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A cold, unfriendly wind streams through the open window of the single-engine airplane. At 17,950 feet above sea level, Barrie Rokeach is navigating along the Sierra crestline, his hand-held 35mm camera pointed out the window at the jagged peaks below. On another, warmer day, he cruises at 1,000 feet above the fertile plains of the Great Valley, inhaling the scent of fresh-cut alfalfa wafting through the window. The camera shutter clicks open and shut, arresting the flowing interplay of structure and content unfolding in the landscape beneath his wings.
Eleven years spent in the California skies went into the making of Timescapes: California Aerial Images., a portfolio of 111 full color images documenting the state's geomorphic provinces - distinct land regions classified by similar surface features and geologic history. Over the slow evolution of time, forces of motion and heat deep within the earth have given the Golden State the most varied geology in the nation, creating contemporary "timescapes" whose scenic beauty chronicles the invisible forces of creation and disintegration.
In his aerial odyssey of the state, Barrie Rokeach traces time back 2,000 years to the genesis of giant redwoods in the far north Coast Ranges. Back 4,000 years to the birth of bristlecone pines high up in the White Mountains. Back 20,000 then 45,000 then 75,000 years to thrice-glaciated Yosemite Valley. Back two to three million years to an ancient massive lake formed during the Ice Age, now just a string of dry saline lakes in Surprise Valley. Back 50 million years to the first rupture along the San Andreas Fault. Back 500 million years to the oldest of all rocks in the Sierra Nevada. Together, these images - and dozens more - document the history of the California landscape with an eye for the aesthetic and the unusual, a vision possible only after years of research and exploration.
Paired with Rokeach's images are quotations from selected writers and naturalists of the past three centuries. Lending insight into California's "timescapes" are 18th-century geologists James Hutton, whose views of the natural world scandalized his contemporaries, and 19th-century geologist John Wesley Powell, who passed through California during his explorations. Also from the 19th century are novelist Mary Austin and naturalist John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club. Twentieth-century viewpoints include that of poet Robinson Jeffers, historian and writer David Lavender and writer Barry Lopez. The result of this singular pairing of words and images is a literary as well as visual journey through the natural history of the Golden State.
"Timescapes: California Aerial Images" is currently out-of-print. However, it is still available directly from us for $35 plus shipping (plus sales tax for California residents). The book contains 111 full color photographs, is 128 pages long, 10 1/2" x 11", hardbound.
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table of contents
slide show of sample images
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