Path in the redwood forest

       “Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” – John Muir

I really enjoy making expressive photographs of our natural world. Expressive of what? My love of  unpeopled places. Places of physical beauty, yes, but more importantly those of stillness and quiet, of solitude, sometimes of drama. Being there is a treasured experience.  Photography and simply being there are a good match.

There is something more, though: all the photographs here were taken on our public lands, the world’s largest land trust.

It has been a genuine privilege to make wonderful use of our public lands throughout my long life. I’m talking about the big public lands on the western side of the country, those owned by the federal government that were retained when western territories were granted statehood. I do ruminate sometimes on why I do this, landscape photography. The late West Coast photographer, Morley Baer, whom I’ve admired for over 50 years, had one answer, “Photography [then] becomes the medium through which one makes a statement about the love of place.” 

Talk to visitors from the east or a foreign tourist at any Utah scenic overlook. All are impressed with the scenery, but many are stunned at the vastness, the open space as far as you can see and almost none of it off-limits to regular folks. That’s not the way it works in most places elsewhere. And it is not the way it will continue to work here if the privatizers and others with hands in the cookie jar have their way in Washington, DC. These lands are ours to lose.

Although my photographs are intended to be more expressive than documentary, I do hope they provide some evidence of just what is at risk. In any case, I hope also that you will enjoy them.

Charlie Judson
Sebastopol, California