LIFE Project Story


The Art of Seeing


Lesson Info

LIFE Project Story

so are you ready to join me on a brief journey through time let's do it the journey of life starts in space where energy becomes matter this was the hardest thing the big bang how do you photograph the big bang I can't go back thirteen billion years so I did something imaginary I took a piece of fossilized wood petrified wood and applied an imaginary tech not an imaginary technique I zoomed out on it as if it was exploding lie thinks sorry the journey of life starts in space for energy becomes matter turning into shapes over time the universe is expanding solidifying into spheres fuelled by fire planets are shaping themselves this is a piece of sandstone which I found in a rock shop in utah it reminded me of a liquid earth good molten rock once fire gives way earth emerges but this is an alien planet yeah the moon is closer things are different this is a terrorist with minerals in yellowstone national park where millions of people come and visit but I had something different in mind I ...

wanted to look back in time so I waited until the moon was rising and then I put the two of them together into a view that may could make you think that this is four billion years ago things were different heat bit in earth makes volcanoes erupt exhaling gases into the sky kaisers fan steen I made this image at night in new zealand it's a stark in those days four billion years ago when guys invented steam and then earth school's rainfalls for eons that's literally how it happened according to science the earth cooled there was a lot of water vapor in the sky and it began to condense into turn into rain it rained for millions of years and that's how the oceans were born water freezes around the poles and shapes the edges of the earth water is a key to life but in frozen form it is a latent force when water vanishes earth becomes like mars this is a big soul desert in the interior of botswana when nothing is alive but our planet is restless it royals in sight and bird that energy touches water a new element appears the story of life is really the story of four elements mixing the way ancient philosophers envision that and then a new element appears we call it life this is her life manifest itself what is green is actually the same primitive bacteria that I found in australia and all the magic ingredients are there there is sunlight there is warm water there is a substrate and that is their life occurs life arises around cracks in the earth this is a geothermal pool in yellowstone photographed from the air and that's those same primitive bacteria right there mata minerals become substrates her life begins to multiply thickening in places growing structures under a primeval sky still same still matter light one single cells learn how to capture some light they begin to exhale oxygen and that breath became fossilized as irony the irony of the fact that the oxygen exhale by the stromatolites bonded with byron thick deposits now all around the planet and we are driving around in cars that are literally the fossilized breath of primitive bacteria life needs a breath and it needs a membrane to so it can replicate and mutate I went into harvard university's collection of diatoms which are single celled organisms because I needed to bring these tiny living things into the story of life shallow seas nurture life early on as it grows into more complex forms have an underwater too not that far you don't have to go that deep to find examples of very early life life evolves the light and oxygen increase I photographed these jellies in the monterey bay aquarium life learns to move and begins to see an animal start to get around vision is refined in horseshoe craps among the first to leave the sea out of the sea slugs become snails I never thought much of these land snails in my garden I didn't like them too much but in the course of this project they became new heroes a fish try amphibian life this is a funny little fish that is halfway between being a fish in an amphibian it skips around on the mudflats and even crawls into trees in mangroves on land likens developed as a co op fungi bond vid algae through land plant to rise leafless at first the's are very primitive plans which I found on the lava flow into hawaiian island and then the fundamental forms of ferns follow wearing sports that foreshadow seeds life flourishes in slumps these are the big tree fern forest which when they killed over became the basis for the fossil fuels that we burn in our cars which are made up of fossilized bacterial breath when a great change rocks the earth continents get dry the story of life is really the story of continental drift as the continents move around on the surface of the planet climates change everything gets reshaped I made this image while I was flying over the central desert of australia which is a very ancient continent continents get dry in a land life turned stuff that's when the reptiles evolved jaws form first and teeth come later is a giant sea turtle coming ashore a leatherback it takes time for life to break away from water and it's still beckons all the time that was a big move learning to break away from being in water all the time but with eggs and seats life as a chance on land to shelter new forms in the making little crocodile coming out of an egg life protect itself its scales and skin as adventures father in law and I had a hard time thinking about how I could represent these giant reptiles recall dinos horse then I thought what if I crawl up behind a chameleon as it walks through a soul desert and I may be able to make it look like a diplodocus that's the best I could do many things happen and I'm skipping a a few hundred million years but then earth warms again green forest begin and nurture things with wings one early form left an imprint like it fell only yesterday this is a famous fossil imprint of a creature that scientists refer to as archaeopteryx ricks one of these transitional forms between reptiles and birds while others fly today like visions from the past frigate birds have always reminded me of terror dactyls they look similar and they fly the same in bird's life gains new mobility flamingoes cover continents and through migrations get on their way burt's witness the emergence of flowering plants this is a black hair