Noctilucent Clouds over Mount Baker, Washington, July 30,1975
23 x 26 in. (58.4 x 66 cm)
Whatcom Museum, Gift of Safeco Insurance, a member of Liberty Mutual Group, and Washington Art Consortium, 2010.53
Like Ansel Adams, Eliot Porter believed that the preservation of wilderness was a spiritual imperative. He also collaborated with the Sierra Club to save critical lands from development and served as its director from 1965 to 1971. In contrast to Adams, Porter pioneered color landscape photography and the complex dye-transfer process that offered the most saturated and long-lasting colors.
In 1975, Porter documented the glaciers on Mount Rainier and Mount Baker during his journey to the Pacific Northwest. In this view of Mount Baker, the photographer captures Coleman Glacier crowned by a rare type of twilight cloud formation.
This image, along with photographs by Henry C. Engberg and Brett Baunton, dramatize the recession of Coleman Glacier since the beginning of the century. The photograph was taken soon after Porter’s first trip to Antarctica, which stimulated the artist’s interest in ice.