Collaborating With Others To Get The Shot


The Art of Seeing


Lesson Info

Collaborating With Others To Get The Shot

so you may have been wondering what what I mean by creative collaborations it's an extension of what I've been talking about I've referred to scientist quite er quite often in my talks and here's one of him this's a botanist in south africa who's really knowledgeable about the succulent plants that grow in the drier parts of that country I'm event to a remote area together to look at the last living individuals of a spectacular succulent plant and there they are standing on that ridge and he brought along a textbook about the botany of south africa but a picture that this made in that exact same spot one hundred years earlier I use different perspectives to contrast the way that information was expressed in that book and two exactly find the perspective of the way things looked like then and the way things look like now and here in von view you can see that some of these trees are still standing and others are gone it's a dwindling population in their very few young months the speculat...

ion is that these trees air disappearing because of climate change it doesn't rain as much there anymore so you can actually consider this extinction happening in front of your eyes and that is where my camera could record that process the way things are now and then in that previous image I could make that comparison between the way things were in the way things are now so my images are a collaboration with a photographer who doesn't live anymore in a scientist who is the bridge between then and now and then I add my own creative you point to it as a record which one day may become the basis for somebody else picking up on that same idea so I like to do these kind of things I like to look through historical books to get an idea of how other photographers photograph the world and then maybe that triggers an idea in me to expand on that notion I'll give you another example the island of south georgia is one of the most spectacular places on earth it lies somewhere in the southern ocean between the tip of south america and the coast of antarctica it's very difficult to get to there's no air field you can only get there by boat and this is what it looks like someone has once described it as switzerland thrown in mid ocean south georgia became famous man ernest shackleton visited it and ultimately that's where he was buried this famous british explorer we know him from the books and the movies made about his life the heroism that is expressed by him in the way he managed to get his expedition back to safety after a harrowing journey all these air tales that had been told many times many people visit his grave site on south georgia and they leave mementos just like I did with my camera but I've been a step beyond shackleton I became fascinated by the expedition photographer and it's through his pictures that we actually know what shackleton looked like and what the expedition on tailed an australian man named frank hurley made this image of the classic moment when shackleton pushed off his slope to get a bit four other men to try and reach south georgia from afore long island near antarctica they were desperate they'd lost their ship nobody knew where they were and this is their last chance to save themselves and hurley stood there of it his camera he had two rolls of film left there was no motor drive service no bracketing he had to do it right he made one frame I tracked his images down had new prince made then I went to south georgia island for an expedition because I wanted to pay our much I wanted to pay tribute to what hurley did and I studied else prince and I try to come up with a match somewhere in that wild landscape of south georgia island this is one of the mountain passes the shackleton and his men ultimately crossed in order to reach a whaling station that could give them help so I put the print out there but nothing quite resonated with me it all seemed a bit contrived until at the end of that summer I bought a passage on a ship the tourists that picked me up on south georgia island and it went on to antarctica and it passed by the place for shackleton and his men had said on the beach for several months place called elephant island there's a monument now and here the tourists are going ashore and I had the print in my hand and I found her lease footsteps look at it the landscape is exactly the same the features have not changed ged but the people have instead of heroic expedition er's desperate to reach the civilized world again now the civilized world is coming to antarctica I knew when this was happening before my eyes that finally I had a match there was a contrast and there was a commonality there as well so asked someone to hold at prince so that I could focus my hands on dealing with the technicalities of my camera at a wide angle lens pressed close to the print and as luck had it this person had ragged mittens which contributed to the historical perspective and I was snapping the frames as people were coming ashore and then the magic moment came when everybody stood here in this unique pulse helping each other to come ashore because one thing hasn't changed after a hundred years elephant island is still a very difficult place to go ashore and to leave from again so this was an image that ultimately involved some luck but if I had not done the research if I had not done the planning and if I had not held at print in my hands in so many different places I would not have been able to make this image so I call that an example of a creative collaboration that involved other people besides myself and I become more and more interested in that notion that's why I'm here today because I want to inspire you this is another step towards that creative collaborative process I like working with other photographers for many years I did things on my own and now I find that I can inspire images in other people that I wouldn't even dream of making myself because everybody is a little different there's an example of a young man who joined me on one of the workshops here's chris on the right documenting what we're doing together on one of our local beaches I like to inspire other photographers toe look at themselves and to make each other to subject of photographs too it's not just the world out there it's the whole experience steve made this picture and or even who came all the way from norway did this really creative image of one of his fellow photographers crouch down in front of a sea cave and then he zoomed the lens in the course of a long