Lasting Light: 125 Years of Grand Canyon Photography


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The Grand Canyon is wild and unforgiving. But it is also one of the most stunning landscapes on Earth—a place for recreation, reflection and reverence. A new Smithsonian exhibition highlights  this natural wonder without camping equipment, emergency rations or rappelling ropes.

Featuring 60 color photographs, Lasting Light: 125 Years of Grand Canyon Photography is a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and the Grand Canyon Association. The exhibition will continue on a national tour through 2013.

Lasting Light reveals the dedication of those who have attempted to capture the Grand Canyon on film from the earliest days to modern times. Covering nearly 125 years of photographic history, the exhibition includes images of early photographers dangling from cables to get the perfect shot, their cumbersome camera equipment balanced precariously on their shoulders. More modern images are bold and dramatic, revealing the canyon’s capricious weather, its flora and fauna, waterfalls and wading pools, and awe-inspiring cliffs and rock formations. The stunning contemporary images were selected by representatives from Eastman Kodak’s Professional Photography Division and National Geographic.

Grand Canyon National Park, 2,000 square miles of snaking river beds and sheer rock walls, is a world like no other, where vibrant cliffs and flowing water create a striking complement to the Western sky. “What you do is keep it for your children, your children’s children, and for all who come after you, as one of the great sights which every American should see,” Teddy Roosevelt urged. Roosevelt, ever the naturalist, was just one of the canyon’s devotees. There are millions of others, including the 26 featured photographers of Lasting Light, who ran the river and climbed the rocks to capture these breathtaking images.

“The Grand Canyon taught me a way of seeing. How to see light and design,” said featured photographer John Blaustein. This and other intriguing narratives accompany the spectacular photographs, giving audiences the artists’ personal insight into the power of the Canyon.

The Grand Canyon Association is a non-profit, membership organization founded to support education, scientific research and other programs for the benefit of Grand Canyon National Park and its visitors.

Here  is where you can see the exhibit:

01/26/2013- 04/21/2013 Discovery Place, Texarkana Museums System, Texarkana, TX

Booked 05/11/2013- 08/04/2013 Janelia Farm Research Campus, Ashburn, Va.  

05/11/2013- 01/26/2014 World Forestry Center, Portland, Ore.


Visit your local library for more information on this topic.

Lasting light : 125 years of Grand Canyon photography
Stephen Trimble; Grand Canyon Association, (2006).

Picture books about the Grand Canyon


Rim to River: The Grand Canyon DVD
Dec. 2008. 50min.
Viewers planning a trip to Grand Canyon National Park will find a wealth of practical information in this comprehensive program. Beginning with the canyon’s geologic formation, this beautifully shot travelogue describes Ice Age tribes, Native Americans, and Spanish explorers who settled the area. Footage of the canyon is shot from both rims as well as aerially to showcase the scenic vistas.
— Excerpt of  review by Candace Smith first published April 15, 2009 (Booklist).

Down the Great Unknown: John Wesley Powell’s 1869 Journey of Discovery and Tragedy Through the Grand Canyon
Edward Dolnick, (2001).
John Wesley Powell wrote about his descent of the Colorado River canyons in 1869 in Explo ration of the Colorado River, now considered a classic in discovery annals. Dolnick, a science journalist who has rafted down the Grand, turns in a most estimable rendition of that storied expedition. It skillfully integrates the notes and journals of expedition members with technical insight about the perils of roiling whitewater.  —Excerpt of  review by Gilbert Taylor first published September 15, 2001 (Booklist).

How the Canyon Became Grand
Stephen J. Pyne, (1998).
Just as Pyne’s unprecedented Cycle of Fire, a multivolume study of fire’s role in human civilizations, altered perceptions of that substance, this tightly focused work guides readers toward a fresh view of a revered landscape, the Grand Canyon. Pyne explains that physical and cultural forces shape our sense of place and that few sites evince this as resoundingly as the Grand Canyon, where the power of water on rock created a unique and formidable terrain and where what Pyne so aptly calls “the chisel of the mind” infused a natural wonder with so much meaning it became symbolic of the very essence of a nation. — Excerpt of  review by Donna Seaman first published August, 1998 (Booklist).



Grand Canyon view from Hermit's Rest.


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