Last month Art, Gavriel Jecan, Jay Goodrich and Rich Reid led a group of 13 participants into Grand Teton National Park. Their focus was not on the iconic locations most travel to, but to the lesser known areas, to produce imagery that pushed the boundaries of their artistic expression. Here are some of their images.
And a special thank you to the following participants that forwarded their images for the above gallery:
The Heinz Awards annually recognize individuals creating and implementing workable solutions to the problems the world faces through invention, research and education while inspiring the next generation of modern thinkers.
This year is the 50th Anniversary of the creation of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Earlier this year I had the good fortune of be able to review Jeff Jones’ new book on the subject. It is a call to action to protect this sanctuary of wildlife and wildness & beautifully showcases a pristine land caught in the crosshairs of the greatest of human calamities including global climate change and the grim search for energy resources.
Jeff Jones began photographing the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge landscape in 1990. As the largest single piece of wild land in the U.S.—larger than any national park or national forest and nearly the size of South Carolina—the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is made up of five ecozones: Arctic Ocean coastline, tundra, mountains, taiga, and boreal forest. The book, ‘Arctic Sanctuary’ by Jeff Jones and Laurie Hoyle, shows the great breadth and diversity of this land. The hard-bound, 184-page panoram ic proportioned book (14 X 9 inches) contains over 150 of Jeff’s landscape images, essays by Laurie, and an introduction by Michael Engelhard. The University of Alaska Press will release ‘Arctic Sanctu ary’ on September 15, 2010. The book and companion exhibit will travel the U.S. to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Arctic Refuge. The book is available through the University of Alaska Press, the University of Chicago Press, and Amazon. See more of Jeff’s work at www.lumnos.com.
Barrier Island II
ecozone = coast
Barrier islands occur along much of the refuge’s Beaufort Sea coastline. This delicately curved barrier island protects the mainland’s coastline to the south (and upper left) of this scene. The waters outside of the barrier island (right) are deeply rippled by wind; those inside (left) are calm. Such islands afford protection for lagoons, estuaries, and river deltas that provide prime habitat for waterbirds, fish, and marine mammals.
Late Evening Break in Rain
ecozone = tundra
During a break in the storm, clouds create a ceiling of light above the tundra on this early August sum mer’s night (10:15 P.M.) The tundra slips treeless from the peaks of the Brooks Range, seen distant in this southward view, down the North Slope to the Beaufort Sea.
Braided River and Alluvial Fans
ecozone = mountains
In a striking display of erosive forces, a river winds (from lower right to upper left of the image) in shades of gun-metal gray and blue between two alluvial fans partially covered with vegetation. The fans, created by eons of erosion, punctuated by occasional flash floods, flow from side canyons to bracket this valley on the north side of the Brooks Range.
Evening Valley View
ecozone = mountains
A valley is rich with summer colors. While the arctic is frozen for the majority of the year, the refuge is bathed with sunlight and bursting with life during the brief summer. In summer, temperatures can reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit in the mountains and southerly ecozones.
ecozone = taiga
The taiga seems to swirl in circular motions up, over and around mounds, mixing the colors of veg etation like red and yellow paints. In the Arctic Refuge, taiga is the transitional ecozone between the rugged mountains to the north and the smoother terrain of the boreal forest to the south. It is a large zone extending over vast tracks of the refuge’s interior, encompassing a variety of topographies and climates.
ecozone = boreal forest
A creek, sometimes dry in summer, enters a spruce and balsam poplar-lined river that runs through the refuge’s boreal forest. Though rainfall is relatively low—less than 40 inches annually—the forest is full of lakes, rivers, and wetlands which result from low evaporation and underlying permafrost that keeps water in surface soils.
Kah Kit Yoong is a Melbourne-based travel and nature photographer. His background includes studies and qualifications in medicine and music. He was introduced to photography in 2005 while exploring the cobble stone streets of Italian towns. Later that year, he developed his skills while tramping the pristine wilderness of Tasmania. Kah Kit’s appreciation of the world’s wild places has inspired him to capture its landscapes. He has been widely published in numerous magazines, including National Geographic, Popular Photography and Nature’s Best. His work has been awarded both in his home country of Australia as well as in the UK and USA. This year he was a prize winner in the landscape category of the International Conservation Photography Awards, as well as receiving an honourable mention in the wildlife section. To view more of his photography visit his website www.magichourtravelscapes.com. News and more articles can be found on his new blog www.magichourunplugged.com.
Havana – a city of faded glories but still elegant in its decaying state. Nowhere is this more evident than the Prado, a marble-tiled, tree-lined avenue, surrounded by crumbling facades. It leads to another prominent feature of Havana, the Malecon, a roadway and seawall which stretches for 8 kilometres along the coast. In the afternoon, it will become a hub of activity for tourists and locals engaged in banter, people-watching, playing musical instruments or fishing. But this is dawn; the streets are almost empty save for the occasional vintage American car cruising past and the city is yet to rise from its slumber.
