Photography for a new archival/historical book: A Wilderness of Rocks

In 2012, I started an exciting project working with author Melanie McCalmont. The project entailed photographing many antique relief models of the world. Hand-painted and crafted, some of the models hang in public campuses and others were all but forgotten in storage of various university archives.

One of the challenges photographing the relief models was the fact that many were hung up very high in stairwells which made photographing them accurately quite difficult. The models are also heavy and fragile which presented several difficult tasks during the photography stage of the project.

A Wilderness of Rocks: The Impact of Relief Models on Data Science is now available on and from FriesenPress.

One of the relief models hanging in a stairwell.

Photographing one of the relief models hanging in a stairwell. Photo: Larry Chua.


The University of Wisconsin relief models were crafted from 1875-1943 at the dawn of the analytics age. Relief models are an extremely effective visualization tool. They help us intuitively understand big data sets and to create spatial awareness—the knowledge of relationships between objects, places and ourselves. Each relief model is shown in beautiful color photography. Learn their fascinating stories of expeditions and earthquakes, mountains and museums, bankruptcy and battlefields, governments and glaciers.


A Wilderness Of Rocks cover

Book cover. Click to enlarge.


By Melanie McCalmont
with photography by Timothy Hughes
Friesen Press, Vancouver, BC

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