Terra Galleria Photography

Love at First Sight in Yosemite

After I finished school in France, I wanted to spend a couple years in the U.S. At that time, I was an avid mountaineer and climber. I didn’t know much about the geography of the country, but one of the few places I kept hearing about from other climbers was Yosemite – because of its high cliffs. In January 1993, I took a visiting researcher job at the University of California, Berkeley, since of all the top U.S. research universities, it was the closest to Yosemite.

In February, one month after arriving in the U.S., I finaly set foot in Yosemite, about 23 years to this day. At that time, I didn’t own a car nor a California driver’s license. So for the outing, I joined a group from a student club of UC Berkeley, the Cal Hiking And Outdoor Society (CHAOS). They had planned a backcountry ski trip with snow-camping at Dewey Point, on the south rim. I had absolutely no idea of the precise destination, nor of what was actually involved in the outing, but as long as it was Yosemite, I was game. Fortunately, I had packed in my luggage some of my mountaineering gear. My apartment was only a few blocks from REI, which I was told could rent me cross-country skis for the week-end.

We left after school in Friday evening, and arrived in the valley at night, staying at an almost empty Camp 4. On Saturday morning, I awoke to see the base of cliffs that looked impressive and mysterious because their tops were hidden by clouds, but the grey sky wasn’t too inspiring. We spent no time in the Valley. Instead we promptly drove to Badger Pass to start the trip in rather iffy weather. Because we were in the fog, the visibility was limited to a few hundred yards. We started skiing. I felt awkward because of my heavy backpack, loaded with camping gear – almost everybody stays in mountain huts in the Alps, but fortunately for me, the others were quite slow as well. Shortly before nightfall, the trip leader selected a seemingly arbitrary spot to pitch the tents in the deep snow. Since it was still lightly snowing, I was happy to cook dinner in the tent’s vestibule and then crawl into my sleeping bag. The morning was cloudy, but after we had broken camp, the weather cleared just in time for our short jaunt to the valley rim. I exposed my first landscape photograph of Yosemite, made more precious by the quick return of bad weather.

One of the questions I am asked most frequently at my lectures and gallery openings is “What is your favorite National Park ?”. Based on their merits alone, it would be difficult to say, because they are so different. However, for sentimental reasons, I reply “Yosemite” without hesitation. What makes it special to me is that it was the first National Park I had heard of and visited, and the time I have spent there on repeated visits. Before I went to the park specifically for photography, I had made dozens of trips there to try and scale the big walls that drew me to California in the fist place.

Upon returning to Badger Pass, we drove back to the Valley, passing again through the Wawona Tunnel. As we exited the tunnel, a faint rainbow appeared over the Valley, prompting us to stop and take in the scenery at Tunnel View. Having seen the Valley from its floor, and then from the rim, I instantly understood that here was the view that epitomizes the essence of the park. I also realized that, due to flat light, the photograph I made there didn’t visually capture the wonder of the location. I never published that image. However, no matter how well-trodden the location, this was the moment that made me feel in love with Yosemite, rather than the wild view from the snowy rim. Memories of that moment would prompt me to return to this spot time and time again, until I photographed a decade later the one that did justice to this first impression.

From a Rock, Joshua Tree National Park

The most visited spot in Joshua Tree National Park lies somewhere near the meeting of Park Boulevard, the Hidden Valley picnic area, and the Barker Dam road. When I parked my car a hundred yard east of the intersection, nobody was around, because the time was one hour before sunrise. I walked in the dark towards the large rock formation nearest to the south east corner of the intersection, and circled around it, looking for a path of least resistance. My first two attempts at climbing the rock led to ledges from which a steep and featureless wall blocked progress. I eventually found a route to the top. Although I stood at essentially the same spot – the top was just a few yards wide, the position and changing light allowed me to make the diverse set of photographs in this post.

That area is rightfully popular, as it is the scenic heart of the park, where dense Joshua Tree forests mix with piles of rocks. At a ground-level perspective, it is difficult to capture the density of the Joshua Trees. To do so, you’d want to use a telephoto lens to compress the perspective and bring many of them closer to each other. Because the valley’s floor is flat, from the ground, the nearby plants hide those situated faraway. This is why I climbed the rock. A relatively small change in elevation yielded a totally different perspective. Several roads were visible from the rock, but since I photographed mostly with a telephoto lens, they were easy to exclude.

