A view from Little Onion Valley

Written by Emily Domanico, fourth year majoring in History of Art and minoring in Chemistry.

Sorting through photos in the MVZ archive, Charles David Holliger’s photograph of the landscape of Little Onion Valley stood out for the rhythms of the mountains, the depth of the pictorial field, and his framing of the valley. Taken around 8am on a sunny June morning, Holliger captures a crisp landscape. A gathering of trees cascades down a near sloping mountain, emptying out onto the valley floor where sparse trees give way to a gathering of low-lying vegetation. Behind this mountain sits another ridge, lightened by white snow catching the morning sun. Then, from these snow crested peaks, my eye falls down to a pass that empties out onto the valley floor, meeting the population of trees. Holliger frames the valley as a meeting point, a joint between these ridges of higher elevation. Through the framing of the photograph, Holliger weaves the light values of the snow dusted peaks with the darker value of the foliage to create a dynamic composition that coalesces at the valley floor. For Holliger, on this morning of a collection trip that likely ventured out into those peaks away from camp, the valley floor probably felt like a meeting point.

Onion Valley, located on the desert side of Inyo National Forest, is now a campground for all to stay at as part of the Inyo National Forest. It serves as a resting point for hikers to adventure into the Kearsarge Pass, a journey that Holliger made on his collection trip back in the summer of 1912.


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