Montara-based Robert Buelteman made his reputation with breathtaking black-and-white photographs of the Peninsula’s wild spaces. His photos have helped raise money for local environmental groups like the Peninsula Open Space Trust and the Sempervirens Fund and also the Djerassi Resident Artists Program.
He’s enjoyed unparalleled access to San Francisco’s watershed, which is largely closed off from the public. But over more than two decades he got frustrated with the impact, or lack of impact, he felt his landscape photographs had on people.
“I would feel I had really reached to the other side of our experience to a purely spiritual rendering, and people would look at it and say, ‘Where did you take that picture?'”
As if by knowing the GPS coordinates, they could mentally file the visual away and call it a day. Buelteman wanted people to pay more attention — and feel something.
“I had this idea of giving up the traditional tools. It started over a bottle of wine with Sarah Adams, Ansel’s granddaughter, who’s a friend of mine at her home up in Lee Vining. She showed me this collection of images made by Walter Chapell. I thought, ‘That’s something I’m going to do some day.'”