once in a while some one or some thing comes along and sets a whole
new standard. Previous attempts become just that, attempts.
A month ago I finally got my hands on one of the first copies of
Tad Nichols' long awaited Glen Canyon: Images of a Lost World.
It is a book of black and white photographs he began in 1950, on
the first of thirty-some trips through Glen Canyon.
It was worth waiting 40 years. In a disarmingly beautiful layout
by graphic designer Larry Lindahl, some 140 of Nichols' images
take us from the put-in
at Hite to the takeout at Lees Ferry. There is no hurry. Nichols
takes time to explore the unending variety
of side canyons, to scale the cliffs, to visit the Anasazi ruins
and glyphs. Accompanying the images are Nichols' recollections
and journal notes, giving body and breadth to the visual feast.
Oddly enough, both Nichols and his life-long pal and fellow Glen
Canyoneer Katie Lee waited more than forty years to pass on to us
their versions of Glen Canyon. In Lee's All My Rivers are Gone,
she gave us a very emotional, sensual, and extremely personal account
of Glen Canyon. Now Nichols, true to his quiet, gentle, and elegant
self, has given us an utterly different, perfectly complimentary
vision. As a photographer, Nichols is exacting and patientas
a visual artist he is sharp, sensitive, and has an uncanny eye for
composition. Perhaps a few sample images can give you an ideathe
book defies description. All I can really say is that Glen Canyon:
Images of a Lost World is the most beautiful book I have ever seen.
Glen Canyon: Images of a Lost World, by Tad Nichols, Museum of New
Mexico Press, 1999, isbn
0-89013-330-1. Available for $35 from Glen Canyon Institute, Box
1925, Flagstaff, AZ 86002 or online at www.glencanyon.org. It is
also available online at the gcrg bookstore, at www.gcrg.org.