Native Water Lilies of Yellowstone
Fine Art Photographs by Wilbur Wong
May - August, 2022
Wilbur Wong’s elegant photographs convey a sense of peace and serenity – the world of a cool morning at remote high elevation lakes of Yellowstone National Park. Most of us will probably never see such a scene. To capture those serene images, Wong, a lifelong photographer, arose before dawn, carrying a heavy pack and tripod, and hiked to reach the lakes and position his equipment at just the right moment as the sun rose. Great yellow pond lily, Nuphar polysepala, has been his inspiration, passion and subject for many years, involving repeated trips to Yellowstone in early summer. The Helen Crocker Russell Library invites you to immerse yourself in the extraordinary habitat of Native Water Lilies of Yellowstone.
I have been a lifelong landscape photographer. Years ago I was drawn to the idea of photographing water lilies. I accidentally discovered Nuphar polysepala (yellow pond lily) growing naturally in untouched high elevation lakes in Yellowstone National Park. They became the subject of this series of photographs.
I came to discover that photographing individual water lilies can only be done during a very short period of time in early summer. The best period is between when they emerge but before they crowd each other out of the water. “Lake effect fog” forming in the early morning lends a mystical quality to some of my photographs. The reflections of shadowed hillsides, scattered clouds or a wall of trees from the surface of the water are as important to my photographs as the water lilies themselves.
The beauty of Nuphar polysepala has drawn me back time and again to Yellowstone so that I can enjoy the company of the water lilies and attempt to capture their essence.
Claude Monet also had a fascination with water lilies in his paintings done at Giverny. He said “’Water Lilies’ is an extension of my life. Without the water, the lilies cannot live, as I am without art.”
I hope you enjoy viewing these landscape photographs.
Landscape photography has traditionally utilized a view camera as a photographic imaging tool. The advantage of a “view camera” is more than just the size of the recording film or the sensor. Far more important is the versatility that a view camera has to achieve focus.
Water lily plants spread themselves across the surface of a lake often at a great distance from my camera. To best capture these images, my view camera can change the plane of focus from a vertical “wall of focus” to a “horizontal plane of focus”. In that way the sharpest focus can match the lily plants that float on the lake’s surface.