Photographers through out American history have used their craft to help bring attention to vast unspoiled environments. Their documentation and creative skills have led directly to preserving millions of acres some of which have become national parks.
In 1871 the U.S government sponsored a geological expedition led by Ferdinand Hayden. He led a group of 32 men out west to record, map and document the open spaces of northwest Wyoming. Among this large group was Thomas Moran a painter and a photographer by the name of William Henry Jackson . Jackson’s photographs and Moran’s paintings were instrumental in convincing congress to set aside lands to be preserved for future generations. This land today is visited by millions of people each year. The preserved land is Yellowstone National Park. On the East coast a photographer by the name of George Masa lived and worked in Asheville North Carolina. George was a Japanese immigrant whose love for his surrounding prompted him along with his friend, Horace Kephart, to photograph the forest and surrounding mountains. Masa died of influenza in 1933. One year later his photographs contributed to the creation of the most visited national Park in the United States today, The Smokey Mountain National Park. Arguably the most famous landscape photographer in the last 100 years was Ansel Adams. His images of Yosemite, Sierra Nevada and the American South West brought needed attention to these vast parks. His skills as a photographer, printer and activist were immense. Adams used his photography skills and his environmental passion to become a board member of the Sierra Club and led that group to the heights it currently possesses.
In todays world landscape photography may not have the same sense of pioneering adventurism of say William Henry Jackson or Ansel Adams. Having said that there are many photographers that travel to far reaches of the globe hoping to capture exciting images of places where most people can’t get to. Those images are either bringing attention to their beauty or erosion. Many artists may stay local to express their aesthetic creativity within the boundaries of their communities. Even with most of the land especially in the United States having been largely explored, all these photographers bring new visions and perspectives.
It’s easy to take for granted what we have but today our ecosystems are changing or under attack. Mountain top removal in the Appalachians, oil spills that threaten our waterways and unprecedented droughts that currently affect many areas around the globe. Amidst all of those issues and the normal daily grind in the region, there are plenty of opportunities to get out and enjoy the protected lands in the New York / New Jersey region. Perhaps photography can provide the impetus to walk to the top of a mountain, stand in a clear mountain stream or witness a beautiful sunset over a lake. The name of this blog, Trails to Great Photography implies not only the trails that currently exists for you to explore but also historically what has been blazed before you by artists and also what creative challenges lay ahead of you.
Take a look at the Photo blog, visit NYNJTC and let us know how you feel about the site. Hopefully your inspired to venture out and create your own vision. Enjoy.