Despite being a life-long Californian, it was not until my 30's that I first visited Yosemite —and even then we avoided the valley on our way to Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the lower-48. Reflecting upon that today, the delay made me a better photographer. By then, I had spent over a decade studying the techniques of Ansel Adams and applying them to the world around me. Yosemite I had learned, was a sideshow to Adams' true legacy.
When I reached the valley some years later, I was well into my book project on Lake Tahoe. While California museum audiences were treated to Yosemite shows every decade or so, Tahoe had not been given a single exhibit. At one time Tahoe had been considered for National Park status, but there were too many competing interests. With 22 million visitors per year and substantial infrastructure, Tahoe was a natural landscape that had to deal more intensely with population and environmental pressures. It had a powerful, contemporary story to tell. To this day, it remains overlooked by California's museums and major galleries.
By the time I brought my large-format film camera into the valley, I had taken to Carleton Watkins' 19th Century work of the Sierra. As I traveled through those vistas, his and Adams' work took on a deeper meaning. I hope that I have been able to deepen that conversation.