This trip, the last one I took before hunkering down to finish my upcoming National Parks book, reminded me of what attracted me to California. Within a few hours driving, I also dived in the giant kelp forest and hiked in the giant sequoia forest high on the mountains. Joshua Tree was one of the first national park I visited, in early 1994. I had stayed at the Hidden Valley Campground, which was visible from the rock I was standing. This campground is particularly popular with rock climbers, because of all the rock formations that surround it. Although I had started to photograph the parks (this large format photograph is from that first Joshua Tree visit), what brought me to the park was rock climbing. As I was wrapping up my 20-year project to photograph the National Parks, I remembered the views over the valley from the rock tops, so this trip was closing a circle.

Two Dead Trees, Big Stump Trail, Kings Canyon NP

Although it is the first trail encountered after the Kings Canyon National Park entrance, most visitors skip the Big Stump Trail. However, it is an area quite different from the rest of the park, reserving discoveries. Photographically, the dead trees challenged me to find evocative images of what at first may not appear to be appealing subjects. Read on to see how I used light and viewpoint to transform those subjects.

Dead trees are a good reminder of what would have become of the sequoia trees without the establishment of the park. Of all the stumps, the Mark Twain stump is the largest, with a 90 feet circumference. The news that California had trees of such size was met with some incredulity on the East Coast. Sections of the Mark Twain tree were cut for museum exhibitions, remaining until today in the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and in the British Museum in London. An interpretive sign near the Mark Twain stump, entitled “The Ultimate Sacrifice” mentioned that the sacrifice allowed many people far from California to marvel at the immensity of the sequoias, and some wowed to preserve the remaining giants as living monuments. Unfortunately, logging entrepreneurs became interested in far more than a display pieces and measurements to satisfy the curious. Sequoia wood is so brittle that most of it shattered upon impact, leaving the lumber usable only for fence posts, grape stakes, and toothpicks – sad end for such a massive trees.

When approaching a subject such as the Mark Twain stump, instead of settling for the most obvious image, I look at it from all possible angles, walking a circle around it. After strolling behind the tree, I noticed that the backlight revealed a bit of steam rising from the stump. Although the front-lit side was more natural to photograph, the steam was almost invisible from there. The steam made the tree look like an altar, connecting with the sacrificial theme. It helped separate the profile of the stump from the forest. I waited for the moment when the sun just emerged from behind clouds to make visible the sun rays with a small aperture.

200 yards further, the Burned Monarch, whose base is still standing, had an estimated volume of more than 70,000 cubic feet, larger than any living tree. Unlike the other dead trees on the trail, the Burned Monarch was killed by lighting, which caused most of the tree to burn.

Walking around the tree, I noticed a small opening. I was excited to be able to crawl into the hollow stump for an inside view. I thought of a slot canyon. By setting up the tripod very low on the ground, I framed the interior of the Burned Monarch with the opening. I split the focusing distance between the opening and the back of the tree. Although for insurance, I focused at other distances so that I could stack the resulting frames if the depth of field was insufficient, the initial frame, shot a f/16, was sharp enough. I spent an hour trying a number of different compositions, but in the while the sun moved, which diminished the glow from reflected light, so I ended up preferring one of the first frames I photographed.

The 2-mile loop trail starts at a large parking area on the left of the road, less than a mile after the park’s entrance. There is much more to the trail than the two dead trees I featured on this post. The stumps seem quite out of place in an otherwise healthy landscape which include living giant sequoias and grassy meadows. If you don’t want to hike the entire loop, you could park on the pullout on the right side of the road past the park entrance station, cross the road, and walk 200 yards to the Mark Twain stump. Because most visitors head directly for the Grant Grove, the trail is very quiet.

Photographing Fall Foliage in Sequoia National Park

In my quest to photograph fall foliage in each of the National Parks, I revisited Sequoia National Park at the end of October 2015. Dominated by conifer forests, Sequoia is certainly not a place one thinks about for fall foliage, yet I found beautiful color accents in the fall, which I report in this post.

Foothill oaks

Most of Sequoia National Park, including the park’s main attractions, lies at middle (4,000′ to 7,000′) and high elevations. However, unlike neighboring Kings Canyon National Park, Sequoia National Park features a region of foothills ranging from 1,500′ to 4,000′. For a change from the sequoia forests and alpine scenery, this often overlooked foothills region provide the opportunity to explore a chaparral and oak environment. The low-growing, gnarled blue oaks dotting the landscape are found only in California in the foothills surrounding the Great Central Valley. Unlike some other California oaks, blue oak is deciduous, so they turn in autumn.