As I stroll down the Prado, I consider my options for my sunrise shoot. No doubt the Malecon at the end of the avenue would be an appealing subject. The rain clouds, responsible for the many puddles on the streets are starting to disperse and take on a pinkish hue. I am distracted by the brightness of some buildings at the end of a side street. The warm glow of sunrise is starting illuminate the taller buildings in the distance and my plans to proceed to the sea is abandoned in favour of exploring this part of the old city.
Very soon, I come across a beautiful green 54 Chevy. The building behind is in a state of dilapidation, rough exposed bricks showing where a facade had been stripped off. I shoot a few frames of the car juxtaposed against the bricks but what I really want to do is incorporate some of that gorgeous light filtering through the city. When I turn the corner, an even more striking red Chevy awaits, shiny and glistening with droplets after the overnight rain. This time, the effect of the first direct rays of the sun can now be seen on the distant buildings. My tripod is soon set up and I carefully make a composition. Several locals have stopped to watch me and a man in a blue T-shirt across the street appears staring intently at me. I take a few exposures, with shortening shutter speeds to make sure he is frozen in the frame.
I had heard that Cuba is a country seemingly in a time-warp, decades behind the Western civilization. Recent reports indicated that this would soon change. Hence, the time seemed ripe for a visit and I spent 12 days traveling around the country in 2009. It was a departure from the nature-based photography that I’m more familiar with. I knew that it would present an opportunity to shoot a wide range of subjects, extending my comfort zone and skills as a travel photographer.
One of the differences between a tourist and a travel photographer is the mindset in what they are trying to achieve with their images. The former usually takes photographs to preserve memories of the place as a way to document that they have been there. Their shots tell us the story about their trip. Travel photography, on the other hand, is about telling the story of the place. This may be from the photographer’s eyes but the best images feel as though we are seeing the place through those of a local. I don’t believe that you can truly capture the essence of a location in a single photo, but with a portfolio of images I think that is achievable. Certain images may go a long way in revealing the broad character of a place while others may only focus on very specific details. However seeing the images as a visual storyboard, the viewer should be able to get a good feel for the location, replacing the words of a description like the one above.
Since taking up photography, I have found that my senses are heightened when exploring a new city or country. I notice things on a grand scale as well as those small details that might have eluded me previously. There’s a process of deconstruction that I run through mentally : city, skyline, buildings, doorways and bricks. Or perhaps : traffic, car park, car, driver, bonnet, wheel, windows, etc. All of these may make suitable subjects in their own way. At the end of it all, by putting the images into a portfolio, the pieces are reconstructed to form a cohesive representation of the whole. I also find that photographing a wide cross-section of my subjects to be a useful and rewarding endeavour. As an example of this approach, when shooting portraits, I was sure to include both sexes in all the age groups : children, teenagers, adults and the elderly. The people of Cuba were very friendly and open to having their portraits taken so this became a major part of my portfolio.
Planning a shot list is an important part of putting together a visual storyboard. These may include specific subjects. My list for Cuba would have looked something like this : vintage cars, side streets, cobblestones, peeling facade, old men playing boardgames, doorways, rocking chairs, Malecon at sunset, musicians, instruments, hands, cigars, person smoking, factory worker, Coco taxi, farm animals, architecture, etc. Some of these are quite specific while other like cars are less so and benefit from a broader approach. I ended up with numerous Chevy images, including wide shots from numerous angles while other images focused on various components of the cars. For a different perspective, I took a few from a viewpoint behind the driver and experimented with panning moving vehicles as well as using slow shutter speeds while sitting in a Coco taxi to convey movement and speed. Other items on my shot list included concepts, ideas or feelings. Some examples : children having fun, rhythm, energy, the simple life, decay. Periodically, I made time to review all the photos that I have taken. I recall doing this the night before my last full day in Havana and realized that none of my images adequately conveyed ‘decay’. The afternoon, while exploring the old town, I pushed open the door to a set of apartments and found the exact scene I was looking for. It required some discipline not to photograph the brilliant sunset over the bay but from my image review the night before, I knew that I would have been going over old ground. It was with great satisfaction that I was able to shoot this last scene on a dilapidated staircase, knowing that it completed the story I wanted to tell about Cuba.
California holds 23 federally protected areas. It has the 3rd most visited National Park in the United States-Yosemite. There are 550 miles of coastline along its pacific border. It houses the highest peak in lower North America with Mount Whitney and in the same breath the lowest place in the United States with Death Valley. And, it was the home to Ansel Adams and John Muir two of the most famous nature conservationists our country has ever seen. It is a place worth photographing and just plain exploring.