CreativeLive's Create Art Through Photography with Art Wolfe by Todd Henson

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. This is at no extra cost to you.

Create Art Through Photography  with Art Wolfe . Image credit: CreativeLive

Create Art Through Photography with Art Wolfe. Image credit: CreativeLive

Do you ever find yourself looking for inspiration? Do you find yourself falling into the same ruts, creating the same photographs over and over? Would you like someone with passion and creativity to help guide you out of the ruts and help you see the world in different ways, help you seek out and create something new, something abstract and artistic? Art Wolfe may be just the person to help, and his CreativeLive class, Create Art Through Photography, may be just the class to start you down a new path.

Create Art Through Photography is all about seeing the world in new ways. It’s about studying art in all its many forms, visiting museums or surfing the web, viewing paintings and drawings by the masters. Study what has come before, learn to see the different patterns, textures, and lines that draw you into the artwork. And then go out into the world, into nature, and look for these same things. You will find them. The world is full of compelling abstract compositions just waiting for a photographer with the right eye to find it and create a beautiful photograph to share with the rest of the world.

Art starts out the class stepping you through his history, what led him to where he is today. He began as a painter, but eventually embraced photography. He has always loved the outdoors, and would spend much of his time hiking and climbing through woods and mountains. Through photography he found opportunities to travel, to see different cultures. He was drawn to different cultures and became passionate about documenting them before they disappeared. He loves wildlife and has spent much of his career traveling the world and photographing animals of all sorts. If you’ve already watched his previous class, The Art of Nature Photography, then some of this section may already be familiar to you. In the beginning of both classes he goes over his history for those who are not familiar with it.

Through his life, Art has continued to stretch himself artistically. He is always looking for something new to photograph, and for new ways to photograph. New technology has opened up new possibilities, giving him the opportunity to explore photographs that never would have been possible in the past. Art embraces these possibilities.

But he has also explored different subjects, or the same subjects in different ways. Over the years, Art has spent more time looking for the smaller, more intimate landscapes. He has created the large sweeping iconic shots, but he also strives to find the more subtle, less photographed shots.

This class explores the world of the abstract, images where we may not recognize the subject of the photograph. These are abstract expressionist photographs, more akin to the artwork of the great painters. Think Mark Rothko, Piet Mondrian, Jasper Johns, Kazimir Malevich, M.C. Escher.

Art discusses the concept of Wabi Sabi, a Japanese term referencing the randomness and impermanence of nature. It’s about balance, and filling the frame with content so your eyes can navigate through it. He says there is so much potential out there, that we should try to see in ways we don’t normally see. It can take time, but we can train ourselves to do this, to see patterns, textures, and lines, and to capture these in abstract compositions.

Visit museums to help maintain inspiration. Art mines the work of abstract expressionist painters, finding new ways to photograph landscapes. It helps him see subjects he might not have considered years ago. Study artists work, then go out into the world and see what you can find that reminds you of their work. It’s not about copying the work of others, but drawing inspiration from it.

Over time this will become natural and will shape the way you see the world around you. You’ll walk around town visiting locations most photographers never visit. You’ll find compositions most other people would overlook. You can do this in town or out in nature. There are subjects everywhere. Look for line, color, distortion, ambiguity. Art says this is creating metaphors through photography.

In the final section of the class, Art looks through photographs submitted by students. He critiques their composition and brings them into Lightroom to show how he might approach editing the work. I really enjoyed seeing how Art approaches this process, taking the raw file and turning it into something more. You can’t make a bad photograph great this way, but you can bring out the detail and wonder you visualized when snapping the shutter. I think there’s always something of value to be taken from these types of critique sessions.

I was pleased with my purchase of this class, even though I was familiar with some of the content both through a previous class I purchased (The Art of Nature Photography) and through a live presentation I was fortunate to attend. Art considers this class an appetizer for the Photography As Art seminar he teaches in various locations. If you have the opportunity try to attend one of his live seminars. If you’re unable to attend a live seminar, or if you just want to own the videos to watch again and again, then consider this class.

Create Art Through Photography consists of 16 videos totaling about 5 hours of content. It also includes a 150 page ebook, titled On Puget Sound, that is absolutely full of beautiful images by Art Wolfe. When you purchase the course you’re given the ability to download all the videos to your computer or mobile device to watch offline anytime. You can also stream the content from CreativeLive’s website.

If you feel you’re in a rut and are looking for something to help push you forward, give Create Art Through Photography a try. Art Wolfe is a passionate photographer and teacher, and he can help you see the world in new ways.

