The National Parks System is truly America’s best idea, as the title of Ken Burns’ documentary film says and if there is one book that manages to capture all of their stunning beauty in fine detail, it must be QT Luong‘s Treasured Lands: A Photographic Odyssey Through America’s National Parks.
I have been following the work of QT for some years, but I only got to know him personally when I interviewed him for my podcast, The Traveling Image Makers. After the interview, I wanted to see his book with my own eyes, so I got a copy and spent a few days leafing through it.
There are, I think, two ways to read this book. One is as a collection of some of the best nature photos that can be seen in print. I just love QT’s natural, understated approach to landscape photography. You won’t find over-saturated colors and unnatural HDR effects here. Much of this is due to QT’s own ethics, but a lot is also due to his choice of medium: most of the photos in this volume were shot on large-format slide film, an unforgiving support that forces you to shoot only when light conditions are appropriate and doesn’t lend itself to excessive manipulation (forget about bracketing, it would be way too expensive!)
The other way one can take this book is as a photographer’s guide to the US National Parks. For each park (and there are 59 of them) QT provides a concise but exhaustive guide to the best locations, characteristics of its flora and fauna, and seasonal variations. Knowing when peak fall color happens or roads are expected to close due to snow, for example, is essential information when planning a visit.
No matter which way you decide to take it, “Treasured Lands” is sure to keep you informed and amazed at the beauty of American nature for a long time. I don’t think there’s anything like that on the market right now. QT’s dedication and love for his subject shows clearly through every page of his book. Highly recommended.
Here are some of the photos contained in the book. Click on each of them to view larger.