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Friday, August 1, 2008

From News To Nature

A landscape great turns his eye on the Grand Canyon

This Article Features Photo Zoom

The watchtower at Desert View catches evening light as rain blurs the distant horizon.Dykinga’s new book, Images: Jack Dykinga’s Grand Canyon, showcases some 35 sites, including Kaibab National Forest, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, lesser-known areas managed by the BLM, Navajo Nation and Hualapai Indian Reservation. The photographer has said that he has been typecast as someone who does deserts. “Deserts do it for me,” he explains. “There’s a starkness and emptiness combined with vibrant life that can explode at any time.”
From verdant coniferous forests to desolate rock, Dykinga’s visual trek shows the Grand Canyon through all of the seasons, with close-ups of lichen-covered stones and patches of agave tips poking through snow, to sweeping vistas of rock formations and ridges taken from various points along both rims.

A sense of solitude is instrumental in how he takes pictures. Landscape photography isn’t just about capturing place; it’s also about expressing the emotional experience of being in that place. This helps explain why Dykinga remains loyal to the Arca-Swiss F-Field camera in this digital age. Aside from the technical advantages of better controlling perspective and plane of focus, the camera requires the photographer to take a more contemplative approach.

“With a view camera, it’s made to go slow,” Dykinga explains. “It’s almost a meditative process. I put a focusing cloth over my head, shut out the world, and I have a canvas to compose on. It’s very Zen-like. Large format lets us see.”

In Images, Dykinga gives readers a comprehensive look at the Grand Canyon as he traveled to areas he hadn’t explored previously. The photographs are accompanied with personal reflections by essayist and longtime collaborator Charles Bowden, with a comprehensive scientific description of the landmark by geologist Wayne Ranney.

Over the years, human activity has greatly affected natural resources in Grand Canyon National Park. Among several other issues, the introduction of non-native plant and animal species has taken a toll on the native flora and fauna for space, food and water. Air pollution from nearby coal-fired power plants can sometimes spoil views from scenic vistas, and waste has tainted some of the streams.

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