Jasper National Park in Alberta is one of the jewels of Canada’s national park system, and the beauty of the place is otherworldly. From the Columbia Icefield – a glacier which straddles the Continental Divide – to the rapids and falls of the strikingly turquoise Athabasca River to the soaring peaks, I’ve found Jasper to be a place of restoration and calm amid the grandeur of the scenery. It is that sense that I am trying to convey through my images of Jasper, which I initially took in late September, 2018.
The forms of the mountains are strikingly variable, from jagged, knife-edged ridges to gentle, bulbous peaks. Some of the mountains are nearly enveloped by the furry fringe of high-altitude conifers, while others are naked protrusions of rock. Tectonic up-thrust and the weathering of wind and water have all left their mark on the stone of the mountains, and for me one of the most interesting features of the mountains of Jasper is the layering of sediments that created the stone in the first place. The stripes and bands in the rock provide a visual element that sometimes compliments, other times contrasts against the rough stone and the rounding of erosion.
While in Jasper, I noticed that much of the forest was turning red and brown. This is not a trick of the light, nor a matter of artistic license on my part. Mountain pine beetles, invaders to the park, have been killing large numbers of the trees – nearly half, as of my visit. It would seem to be an effect of dryer summers and milder winters. The park is going to look dramatically different in the future.
My Jasper series is a continuation of the style I began after visiting the highlands of Scotland, and developed further in the tight and decaying French Quarter of New Orleans. I start with the digital negative, into which I brush luminance and play with the contrast, trying to bring out fine details. I am also striving to blur the line between photography and painting; while I use the camera now, my artistic training actually began with oil painting. As a digital native, I find the process of working on the computer as natural as working in paint.