of the continent open sky so really nice use of open space negative space really interesting kitty you know what kitty's paws coming together you know that's gesture so leopards sitting in the tree very dainty nice delicate little kitty is going to pounce and ripped the throat out of some animal so lovely light great light relaxed moment cats not looking at the camera in this case is it works I would just crop it a little bit I'd crop it right here and across the top and just frame it the way it's looking a lot more space dark and that may be a little bit but that little light area we don't need any of this over here it's all about kitty looking that way and that's that's the strength of the image right there that way spring its paws together beautiful light having the church off center really works that light part of the sky gives texture really good composition you know lower horizon more emphasis on that sky and that church just perfect really works well yeah and this shot I just think the sweep of that and these the way these are there's the image is a vertical right in there just perfect but this starts toe weaken that story so just a little more emphasis on the strength we want more now you know, just colorful trees is the starting point but within their those vertical the trees the horizontal foolish there's a play of color and contrast texture on line all in that but by seeing the sky you know it just needs more in need tomorrow we need to tighten our shots up and whatever intrigued tom to shoot this tom is already on board because he's there but we've never been there so he's gotta zoom it in so it becomes unequivocal okay, so let's put thank you all the pictures you took the time to contribute photos and again is not really being brutal but it's being honest and what did we see? We saw a lot of shots with horizons in the middle a lot of almosts shots but if we get a little closer creating depth that's huge so those air kind of things just well, I don't know about all of you but I think it's time to go home and start cropping some images tonight on that's pretty much what I'm doing tonight I did do a little sneak peek of my portfolio and I'm working check my horizon lines and, you know, everyone, I bet everyone's wondering about their horizon lines right now, aren't you? So that was a fantastic segment, and we got through one hundred, images, and I know there was three or four hundred people that submitted, so I thought that was amazing images. That was one hundred images. Yeah, you know, I get I don't want to memorize people. I just think, you know, we all have a starting point. There were a lot of great images here and it's. Just a few things can profoundly affect one's composition. You just go look through the viewfinder and alignment, and when you hear it, from my lips to your ears, you will be hearing this really strong, powerful voice over your shoulder. And the next time you're framing and that's what it really is all about.

Class Description


  • Improve your composition in landscape photography
  • Develop an eye for better nature photography
  • Find --and grow -- your inspiration
  • Go from nature lover to nature photographer
  • Spot creative shots even in popular places
  • Fine-tune composition with the unpredictability of wildlife photography
  • Tell a story through fine art nature photography


Spend a day gleaning insight from a nature photographer with five decades of experience shooting on every continent, Art Wolfe. This special one-day class includes two 90-minute discussions, 90 minutes of student critiques, and three episodes of Art's documentary series Travels to the Edge.

Go beyond basic nature photography tips and dig into the psychology of nature photography and what takes an image from a snapshot to fine art. Learn to find your inspiration, break the rules and see the story inside grand landscapes. This is not a class for taking textbook plain nature photography from a boring list of landscape photography tips -- it's a class designed to help you find your own unique voice to capture your own fine art prints of landscapes, wildlife, and culture.

After this class, you'll have the confidence to experiment, to work for the shot, and to capture the story in nature photography.


  • Beginning photographers shooting landscape, wildlife and nature
  • Intermediate photographers ready to refine their eye
  • Advanced photographers looking for insight from a top nature photographer


Art Wolfe is a nature and conservation photographer with a background in fine art and painting, a start which continues to influence his work to this day. Often described as a "prolific" nature and wildlife photographer, Art has published more than 80 books of photographs, along with images appearing in major publications such as National Geographic Magazine, Smithsonian, Audubon, and more. Art has received numerous awards, including Nature's Best Photographer of the Year. He also leads a documentary television series Travel to the Edge. When he's not traveling nine months out of the year (including leading photography tours), he's teaching and working with his stock agency and production company in Seattle.

Class Materials

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Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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What a fantastic use of time! My photos improved dramatically since this course. I found it so useful, I recommended it to 3 people, and am coming back to purchase. My favorite segment was about composition, which is where I really needed the most help. I'd previously subscribed to the take a hundred shots and hope one turns out well. Now I think much more carefully prior to the shot, and the quality of the photos is on a completely different level from what I'd taken before. Then entire course was excellent, and I really appreciated the segment on audience submission critiques. It helped me to internalize the concepts he'd taught, and to develop a keener eye. Art Wolfe truly is a master. His photographs have the ability to stir the emotion deeply and soothe the ailing heart. Mr. Wolfe is a great instructor too. Concepts were presented clearly, and illustrated well. I am so thankful to have participated in this course. Thank you, to Art Wolfe, for sharing insights into your talent, and also thank you to everyone involved in making this course widely available. I cannot recommend this course highly enough!


I have always loved you CreativeLive, for being there in so many ways to teach me how to do better what I love to do. And, so I doubly thank you for re-featuring this and, thus. allowing me to buy this at a no-brainer price. I live in New Mexico. I have struggled to discern how to photograph New Mexico in a way that it hasn't already been photographed. It's like the Eiffel Tower. This class has SO helped me think about how to do that. I LOVED how Art Wolfe talked about how he started as a painter and how that has influenced how he captures his photography. I'm going to really start thinking about that and experimenting with this. New Mexico has had MANY painters, besides Georgia O'Keefe, whose work I love. I'm committed to studying them more and being influenced by their work. I haven't been photographing landscapes here very much, because of how much New Mexico has already been photographed. But this class has helped me think about how to do that more powerfully.and uniquely. And also, total kudos to the videographers of the last three segments of this class. Just watching these videos and Art Wolfe narrating this is worth the price of admission. So, in short, being a New Mexican who aspires to photograph her beloved New Mexico in a way that is different and more powerful, I think this class will inspire and focus me going forward. Thank you!

a Creativelive Student

I enjoyed your presentation and critiques so very much. I was able to watch it all but decided I would love to watch it again. I bought the class. Art's sense of humor was enjoyable. I loved his time working with his models and oh my what he was able to do with them artistically was so incredible. I learned so much through his critique. I went to our local Barnes &Noble; and was shocked they didn't have any of his books. I will continue looking for them as I would enjoy having some of them for inspiration. I also want to thank creative live as I have enjoyed your programs so much and I continue to spread the word about your classes. Thank you. Frances