La Jolla resident exhibits panoramic desert photos

The work of Leo L. Larson of La Jolla appears in an ongoing photographic exhibit at the Borrego Desert Nature Center in Borrego Springs. “Legacy of Light: The Anza-Borrego Desert Landscape” features Larson’s 12- by 36-inch color panoramic photographs taken with large format cameras that record imagery as 2 1/4-inch by

6 3/4-inch film transparencies.

“After 20-plus years of exploring this format, I can see the world as a sweeping 1:3 ratio canvas,” Larson said. “This narrow format, which only permits the use of a limited range of wide-angle lenses, necessitates isolating vast landscapes into photographs with strong foregrounds, while using patterns, colors, textures and design to complete the image.

“This combination often allows me to achieve a fresh perspective: a new story about a subject and its surroundings. I derive great joy from making the leap from documentary photography to art photography, where my passion, commitment and discipline become reality.”

Larson grew up in California’s Mojave Desert, inheriting his love of photography and early riser habits from his father. Drawn to mountains, he became a seasonal climbing/rescue ranger at Grand Teton National Park for 33 summers and was honored to receive the Valor Award, a nationally nominated medal awarded for risking one’s life to save others, three times.

Larson and his wife, Helen, a writer who was born and raised in La Jolla, created Earthwalk Press in 1984, specializing in publications geared toward the park market, including the Recreation Map to Anza-Borrego Desert Region, a topographic map that also serves as a field guide.

In 2009, Larson was awarded first place in both the Landscape and People categories in Anza-Borrego Foundation’s photographic competition. Larson’s photographs have appeared in numerous books and magazines, including Alpinist, Climbing, Jackson Hole Magazine, Teton Magazine and the California Geographic Book Series.

Many of his photographs were chosen for display use in the Grand Teton National Park Discovery and Visitor Center, and his rescue photographs are used extensively by the National Park Service for documentation and public relations regarding Grand Teton National Park’s rescue operations.

His work is distributed internationally by Panoramic Images.

“The January rains have set the stage for a good spring wildflower display in the desert this year,” he said.

If you go

‘Legacy of Light: The Anza-Borrego Desert Landscape’ can be viewed from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through June at Borrego Desert Nature Center, 652 Palm Canyon Drive, west of Christmas Circle. Admission is free. Leo Larson will offer a morning photo class on Feb. 27. (760) 767-3098.