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Monday, June 11, 2007

Art Wolfe - Master Of Illusion

World-renowned nature photographer Art Wolfe is moving in a new digital direction

Master Of  Illusion Art Wolfe is synonymous with nature photography. When the photographer-adventurer got his hands on a digital camera for the first time, instead of doing the expected—photographing the dramatic animal and landscape portraits that are so well associated with his name—Wolfe turned his Canon EOS-1Ds to the extraordinary scenes within ordinary city life. Now, he's developing a new project based on that work, and he'll spend the next few years documenting the subjects he finds interesting in urban environments throughout the world. These images are literally the first Wolfe has made with a digital camera, and the basis for what will become another well-formed book of photography.

“I love to surprise the audience,” says Wolfe of his departure from the expected. “For me, it's almost a game not to be too predictable. The truth is that I've long shot this kind of material. I've been shooting urban landscapes in Europe for as long as I've been shooting ibex in Europe. I finally felt there was a ton of stuff in my files that should see the light of day. I've earned it over the years. I've come to the point where I can now pursue the projects I want to work on.”

Although the concept for these “urbanscapes” wasn't born with Wolfe's recent digital camera arrival, the new equipment has changed the pace and manner in which he can pursue this side of his vision. The digital camera makes for highly spontaneous shooting and encourages the level of experimentation displayed by these images. Wolfe now can shoot faster and thoroughly explore the scenes as he photographs, then verify with the LCD right away that he got the shot he wanted. The LCD monitor gives Wolfe the opportunity to re-craft compositions on the fly, especially important when shooting fast-paced urban life.

What Wolfe now wants to work on—these photographs of streets and people and walls and abstractions—is a reflection of the many images that have sat unused in his archives for decades. Wolfe has no intention of leaving wildlife photography behind; it's the variety of subject matter that stokes his artistic interests.

Explains Wolfe, “For me to shoot everyday life would be boring unless I can do it with a kind of interesting slant, something that's a little less obvious.”

The interesting slant that unifies Wolfe's newest photographs is based on the concept of illusion. While the images are inspired by the street photography, urban landscapes and color work of other photographers such as Jay Maisel and Ernst Haas, Wolfe's primary goal is to create photographs that challenge the viewer. Employing the instant feedback of the digital camera helps facilitate that kind of imagery.


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