Saturday, January 03, 2009

Climber Artist Series: Norio Matsumoto

I'm not sure how the work of Norio Matsumoto has slipped past me all these years, but I'm grateful to have discovered him now, through the blog of Talkeetna Air Taxi, which has flown Matsumoto into the Alaska Range each winter for the past 10 years. Matsumoto, 36, spends his summers photographing humpback whales from remote islands in southeast Alaska, and his winters photographing northern lights and stunning mountain landscapes from the air and from his base-camp igloo on a glacier in the Alaska Range.

What differentiates Matsumoto's work from other Alaskan mountain photographers is that his images are acquired almost exclusively in midwinter, a time when few humans even see these mountains and glaciers. The photographer spends two months alone on the glacier. The result is the most incredible northern lights photography I've ever seen, as well as rare and gorgeous photos of the Alaska Range giants in midwinter conditions. He's back out there right now, but you can see a terrrific selection of his work at Matsumoto's website, where you can also order prints.

There's a decent interview with the photographer here. I loved Matsumoto's description of his working days (nights) in the Alaska Range: "Get up at noon. Cook ramen and eat. Take some pictures of the alpine glow as the sun goes down, around 3:30 p.m. Go back to the sleeping bag and take some rest. Wake up at 8 p.m., cook ramen and eat. Stay outside from 9 p.m. to 4 or 5 a.m., to wait for/photograph the northern lights. Eat rice crackers, write in journal. Go to sleep at 5 a.m."

Matsumoto is the man. I hope he makes millions from his work, though it's obvious he considers himself a wealthy man already.

I like climbing and I like art. From time to time, the Mountain World features the work of climber artists that catch my eye.

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