Letter from a landscape photographer

Reviews and comments for Jackson Hole Backcountry Skier's Guide, Select Peaks of Greater Yellowstone, Teton Skiing, Jackson Hole Ski Guide, and Teton Pass Backcountry Guide

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Letter from a landscape photographer

Postby TomTuriano » Fri Mar 11, 2005 2:21 pm

I received this letter dated 12/6/04 from Lee Silliman:

A month ago I noticed in a newspaper a review of your book "Select Peaks of Greater Yellowstone." Being an avid explorer of Yellowstone, I ordered an interlibrary loan copy, which arrived recently. You are to be commended for producing such a fine book on this great mountainous area. The commentary on each peak is interesting, and, being a serious black and white photographer, I love all the black and white photographs gracing nearly every page. My friend Lee Whittlesey informs me that you invested much oeffort in your historical research, and this adds much value to your book, in my opinion. I have recently ordered my own copy of your book, to which I look forward for careful reading. Your book is a serious contribution to the body of western literature because you obviously are writing about a subject you love, and you have taken the time to do a thorough job of it.

You piqued my interest because I have been hiking, camping, snowshoeing, and photographing the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem for thirty years (I'm 59). I am not a technical climber, but I"ve walked to the top of many summits 10,000 feet and higher (a few in the winter, as I also enjoy winter camping). So I know the thrill of high places.

Since 1990, I have been concentrating on Yellowstone National Park proper, which I have been recording with an 8x10 inche view camera (strickly black and white). I photograph everything there, such as thermal features, waterfalls, canyons, and of course, mountains [landscapes, that is, no animal shots]. This past July my party photographed the Hoodoos on upper Miller Creek, from which we had distant views of Pollux and Notch and Grant.

Anyway, your book really resonated with me. Have you ever thought about mounting an exhibition of your black and white photos of mountains of the Greater Yellowstone? It would make a fascinating museum show.

A final note: Your descriptions of Turret Mountain and Eagle Peak (pages 259-263) have inspired me to put them on my "to-do" list. An old picture I saw of Eagle Peak in a geology report was pretty tame, but your visual and written accounting of it make it sound more exciting. I had never seen anything on Turret, so your words on it were read carefully. I can see that a mule trip down the east side of Yellowstone Lake, past Turret, and then up to Eagle Peak would be a real adventure. Please note that I want to photograph mountains, not necessarily summit them, with my big and cumbersome view camera. Then we'd go down Eagle Creek to the highway.


Lee Silliman

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Reply regarding Turret and Notch

Postby TomTuriano » Fri Mar 11, 2005 2:36 pm

December 19, 2004

Dear Lee Silliman;

Thank you very much for your kind letter and compliments on “Select Peaks.”

To answer your first question, I actually have thought about exhibiting my photographs. I have had a few opportunities to have them displayed as semi-permanent wall art in various hotels and restaurants, but those chances fell through. I have not invested too much time toward this since. Also, my photographs are not super high quality. They suffice for reproduction in my books, but really are not worthy of printing in large format. They are mostly 35mm negatives and low-resolution digital.

I can tell just from looking at the xerox copies of your photos that they are well beyond anything I have produced quality-wise.

Interesting you mentioned your interest in photographing the northern walls of Notch and Grant, etc. On page 230, I mention how Thomas Jaggar was most impressed with that view and was inspired enough to sketch the walls in the alpenglow in his journal. I don’t think Red Creek is the best way to approach the area for your purposes. I think simply starting at Pelican Creek trailhead and going up and over Mist Creek Pass is the way to go. This puts you at the forks of the Lamar, which is where Jaggar was when he made his sketch. And this gives you the option to hike up onto Castor and Pollux to get a better view. (Plus, I don’t think an average pack string can make it over the pass at the head of Red Creek.) You could also go in from Shoshone North Fork and take the pack animals easily over the divide by Frost Lake. This is a standard pack route, and it also takes you to the forks of the Lamar.

Regarding Turret, yes, I believe the light band of rock is visible on all sides of the mountain…but definitely more striking on the Trappers Creek side. Turret is spectacular. There is another spire-like peak nearby called The Watchtower, which I hope to climb in the coming years.

I very much look forward to seeing your “Yellowstone Engraved” exhibit when it comes to Jackson.


Thomas Turiano

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