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Instants: Broad Brushstrokes

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Left: Suncor surface mine and tailings ponds near Fort McMurray, Alberta. Right: Leonard Knight adding his homemade adobe to Salvation Mountain in California.

In our series Instants, the Proof staff brings you a snapshot of recent dispatches from the @natgeo Instagram feed. Follow us to experience more from National Geographic on Instagram.

Photographer Aaron Huey is a Renaissance man of sorts. Known for his poetic stories on the people of Svanetia and the Lakota, Huey is thoughtful, energetic, and versatile. It’s almost impossible to keep track of where in the world he is, whether it’s in the desert with his son Hawkeye, in the wilds of Denali, Alaska, or hiking around Siberia. Over the years, Huey built a personal relationship with late folk artist Leonard Knight, the creator of Salvation Mountain in California. Wherever he goes, he has a broad but defined vision for the work he does. It’s steeped in passion and determination. In a world where everyone has a camera or smartphone, it’s important for a photographer to have vision.

Here we share a small glimpse of Huey’s recent travels: a roadside stop in South Dakota, Sufism in Pakistan, Salvation Mountain in California, a casino in Las Vegas, and a high-altitude vista on a mine in Alberta, Canada.

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Ron and George Jr. Outside Rapid City, South Dakota

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Dogon burial chambers in the Bandiagara cliffs, Mali

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A pilgrim runs his hand along solid silver doors with verses from the Koran at the shrine of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, a Sindhi scholar, mystic, and poet. One of my favorite shrines in Pakistan—his tomb is surrounded at all hours by the faithful, many of whom gather to sing his poetry in the evenings. This is from an ongoing series on Sufism.

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The caretaker of a Sufi shrine in Multan, Pakistan

Leonard Knight’s paint brushes at Salvation Mountain, his 27-year project in southern California. Leonard built a man-made mountain from hay bales, trees, tires, adobe, and hundreds of thousands of gallons of paint. The U.S. Congress registered it as a “folk art site worthy of protection” in 2000.

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New York, New York Casino, Las Vegas, from a larger series of American portraits

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Thinking about this man today. Working on a book about the life and art of Leonard Knight and Salvation Mountain with Outsider Books for a February 1 release.

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Syncrude tailings pond near Fort McKay, Alberta, from a tar sands project for Outside magazine.

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