Posts Tagged ‘Photo’

Celebrating Eliot Porter

"In Wilderness Is the Preservation of the World", Eliot Porter book cover

Today, December 6, is Eliot Porter’s birthday, his eleventy first. Porter departed this life back in 1990, but his presence lives on in his photographs and books celebrating the beauty of the natural world.

When he began his career, color photography was considered appropriate for commercial purposes, but not for fine art photography. Porter changed that. He had the eye of an artist and was a master of the color printing process. Even today, his works are marvels of hue, intensity and contrast. In the beginning, his books were published by the Sierra Club and were among the first to be printed in a large format with great care taken in the quality of the paper and the fidelity of the reproductions. They were among the first coffee table books – large enough that you needed a flat surface to be able to see the images to their best advantage.

His first book, In Wildness is the Preservation of the World, was published 50 years ago. It paired his photos of the New England countryside with selections from the work of Henry David Thoreau. Porter’s wife Aline first suggested the idea. To her, his photographs were like Thoreau’s writing. The idea took root and he slowly began rereading Walden and other works by and about Thoreau. At first he looked for descriptive passages that he might illustrate. But the thoughts he found most influential could not be illustrated, for example: “Most men, it seems to me, do not care for nature and would sell their share in all her beauty for a given sum. Thank God men have not yet learned to fly so they can lay waste the sky as well as the earth.”

The idea of illustration having been set aside, Porter hoped instead to complement in feeling and spirit Thoreau’s thinking and “to show the peril we face even more today by our ever faster destruction of life not our own.” Porter spent almost ten years, working on and off, selecting what he considered the best of Thoreau’s writing and photographing in all seasons the woods, streams, ponds and marshes of the Northeast. Gradually text and images came together into the book we know and love today.

The title’s eight words, In Wildness is the Preservation of the World, “express the theme of the book and tell what Thoreau discovered one hundred years ago (now one hundred and fifty!) that a leaven of wildness is necessary for the health of the human spirit, a truth we seem to have forgotten in our headlong rush to control all nature. Unless we reverse our course all wildness will disappear from the American continent even within the lives of those who are now the age Thoreau was when he died in 1862.” (For the record, Thoreau was 44.)

Fifty years later, Porter’s prediction has not yet come to pass. Wildness is reduced and continuously under attack but still abides. In Wildness is the Preservation of the World was a revelation those who had not experienced the beauty of wild places. The book was passed from hand to hand, shared with friends and family, and soon became a bestseller. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was also published in 1962. Together, though in very different ways, these books encouraged a growing environmental consciousness in our country.

Eliot Porter’s photographs help us catch a glimpse of a world we rarely see. It’s sometimes easier to take in the beauty of a vast mountain or canyon rather than the small subtle beauties of a drift of autumn leaves or the first faint bloom of a Red Bud in spring. By looking closely at Porter’s photographs, we can learn to see more deeply and clearly the beauty that surrounds us everyday. He believed that “You learn to see by practice. It’s just like playing tennis. You get better the more you play. The more you look at things, the more you see. …You just have to keep doing it.”

“Much is missed if we have eyes only for the bright colors. Nature should be viewed without distinction… She makes no choice herself; everything that happens has equal significance. Nothing can be dispensed with.”

So, on this, Eliot Porter’s birthday, may we suggest that you head to the library or your own bookshelves and find one of Porter’s books, sit down, and settle in for a good long look. Exercise your vision. You’ll be amazed at what you begin to see in the world around you.

Some of our favorite books by Eliot Porter:

In Wildness is the Preservation of the World

The Place No One Knew: Glen Canyon on the Colorado

Appalachian Wilderness: The Great Smokey Mountains

Nature’s Chaos

The Birds of North America: A Personal Selection

Eliot Porter Portrait, Amon Carter Museum

Amon Carter Museum

Eliot Porter’s personal archive is in the collection of the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth. Their guide to the collection includes biographical information and some small images of Porter’s work. We recommend visiting the museum collection or picking up one of Porter’s books to fully experience the beauty and vibrant nature of his photographs.
For additional information read an article from Sierra Club: “Eliot Porter celebrated ordinary rocks, fallen leaves and the lush complexity of life….” In Photography Is the Preservation of the World by Rebecca Solnit

This is one of an occasional series of posts celebrating the birthday and accomplishments of environmentalists, ecologists, travelers, adventurers, thinkers, artists, writers and scientists who have inspired us to a greater appreciation of and participation in life on planet Earth. Who has inspired you? Please let us know, so we can add them to our celebration list.

