Someone wrote that AA photographed "faux wilderness".

I think that is a simplistic statement devoid of the shifting understandings of his time and the concept of "wilderness".

AA's major "wilderness" shooting, just about all of it the Southwest US plus CA, took place from the 1940's into the 1980's. It was a time when the concepts of "wilderness", "conservation" and "environmentalism" were as often in conflict as they were in agreement.

AA attempted to idealize what he firstly saw as "wilderness", but I think it is common understanding that he knew that the West had already reached a point where "wilderness" was more an ideal than a real. After all, in the 1950's, the man knew that Mono Lake was disappearing and that Lake Powell was filling Glenn Canyon. Yet he did not shoot Glenn - and I don't know - but doubt he shot Mono.

Rather, his very idealization of El Capitan was perhaps an unintended statement that only in the National Parks could you hope to shoot an "idealized wilderness" - even though the very concept of National Park suggests a "reserve" or "museum piece".

The conservationists of the 1950's were the forebearers of the environmentalists of the 1970's and later on. But they, born in an earlier age, still clung to the hope that there was a wilderness that could be preserved because of its "beauty". Environmentalists know that whatever remnants of "wilderness" remain MUST be preserved because of the ecological "necessity" to do so.

In some ways AA was both ahead of and behind his times. He thought he could instill a love of nature by shooting "landscape spectacles" that would inspire people to preserve (conserve) the "wilderness". But, in many ways, the "wilderness" he sought to preserve through his art was by then "faux" in that it had been "preserved" - although he, himself, would not (could not) admit that was the case.

The loss of "true wilderness" is our collective loss. And we are stupid if we criticize his attempts as some kind of "faux" exercise - when all we do is blather on the web and accomplish much less to impact the real world than what AA has.