shutter speed and it created a really dynamic image of a photographer in action I gave this assignment instead of looking at the world through your eyes can you use smell the sense of smell as the basis for an image and this is what helga came up it she asked one of our students to pose with two hands full of earth and you can practically smell the earth here so we've worked with each other we bounce off each other sometimes we help each other technically dvr in our local botanical garden the ucsb arboretum and one student is holding up a reflector to enable another photographer to do this kind of thing here's a bush with prodi of flowers that is illuminated by the sun from behind so it's backlit and that creates this globe but then the sun is reflected back into that bush met a reflector and you have backlight in front light at the same time least if users are wonderful tools when you hold him close to a plant they turned nature into the makings of a japanese screen look at this what shelly did with that idea and then a step further you're not even sure what you're looking at how many different ways can you photograph one flower doug did it this way with a black backdrop he extended his step to feel toe f sixteen so everything is tack sharp and marta just focused on a few details and capture rapture white open and got in really really close and you don't you're not even sure what it is you're looking at it could be anything it's a whole universe in a fraction of an inch matthew was more interested in the ant exploring that same flower very shallow depth of field a picture made with a macro lens and then marcello I said why would you need to have anything sharp at all in your photograph why not render it as just a wash of color and shape and soak it up all of these images work and they're all made of it in a few feet of each other john you asked me about one of my what my favorite spots were evil this speech is very high on my list this is just five minutes from from my home and every time I go there I see something new I made this image just a week ago I thought I'd seen it all and then I found a new spot the way the waves across crashing against the rocks using a long shutter speed of maybe a quarter of a second and then the water begins to look almost like fireworks camera on a tripod making sure that everything is tax sharp from the foreground even to the gulls in the distance the sun is just out there are many different ways in which you can express the interactions between border and rocks in the tide line jenny did it this way water streaming back from a wave that hit the shore line and then the chaotic pattern of water down below and I did it this way the serenity angelica found one brock and it almost looks like a universe in its own right I made this image looks like distant mountains surrounded by mist and then john mccormick did this and that almost looks like a japanese screen doesn't it a very long time exposure of several seconds when he cropped it into an extreme panorama and then kenji who lives here in the city of san francisco said I don't need many rocks how about just one and this really struck me as an image inspired by centuries of asiatic aren't expressions one rock in a tide line several seconds a number of years ago I was invited to participate in an interesting project that is also an example of a creative collaboration a friend of mine vic small and started a book project bringing together a number of well known photographers to photograph the same country on the same day it became known as a day in the life ofthe we did a day in the life of america which was a big success and then the chinese government gave permission for these photographers to go to china and I was asked which place I would like to photograph and I said please send me to guilin to the famous cars mountains along the li river which I'd seem celebrated in paintings for many many years so I went to grilling and here I'm taking this picture as we're landing it's misty and I was very excited but I wasn't so excited by the weather the problem was that if you get only one day to shoot the weather has to be just right and it was just raining and I couldn't find anything that matched my original interest in those mountains I've seen too many fantastic paintings like we all suffer from when we've seen too many good photographs of places we visit one day and the weather isn't quite right so I was seeing this but I was remembering this so I was frustrated I did not quite know what to do when I stood there at that bend in the leave river and then I spotted some students over painting that famous landscape and they were able to turn my mind around from what I had in my head as an original conception of what I could do there too seeing something else I became fascinated by what they were doing they were visiting from beijing with their teacher at this part that has been painted so many times and I thought this is the image so I found the teacher and asked if he would be interested in gathering his students for a portrait and he was happy to oblige I found a step ladder so I could stand above them and I added to fill flash because it was a gloomy day and I made this image and I'm still struck when I look at this just how perfectly this sums up the idea of creative collaborations these students are all inspired by the same paintings this is part of chinese history they all go there that the's same preconceptions and yet they all end up doing something different and that is really what I inspire you to do as well step into this fantastic tradition of nature and wildlife photography which really hasn't been in existence for us long as painting in china on ly a couple of decades let yourself be inspired by all these photographers as much as you can be inspired by the natural world itself and then come up with your own expression and I'm convinced that each of you we'll be able to do something that is just a bit different from what anyone else might do and together this is the grand experiment of collaborating creatively for the purpose of celebrating our thank you this has just been amazing this's only segment one and you've inspired us so much the comments that air coming through online or just inspiration I'd love to hear from our studio audience as well but I just read out a few for you here in song is saying I'd love to thank franz for his beautiful images but even mohr for the passion that you infuse in them on we gotta use of actually view rather who's watching through facebook and they're saying thanks for this lesson franz sometimes I get frustrated here in spain