CreativeLive's The Art of Nature Photography with Art Wolfe by Todd Henson

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. This is at no extra cost to you.

The Art of Nature Photography  with Art Wolfe . Image credit: CreativeLive

The Art of Nature Photography with Art Wolfe. Image credit: CreativeLive

Art Wolfe is one of the photographers I most look up to. Not only is he an amazingly skilled photographer and artist, but he loves teaching and sharing his work and has a great personality and skill at conveying his passion. I have been fortunate to attend one of his seminars in the past, and highly recommend you try to attend one. But if you’re not able to, the next best thing are his presentations on CreativeLive. And as an added bonus, if you purchase the CreativeLive classes you can rewatch the presentations anytime you want. I often go back to these videos when I’m looking for some inspiration.

Art’s CreativeLive class, The Art of Nature Photography, consists of 12 videos totaling almost 5 and a half hours of content. The first section is about 90 minutes and consists of 3 videos. It is a lecture Art calls An Integrated Life. He talks about his life and career and how he got to where he is now. He shares those things he finds inspirational and what has influenced his work over the years. He studied art in school, learning about the great painters throughout history, and this has greatly affected how he sees the world and creates his photographs and artwork.

He also talks about a fascinating project of his called The Human Canvas. In this project he hand paints and arranges nude figures into various poses on a hand painted background, then photographs the entire scene. It’s an interesting process and a beautiful result. This project came about as a natural progression throughout his career, from studying the great painters, to creating photographs of natural subjects, to looking for abstract and creative scenes, to now creating an entire scene where human figures blend into an abstract background forming shapes and patterns.

The next section is also about 90 minutes and consists of 3 videos. Art discusses topics centered on helping you improve your own work. He talks about the types of lenses he likes to use and why. Art quite often uses wide angle lenses, getting in really close to a subject to place it in the context of the wider landscape. He really likes his 70-200mm lens, a nice mid to telephoto range, to zoom into the more intimate details of a scene. This is a very versatile lens, also useful for some wildlife photography when you’re able to get in close or want to show the animal in its environment. And he will sometimes use other lenses and accessories when the situation warrants it.

Art discusses how to find your subject and how to work a scene. Sometimes it takes time and several photographs before you narrow in on the actual subject of the image. Keep working the scene, and be open to surprises, especially to anything that might evoke emotion in the viewer.

In the last video of this section, Art presents what he calls the Ten Deadly Sins of Composition, which is a playful way of sharing things that should often be avoided to help create stronger compositions. As with all photography rules, these are not hard and fast and can be intentionally ignored to great effect.

The next 90 minute section of The Art of Nature Photography is a critique session, where Art is presented with photographs submitted by an online audience for review. He discusses strengths of the photos and points out areas where the photographer could improve the image. In some cases he thinks the image is great as it is and presents what he thinks might be the next image to try, and other ways to look at the scene. These critiques are a great way to learn. We get to see how Art thinks, what he sees in a scene, how his eyes walk through it.

To end the class Art shares 3 episodes from his great television series, Travels to the Edge. I have the entire series (both seasons) on DVD, so these were not new to me. But if you have not seen any of the series then this class gives you 3 good episodes to see what it’s all about. In each episode Art travels to a different part of the world, learning about local cultures, customs, and wildlife, and photographing it all. It is part travelogue, part nature documentary, and part photography lesson. I love this series.

The 3 included episodes from Travels to the Edge are:

  • Japan (season 2 volume 1): Art travels to Honshu and Hokkaido islands where he sees amazing snowy scenery, with a mix of culture and nature. He visits several shrines and temples, photographing monks and festivals. He photographs some of the winter wildlife of this part of Japan, including whooper swans, red-crowned cranes, and macaques. And he photographs landscapes such as Mount Fuji at sunrise.

  • Bhutan (season 2 volume 4): Art learns about the country and buddhist culture of Bhutan and gets the opportunity to photograph architecture, people, festivals, wildlife and scenery. He visits monasteries and photographs monks in several settings. He travels to a location where he can photograph black-necked cranes. In another location he photographs a traditional archery competition, and also a dance festival with several performances.

  • South Georgia Island (season 1 volume 4): This is one of Art’s favorite locations. To get there he had to travel by boat over a wild stormy sea. Once there he was able to photograph landscapes of amazing scenery and wildlife. And South George Island is full of lots of wildlife, such as king penguins, elephant seals, nesting albatross, fur seals, and macaroni penguins. He was able to get so close to these animals he often used wide angle lenses to emphasize the animal in its environment.