Dogwoods

Dogwoods are mostly sought after by photographers for their large, white blossoms. It is less known that in autumn their leaves turn bright striking shades of reds and oranges. The western, or pacific dogwoods are found in mild habitats from British Columbia to California, usually in the forest understory. Amongst forested environments, no spot is further below the canopy than the floor of the giant sequoia groves. In the Giant Forest, the Hazelwood Nature trail has some of the largest concentrations of dogwoods around the giant sequoias. Another area where I found great dogwood foliage color is along the road from Moro Rock to Crescent Meadows, shortly past the Tunnel Log.

Ferns

The sequoia trees are conifers. However, the Giant Forest is distinguished from other sequoia groves by its large meadows. They are attractively lush, with a ground cover of grasses and ferns that are a vibrant green in the spring. In the autumn the ground cover turns to warm colors. In particular, the ferns bring bright yellow accents to to the forest floor.

I hope those images have inspired you to plan a trip to Sequoia National Park in the autumn. Besides the foliage, autumn is a delightful time to visit, thanks to moderate temperatures pleasant for hiking, and much lighter visitation than summer. There is also a chance of rains that bring a particular luminosity to the forest. Wetness brings out the color in the leaves – provided that you use a polarizing filter to remove the glare. On the Congress Trail loop, I was glad that I packed a rain jacket and an umbrella. Not only the umbrella saved me from getting drenched, it also made it possible to photograph in the rain. Right at sunset time, a bit of a clearing allowed some of the sun’s color to stream through, while the rain had abated to a drizzle, resulting in the following image.

More images of Sequoia National Park autumn foliage.

2016 National Parks Exhibits

Happy New Year!

In 2016, the centennial year of the National Park Service, my exhibit Treasured Lands will travel across the country. The exhibit consist of 59 large format photographs, one for each US National Park.

Treasured Lands has been in Southern California at the Fullerton Museum Center since last November. It closes on January 17, so you still have 10 days to catch it.

Next, Treasured Lands moves to the San Francisco Bay Area, where it will be on display at the PhotoCentral gallery in Hayward from Feb 1 to March 26. I will deliver a gallery talk on Friday 26, 7-9 pm, and I hope to meet many of you there.

Afterwards, Treasured Lands returns to the East Coast. The Museum of Science, Boston will host the exhibit from April 16 into September. I am planning an event in the summer, so stay tuned!

Here are some installation images from the Fullerton Museum Center, courtesy of Peter West Carey. I was very pleased to hear from Peter that the exhibit inspired his wife to visit some parks, as providing such an inspiration has been one of the main goals.

If you are interested in bringing Treasured Lands to your institution, please refer to the National Parks traveling exhibit website.

Year 2015 in Review: Water Favorites

I wish everyone a year 2016 full of happiness, health, success and inspiration. My sincere thanks for your continuing readership and interest in my photography.

In 2015, the goal of my travels was to fill up the last “holes” in my comprehensive coverage of the National Parks, in preparation for the publication of my big book. This meant no new techniques, no planned foreign trips, and less photography outside of the parks than usual. I found myself again spending more time on and in water than usual: traveling to islands, snorkeling and scuba diving, wading in swamps and swimming in canyons. Even the land excursions often led me to the edge of water. I suppose that’s because as this landlubber wraps up the National Parks project, the watery environments naturally turned out to be the last visited because they push more the comfort zone. So continuing last year’s theme, for this review of 2015 I have selected only water-related images – with one exception.

Mouth of Klamath River and moon at night. Redwood National Park

In January, besides hiking in Jedediah Smith Redwoods, I also explored the somehow overlooked coastal part of Redwood National Park, only one of two US National Parks where you can drive to the edge of the Pacific Ocean.

Saguaro cactus forest and Red Hills at sunrise. Saguaro National Park

In March, I spent five days (and $314) in Saguaro National Park. The main goal was to venture in the wild Rincon Mountains, which are seldom visited, although they occupy most of the land surface of the park. Although the Sonoran is the lushest of the five North American deserts, this was the only trip of the year that didn’t involve any kind of water.

Rivers of salt and sunset, Cottonball Basin. Death Valley National Park

In April, I was back in the desert, this time in Death Valley National Park, checking out remote dunes that were new to me. Although conditions were too dry, I did find a relatively wet area with salt formations. I couldn’t guess that in the fall, Manly Lake would reappear again!

