The challenge of photographing Canada's largest national park — and one of the largest in the world — is simply covering all the ground. The only possible way was from the air, hovering above the landscape on a six-hour helicopter flight.
And from the air, you get a sense of how this landscape works. What one would expect to have been a vast tract of homogenous boreal forest is forced into flux by two agents of change: fire and water.
Every direction you turn, smoke is rising from the forest. Park staff members protect cabins and critical infrastructure, but otherwise let fires burn, as they are an important part of the ecosystem. The land is burned into a patchwork of the full spectrum of stages of boreal growth, from charred moonscapes to lush first-growth to mature woods.
Rivers flowing into the Peace-Athabasca Delta, the largest inland river delta in the world, wind their way from every corner of the park. The flat landscape fails to chart an obvious course, so the rivers indulge in wide, dramatic meanders before cutting themselves off to form oxbow lakes, which in turn dry out and scar the landscape. These rivers without gravity are constantly altering the landscape and are so slow you can paddle upriver effortlessly — a paddler's dream but a cartographer's nightmare.
From the air, you can watch fire and water transform Wood Buffalo National Park into a unique landscape and wildlife refuge.