Amazing Ice Halo Display

Yesterday, sky watchers around the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, witnessed something amazing: A complex network of luminous arcs and rings surrounded the afternoon sun. “I’ve never seen anything quite like it,” says eyewitness Bill Cooke, head of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office. Solar physicist David Hathaway snapped this picture of the display:

Ice halo display during Hurricane Sandy, 2012

Image credit and copyright: David Hathaway/NASA/MSFC

The apparition is almost certainly connected to hurricane Sandy. The core of the storm swept well north of Alabama, but Sandy’s outer bands did pass over the area, leaving behind a thin haze of ice crystals in cirrus clouds. Sunlight shining through the crystals produced an unusually rich variety of ice halos.

“By my count, there are two sun dogs, a 22o halo, a parahelic circle, an upper tangent arc, and a parry arc,” says Chris Brightwell, who also photographed the display. “It was amazing.”

“Very impressive,” agreed onlooker Kyle Winkleman. “This was a once-in-a-decade event for our area.”

If the display really was a result of Sandy, sky watchers might not have to wait a decade for the next show. Some researchers believe that superstorms will become more common in the years ahead as a result of climate change, creating new things both terrible and beautiful to see overhead. Sky watchers in the storm zone should remain alert for the unusual.

From October 31, 2012


Carleton Watkins’ Yosemite Photographs

In July of 1861, photographer Carleton Watkins journeyed to the “newly discovered” wonder of the West: Yosemite. He was accompanied by a dozen mules that carried his bulky cameras, photographic equipment and supplies. Watkins used two cameras: a large format camera using 22 x 18 glass negatives and a stereographic camera that took parallel images used to create 3D views known as stereographs. He wrestled cameras to now iconic scenic views of the Valley, developed glass negatives on site and left Yosemite with 30 mammoth plates and 100 stereo views.

Watkins sent prints to the Reverend Starr King, a traveler who had written a popular series of letters to the Boston Evening Transcript while traveling in “Yo-semite” in 1859. King’s account of his visit to the “vegetable titans” of the Mariposa Grove had met with disbelief. Readers wrote to King requesting photographs of Yosemite and the Giant Sequoias. Watkins’ photographs gave proof for the Reverend’s account of the wonders he had seen.

Carleton Watkins - Grizzly Giant - Mariposa Grove

Carleton Watkins - Grizzly Giant - Mariposa Grove

An 1862 exhibition of Watkins photographs in New York City marked the beginning of a movement to preserve Yosemite as a public trust. Portfolios of Watkins’ photographs were presented to Congressmen, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Frederick Law Olmstead and other influential public figures who urged that the Valley and Grove be set aside for the enjoyment of future generations. In 1864, Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Land Grant to protect the area from development and commercial exploitation, the first step in the eventual creation of the National Park of today.

View a slide show of a sampling of Carleton Watkins’ 1861 Yosemite photos.

About Carleton Watkins: On the Life and Career of the 19th century landscape photographer who captured Yosemite in stereo

Celebrating 40 Years with Whole Earth Provision Company

Celebrating 40 years!

Whole Earth Provision Company has just added two more ways for you to help us celebrate our 40th anniversary.
We’ve been hard at work going through boxes, files, photo albums and slide carousels in search of some very special photos to share in our new virtual scrapbook and Flickr group.
The scrapbook is a whirlwind tour of photos, ads and memorabilia from our early days up to the present (note: there’s a lot to see, so please be patient while it loads – it’ll be worth it!).  We had far more material than the scrapbook could possibly hold, so we created a Flickr group to share the abundance of photos with you.


Do you have photos of Whole Earth Provision Company events and Earthlings?  If you would like to share them with us, join our new Flickr group “Celebrating 40 Years with Whole Earth Provision Company.”


40 Years of Travel, Adventure and Fun Photo Contest







Our past 40 years have been filled with stories and travel tips from our adventures around the world.

Now, it’s your turn to share.  Send us your photos that embody Whole Earth Provision’s commitment to travel, adventure and fun. You might win the trip of a lifetime!

The 40 Years of Travel, Adventure & Fun Photo Contest Grand Prize winner will travel courtesy of Teva to the Teva Mountain Games in Vail Colorado, June 2 – 5, 2011.

Airfare for two to Denver, shuttle service to/from Vail, deluxe accommodations for a few nights in a luxury hotel, and VIP access to music, art, and athletic events are included!

