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BOOK REVIEW: ''Chasing Light" by Frank Lee Ruggles

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BOOK REVIEW: Chasing Light: An Exploration of the American Landscape by Frank Lee Ruggles (Frank Lee Ruggles Photo) 2017

While in our visit to the Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado, we had the pleasure to meet the National Parks Eminent Photographer, Frank Lee Ruggles promoting his new book Chasing Light.

The United States is rich in 409 national parks and monuments and what the best way to document their beauty than by a compilation of great quality photography.

The work accomplished by Ruggles is remarkable; he has traveled to each state- hiking over 15,000 miles- to take more than 80,000 pictures during the last ten years.

Ruggles never intended to be a photographer. He was previously a Sergent paratrooper with the legendary 82nd Airborne Division, eager to serve his country all his life. Everything changed during a training accident when Ruggles nearly lost the use of his left arm. It took several surgeries to mend his arm but his duties in the military were over. 

After a period of transition and uncertainty, Ruggles began his career in photography. Eventually, through hard work and perseverance, Ruggles started to work for the Secretary of State in Washington DC, serving his country again, but with a camera this time.

''For the first time in a long time, I felt whole, useful,'' Ruggles wrote in his book.

Finally, the National Park Service asked him to join their team as Eminent Photographer, writing, ''It was the opportunity of a lifetime.''

Ruggles' book is not only full of astonishing pictures, sometimes in black and white, or playing with the natural effect, it counts the adventure of a man's relationship with mother nature, with what nature has the best to offer.

It would be easy to think that taking pictures in the most beautiful parks in America was a piece of cake for Ruggles. After reading how Ruggles came almost face-to-face with a grizzly bear in the Denali National Park in Alaska, my assumption was proved wrong. 

One of my favorite photos in this book (there are a lot) is the Skyline Drive at the Shenandoah National Park. It's hard to discern if it a photograph or a painting; the scenery looks almost too realistic and beautiful

After reading Chasing Light, I felt inspired to pick up a camera and learn how to photograph. However, seeing the camera and lens Ruggles used for this book - and the price tag- I reconsidered. Shockingly, Ruggles explained that he took the cover picture with the same camera as me, an Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II. I couldn't believe it! 

In a time when funding for national parks is being threatened, Chasing Light is a reminder of the intangible value of these majestic places. 

Olivier Rey and his wife with Frank Lee Ruggles at the Mesa Verde National Park on July 3. (Olivier Rey / Red Dirt Report) 

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Olivier Rey

Olivier has traveled in 20 countries on six continents before landing in Norman. Native French...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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