Early in my career as a fine art photographer, I supplemented sales of my own work with income generated by doing copy work for fellow artists. During a session as I made color slides for my friend Gary Smith, one of his landscape paintings particularly drew my attention. This work featured a striking view of a Point Reyes icon, Black Mountain. Composed from an angle I had never seen, Gary’s painting captured the sacred quality I felt for this mountain. Gary generously told me where he found this view. Soon thereafter, I began walking the Bolinas Ridge Trail, a fire road that begins on Olema Hill and heads south toward Mount Tamalpais.
Since that first time, I have spent many happy hours exploring & photographing the views at the northern end of this trail. My wife and I made our home at the base of Olema Hill and the trail quickly became a favorite for walks together with our dog, Pooka. Over the years I have made many photographs of the views of the rolling hills that cascade toward the Tomales Bay delta and the Point Reyes valley. Eventually, in June of 1998, I found the place to make the photograph that forms the basis for my edition of the Olema Hill Triptych.
About a mile uphill, just before the trail splits off toward Samuel Taylor Park, I found an inviting rocky outcropping. Ancient granite rocks strewn among tufts of dry grass invited me to stop and rest from the steady uphill walk. As I sat on a rock and slowly surveyed the scene, I was struck by the gorgeous panoramic view spreading out before me. On this day, the afternoon sun backlit the rolling hills. The day’s late-summer light was exquisite and provided drama to the scene. I chose a wide angle lens to record what I saw. To my left was the Inverness Ridge and the straight sliver of water that forms the Tomales Bay as it runs out to the Pacific Ocean. In the middle, the lovely rolling hills of the valley wound down to the ranch lands of Point Reyes. And, far to the right, Black Mountain rose prominently, its wondrous folds lit obliquely by the rays of the setting sun.
The Olema Hill Triptych is a version of the original single-film image, Tomales Bay & Black Mountain, made that day. It was inspired in 2012 when a collector requested a very large version of one of my photographs that could be split into three vertical panels. I searched through my portfolio of images to find a landscape that would split while still providing a presentation in which each panel would remain distinct and compelling. Tomales Bay & Black Mountain turned out to be the perfect composition for this variation. Each panel invites the viewer in for a closer look, yet taken together the three panels still flow together harmoniously.
The original photograph, Tomales Bay and Black Mountain, is shown here for comparison. This single image is still available. I now prefer the triptych version which I have been showing in my gallery starting in 2013. The triptych has received positive reviews and interest. It’s been collected several times since its release in 2013. Both are available in several sizes online here. Which one do you prefer?