Nature photography at its source

Acclaimed photographer to share his methods and advice

Acclaimed photographer to share his methods and advice

February 22, 2007|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Art Wolfe faces the same challenge every time he picks up a camera: boiling down a 360-degree landscape into a single photographic image that makes its viewer want to save the environment.

Wolfe, the subject of a 13-part television series to be released later this year, will lead a two-day seminar on photography this weekend in Shepherdstown. The Potomac Valley Nature Photographers, part of the Potomac Valley Audubon Society, are organizing the event.

The 55-year-old Seattle native said he plans to share how he's found success as an artist and will discuss 30 years worth of his work. Wolfe has produced more than 1 million photographic images and 60 books. His aim is to use art to raise awareness about environmental issues.

William Conway, former president of the Wildlife Conservation Society, referred to Wolfe as "the most prolific and sensitive recorder of a rapidly vanishing natural world."


An example, Wolfe said, is one of his favorite images: a polar bear cub peeking through the furry legs of its mother.

"Such a powerful animal that's in need of our attention," Wolfe said. "You look into the eyes of this baby, you want to go up and grab it and hug it."

In December, the U.S. government proposed listing polar bears as an endangered species because the bears' sea ice habitat is melting.

"We have the capacity to save (the bears)," Wolfe said.

Recently, camera crews followed Wolfe as he trekked the world photographing scenes of nature for the upcoming American Public Television show "Travels to the Edge With Art Wolfe," which is expected to air in mid-May on 262 channels in the U.S. At press time, it was unclear if the show would be shown locally.

The show's Web site ( has snapshots of some of the things Wolfe encountered during his journey.

One shot is of two penguins looking down at a baby penguin, coincidentally forming the shape of a heart with their heads and bodies as they look down at the baby.

Another was of several cacti set against the backdrop of falling stars. Strangely, the cacti emit an amber glow, like a smoldering ember, though there is no sun or other source of light evident in the picture.

Wolfe said he enjoyed the project, but said that shooting in front of a camera crew is different from what he normally does.

"It's a lot more onerous. You have to restate things often. You have to rewalk down fields," Wolfe said.

Still, viewers will get a chance to see Wolfe get into his groove, especially when he sees something worth capturing.

"I'm really good at reacting to the moment ... . You can't ask a grizzly bear to rewalk."

If you go ...

WHAT: Nature photographer Art Wolfe will lead a two-day photography seminar

WHEN: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 24 and 25. Also, Wolfe will speak as part of the Potomac Valley Nature Photographers' February meeting at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 23, at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, W.Va. The meeting is free and open to the public.

WHERE: National Conservation Training Center's Robert C. Byrd Auditorium, Shep-herdstown, W.Va.

COST: Advance registration is $199 for both days, $139 for one day. At the door, $249 for both days, $189 for one day (if space is still available). Deadline for advance registration is Friday, Feb. 23. There is a flat rate for college and high school students, and for photography teachers at all educational levels: $99 in advance or $109 at the door.

MORE: For more information,go to the Potomac Valley Nature Photographer's Web site,; or e-mail Wil Hershberger at

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