Dunes and sunlight, Water Canyon Beach, Santa Rosa Island. Channel Islands National Park

For an awesome contrast, on the same trip, I subsequently boarded the concessionaire boat to Santa Rosa Island, part of the cool marine environment of Channel Islands National Park.

Seafront promenade, Con Son. Con Dao Islands, Vietnam

In May, my family and I traveled to Vietnam to attend my mother’s funeral. Afterwards, we visited the Con Dao Islands, possibly the last unspoiled coastal destination in Vietnam.

Flooded slot canyon. Zion National Park

In June, I spent a week in Zion to explore hidden canyons by canyoneering, a combination of hiking, climbing techniques, and swimming. Although each of the canyons offered a different experience, the highlight was hauntingly beautiful and subterranean Pine Creek Canyon, with an incredibly lucky find.

Tall mangrove tree and channel, Swan Key. Biscayne National Park

After a forced rest during the summer, in September I was back on the water to visit on a private boat the parts of Biscayne National Park that had eluded me before due to lack of transportation.

Bacopa and cypress dome reflection. Everglades National Park

On that trip, I couldn’t resist visiting the Everglades in summer for a third year in a row, even camping at Flamingo amidst the clouds of mosquitoes. I made this image while wading knee deep under the canopy of a cypress dome, while trying to keep an eye out for the resident alligator.

Bear Lake through trees and autumn leaves. Rocky Mountain National Park

In late September, I revisited Rocky Mountain National Park and photographed lakes and waterfalls.

Rock talus reflected in Lower Sand Creek Lake. Great Sand Dunes National Preserve

In Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, my goal was to discover the little visited mountains and views of the Preserve, home to environments unexpected in a park with that name.

Trees in autumn foliage, burned forest, and reflections, Saint Mary Lake. Glacier National Park

In early October, besides photographing fall color in Glacier National Park, I also drove to the the most remote road-accessible area in the park, highlighted by a pair of very large lakes.

Kelp bed and fish, Santa Barbara Island. Channel Islands National Park

Late October saw the last of my marine trips of this year, when I found at least a satisfying way to photograph Santa Barbara Island, the last of the five Channel Islands that I hadn’t visited.

This represented the last of the national parks “unit” that was still missing. In 2016, I will be moving forward with the publication phase of the national parks project and I hope many of you will like the result.

Experiments in Image Memorability Computation

Last week, after seeing the following headline: “Wondering which photo is best? Ask this deep-learning algorithm online”, I had to give the new algorithm a quick test. After it correctly identified a key image of mine amongst a group of images of the same subject, I investigated further by running the algorithm against all the images on terragalleria.com. The findings do not agree with the headline, but are quite interesting.

The Tunnel View set

As a former Artificial Intelligence (AI) scientist turned full-time photographer, I enjoy keeping an eye on latest advances of AI being applied to photography. Photo editing is an elusive skill, with excellent professional photo editors commanding three-figure hourly rates. So when I ran across an article reporting on new technology that may automate “choosing the best photos”, my curiosity was picked.

As a quick test, I ran the algorithm on a set of 8 photographs made at Yosemite’s Tunnel View, with those resulting scores:

Although all the scores were relatively low (more on that latter), I was impressed to see that the algorithm scored my well-known image the highest. Could it be that indeed it is now possible to automatically pick up the best image ?

The terragalleria.com image library

I was intrigued enough with that quick test to run the algorithm on my entire online image library of more than 37,000 images. Here are the results for all images sorted from high score to low score.

Although the headline that got me curious talked about the “best” photo, anyone with a modest science training can understand that there is no such a thing. One has to first define the criteria for any metric to make sense. The criterion used by the MIT researchers for their project is “Memorability”, which they define as the ability of human observers to remember that they have seen a given picture before. As such, they are able to measure memorability by showing a large number of images to subjects (paid through Amazon Mechanical Turk) and asking them to click a button if they see an image for a second time. Once this metric is established, and the dataset gathered, they are able to use machine learning methods to produce an algorithm that achieves near human performance on that dataset.

On my dataset, textured images with strong repeating shapes seem to be overly favored. Aditya Khosla, the lead author, provided this explanation: “those might have a high score because of a limitation of our data which does not contain a significant proportion of such images. The reason is that it’s likely to find certain patterns correlated with memorability e.g., circles, but since most of the images the model has seen only contains one or two circles, it may not realize that 50 circles (as in a texture) also exist in the world and the score just keeps adding as more circles show up.”.

