Using an 8 X 10 camera creates some limitations on what I can photograph in the wilderness (such as where I can go with my equipment and how many exposures I can make before needing to reload film holders in a darkroom). At Isle Royale I had a wilderness cabin to live in and a second smaller cabin where I changed a bedroom into a darkroom for unloading and reloading my film holders each day. Thus I was able to work in a remote wilderness location and expose 250 sheets of 8 X 10 black and white film. Each day I explored by foot or canoe and was able to work intensely in undistracted silence. I never before had the opportunity to work this way in a wilderness setting.
Besides this great wilderness-photography opportunity, I had the privileges of solitude and silence. I was able to focus entirely on work, meaning I was able to focus on seeing. For me the creative movement in photography is seeing creatively.
Highlights of my stay at Isle Royale included three fantastic nighttime thunder and lightning shows. The weather was quite hot for me and I enjoyed several refreshing swims in the unusually warm Lake Superior. I remember a magical evening canoeing in the dark on a mirror smooth bay, the only sound made by my paddle in the water, the stars reflecting in the black water.
Each day was different. The wind changed in force and direction. The waves changed with the wind. The sky and clouds were different each day. The great lake changed colors constantly. Each day was new and I hoped to see it as new with each rock and tree I filmed.
This extraordinary occasion to commune intimately with a part of the Isle Royale wilderness was an unusually extended creative opportunity. I was able to create a whole new body of work, perhaps my most mature work yet. It was also a time of spiritual retreat, a time of silence and solitude. It was a time of undistracted attention to the natural world and appreciation of the experience that solitude and silence in the wilderness bring. I hope my photographs pay due respect to this extraordinary island wilderness."
- George Provost*
About the Artist*
George Provost was an Isle Royale Artist-in-Residence from August 11th to August 26th, 1998. He has been photographing the wilderness and printing black and white photographs in Alaska since 1987. Although he has taken some college classes in photography and attended several photography workshops, he is primarily self-taught using the Ansel Adams series of technical books.
His photographs have been exhibited and awarded in over 55 exhibitions in Alaska, Russia, and the lower forty-eight states. The Anchorage Museum of History and Art, the Alaska State Museum in Juneau, and the University of Alaska Fairbanks Museum have his photographs in their permanent collections. He has received two artist’s grants from the Alaska State Council of the Arts.
He works with an 8x10 view camera in the field and spends considerable time in the darkroom developing film and making fine prints. His final creation is an archivally processed, split-toned, silver print.