Red Maple and Birches, Road to Passaconaway, New Hampshire, October 11, 1953
Okay, it’s in my bones. Born in Pennsylvania and raised in Massachusetts from the age of five, I’m a New Englander through and through. Being back East this fall has only reminded me how much I miss autumn, despite having lived in LA for 25 + years.
Crunch of the leaves, snap of the air, layer of the sweater – it’s all primal prep for winter but it signals a quickening of the soul, too. I’m not a poet, so can’t sum up the feelings imparted as I walk or drive around the roads as the peak “leaf-peeping” season slowly fades into winter’s elegant gray.
Red leaves blowing at the car window in a rain storm, the sun setting behind a yellow-leaved elm, a cornfield in haunted disarray after the field has been cut back. Crows cawing, geese flying in formation, and deer casually sauntering off into a sunset, with the tiniest sliver of moon hanging in the sky.
Minnow Pond Brook, near Hemlock Hill, Blue Mountain Lake, Adirondack Mountains, New York, September 28, 1963
Last night, inspired and a bit soppy about the beauty of it all, I went back to look up the photographs of Eliot Porter – a hardy Harvard man whose love for his camera led to a gentle breakthrough in the art form. Early on, he met Alfred Stieglitz and made luscious black and white photographs of the New England landscape which were exhibited at An American Place, the gallery through which most of the fine art photographers made their debuts. In 1980 Porter had the first one-person show of color photographs presented by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, heralding a new era for color fine art photograpy.
In 1962, Porter published In Wilderness is the Preservation of the World, which was a selection of his color photographs and words from Henry David Thoreau. The book, which was published by The Sierra Club, was a tremendous hit and was recently reissued. You can see most of it here. (It would make an awesome holiday gift for a nature lover).
Pool in a Brook, Brook Pond, New Hampshire, October 4, 1953
September 2041 marked the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act and the Smithsonian is celebrating with a wilderness photography show at National Museum of Natural History. Produced in partnership with Nature’s Best Photography and Wilderness50, you can vote each month for a favorite photo of nature, wild and free.
And to prove that I’m a true Californian, after all, I must also note a few other Wilderness Anniversaries. 2014 marks the 150th anniversary of the creation of what we now know as Yosemite National Park. It’s also the sesquicentennial anniversary of California’s State Parks System! And, we can’t think about Yosemite without nodding to another great nature photographer, Ansel Adams, whose photographs of the West, and Yosemite in particular, are closely connected to the wilderness movement.