Besides this glitch, the results square well with a fact that has been known by psychologists for a while: the most memorable images are portraits and images of people, whereas landscape are the least memorable, as you can see by browsing results in reverse order.

Landscapes

Now that we know that some subjects are more memorable than others, can we find interesting conclusions by restricting our evaluation to a single subject ? Here are the results for the landscape images sorted from high score to low score. Besides the bias for strongly textured images already noticed, we can see that the most memorable images are those which are “graphic”, with strong features, whereas the least memorable images are “busy” landscapes with lots of fine detail. This seems to correlate well with the observation that the former images have more “impact”.

Memorability versus Esthetics

Memorability as defined above does not correspond to the everyday definition of what makes a photo the “best”. Although the latter judgement is largely subjective, there is a whole cottage industry (photo contests), and a lot of community websites (such as Flickr or 500px) which are premised on the validity or usefulness of image ratings. For years, terragalleria.com has also been offering to visitors the opportunity to rate images, as well as sort images by those ratings. Presumably, they are based on esthetic appeal.

For each of the 15,000+ images that have received at least 5 ratings from visitors, I took the average of those ratings. Users can rate images from from 10 (best) to 0 (worse). Here is the scatter plot of average ratings (X-axis) versus memorability scores (Y-axis).

If there was a high correlation between ratings and memorability, the points on the plot would be distributed along a diagonal line. As can be seen, the points are all over the place, which means that correlation is low, consistent with Fig. 4(d) in the authors paper.

Those quick experiments have not even addressed the issue of context, which plays a crucial role in how photographs are perceived and remembered – if you have any doubt, think about photojournalism. While memorability represents a promising measurement of the utility of images, photo editors jobs are still secure!

Diving Santa Barbara Island, Channel Islands National Park

Of the five islands that make up Channel Islands National Park, one has eluded me for a while. The smallest of the Channel Islands, Santa Barbara is only one square mile in size. However, I couldn’t be pleased with my explorations of the park until I visited each of its five islands. This fall, I found at least a satisfying way to photograph Santa Barbara Island.

Because the crossing takes about 3 hours each way, day trips would be very rushed. On the other hand, the exclusive concessionaire, Island Packers, usually schedules trips that leave you on the island for 2 or 3 days before the boat comes back to retrieve campers. Unless you engage in water activities, this is quite a long time for an island with less than 5 miles of trails. There are only about four camping trips each year, running from July to October – when many wildflowers (including the coreopsis) are no longer in bloom. In the past years, by the time I got serious about scheduling, either the 10-site campsite had been booked out, or Island Packers had no room for sea kayaks. Access to the ocean is limited to the landing cove, so I consider a sea kayak almost a necessity to travel further on the waters. If you want to be amongst the less than two hundred people who camp on Santa Barbara Island each year, you have to plan very early and hope for good weather.

This October, instead of a camping trip, I visited on a live-aboard diving boat, the Cee Ray, chartered by Ocean Safari Outdoors. Both boat and dive crews were friendly and helpful. Thanks for your help to this unfrequent diver! Ventura is closer to the northern Channel Islands, but Long Beach is a bit closer to the southern Channel Islands. Arriving the previous evening at the Long Beach Harbor was quite a different experience from the Channel Islands Harbor of Ventura/Oxnard. Whereas the former is filled with yachts and other small boats, the Long Beach Harbor is a huge shipping port with a very industrial-looking environment. As a prelude to a National Parks trip, this shocked me. My diving companions on the boat were also quite different from previous experiences, more urban, young, and ethnically diverse. The boat sailed at midnight, setting anchor near Santa Barbara Island well before dawn.

Walking onto the deck was like stepping in a different world with no signs of civilization visible nearby. A night dive took place, but since my last dive was 15 months ago, I chose to skip it. I didn’t want to fumble in the dark with diving gear, my camera, and a dive light, while going solo! However, I still got up early to photograph the curious glow of the underwater lights.

I stood mesmerized by the sight of Santa Barbara island emerging from darkness. Afterwards, the boat circled around the island in order to evaluate diving conditions. Since that took place at sunrise, it provided a range of views not accessible from shore with excellent light.

As I had learned on a previous diving trip in the Channel Islands, a diving boat provides far easier and comfortable access to diving sites than diving from the shore. It’s not even comparable. This time, instead of working with film, I used a Canon 5D mk2 and 17-40 f/4 lens with +4 diopter in the Ikelite underwater housing, together with the Ikelite DS160 strobe and a GoPro for video. Compared to the Nikonos, the rig is huge. Traveling with it is quite a drag, and hiking even more. In the water, it’s not really a problem since it becomes weightless. On a diving boat, a crew member simply handles your camera to you after you jump into the water.

