Terra Galleria Photography

Metro Silicon Valley Cover Story features QT Luong

No Comments

On the occasion of the release of the USPS stamps celebrating the NPS Centennial, Metro Silicon Valley ran a cover story about my photographs of the national parks.

There is an adage: “all news is local”. The other press coverage for that stamp of Theodore Roosevelt National Park is from North Dakota papers, for example the Dickinson Press which has as a bonus my appearance in the Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan film.

Metro Silicon Valley is a 30-year old, widely circulated, alternative free weekly newspaper with a particularly strong coverage of the local art scene. I was honored because the paper covers photography more sparsely than other arts. From what I saw, the last story about a photographer was a May 2014 review of Carleton Watkins exhibit at Stanford – see also my notes on that exhibit.

Here are my recollections about the cover image, as excerpted from Treasured Lands.

Because of persistent drizzle, the daybreak felt dark and gloomy. After loading our double kayak onto the tour boat, we gathered our gear into large clear plastic bags to protect it from the rain. Upon drop-off, we stuffed the gear back into the double kayak. It is surprising how much you can fit onboard: two weeks worth of food in bear canisters, a tent each, and three camera systems. Starting to paddle in the late morning, we took our first stop only at dinnertime, cooking there so that our final camp would not have bear-attracting smells. We initially expected to stop when it would get dark, but at those latitudes, it doesn’t get dark. We kept paddling, taking advantage of the advancing tide, and of a break in the rain until we reached our destination, a grassy flat north of the mouth of McBride Inlet, at 2 AM. I had spotted that area on the map as a place with great photographic potential because of its location next to a narrow inlet in which the McBride Glacier calves. Besides the direct view of the front of the glacier, I thought that the icebergs originating from the McBride Glacier would likely be stranded in great numbers on the nearby flats. By the time we had finished setting up camp, it was 3 AM, but I couldn’t go to sleep despite the long day of effort. I felt excited by possibilities and energized by the clear sky and the lingering half-light of the Alaskan summer that I could see growing brighter. The world felt so beautiful and just invited exploration. After being awake for almost 24 hours in this intensely wild and pristine place, I felt myself in a curious state of heightened awareness. I wandered around the tidal flats until I saw a translucent iceberg lying more than a hundred feet away in water. The water was very shallow, and I understood that with the fast rate at which the tide was receding, if I waited, it would be totally out of the water. I left my camera bag on the mud and waded into the water with just the camera mounted on a tripod, the focusing loupe and dark cloth around my neck and a film holder in my pocket. The iceberg was kind of small, around 3 feet tall, but by getting very close to it, using a wide-angle lens, I made it a prominent feature in the photograph, since it was the element drew me in.

Leave a Comment