Check out Art Wolfe if you’re not familiar with him. I own several of his books, the Travels to the Edge series on DVD, and several of his classes from CreativeLive (including this one). I think he has a lot to offer, especially related to seeing the artistry in nature and the world and capturing it in compelling and emotionally impactful photographs.

If you could use a little extra inspiration consider investing in Art Wolfe’s CreativeLive class, The Art of Nature Photography.

Travel Photography: The Complete Guide with Ben Willmore by Todd Henson

Entrance to the United States Botanic Garden

I received a free copy of Travel Photography: The Complete Guide for review. This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. This is at no extra cost to you.

Would you like to improve your travel photography? Would you like some tips and resources for planning out your next trip, knowing what gear to bring, and knowing what to photograph when you arrive? Are you new to, or could you use a refresher in, Lightroom and Photoshop and how they can be used to process your photographs into the impactful images you imagined when you were on your trip?

Ben Willmore has travelled all over the world. He has seen and photographed many fascinating and beautiful locations. He has made mistakes and learned from them. In his CreativeLive class, Travel Photography: The Complete Guide, he passes on the lessons he’s learned. He shares tips on making the most of your trip and capturing the best images you can. And he discusses many topics on how to organize and process the images you’ve created after you return home.

Capturing Your Best Travel Images

To help you make the most of your trip Ben covers:

  • Planning your trip

  • What gear to bring

  • What types of images to create

  • How to handle tourists in your images

  • Looking for unique cultural images

  • Capturing location information

  • Tips for great compositions

  • Key differences between wide angle and telephoto lense

How to handle tourists and other people in images

Look for unique cultural images

Processing to Perfection

The class also covers many topics specific to Lightroom and Photoshop. It’s not a full beginners class on these tools (though Ben has classes to fill that role), but Ben does cover a large range of topics that are likely to benefit any travel photographer. Some of the techniques are very basic, such as using Lightroom adjustment sliders, but others are more advanced techniques that can really help your images stand out. He covers topics such as:

  • How to organize your images in Lightroom

  • How to find any image quickly using keywords

  • How to create HDR images

  • How to create stitched panoramas

  • How to use Lightroom’s adjustment tools

  • When to use Lightroom and when to use Photoshop

  • How to use masks in Photoshop

  • How to process composite images in Photoshop

  • Advanced panorama techniques in Photoshop

  • Removing tourists in Photoshop

Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Washington, D.C. This is an HDR image created from the 5 images below.

How to Use the Class

One thing I really enjoyed about this class was how Ben was not dogmatic about you doing things his way. He has tried different techniques and learned pros and cons of various methods, and he passes on that info. He shows you his process and, most importantly, describes his reasoning. You may have valid reasons for doing things differently and that’s fine. Take what you learn from him, find the pieces that resonate with you, and integrate those into your workflow.

Capture location information

I was fascinated by his system of organizing images and his method for quickly knowing the status of any image, whether it was yet to be processed, was still being processed, or was finished and ready for sharing or publishing. I plan on re-watching those sections and using some of his techniques to improve my own workflow. I began as an Aperture user, and I’m still learning my way around Lightroom and, most especially, Photoshop. I learned a lot of useful lessons from Ben and hope to make use of them in the future. In fact, one huge lesson was the importance of organizing keywords and how this can save so much time in the future when searching for images. And using his importable set of keywords saves so much time now when getting started.

Travel Photography: The Complete Guide is over 10 hours of video content. But it also includes a really nice selection of extra content if you purchase the class, things like Ben’s Lightroom presets, some of his Lightroom actions, a very well organized starter set of importable keywords to better organize your images, practice images to work on, and a number of different PDF guides including a 74 page Travel Photography Handbook that serves as a great reference to everything covered in the class, and a nice Travel Photography Mobile Guide that’s suitable for keeping with you on mobile devices, offering 35 pages of short tips to help you create interesting and pleasing images while on travel.

If you're new to CreativeLive, give them a try. They live stream classes on a large range of topics, all for free online, and they are constantly rebroadcasting previous classes. So you can try their content out before purchasing anything. If you enjoy the class you can purchase it, which allows you to stream it again in HD anytime, or even download HD videos to your computer to watch offline. Many classes come with extra content available if you purchase. I've been very impressed with the photographers who've taught classes on CreativeLive, folks like Art Wolfe, Tom Mangelsen, Frans Lanting, John Greengo, Ian Shive, Chris Burkard, Marc Muench... you get the idea. These are very talented photographers who are also very skilled at teaching their craft. And CreativeLive offers classes on more than photography. Check them out!