Like the other Channel Islands, Santa Barbara is surrounded by extraordinary underwater kelp forests. They are the fastest growing plants on earth, adding as much as 3 feet per day. Diving in the giant kelp forest is like being able to fly in a tall forest. These plants may exceed 100 feet in height. The possibility to photograph at high ISO proved useful to capture the details and colors of the tall columns of seaweeds rising deep from the ocean floor to the surface.

High ISO really came on its own when photographing on the ocean floor. It is quite a bit darker than the surface. With slide film, I did not have enough light for a proper exposure. Underwater photography is all handheld. You want to avoid contact with the ocean floor in order not to damage its cover, so you are drifting with underwater currents while you are trying to frame your shot – which may include lots of fish swiming around.

Faster shutter speeds freeze the motion of the abundant school of fish, however, it was still necessary to use the strobe to bring bring back the bright color of the Garibaldi fish. They are not shy! Many got too close for me to focus, and one of them even bumped my camera housing.

Santa Barbara Island is renown for its large colonies of playful sea lions. Sea lions are awkward on land, but their grace and speed underwater was a sight to enjoy. Since they can swim up to 30 miles per hour, and they like to twirl in all directions, I was glad to be able to use faster shutter speeds, and even more, to be able to shoot hundreds of frames on a memory card, as opposed to 36 frames on a roll of film.

Swimming with the sea lions is a fantastic experience, as they are quite curious. A few of them swam towards me at great speed, blowed a few bubbles and veered sharply at the last second to avoid hitting me. The impact would hurt a bit more than a Garibaldi fish! I felt so privileged to be able to share for a moment the ocean with those intelligent creatures.

More images of Channel Islands National Park
More images of Santa Barbara Island

Best Photobooks 2015: the Meta-List

Here’s this year’s meta-list of best photobooks. It started with the shortlists for the Aperture Photobook Awards 2015, Foto Book Festival Kassel expert selection and Rencontres d’Arles Book Awards, and continued with Olga’s compilation of lists at phot(O)lia, which I encourage you to visit to follow the links to those lists.

The methodology is the same as for my meta-lists of previous years (2012, 2013, 2014). Unlike previous years, I won’t update the 2015 meta-list further. It takes a lot of work, and I am focusing time on my own book. Due to the subject and style, I do not expect it to be included in any of next year’s lists, but I think that a lot of readers will like it.

The meta-list is independent from the grand daddy of lists, the Photo-Eye 2015 Best Photobooks list, which includes 24 lists, and selected 17 titles with 3 or more votes. At this early (and this year, final) stage, the meta-list is quite comparable in size, as it uses 28 lists. In it, 30 titles total 3 or more votes. 10 titles appear in both lists, and the top vote of both lists is the same.

(8 votes)
Moisés. MARIELA SANCARI La Fabrica

(7 votes)
Deadline. WILL STEACY b.frank books
Songbook. ALEC SOTH Mack

(6 votes)
In the Shadow of Pyramids. LAURA EL-TANTAWY Self-published
Until Death Do Us Part THOMAS SAUVIN Jiazazhi Press

(5 votes)
Imperial Courts 1993–2015. DANA LIXENBERG Roma Publications
Life is Elsewhere. SOHRAB HURA Self-published
Missing Buildings. THOM & BETH ATKINSON Hwæt Books
Prophet. GEERT GOIRIS Roma Publications
You Haven’t Seen Their Faces. DANIEL MAYRIT Riot Books

(4 votes)
(in matters of) Karl. ANNETTE BEHRENS Fw:Books
Find A Fallen Star. REGINE PETERSEN Kehrer
Fire In Cairo. MATTHEW CONNORS SPBH Editions
Immerse. DAISUKE YOKOTA Akkina
LDN EI. ANTHONY CAIRNS Self-published
Lago. RON JUDE Mack
Taking off. Henry My Neighbour. MARIKEN WESSELS Art Paper Editions
Taratine. DAISUKE YOKOTA Session Press

