Beyond the Obvious – Discovering Unintended Art

April 11, 2011 ·

Art Wolfe

April 8, 2011

Never discount the ability to create effective photographs during a rainy overcast day.

On my last day in Yang Shao, China we were hit with some pretty bad weather. Instead of staying in the hotel, I traveled to a view point along the Li River to shoot some limited edition, fine art black and white images. I knew from experience that images taken on a day like this could yield dreamy photos with just a basic amount of dodging and burning once converted from a color capture. 

My workflow for these images was fairly simple. I created a virtual copy in Lightroom, desaturated the image by dragging the Saturation Slider to 0 and then using the Brush Tool to selectively dodge and burn areas of the sky to make the clouds pop. Then, Jay Goodrich, my co-leader on this trip, opened the images in Photoshop CS 5 and added an Auto Curves adjustment layer that, to my surprise, made the images just jump off of the page.   When I have more time than I do on location, I will further refine the Black & White image by using NIK Software’s Silver Efex Pro 2 software.  This will allow  me to really fine-tune the image. 

I am always amazed at how many ways there are to process an image to get the results that I am looking for in my pursuit of creativity.

This is my final post for this trip – thanks for reading!

Yuang Yang

April 4, 2011

I have been out of touch with the world for 4 days now, mostly due lack of TV and internet, but the shooting has been some of the best of my life. Two nights ago I was photographing the rice terraces near the town of Yuang Yang. These terraces create some of the most unique, linear, abstract landscapes I have ever visited. I not only use a situation like this to create the overall traditional landscape image, but also, zoom in to utilize the amazing series of lines that are available to me.

  Like I have been talking in previous posts, I am always looking for additional opportunities and this day was no different. 

There was a group of local tribes women, dressed in their traditional clothing that is extremely colorful, trying to sell me post cards of the very location that I was shooting. I decided to take advantage of the situation and create a unique image using a fisheye lens that I borrowed from my co-leader Jay Goodrich. 

I lead the women to a handrail that overlooked the terraces, posed them looking off into the distance, and clicked my shutter. The whole scene took 30 seconds to create and now I have an additional perspective of the landscape that most would overlook.

Always remember to pay attention to the scene in front of you, you never know what might present itself.

Huang Shan

March 29, 2011

The weather has remained beautiful here in China again, unfortunately, as you know from my last post not great for photography. This lead me to exploring Huang Shan in yet a different light.

I became enamored with the engineering of the walkways and paths that the local people have created to allow maximum viewing of this unique mountain environment. My initial reaction to the adding of man made materials to natural landscape was not a very positive one. After giving it much thought, I have come to the realization that if the Chinese did not create this network of walkways, the sheer volume of people visiting this place on a daily basis really would destroy it.

Focusing on the architecture has given me a selection of images to tell another story to my viewers.

We are now off to the rice terraces about 7 hours south of Kunming, hopefully there will be better weather for photographing there. More coming real soon.

March 28, 2011

I have arrived in Huang Shan, China. A place that is so dear to my heart, I have modeled the entire landscape around my house after it. This location usually boasts a dreamy inversion cloud layer that massive granite spires emerge in and out of, but on this trip, mother nature has given us amazingly warm and sunny weather that is not the greatest for photographing the landscape. 

In situations like these, I buckle down and start to work my subject matter in hopes of discovering a successful story. I managed to do just that by realizing that this place has become extremely popular among the Chinese since my last visit about 3 years ago. 

My mission quickly became one of isolating the subject not only from the harsher clear light, but also from the hoards of people that were there for the same reason as myself–to experience a place that shocks the heart and soul around every corner of every new trail.

Beyond the Obvious – Discovering Unintended Art

March 25, 2011

Myself and my co-leader Jay Goodrich on my China Workshop for the next 14 days, spent the better part of an afternoon trying to work around high fences and padlocked gates of last year’s World Expo site in Shanghai, China.

Despite all of the road blocks, we were able to gain a few angles that permitted the following two images. 

In the first image a large 30 foot tall pair of metal giant pandas, once greeted thriving throngs. Today they stand stoically alone waiting for the occasional photographer to bring them to life.

Expo Metal Panda

World Expo Metal Panda

This second image, taken through a small opening in the wire mesh, becomes an unintended impressionistic landscape.

Expo Impression

World Expo Impression

For me, it is always a goal to come away from any photographic situation with something in hand.

Art Wolfe. March/April 2011

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American photographer, author and conservationist, best known for color images of wildlife, landscapes and native cultures. His photographs document scenes from every continent and hundreds of locations, and have been noted by environmental advocacy groups for their "stunning" visual impact.

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