I don’t do landscape photography although many photographers do. Some do it well. A select few do it really well. The reason I don’t do it is because I don’t believe that I can do it at all well. Over the years I have seen enough stunning landscape photographs to know that producing those great images involves exemplary technique, commitment and dedication to the craft. It’s not as easy as going to the nearest scenic lookout and snapping away as so many imagine.
One man who shows extraordinary commitment to the craft is QT Luong who was a computer scientist who coupled his love of the outdoors and climbing with photography and who gave up his high achieving career to set out on an amazing 22-year odyssey to photograph every one of the 59 national parks in the USA.
Now when I say photograph I am not talking about a man with an SLR /DSLR and a bagful of lenses. He did it with a large-format (5×7) film camera and all the supporting gear, including the hefty tripods that large-format film photography dictates. He used large-format colour slide film because he says only large-format film could do justice to the grandeur of the parks. And he did not drive into the parks in his SUV and set up his camera in the accessible spots.
He hauled his gear into the most distant corners of the parks and up the peaks on foot sleeping out to catch the light. He was not sponsored by any organisation — he was self-directed and self-funded.
Now we can all share the results of his personal journey in a magnificent 454-page book: Treasured Lands — A Photographic Odyssey through America’s National Parks which has been published recently by Cameron Company of Petaluma, California.
The book is an object of beauty in itself. The production values are first class and the copy is elegant prose. As well as the stunning colour photos there are maps of each national park and notes explaining where each photo was taken. Gearheads will be disappointed that there is no technical information on the photography but this book is about the parks.
Aside from the extraordinary photographs, the most surprising aspect of the book is its price. I acquired mine from The Book Depository in the UK for £46¹ — A$74 — and this is with free postage to Australia. Now as the book weighs a hefty 3.6kg this is a helluva bargain, particularly since the book arrived here in only seven days. It would cost me nearly A$74 postage alone to send the book to the nearest suburb if I had to send it with Australia Post.
Even if, like me, you are not a practising landscape photographer treat yourself to this wonderful volume. It is an extraordinary testament to one man’s commitment to his craft and an amazing record of some of the planet’s most beautiful places. I hesitate to use the term but it surely is a masterpiece.
The book is also available here from Amazon.
¹ Note that the price appears to vary depending the location from which you access the site. From Australia is still shows as £46 and $74 but when the site is accessed from the UK the price becomes £53.42, curiously the same cost as shown in the Amazon link above. So better to check for yourself. It’s still good value, whatever.