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Photographer launches Kickstarter campaign to capture autumn magic of the American West

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William Denson photography Mountain of Color
William Denson, Mountain of Color Photo courtesy of the artist
William Denson photography Lake Livingston Sunrise
William Denson, Lake Livingston Sunrise Photo courtesy of the artist
William Denson photography Lake Livingston Firey Sun
William Denson, Lake Livingston Firey Sun Photo courtesy of the artist
William Denson photography Autumn Woods
William Denson, Autumn Woods Photo courtesy of the artist
William Denson photography kickstarter cover
The cover of Denson's new book, The American West in Autumn. Photo courtesy of the artist
William Denson head shot
Local photographer William J. Denson. Photo courtesy of the artist
William Denson photography Mountain of Color
William Denson photography Lake Livingston Sunrise
William Denson photography Lake Livingston Firey Sun
William Denson photography Autumn Woods
William Denson photography kickstarter cover
William Denson head shot

On a regular day's work, Houston photographer William J. Denson's portraiture profiles media types, business movers and shakers and artsy folks. He describes his creative approach as playing psychiatrist, a process that strives to capture digital images that closely convey the essence of his subjects.

But as they say, now for something completely different.

Denson, alongside his partner, poet Christopher DeSapio, is packing his bags to travel around the American West this autumn to assemble a book that offers a holistic view of the cyclic, colorful transformation that's quintessentially associated with the peak of natural beauty — the fall season.

The 35-year-old has launched a $17,400 crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to underwrite the production of his tome, The American West in Autumn. The couple will depart for a six-week, 7,000-mile road trip through 12 states and 15 national parks — from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Northwest, across to Northern California to the Sierra Nevada mountain range — to reproduce the Americana frontier in all its splendor through 1,500 analog photographs. On the itinerary are stops in Amarillo, Lubbock, Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, Glacier National Park in Montana, Mount Rainer National Park in Washington State, Crater Lake National Park in Oregon and Yosemite National Park in California.

 "If you can smell the pine cones, I've done what I set out to do."

"As opposed to digital photography, film looks more like what you see with your eyes," Denson says. "I don't want to be able to zoom in and count the leaves on a tree. I want to seize a realism that's experienced by those who visit these landmarks.

"If you can smell the pine cones, I've done what I set out to do."

Denson pledges to avoid using any special effects. Rather, he promises to allow the raw, unadulterated panoramas to do the talking. His equipment includes a medium format Hasselblad 503CX and a Kodak Portra 400, that latter of which is recognized for highlighting reds, oranges and yellow hues while, at the same time, generating poetic images with longer exposures and extensive depths of field.

"The availability of film is becoming scarce," he explains. "I hope to also show that there's value in keeping this technology alive."

Denson, who resides in League City, lived for two years in Toronto, Canada, where his tryst with the melancholy of the autumnal spirit began. He picked up photography as a métier after a car accident resulted in a physical injury that derailed his plans to become a classical musician. The Humble High School graduate attended San Jacinto College and Texas Tech University.

As it is with most Kirkstarter projects, if Denson fails to reach his fundraising goal of $17,400, all contributions will be returned to their respective donors.

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