Wednesday, February 24, 2021
Pursuing Creativity Even on the Mountain Top
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James Bourret has to sacrifice the warmth of his hands on a cold morning at the top of Baldy to fulfill his creative desire.
   
Monday, February 1, 2021
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

The thermometer outside the River Run chairlift read 1 degree as James Bourret shuffled towards the front of the line on his skis.

He’s often made this trip as part of schussing Sun Valley's Baldy. But this time it was different.

This time he had 30 pounds of camera gear in his pack and a mission in mind.

 
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This panorama features the Pioneer Mountains taken from a spot near the ski patrol shack on Seattle Ridge.
 

Upon reaching the top of the mountain, he pointed his skis towards the Sun Valley Ski Patrol shack overlooking Christmas Bowl and stopped just shy of the door.

He pulled an 80-megapixel view camera out of his pack and set it up on his tripod. Then he pulled out a long lens that would pull the view in closer and capture more detail.

He trained the long lens on Galena Peak, then slowly moved the camera lens around ever so slightly to the right until it had settled on 12,009-foot Hyndman Peak.

In less time than the nine minutes it took him to ride the Lookout Express to the top, he had shot nine images as the morning sun had begun to highlight the creases in the snow-covered Boulder and Pioneer Mountains across from Baldy.

 
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“First Snow” is a single-frame image that’s 7 by 8.5 feet. It is on display at the Friedman Memorial Airport.
 

Back in his studio at Mountain Images Gallery at 360 East Avenue in the heart of Ketchum, he dialed up a combination of software packages.

He used one program to make sure the pictures were sharp and crisp and another to darken aspects that were too bright and lighten aspects that were too dark. Then he went to a program called “Photo Merge” and found one for panorama.

A click of the computer key and he had a preview with which he made sure images lined up. He applied a photoshop brush to erase some slightly darker lines in the blue sky that had been caused by the photo merger.

And 90 minutes later he had a panorama boasting such high resolution he could zoom in to see individual houses in the photo.

 
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“Resolute” is James Bourret’s photographic interpretation of Hasui, Kawase Japanese prints made in the early 20th century.
 

“It’s a big, big file,” said Bourret. “The resulting image is known as a giga-pano due to the fact that the resulting image file exceeds one gigabyte. The image has such high resolution that it can be printed 10, even 20 feet wide without loss of detail. It’s so big you can look down into the neighborhoods and see individual houses when it’s blown up.”

Bourret has lived in the Wood River Valley for years. But somehow it never occurred to him to take his camera to the top of Baldy to shoot a panorama. That changed this year with the pandemic. And it is, he said, something anyone can do—even with an average camera.

Panoramas like this are perfect, he said, for many of the bigger homes in Sun Valley that are looking for large pieces of art.

“Photographs are traditionally small format. Only recently has it been possible to supply pictures of this magnitude,” he said. “I think people appreciate looking at photographs because of the detail. You can spend hours looking at one and never stop noticing different things.”

 
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The Boulder and Pioneer Mountains from the top of College Boulevard on Baldy.
 

Panoramas are also popular for another reason, Bourret said.

“I think people like seeing art that reflects their environment—in this case, where we live and play.”

Bourret says the technical aspects of photography often get in the way.

“But the camera should not get in the way of creativity,” he said. “Over the years I’ve found myself becoming less technically minded and more creatively minded.”

Bourret, for instance, has recently begun trying to recreate the diagonal rainfall or snowfall depicted by a style of Japanese printmaking. That’s why you might have seen him trekking across the snow at Fox Creek or Trail Creek in the wettest, windiest blizzard imaginable.

“I love it so much--it creates depth,” he said. “And when I got the shot, I knew it. And I headed home as quickly as I could because I was miserable.”

Over the past few years, Bourret has moved from focusing on realistic landscapes to more abstract pieces highlighting texture and other attributes of nature. Instead of focusing on a landscape of the Sawtooth Mountains, for instance, he may focus on way the sun reflects on the sides of willows tucked away in that landscape.

He’s created triptychs—large-scale landscape photographs divided into three sections—that offer the calming and rejuvenating magic of forest bathing that can be hung on a wall.

The subtle weave and matte finish of the Lyve canvas he uses adds a dimensional quality while eliminating the need for protective glass, matting or frame.

“You feel you can literally walk into them,” he said. “People have said they can even feel the spray from a waterfall.”

Bourret’s attention to creativity just earned him an invitation to speak at the international Art of Photography Conference, which will be held in April 2021 in London.

“I’ll present my work,” he said. “And, of course, I’ll speak on creativity in photography. I didn’t have professional training, but I had the creative drive. And my work is driven by my desire to create something expressive.”

 

~  Today's Topics ~


Idaho Wants Proof You Live or Work Here if You Want a Vaccine

Idaho to Ramp Up Vaccines as Second Variant Case Reported

Zoom into Your Pandemic Garden
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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