Photographer captures newest national park

Photographer QT Luong uses a large-format wooden camera to take high-resolution photographs of nature. (Cristina Carreon/Alamogordo Daily News)

In a bid to be the first person to photograph all 62 national parks in large format with a wooden camera, QT Luong visited White Sands National Park in December.

“It is a project that has been going on for a quarter of a century,” Luong said.

He returned to White Sands for the first time in 20 years.

Luong visited White Sands just a few days before it was designated a national park, to add the gypsum dunes to his collection of national park photographs.

He uses film to take his high-resolution photographs, in the style of Ansel Adams.

During his trip through southeastern New Mexico, Luong also visited Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument and Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.

Luong has photographed Earth’s natural wonders for more than 25 years and has visited national parks in America 300 times. He has visited 45 states.

Born to Vietnamese parents in Paris, Luong was later trained as a scientist, acquiring a doctorate. Luong’s exploration of the Alps inspired him to be a mountain climber and wilderness guide.

Later, he came to the U.S. to conduct research in artificial intelligence and image processing at the University of California in Berkeley because of its proximity to Yosemite, his favorite national park.

It was there that he decided to photograph all the national parks in the U.S. using a 5- by 7-inch large-format wooden camera.

Exploring canyons, deserts, coral reefs and mountains is just part of a regular day for Luong.

Luong said his large-format camera produces high-resolution photographs of landscapes.

He will visit a park up to five times to get the correct shots. Because of the nature of large-format cameras, Luong said, it requires discipline to take photographs, as only two shots are possible per film holder. Not only can the film holders be cumbersome to carry, but processing the film is expensive.

Luong said the gypsum dunes at White Sands National Park are a unique subject to photograph.

“They are visually stunning. It reminds me sometimes of Bryce Canyon; the dunes are beautiful to photograph. It is a good place to work,” Luong said.

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