The Wonder of Walden

This month, Houghton Mifflin releases the 150th anniversary edition of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. In it are stunning photographs taken by local nature photographer Scot Miller. Herewith, a sneak peek.

Misty Fall Morning, Walden Pond
October 2000
“What can you say? This is nature at its best.”

This month, Houghton Mifflin will publish the 150th-anniversary edition of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. Most of the photographs in the book were taken by 48-year-old Dallas-based nature photographer Scot Miller. How he got the honor is a story he is reluctant to tell, but it started when his wife Marilyn struck up a conversation with Don Henley.

While traveling, she met the celebrity founder of the Walden Woods Project, which was created to preserve the ecosystem surrounding Thoreau’s Walden Pond, and told him about Scot’s work at Yosemite. Her husband had been shooting the national park since 1990 and had donated the use of his images to the Yosemite Fund for promoting conservation. Henley was impressed and put the couple in touch with Kathi Anderson, then director of the Walden Woods Project. Scot made his first trip to Walden Pond in 1999.

At the time, Scot’s goal was to document the seasons and, as he did with the Yosemite Fund, offer use of his photographs to promote conservation. After three years of visiting Massachusetts, Scot learned about the upcoming anniversary of Thoreau’s book.

He approached Houghton Mifflin (essentially, the original publisher of Walden), which loved the photographs. The publisher decided to re-release Thoreau’s book using 89 of Miller’s stunning images. Only one other photographer’s work appears in the book—four black-and-white images from the turn of the last century—and those were hand-selected by Scot. The result is a coffee table-quality book that’s beautiful to behold. The cost is just $28.12, half a cent less than Thoreau spent to build his cabin in the woods.

In the following pages, enjoy a sneak peek at the book, with the photographer’s comments about each image.

Photography by Scot Miller/Sun To Moon

At their gallery, Sun to Moon, Scot and Marilyn Miller teach people how compelling—and collectible—color photography can be. “People often walk in and say, ’Wow, I never knew color photography could be this beautiful,” Scot says. “We’ve converted a lot of people who never thought they’d display large photographs as artwork.” In celebration of the Walden re-release, the Millers are kicking off “Walden at 150,” an exhibition of Scot’s artistic and documentary images, on August 6 from 6 to 9 p.m. (The 150th anniversary of the release of the original book is August 8.) The exhibit continues weekends through the end of the month. Then, in spring 2005, the Harvard Museum of Natural History (Thoreau was a Harvard grad, and his cabin was about 25 miles from his alma mater) begins its traveling exhibition of Miller’s work and interpretive materials. For more information about the show, visit www.suntomoon.com or www.waldenat150.com.

Kaleidoscope at Thoreau’s Cove, Walden Pond
October 2001
“Several windy days resulted in these leaves congregating on and near the shore in Thoreau’s Cove. The effect of the blurred leaves in the upper left and the perfectly in-focus leaves in the rest of the image was just the result I was trying to achieve.”

First Light in Walden Woods
May 2000
“The light in the forest was incredible on this morning. The difficult part was keeping my shadow out of the photograph. I love the depth captured here.”

Fall in Heywood’s Meadow
October 1999
“The day we arrived to photograph fall foliage, we were disappointed because the leaves had not begun to turn.
However, there was a hard freeze that first night, and by the end of the week, this is what the colors looked like.”

Nature’s Palette, Heywood’s Meadow
October 1999
“Nature gave a grand performance on this particular afternoon. This scene reminded me of an artist’s palette, hence the name.”

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