Having returned from a trip to photograph the majesty of Denali National Park, I sat down to write a piece to go along with the posting of a photograph.
Yes, I have photographed Denali, but how can I possibly write about it?
I could take the angle of humor.
About how my wife imagined that our ride into and out of the park for 12 hours and 185 miles round trip was going to be on a luxury tour bus with huge windows and a glass rooftop and on-board restroom and a gourmet lunch and hors d’oeuvres, when it was actually only a repainted school bus.
About how the bus driver, who was also the tour commentator, kept repeating himself and constantly telling us to buckle our seat belts.
About the 15 or so stops where someone on the bus would shout “STOP!” when they thought they saw a bear, actually showed up as a slightly moving brown dot some ¾ mile from the road.
About how when we got to Reflection Lake, the water was rippled and the top half of the mountain was hidden by clouds, and the bus driver said, ”This is called Reflection Lake, but today it is just ‘Lake’”.
But instead of humor, I want to write about the beauty, and yet how can mere words do it justice?
My puny photographs try to do it some justice in this pitifully limited thing we do with our cameras and software.
I try by taking several images and merging them together into a wide panorama, with the only way of indicating the scale of the scene is by including a small bit of road in the corner of the frame.
I am perplexed knowing that my making a photograph takes what I love and have seen in person, and shrinks it. I have made the beauty smaller.
But also, I have made it possible for me to see it again, here on my phone or my computer or in a print on my wall.
By creating a photograph, I have made it possible to be reminded of that day and that sight by my image of it. And, I have made it possible, in some small way, to let the viewers of my art in on something they may never see in person.
And not seeing it in person is a fact of life.
We cannot go and see everything because of the limits of time, money, health, access.
Someday, there will be fully developed VE (virtual experience) technology that enables one to visit almost anywhere in the world, by simply driving over to a VE Realitorium and buying a ticket. VE will allow us to “feel” like we are climbing around the hills beneath the mountains of Denali, “feel” the gentle breezes of walking through low-lying clouds, “smell” the scent of pine trees.
All without having to ride a school bus on a one lane road 92 miles in, 6 hours in and 6 hours out, driving 2 hours from Fairbanks to the Denali Park entrance, flying 12 hours from Chicago to Seattle to Fairbanks, fiddling and searching the internet to make airline reservations and bus reservations and hotel reservations, and spending the money to pay for all this.
So yes, God bless technology and the artists and creators of it. If they can create a VE Denali Trip — the views and smells and sounds of this beautiful place – and I can have it by simply hopping over to our local VE Realitorium, I would definitely do it!
Until then, I will enjoy my humble photographs, and those of other photographers, bringing me the beauty of these wondrous places.