Terra Galleria Photography

QT Luong in Ken Burns’ National Parks series


Missed Ken Burns’ “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” last fall? The series returns to prime time this winter, with the first episode airing this Wednesday, Jan 27 on PBS, and then appearing on consecutive Wednesdays through March 3. For local times, check the PBS site. Each episode will be also available for online viewing for a week, following its airing. Note that the DVDs have now been released, if you prefer to watch at your own pace. Ken likes to joke that the series is a great excuse to upgrade to HDTV.

I have written before about my role in the movie, but did not provide a clip. Here it is, from Episode 4, considered to be the masterpiece of the series by this reviewer.

This appearance was short, but there were only a few other living characters (as opposed to commentators) and the movie was seen by more than 30 million people. I am often asked, what impact did the newfound fame have?

Not much happened on the web (where I conduct my business exclusively). Immediately after the broadcast, just a few dozens of people added me as their friend on Facebook, or followed me on Twitter. At first, I couldn’t even see any difference in web traffic in terms of numbers of visitors, although I could see that they were more engaged from the number of page views. It’s only when I used the beta Intelligence function of Google Analytics – which makes it possible to monitor events by analyzing logs in a very sophisticated way – that I could quantify the number of new visitors from the first broadcast: about a thousand, a number drowned in the usual thirty thousand daily visitors. Besides a number of queries for my National Parks book (which doesn’t exist yet), impact on the business was minimal.

However, from October to this date, I went to five gatherings: a group show opening in Thousand Oaks, a diving trip to the Channel Islands, a company function for a client in Walnut Creek, a gallery opening for another artist (Jock Sturges) in San Francisco, and a wedding in Anaheim. In each of those instances, I was surprised that one or more persons recognized me from the movie.

The most pleasant, and unexpected surprise is that I was able to reconnect with several old friends with whom I hadn’t been in touch for sometimes more than a decade, as they emailed me upon watching the series.


  1. tom says:

    This is wonderful. Thank you so much for letting me know that this is being broadcast again. My DVR will be set to record all of them. Just wonderful.

  2. We have completed 9 parks in 2009 and plan to hike 12 parks during 2010. We would like to have your comments, tips and ideas about where to hike and what to see in and around the parks.
    We have a site that explains this project:

    Please tell your readers about our project so we can plan for the next 6 years. It just so happens that 2016 the National Park Service will be 100 years, a good time to celebrate their anniversary and our 70th birthdays.

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