(3 votes)
Before the War. ALEJANDRO CARTAGENA Self published
Bottom of the Lake. CHRISTIAN PATTERSON Koenig Books
Good 70s. MIKE MANDEL J&L Books/D.A.P.
Greetings from Auschwitz. PAWEŁ SZYPULSKI Edition Patrick Frey/Foundation for Visual Arts
Kumogakure Onsen (Reclusive Travels). MAZAKAZU MURAKAMI
Modoru Okinawa. KEIZO KITAJIMA Gomma books
Negatives. XU YONG New Century Press
Nude Animal Cigar. PAUL KOOIKER Art Paper Editions
Paper Planes. SJOERD KNIBBELER FW: Books
Shoji Ueda. SHOJI UEDA Chose Commune
Tones of Dirt and Bone. MIKE BRODIE Twin Palms
Wealth Management. CARLOS SPOTTORNO

(2 votes)
10 Days in Kraków. YUANYUAN YANG
A Handful of Dust. DAVID CAMPANY Mack
Albumas. SKUDZINSAS GYTIS Noroutine Books
Anna Konda. KATARZYNA MAZUR Dienacht Publishing
Blank Pages of an Iranian Photo Album. NEWSHA TAVAKOLIAN
Diary. BORIS MIKHAILOV. Walter Koenig
Dirt Meridian. ANDREW MOORE Damiani
Dzogchen. VINCENT DELBROUCK Self-published
Edges of the Experiment. MARIE-JOSÉ JONGERIUS & HANS GREMMEN
Erasure. FAZAL SHEIKH Steidl
I do not want to disappear silently into the night. KATRIEN DE BLAUWER Avarie
Illustrated People. THOMAS MAILAENDER Archive of Modern Conflict/RVB Books
In Search of Lost Memories. HAJIME KIMURA Self-published
Jean-Jaurès. GILLES RAYNALDY Purpose Éditions
Life is One Live it Well. HENRIK MALMSTRÖM Kominek
My Last Day at Seventeen. DOUG DUBOIS Aperture
Occupied Pleasures. TANYA HABJOUQA FotoEvidence
Révélations. JAVIER VIVER RM
Ser Sangre. IÑAKI DOMINGO RM Verlag/La Kursala/Here Press
Silent Histories. KAZUMA OBARA
Southern Rites. GILLIAN LAUB Damiani
Sunless. TIANE DOAN NA CHAMPASSAK
Teleplay, Pt 1. CATHARINE MALONEY Skinnerbox
The Chinese Photobook From the 1900s to the Present. WASSINKLUNDGREN & MARTIN PARR Aperture
The Complete Works. KOU INOSE
The Evolution of Ivanpah Solar. JAMEY STILLINGS Steidl
The encyclopedia of Kurt Caviezel. KURT CAVIEZEL Rorhof
The whale’s eyelash. PRUS TIMOTHY Archive of Modern Conflict Books
Transmission. LUCY HELTON Silas Finch
Unfinished Father. ERIK KESSELS RVB Books

If you are wondering how the meta-list changes as it incorporates more lists, compare the final 2014 meta-list with its initial version, which was posted on Dec 9, 2014, and that I am reproducing below.

(8 votes)
Hidden Islam. NICOLÓ DEGIORGIS Rorhof

(5 votes)
The Epilogue. LAIA ABRIL Dewi Lewis
Will They Sing Like Raindrops or Leave Me Thirsty. MAX PINCKERS self-published

(4 votes)
Back to the Future (limited edition). IRINA WERNING self-published
Carpoolers. ALEJANDRO CARTEGENA self-published
Disco Night Sept. 11. PETER VAN AGTMAEL red hook
The Winners. RAFAL MILACH GOST Books

(3 votes)
Euromaidan. VLADYSLAV KRASNOSHCHOK & SERGIY LEBEDYNSKYY Riot Books
Linger (Teikai). DAISUKE YOKOTA Akina Books
No Pain. Whatsoever KEN GRANT Journal
Ponte City. MIKHAEL SUBOTZKY & PATRICK WATERHOUSE Steidl
Sequester. AWOISKA VAN DER MOLEN Fw: Books
Trepat. JOAN FONTCUBERTA Éditions Bessard

