Photo exhibit at St. Thomas captures Lake Superior's North Shore

Mark Jensen's "Boat House, Fenstad's Resort, Little Marais, Minn."

Photo exhibit at St. Thomas captures Lake Superior’s North Shore

A photography exhibit at the University of St. Thomas captures the untouched natural beauty of Lake Superior’s North Shore.

Free and open to the public, “Rocks, Trees, and Moss: North Shore Photographs by Mark E. Jensen” runs through Monday, March 19, in the lobby gallery of O’Shaughnessy Educational Center on the St. Paul campus. The gallery is open 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and noon to 10 p.m. Sundays.

An opening reception, also free and open to the public, will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 23, in the gallery.

Jensen, whose photographic career spans more than 30 years, lives in Minneapolis and works as a photographer at St. Thomas, where he also is the university’s visual assets manager. He earned a B.F.A. in photography and film from the University of Minnesota and an M.F.A. in visual communications from the University of Wisconsin. His work has appeared in numerous solo, invitational and group exhibitions and is included in many private and public collections. In 1997 he founded the Knife River Photography Workshops, offering photographers a chance to learn medium- and large-format film photography along the North Shore.

Jensen created the 21 photographs selected for this exhibition over the past 25 years. Along the North Shore near the Little Marais River he found a five-mile stretch of a former lava flow “geologically peculiar” and visually profound.

Using a large-format view camera and 4 x 5-inch color transparency film, he reveals a genuine respect for nature. “The larger film size provides an excellent tonal range, greater color saturation and overall, more clarity,” Jensen said. “Another benefit to working in large format is the configuration of the view camera itself. You can study the image on the ground glass, refining focus and view, before making the exposure.”

Jensen’s methods and equipment may seem quaintly foreign to amateur photographers used to the speedy, point-and-click, digital world. Taking photographs like his takes a fair amount of time, involves several steps and requires close attention. The resulting images are more contemplative, according to Jensen.

The printing process also is more important to Jensen, who also is a master printer and teacher of printmaking. The photographs in “Rocks, Trees, and Moss” were printed on rag paper using pigmented inks, which are more stable than typical dye inks.

For more information about this or other exhibits at St. Thomas, contact the university’s Art History Department, (651) 962-5560. To purchase photographs by Jensen, call (612) 824-7621.