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Create Art Through Photography

Lesson 8 of 16

Lenses for Different Types of Photography

Art Wolfe

Create Art Through Photography

Art Wolfe

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Lesson Info

8. Lenses for Different Types of Photography

Lesson Info

Lenses for Different Types of Photography

Sharper optics. These are the lenses that I would go on any trip with. My favorite lenses are the new Canon, the 100, I have the bigger two to four hundred, but it's heavy, it's expensive, and now suddenly we got these Canon one to four hundreds that are very, very usable. Whether I'm going to shoot wildlife or not, I know I'm gonna shoot portrait, so that invariably and always goes on a trip. And the optics of this has become amazing. I'm hand holding, it's light enough, and so all of these shots were shot recently with that one to four hundred. It's such a universal lens! So fast reaction, if you're using a heavier lens, you have to use it on a tripod. By the time you swing it around, you know, the animal is gone. But in these cases, it's very spontaneous, very lightweight, very sharp, very usable. And from the back of a Jeep, your body is kind of cushioning the movement of the Jeep, so these are very, very technologically sharp cameras, but they're universal, and I can focus really ...

close with them, and everyone has been shot with that, including this little weasel when I was up photographing these big beasts. You know, all these shots of the polar bear were shot without a tripod, with a one to four hundred, and in this case, I was laying on my belly and that bear's not that far away, and it got the shot, so I love this lens. It's great for wildlife. What ISO are your polar bears? Well Vicki, I'm using ISO 4000 on these bears, I'm hand holding a one to four hundred, and I'm laying in the grass, or I'm standing, but not a single time did I bring a tripod out in the four days that I was up there. So every one of these are without a tripod. Here's my belief. When I historically would teach, I would always say, "Okay, on the list, bring a tripod." And there are times, like those Northern Lights, or those star shots, there's no way you're gonna hand hold that. But, I'm not also bringing a tripod because I'm a glutton for punishment. If I don't need it, I won't use it. And then certainly, when you're doing cultural shots, you don't want a tripod to be the first thing people see. So if you're not using a tripod, they're not cluing into you so much. This is the other lens, this 24 to 70. So I showed you a one to four hundred, so that 100 to 70, there's a 30 millimeter gap. I can move forward to build that gap. So I'm trying to travel, not traveling with everything I own, otherwise it just becomes heavier and heavier and heavier. So I'm trying to work with the least amount of equipment so I stay lightweight and movable, and I'm not breaking my back, okay? So the 24 to 70, F4 rather than a 2.8, because the F4 to me, with a higher ISO, I don't need a heavier 2.8 lens, it's got macro capabilities, and this is a very universal lens. It's great for the wide angle, it's great for the details, it's great for portraits, it's just an easy, and this is probably the most usable lens when I'm moving into a city and working on the street, as you'll see on the next lecture. So it's extremely sharp, it's very universal, and it's lightweight, so all those things really work for me. And I'm almost certain that Nikon and the other camera brands have analogous lenses. So again and again, I'm not trying to sell one brand or the other, but this is what I use, so it seems appropriate to talk about my technology. So it's a great lens for walking early in the morning in a fish market, I can bounce up the ISO, I don't need a tripod, people are more relaxed if you're not training a big camera lens on them, if I'm using a smaller lens without a tripod, easy peasy pie, right? And so all these candid cultural portraits are shot with that one lens, it's a great lens, and I usually, I use a little shoulder strap, I have it over my shoulder, and it makes taking pictures so easy. I'm not investing a whole lot of weight on that. So all of these were shot with that lens. And wildlife! You know, where you're in locations where the animals are not that afraid of you, you can not only shoot the wide angle perspective, giving that rock hopper a sense of place, but then I can put it on a tripod, and zoom in, and this would require a tripod. When I'm this close, yeah. I wanna get everything really tack-sharp. Because the closer the focus, the more critical the depth of field is, and now I've gotta be down to F22, and that tripod stabilizes that image. So it's analogous to video, there are certain things where that tripod really is necessary. And this is an area within the Geyser Basin, where you just saw the stars and the geysers. At the base of those geysers are all these very ornate, almost coral-looking details, that are made by the minerals that leach up from the earth. So there's beauty in the detail. The 60 to 35 is a great wide-angle lens, giving the animal a sense of place. This is the new milled one. It's really interesting, all the camera brands have had to re-mill their lenses, sharper lenses, because the digital capture has now demanded that. So you could never really put an old film lens on a digital camera, because there's just this disjunct between technology and sharpness, and so, brand new lenses mean sharper images. And so the 16 to 35 wide angle is a great one to have, for especially putting animals in a bigger landscape. And I was recently out in our Northwest forest, I love taking people out to my neighborhood. You know, out to the Washington coast, Olympic rainforest, these are beautiful areas to explore, and I know it like the back of my hand, and just taking people out to the great, saturated colors of the Northwest. So these are all shot with that 16 to 35. You know, that log in the foreground, the beautiful mountains in the distance, of Patagonia, I'm not sure if, I know, Vicki, you've been down there, but it is a great part of the world, and I love going down to Patagonia, and shooting the big scale. And further out there is South Georgia Island, so animal, and a sense of place, yeah, these are the lenses I would use for that. Little weaners, or baby elephant seals. So a variety of lenses, from the 400 max, to the wide angle, are three lenses that I am able to move through and photograph. And finally, I just got this lens, honestly it's a brand new lens for me, I was in Iceland, I borrowed Thomas Knoll, who wrote PhotoShop, he gave me this lens to use under the ice and I loved, it's 11 to 24. And arguably, you can't use this lens everywhere. You know, it's just too wide. But there are places where you're in enclosed locations, where you wanna get really close, it's a rectilinear lens, which means the horizons can be straight. So it's great for architecture, it's great for landscapes, and it's really nice for getting in close and putting, giving that iceberg a sense of place. So all these lenses are sharper than tack, and I'm so happy to be traveling with it, but that's it. I no longer have 800 millimeter lenses, when I was only shooting wildlife, yeah. That was the lens of choice. No longer necessary for 99% of what I do, but being under that iceberg, that glacier, I should say, a couple of weeks ago in Iceland, I was happy to have the 11 millimeter, because it's all about that enclosed cathedral of ice, and the beauty of that, that was only able to be captured. And then there are times where I'm using iPhones, believe it or not. I'm traveling through and photographing on the street. People, I don't discount iPhones, because they're 12 megapixel, they're great to use, I can do a lot of candid shots, historically the older iPhones have a still shooting with them, architectural details, it's not the camera I'm gonna, it's not the device I'm gonna normally go to, but when I'm traveling, and I'm not traveling with cameras around my waist, but I'm going out for the night. Here I'm in MoMA shooting details in San Francisco. So the iPhone is still a tool. It's about how you use it, and what you shoot with it. Street shooting is great fun to play with when you don't have the bigger cameras.