just feeling helpless but your photos on words are so inspiring and trinity river is saying too many people want to romanticize about being a national geographic photographer but only have a mild interest in nature or environmental concerns I'm so glad to hear france not not talking about the business but more about his keen concerns of wildlife conservation in france and this has been totally inspiring I think the images of left majors almost speechless they're just so beautiful and in segment one you talked about the painstaking effort that goes into actually creating this effort when you showed us the picture of the parent stu said it took three three weeks I believe to get that image and you are very scared of heights and you went up on their side I think this is firing to everybody watching knowing that the effort that goes into all of this and that you're so passionate about your work I'd love to take any questions that we have from our studio audience if they have any at this point yes here is back my question goes back a little bit when you're talking about being in a national geographic photographer um as a photographer have you ever been in a situation where you felt you needed to put down your camera and step into a situation I know for wildlife scientists say that you we really don't have a role in getting involved or the role of the photographer is just to document the situation but have you ever felt in photographing humans or in tricky situations when perhaps the photographer as a bystander comes in have you ever felt the need to get involved that's a difficult question andi and many of my colleagues on myself have been in situations where you're watching something that is really not very pretty and how far can you go teo to change things that that you're witnessing on dh ultimately you know we we we can't be the stuarts of every animal in every in every place but yes there have been situations I recall one in south george island then the found the young elephants he'll have us trapped in the mud below and we knew it was impossible for that for that seal to get out so I made some pictures and then we pull it out on dh not long ago lever in botswana in the okavango delta v it's um other people and there was a very harrowing situation a lion pride had taken you there seven cups across a river course and you know they're not doing very well and you know some of us were fearful that the cops might drown but in that case we really could don't interfere because you're you can't get out of a vehicle because you know the first thing that lion will do valises making you two problem so it's it's very difficult and there said there's no easy answer I'm afraid jan you have a question so my question goes back to what you were talking about around vision I think it is so especially around showing up in a place that you've already thought about in your mind probably because you've seen so many great photographs of it and then getting there and either because you of time or because of the way conditions you're a little bit stumped like how do I approach this so I was like last night you had me I had you had me going through all my photographs at home especially the landscape and I was taking a more thoughtful I which was no no no because the subject like I wasn't I realized I was shut her happy I was clicking way too fast so when I show up somewhere now and I want to think about it differently can you what are some ways to sort of look around obviously that was great that you had a class of people there so you could see their vision but what are some of the things that you do besides moving around to kind of change your mind a little bit to take a subject and interpret it when you show up in a place and you're like oh this isn't exactly what I was hoping for are expecting or envisioned to me inspiration comes from you know often from reading about a place or reading about an animal on dh because you know that proceeds to visual reality if you wait vit coming up with ideas until you stand in front of a situation you can change a vantage point and that can make a dramatic difference but I get energized by the ideas they prompt other visual solutions to me than the ones that may come to me then I'm standing someplace so the idea procedure the image and that is what I was referring to earlier john than that question came you know whether my eyes are like cameras and said no it's really my mind side that makes the critical decisions the cameras as the ice they are recording things but here we are thinking feeling human beings and I would like you all to use your brain and use your heart and used the interactions you have other people to energize you as a photographer yeah you hear from joanna over the mic the one thing I really uh appreciate in like and I I do it times is and we'll do more of is just walking around paying attention to the environment to who's there what's there um and so just that a whole expansive vision of being present in the moment and not and help myself move through that constrict conceived notion or well I I'm thinking might be a great image that I want to get for sure on and then it's totally different so thank you my pleasure I find that going out yeah but someone else with a camera is often interesting on dh I mentioned in my talk that you know I've done many years of work as a solitary photographer and I still enjoy that that that private communion with the world but you're going out that somebody else we'll give you a different point of view then just your own no matter whether you do it in the course of a workshop or just casually grow out of it wanted to other people but it's similar interests

Class Description

Join world-renowned National Geographic photographer Frans Lanting for two days of instruction and inspiration that will change the way you look at photography and what you can do with your own camera.

With experiences from three decades of work in wild places – from the Amazon to Antarctica, Frans will introduce you to new ways to capture the wonders of the natural world with a camera. His class includes presentations about creative ideas and technical skills, and also features landscape and wildlife photography instruction during special field workshop sessions at prime photographic destinations along the California coast — Frans’s home ground for the past 30 years. The course will conclude with a critique of images submitted by viewers.

If you’re passionate about nature photography and want to improve your own photographic vision, you will be inspired by this unique course from a master photographer and teacher.