What makes a place wild? Is it a chorus of frogs during a spring rain? Or the lack of a plane contrail in the sky? These are the questions I ask myself as I try to define and photograph “wilderness” in the 21st century.
From space, the night view of our planet's most urban areas take on the look of a biological phosphorescent fungus working its way across the surface of our dry earth, slowly encasing it in CFL lightbulbs and concrete. The west of Lewis & Clark is mostly lost. But our great country still remains a powerhouse of stunning wilderness, the best of which are encapsulated in our national parks. So, how do we define wilderness? As a photographer, where can you escape and get lost with only your own thoughts and creative vision?
For the last 16 year I have been a resident of Los Angeles and my escape has been Channel Islands National Park, a haven of biodiversity and solitude only 23 miles off the coast of Southern California.
The islands boast 165 species found nowhere else on the planet. For this reason alone it earns the name "America's Galapagos." Campsites are limited, and roads and people are non-existent except for the occasional park ranger, your fellow day-trippers or the occasional fox researcher. Most of the islands have fresh water; beyond that resources are few. The only human footprint are the well-worn trails. In so many respects the Channel Islands are a world apart.
This is a place I hold dear to my heart, a special place where photography goes beyond just making images and becomes about immersing yourself, at last, in the true wild.
Answer the call of the wild, and join Ian for his upcoming workshop:
America's Galapagos: Photographing Channel Islands National Park
with Ian Shive
May 2 - May 5, 201