Class Description

Photography is more than just a click of the shutter as it can create a statement or evoke a feeling and thus becomes a powerful art form. Internationally acclaimed photographer, artist and educator Art Wolfe joins CreativeLive to teach creative professionals how to see and make art in exciting new ways. 

In this class Art will share:

  • How to maximize photographic opportunities while traveling to unique and beautiful photographic destinations.
  • The best ways to take those special images efficiently. 
  • His favorite technological advances and how he uses them to enhance his creative vision. 
As a special segment, Art will preview how knowledge of art history provides a creative foundation and show students how to apply these principles to enhance their own compositions. He will also include a live critique of student images and, using Adobe® Lightroom® CC, will guide students through the editing process to transform the images into stronger artistic statements.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Art Wolfe eBook Bonus Material

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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Thank you, Art Wolfe and Creative Live for this outstanding and astounding invitation to open my eyes and mind to a new way of thinking based on classic elements of design. This set of video lectures is a rich feast for the brain and heart willing to consider change. Art explains the elements of design such as texture, line, etc., and then shows how he has applied those basic principles. He explores metaphor, ambiguity, graphic design and negative/positive space--all with eye-popping examples. Wolfe takes us through the galleries of the Impressionists, Abstractionists, and Pop Artists to show how visiting our local art museums with a photographers eye can teach us to see in new ways. I love the way he shows, for example, a Mondrian or a Jackson Pollack or a Hokusai painting and then segues beautifully into examples of his own work inspired by those greats. Never does Art lose sight of the mission he has in this series, which is to inspire serious-hearted photographers to rise to new visual heights in their own work. He has a way of seeming to say, "Look. If I can do it, you can do it. Here are my secrets--let me break them down for you." To me, it was a privilege to take this class--my brain is exploding, and I'm itching to get out and shoot! Thank you so much, Art Wolfe and the Creative Live team--you are both amazing! Sandy Brown Jensen Eugene, Oregon

JIll C.

After watching Art Wolfe's presentation for just a short while, I have an almost irresistible urge to pick up my camera and get out into the world to look for the abstracts that can make stunning images. His body of work is simply stunning, and his verbal patter is mesmerizing. He proposes to find beauty in decay, and to train our eyes to see what others overlook. This is not a technical class, and there is no discussion of gear or camera settings. I found it very inspiring, and his ideas will surely help me to overcome the lethargy that has overcome my photography hobby.


Wonderful lecture with tips and tricks of how he shoots, what gear he uses, suggestions for comp, and samples of how he processes a RAW file in LR. Art was just as awesome as I had heard he was in person. I'm a professional photographer and definitely came away with many new tips, perspectives and inspiration to see your image differently and to look closer at the less obvious scene. Thank you Art for sharing your talent, its so very much appreciated!!