Four First Prize winners will each receive, courtesy of Merrell, a National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass.



The only way to enter the contest is to submit your photos to the WEPCO Photo Contest on Flickr.

LOG IN – To submit your photos via Fllickr, use your Yahoo ID.  If you do not have a Flickr or Yahoo account, you can sign up for free here

UPLOAD – When you have logged in, up load your contest photos to your account. Click on upload and follow the prompts.

JOIN – To enter our contest, you must join WEPCO Photo Contest, by clicking “Join this Group?” on the – WEPCO Photo Contest Flickr Group homepage.

ADD – On the WEPCO Photo Contest group page, click on the “Add Photos” button. Select the photo(s) you wish to enter in the contest. Click the “Send to Group” button to add your photo to the WEPCO Photo Contest Group Homepage.

TAG IT – Once you have added the photo to the group, you will need to add tags to each photo.

  • First, tag the photo with WEPCO40 using the tag feature in the right-hand column of the individual photo page.
  • Second, if you will be able to travel to the Teva Mountain Games on June 2-5, 2011, tag your photo TMG
  • Third, tag your photo with MNPP for the Merrell National Park Pass.


Your photo is now entered in the contest.  You may enter as many photos as you wish.



Contest finalists will be selected by a committee of Whole Earth Provision Co. employees from the submissions to the WEPCO Photo Contest site on Flickr.

The finalists’ photos will be loaded onto the Whole Earth Provision Co. FaceBook page where the public will vote by “likes” from 12 AM CDSTon May 14, 2011 to11:59 PM CDSTon May 19, 2011.

To vote in the contest, you must be a FaceBook user and “like” Whole Earth Provision Co.

Prize winners will be determined by the number of “likes” each photo receives.



You must be at least 21 years of age or older at the time of entry and a legal resident of the United States (including D.C.). Employees of Whole Earth, Teva, Merrell, Flickr and Facebook and their immediate family members and those living in the same household of each, are not eligible to participate in this Contest. The Contest is subject to all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations.



The Contest runs between 12 AM Central Daylight Savings Time (CDST) on May 1, 2011 and 11:59 pm CDST on May 10, 2011.    Whole Earth’s computer is the official time keeping device for the Contest.




You must be the creator of any image that you submit, and you must not submit any image for which the copyright is held by another party.

Your proof of submission or sending is not proof of receipt by Whole Earth Provision Company.

Whole Earth reserves the right to eliminate and/or delete any submissions displaying content we deem to be inappropriate or offensive without prior warning.

When you submit a photo to the contest, you retain the copyright and all other rights and you agree to let Whole Earth Provision Co. use the photo in various media, including both print and online (including social media) without compensation to you, your successors or assigns or any other entity.  We will endeavor to credit you as the photographer on any photo that we use.

In addition to the rules listed above, you agree to abide by all of the Flickr Community guidelines.

Whole Earth is not responsible for lost, late, invalid, unintelligible, illegible or misdirected requests, which are void.




Winners will be announced on May 20, 2011.

Prize winners will be notified by phone or email or mail using the contact information they provided.

If, despite reasonable efforts, the winner does not respond within 5 days of the first notification attempt, or the notification is returned as undeliverable, the winner will forfeit the prize and an alternate winner will be selected.





  • 2 night/ 3 day trip for two (2) to the Teva Mountain Gaimes in Vail Colorado June 2 – June 5, 2011
  • Round trip (coach class) air fare from the winner’s nearest major airport to Vail, CO.
  • Two night double occupancy lodging in Vail CO
  • Passes for the winner and guest to the Teva Mountain Games

The Grand Prize must be redeemed for the June 2-5. 2011 Teva Mountain Games only or the Grand Prize will be forfeited in its entirety.


Taxes, gratuities, incidental expenses, licenses, registrations, fees or charges and other expenses are the sole responsibility of the winner and his guest.

Prizes are non-assignable and non-transferable.  No cash alternative or substitution will be allowed.

The winner and guest will be required to execute an Affidavit of Eligibility, a Liability Release, and a Publicity Release which must be notarized and returned within five days of notification.



  • National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Pass (Four Passes to be given)


The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass provides access to and use of Federal recreation sites that charge an Entrance or Standard Amenity Fee. The pass will admit the pass holder and passengers in a non-commercial vehicle at per vehicle fee areas and pass holder and 3 adults, not to exceed 4 adults, at per person fee areas.   Children under 16 are admitted for free.