in which I photographed in yoke of anglo delton which fishes fishes vetting the compound of its own wings makes things dark fish come to the surface but it looked to me like a flower just like this one in australia on ordinary lily turns into an extraordinary grass tree fuelled by fire while in hawaii a tiny daisy becomes a giant silver short england wanna drought molds proteus conven is that ancient supercontinent at lunch existed and that's when life gets lush and gold wanna land falls apart through jungles arise and that sparks new layers of interdependence fungi multiply and or kitty merge magen ish daily a shape to lure insects and co evolution begins to entwine plans with intact and birds with plants the birds can't fly they become vulnerable this's the world's largest parrot which can't fly anymore it walks around through the nocturnal forest of new zealand and to me it seemed the great symbol for the vulnerability of creatures have become too specialized they become vulnerable extinction often come slowly but sometimes it happens fast I wanted to do something with these mass extinctions that have occured periodically on planet or so how do you do that well I looked at this scene that the's silhouettes of marine iguanas in this pelican that looks like a pterodactyl flying overhead and I thought that could be a good standing sometimes it happens fast on a big rock hits the earth a world vanishes in flames it's what happened sixty five million years ago a lot of things went extinct but there were witnesses survivors in the dark the world turned pitch dark for several years at least but crocodiles night it through among many other things and then the skylight is finally clear and new world is born the world fitful mammals they've been around for quite a while living in the shadows of the big reptiles but they had their chance looking like these creatures at first and then sivits begin to slink along the ground and hyenas emerge jesus get faster because their prey gets faster still grasslands evolve creating new opportunities for the hunters and for the hunted growing big is another answer but size always comes at a price then primates evolve in jungles looking like tar shears at first becoming levers not much later it's in leamer said learning becomes reinforced but then forest tryout once more the scenario I made of the edge of the tropical rain forest and the savannah grassland and this is literally to place where we may have walked out of the jungles and into a more open habitat him in forest tryout once more because antarctica separated from south america and it changed the climates in africa that's been going up right became a lifestyle I had no chance to go back a million years to photograph hominid so I had to make do with a bonobo going up right becomes a lifestyle and that's when bands of apes venture into the open so who are we are we brothers of masculine chimps or are we sisters of more feminine barnabus I'd say we are all of them and more because after all we are all molded by the same force and the blood veins in our hands this is a cross section of a human hand in a medical museum in the netherlands those blood veins in our hands they echoed of course water traces on the earth and our brains he'll celebrated brains this is a cross section through a human brain photographed in that same museum they reflect a drainage of a title marsh but they enable us to do something new wei can imagine we can imagine ourselves and we can see a whole earth and we can appreciate how life has altered this earth it covers it like a skin this's a tundra in alaska and early fall no trees just a thin layer of plant on the bones of the earth shine through it covers earth like a skin in her life does not as in greenland in winter the margins for life itself become clear I like to fly with a camera near me nine out of ten times there's nothing to see and then at one time and you fly over greenland and you see this kind of magical light I could do it it doesn't matter with camera you have the margins for life become clear but as long as water is liquid it is a room for cells green with chlorophyll says an aerial view of the great barrier reef it is a womb for cells green with chlorophyll these bacteria that synthesized the energy from the sun and is that molecular marvel chlorophyll that has made the difference it fuels everything on earth basically we like all other animals leave on oxygen produced by bacteria and algae and plants and this image sums it up here the algae to kelp the plants are somewhere out there and the animals dependent on it and the energy of the water of course we are dependent on that their waist is our breath and our ex elation is their intake this's early morning mist rising from a lowland forest in the amazon and it really struck me like a collective ex elation or to put it more poetically we are connected like water landis that clouds in the sky so I would say that this whole earth is alive and that it has made its own membrane just like these very first cells did nearly four mil billion years ago but our collective membrane is a biosphere made of land sea and air and it is energized by all living things forming a hole that is held together and sustained but a collective interact shins off whole life so when you hadn't dimension of time to the notion of biodiversity it really it seems miraculous that a naked piece of smoldering rock orbiting the sun could turn into this a living planet thing yet that isn't what we now know really occurred so that's my story that is what I covered and I could have still been doing this except our publisher really wanted the book otherwise I would still be going around the planet looking form or examples of life through time but it's really energized neavitt a new perspective I thought I'd done it all I thought I'd seen it all and now with this amazing new insight about how layered nature is yeah it really refreshed me you know we have such short lifespans that we tend to look at everything as if it's part of the present but now when I look at a forest I look at it as if it's a persian carpet with some strands being very recent creatures and other things being very archaic and I could look at them separately and I look and look at him together so it's just a different point of view

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.