Why Ultimate Quality Fine Art

Why Ultimate Quality Fine Art?

I chose this description for my online luxury fine art gallery for several reasons. First, the inspiration for my artwork for the past 15 years is the great 1860-1870's landscape paintings of the American West by Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Moran. These paintings measure 6' x 10' up to 8' x 14' and were sensational at the time and are still featured in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and in the Smithsonian American Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.. Both artists were influential in the creation of our National Park System.

Bierstadt's and Moran's work introduced the American public, who largely lived in Eastern cities, to the grandeur of the American West. This was a time before intercontinental railroads and automobiles. There were no motion picture theaters and early photographic methods were limited to black and white wet plate photographs with blown out skies. In short, most Americans had never seen pictures of the Rocky Mountains and were not even aware places like Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon existed.

Bierstadt traveled West in 1859 on horseback with the Frederick Lander Geographic Expedition to map a route for the Pacific Railroad across Wyoming. He returned with sketches of the Rocky Mountains and spent the winter creating his sensational painting, The Rocky Mountains, Lander's Peak, at his 10th Avenue Studio in New York.

By Albert Bierstadt - The Metropolitan Museum of Art, online, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/...

In 1862, Bierstadt traveled from New York to San Francisco and spent several weeks in Yosemite Valley and the Sierra Mountains. From this trip, among other work, he produced his great painting, Among the Sierra Nevada Mountains.


Thomas Moran's vision of the Western landscape was critical to the creation of Yellowstone National Park. In 1871 Dr. Ferdinand Hayden, director of the United States Geological Survey, invited Moran...to join Hayden and his expedition team into the unknown Yellowstone region. During forty days in the wilderness area, Moran visually documented over 30 different sites and produced a diary of the expedition's progress and daily activities. His sketches, along with photographs produced by survey member William Henry Jackson, captured the nation's attention and helped inspire Congress to establish the Yellowstone region as the first national park in 1872. Moran's paintings along with Jackson's photographs revealed the scale and splendor of the beautiful Yellowstone region where written or oral descriptions failed, persuading President Grant and the US Congress that Yellowstone was to be preserved. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...)

I first saw these paintings in the 1980s and was blown away by the scale, the realism, and the romanticism of these great works of art. When my wife and I moved to Colorado in 2004 and began to use our home as a base for explorations to Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, and California to see and photograph the amazing scenic beauty, majesty, and grandeur of the American West and Southwest, I began researching what it would take to create mural-sized photographs that combined the realism and romanticism I had earlier been inspired by in the grand format paintings by Bierstadt and Moran.

I discovered it was possible--that if I used ultra-large and large format film cameras, I could create photographs with enough (more than enough) resolution to print 6' x10' murals that viewers could walk right up to and see the details of rocks, trees, and grass. This project became my mission, passion, and obsession.

To do this right, I needed to set aside the digital cameras I had been using and return to using film cameras. And not 35mm film, because it is much too small to print giant murals similar to Bierstadt and Moran's paintings. I needed to use 8x10 and even 11x14 inch film cameras. Why? Because a sheet of 11x14 film has an area 115 times larger than 35mm film or digital sensors. A sheet of 8x10 film is nearly 60 times larger than a 35mm digital sensor. This means a digital scan of a sheet of large format (8x10) or ultra-large format (11x14) film provides resolution (pixels, digital information for printing) that far exceeds the native quality of even the most advanced small or medium format digital cameras available today. My goal is Ultimate Quality--both on the front end, i.e., making a grand scenic landscape photograph in the field, as well as on the back end, i.e., making an Ultimate Quality Fine Art print using the most advanced, sophisticated technology available--CSI Lightjet 500XL printers for my one-of-a-kind Ultimate Quality Fine Art Original Series and Ultimate Quality Lumachrome TrueLife Acrylic prints on Canon printers for my Limited Edition Fine Art Prints.

Ultimate Quality on the front end, and Ultimate Quality on the back end. Ultimate Quality Fine Art.

Canyonlands Sunset

In July 2012, I was on my annual Monsoon Season Tour of the Southwest, looking to score big with cumulonimbus storm clouds standing out in the low humidity, desert sky. I began this brief photo trip in Monument Valley on the 24th and the morning of the 25th. On the afternoon of the 25th, I toured the ruins at Mesa Verde, photographing Cliff Palace in the golden hour light of late afternoon before driving back to Moab, and bed. The next day, I drove out to the Island in the Sky, specifically hoping to some good clouds before sunset. Unfortunately, there were too many good clouds and no light was getting through to the ground. I still had some time to go before sunset, and you never know what clouds are going to do--build up, hang around, or dissipate or pass over completely when your back is turned for a minute, so I decided to hang around a little longer. Then, deja vu. Just as it had happened five years earlier in Monument Valley, I spotted a gap just above the horizon, right at the spot I calculated the sun would have to pass before it disappeared over the Henry Mountains to the west. I waited, anticipation growing with every minute time got closer to the forecasted time for sunset. I inserted the big 11x14 film holder into the back of my 1898 King Ultra-Large Format View Camera and pulled the dark slide, not wanting precious time to be lost--and possibly missing an outstanding photograph--if and when the golden light appeared. Waiting...waiting...then, a little more light, and a little more until the valley a thousand feet below was flooded with beautiful, golden cross-lighting. I pressed the cable release and held it open for the one-half second exposure. Pure Magic.

Sublime Beauty

Soon after achieving my goal of capturing the majestic beauty of the Maroon Bells at the peak of fall color, and a stunning reflection in Maroon Lake, I turned my attention to the Grand Tetons and the beautiful, classic Oxbow of the Snake River with Mount Moran (named after explorer and artist Thomas Moran). For about 10 years now, I have made the annual pilgrimage to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and spent many, many weeks enjoying the scenic beauty, amazing wildlife, and crisp fall mornings while photographing and hiking in and around the Tetons. In 2015, the combination of snow covered peaks, brilliant gold aspens, pleasing clouds, and relatively calm water combined so I could capture on 11x14 film this scenic wonder of Sublime Beauty. Mother Nature is fickle, and in the years since, though continuing to revisit this location, I have never been blessed with such a wonderful combination of conditions. This makes me appreciate this photograph all the more for its rarity.