Undisclosed Locations

Undisclosed Locations
Strata Gallery
May 30 – June 17

What at first appears to be Moorish architecture is the result of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in North American history. Geologists at the University of California, Berkeley have determined the eruption deposited vast amounts of ash which was subsequently snowed upon.  The hot ash melted the snow which began to boil while seeping into the ash, causing a catalyzing effect.  The boiling solution hardened compared to the surrounding sediment, which then eroded away, leaving these fragile colonnades.

Undisclosed Locations is a show of photographs of very unique environments.  Because of the fragile nature of these Locations and the wide reach of the internet and social media, I’ve chosen not to disclose their locations.  Please enjoy the images and know that these are actual places that I have visited at different times in my career as an environmental photographer.  The first number in the number/title indicates when the images were acquired which, in some cases is decades ago.  Some of the places have changed and a few no longer exist in the form seen in the photograph because of floods and natural and/or human activities.

These undisclosed locations all lie in the Western United States.  Many are extreme examples of the erosive forces of wind and water, unusual combinations of minerals and layering that result in spectacular color variations or unique circumstances resulting from volcanism.  Three of the locations are near, or in, hydrocarbon and mineral exploration and extraction sites.  One is a training facility for Mars exploration and habitation.

Some images were made during ground truthing expeditions after discovering the locations from the air.  A few are satellite mosaics of hundreds of satellite paths and rows composited to produce a single high resolution landscape image.

I graduated from the University of Arizona in 1972 and from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1975.  I have been photographing the western United States since that time.  I worked for The Nature Conservancy for twenty years covering California and Hawaii.  During that time I have witnessed the advent of social media and the destructive effect of increased sightseeing that has resulted from GPS coordinates of nearly everything being posted, providing unfettered access to all even those bent on destruction and vandalism.

Our natural world is now changing rapidly.  Fires and extreme weather events are altering familiar terrains, transforming forests, flooding lowlands and accelerating erosion that otherwise could have taken centuries.  I feel very grateful to have been privileged to visit and photograph these unique locations. 

Grant Johnson

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