(2 votes)
19.06_26.08.1945. ANDREA BOTTO Danilo Montanari
Anhill (meteorites). AUGUSTIN REBETEZ RVB Books
Centro. FELIPE RUSSO self-published
Congo. PAOLO PELLEGRIN & ALEX MAJOLI Aperture
Does Yellow Run Forever? PAUL GRAHAM Mack
Go There. GEN SAKUMA Roshin books
I. EAMONN DOYLE self-published
Imaginary Club. OLIVER SIEBER GwinZegal and BöhmKobayashi
Italia O Italia. FEDERICO CLAVARINO Akina
Karaoke Sunne. JH ENGSTRÖM & MARGOT WALLARD Super Labo
Land Without a Past. PHILIP EBELING Fishbar
Photographs for Documents. VYTAUTAS V. STANIONI Kaunas Photography Gallery
Pigeons. STEPHEN GILL Nobody
Printed in Germany. CHRISTOPHER WILLIAMS Walther Konig
Red Ball of a Sun Slipping Down. EUGENE RICHARDS Many Voices Press
Red String. YOSHIKATSU FUJII self-published
Reenactment MSf. ARWED MESSMER Hatje Cantz
Rich and Poor. JIM GOLDBERG Steidl
Silent Histories. KAZUMA OBARA self-published
Something like a Nest. ANDY SEWELL self-published
Strange Paradise. CHARLIE RUBIE Conveyor Editions
Syria Al-Assad. OLIVER HARTUNG Spector Books
Taxmonomy of a Landscape. VICTORIA SAMBUNARIS Radius
The Night Climbers of Cambridge. THOMAS MAILAENDER Archive of Modern Conflict
The Plot Thickens. JEFFREY FRAENKEL Fraenkel Gallery
The United States 2003-2013. MOSSLESS MAGAZINE
Tranquility. HEIKKI KASKI Lecturis
Typology. 1979 JOACHIM BROHM Mack
Vertigo. DAISUKE YOKOTA Newfave
Vienna MMix 10008/7000. JULES SPINATSCH Scheidegger and Spiess
Wild Pigeon. CAROLYN DRAKE self-published

Accessible Wildness: Glacier National Park’s North Fork

Glacier National Park is renowned for its wildness, and the wildest part of Glacier is the North Fork. The most isolated section of the park that can be reached by vehicle, the region offers the adventurous photographer a chance to enjoy an experience away from the crowds.

The NPS management plan for Glacier National Park states that North Fork visitor facilities will preserve a primitive character. It forbids commercial development and vows to keep the Inside North Fork Road narrow and unpaved. The visitation is greatly reduced by those rough roads. You won’t find the traffic of the Going-to-the-Sun road here! However, the Outside road is definitively passable by regular cars if driven carefully (the speed limit is 20 miles per hour). Last fall, the rougher Inside road was closed. You can drive right to the edge of Bowman Lake and Kintla Lake, the region’s highlights. The drive in itself is a great journey out of the beaten path.

A mile from the park’s northwestern entrance, the rustic, off-the-grid outpost of Polebridge offers lodging and food, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Because the camping stores in the park were closed, I couldn’t find a cartridge for my compact foreign stove, so I had to content myself with uncooked Ramen noodles for dinner. When I walked into the charming Polebridge Mercantile store, I was delighted to smell their array of freshly baked goods. They would be delicious anywhere, but were a particular treat there.

Bowman Lake is the third largest lake in the park, after Lake McDonald and Saint Mary Lake. It is close enough from Polebridge (6 miles via a bumpy, unpaved road) that you could stay there if you don’t want to camp. The campground is very quiet, but it is primitive. From my campsite, I rolled out of bed and walked to the shore.

The peaks of the Continental Divide form spectacular backdrops on the eastern end of the lake. Due to the lake’s orientation, the light is normally good both at sunrise and sunset, but the sky was cloudy early, and cleared only in mid-morning. A few campers came to admire the view, but stayed near the boat launch. Walking along the untrameled shore east of it, I found a more interesting foreground with stones partly emerging from the water (opening image).

Kintla Lake, the fourth largest lake in the park, is only slightly smaller than Bowman Lake. Kintla Lake is even quieter than Bowman Lake. The small campground, Glacier National Park’s most remote frontcountry campground, is right at the edge of the water.

Unlike at Bowman Lake, no motorized boats are allowed, making it a great place to explore by kayak. However, I was glad that I did not get on the water that day. Only half an hour after I made the previous image, menacing clouds began to roll in. The wind calmed suddently before the rain. After taking advantage of the situation to photograph the reflections, I hopped in the car just as the first drops of water fell.

The 15-mile drive from Polebridge to Kintla Lake, on an unpaved road, takes about 45 minutes. Even if you didn’t visit the lake, it would be a rewarding journey through scenery not not found in the rest of the park, such as large meadows, and the North Fork of the Flathead River. Autumn colors along the way were beautiful at the beginning of October. Contributing to the sense of wildness, I did not see more than a dozen other cars along the whole road.

More images of Glacier National Park’s North Fork