Archive for ‘Recommendations’ category

Monday Blog Blog: Weblog Wisdom By Jeff Bridges, James Rhodes, Brent Bryson And Chris Guillebeau

June 24th, 2013

Monday Blog Blog: Jeff Bridges On Widelux Photography, James Rhodes Death By Piano, Brent Bryson: Big Rocks First And Chris Guillebeau On The Creative Life

Port Of Stockton, San Joaquin River Deep Water Tidal Channel, Great Central Valley, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Port Of Stockton, San Joaquin River Deep Water Tidal Channel, Great Central Valley, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

(See the photograph large: “Port Of Stockton, San Joaquin River, Great Central Valley, California.”)

Diverse ideas occasionally combine into surprising new thoughts that lead to innovation. A number of leading photographers as well as well known writers have said that to excel in any creative endeavor it is important to gather new ideas from nay disciplines. I would like to pass along a series of ideas I found in fairly rapid succession on Twitter. I tend to watch for synchronicity anyway and notice bizarre juxtapositions, at least for humor, if not for new fixes to old challenges.

(What in the world is Monday Blog Blog?” See the blog post: “Monday Blog Blog Celebration.”)

It is refreshing to hear actor Jeff Bridges talk about his own photography because neither his presentation nor his photography were affectations. He has been photographing a long time and doing it with a genuine, down-to-earth approach respectful of the medium. This is more than a great number of photographers today can claim about photography or celebrity actors can claim about much of anything besides acting. Take a look at this interesting video of Jeff Bridges Special Presentation at the International Center of Photography’s Infinity Awards via “A Photo Editor Blog.”

With the Jeff Bridges video in mind, read The Guardian’s Music Blog about concert pianist James Rhodes and his remarkably different way of looking at life and success. He describes living a completely obsessed and out of balance creative life… and loving it… but more importantly how freeing this perspective is. Says Rhodes, “My life as a concert pianist can be frustrating, lonely, demoralizing and exhausting. But is it worth it? Yes, without a shadow of a doubt.” How does this work for him? What is his secret? To find out read James Rhodes: Find What You Love And Let It Kill You.

Holding in your awareness both Jeff Bridges’ approach to photography and James Rhodes creative philosophy, read Brent Bryson’s blog post called, “Life Lessons.” The ideas expressed by Brent Bryson and the story he presents, can also be found a number of other places, including in various writings and speeches by Stephen R. Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change. Apparently since Covey and Bryson have not sued each other, the story must have originated somewhere else. Regardless, it is an important life lesson, one none of us can be reminded of too often.

To top off your conglomeration of important and unusual creative ideas, watch the long format lecture by Chris Gullebeau via Chase Jarvis’ Blog. Chase Jarvis introduces Chris Gullebeau by saying that they agreed the night before, “To have a nitty-gritty, no holds barred show where they would talk about things you aren’t supposed to talk about, talk about your struggles as you work and try to figure [the business of photography] out.” Chris Gullebeau is the national bestselling author of The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World as well as other books including The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future.  His genius lies in living the life he enjoys while writing bestselling books about it. Chase Jarvis travels over 150,000-200,000 miles a year, while Chris Gullebeau logs 200,000-300,000 miles a year. While I do not agree with or relate to this level of travel even for business, as it is not good for the planet, both of these young entrepreneurs set a fine example in many other ways. Besides, there are advantages to travel. In this video Gullebeau says it forces change. It forces an identity shift.

The first audience question Jarvis asks Gullebeau to address is, “How do you balance your creative lifestyle with responsibilities and paying bills?” Balance is a subject both men often hear questions about. While balancing our human activities with what is good for the earth and what keeps us in touch with nature is a healthy pursuit, the seeking of balance as an end in itself can be, well, imbalanced, just as Gullebeau points out. Gullebeau’s answer lines up well with some of the earlier references in this blog post:

I’ve never been interested in living a balanced life. I think balanced people don’t change the world, or really follow a dream. This doesn’t mean you don’t have responsibilities… sure you can have a family, but balance is like a made-up word invented by corporations to make their employees think they are happy. If you love your job that’s great, but I hear from a lot of dissatisfied people that write in from big companies saying they’re reading my blog from a cubicle and say, ‘I have this good job, health insurance, Yoga on Thursdays, but I’m not really fulfilled.’ How can you live a fulfilled life? Lots of creative people do it. I don’t like the word balance, myself.

Chase Jarvis agrees:

The goal, then is to create a fulfilled life, rather than a balanced life. I feel like balance makes me sort of numb because it means I’m checking all the boxes that I’m supposed to be checking. When I feel like I’m balanced, I feel I am unable to do great things. I like to live in a more creative place.

These two talk more about the subject, both of them saying that they often go to sleep so excited about work that they can’t get it off their mind. This is a good problem to have. I have this same pattern, but sometimes during the launch phase of my writing, Philip Hyde Photography and D. L. Hyde Photography, which has gone on far longer than expected because it’s more like a launch phase combined with a cleaning up of old business phase, I get discouraged at the sheer volume of work to be done. My friends see this and suggest ways I could stop doing what I’m doing. They perhaps don’t understand phases. I will sooner or later move more into the work I’m meant to do. This will result in a much more fulfilling life, but I probably won’t ever live a completely balanced life. My sometimes girlfriend often has given me a hard time for not being more balanced. After seeing James Balog sacrifice his life and body for Chasing Ice and the Extreme Ice Survey, she began to understand me a little and why balance is not as relevant for everyone as she may have once believed.

The video discussion between Gullebeau and Jarvis also covers aspects of Chris Gullebeau’s writing career and how he paid the mortgage as he learned. Jarvis mentioned that one of the challenges in our culture is the process of going from one vocation to another and the juggling involved. Gullebeau’s answer addresses time and starting a business on a shoestring at a small scale at first while you are working at what pays the bills currently. In the long video show format, many other topics arise in relation to goals, success and the accompanying hurdles, struggle, self-deception and honesty, intellectual neediness, focus, relaxation, breaking through barriers, the post-accomplishment letdown, plans, communication, endings and much more.

Let me know what you think of any or all of these recommendations…

Monday Blog Blog: Tributes By Outdoor Photographer, QT Luong, G. Dan Mitchell And A New Grand Canyon Battle

April 15th, 2013

Monday Blog Blog: Philip Hyde By Outdoor Photographer Blog, Christopher Robinson; QT Luong; And G. Dan Mitchell

Grand Canyon Escalade: Jackson Frishman And Greg Russell Share A Grand Canyon Adventure To View A Proposed New Development Site At The Little Colorado River

(What in the world is Monday Blog Blog? See the blog post, “Monday Blog Blog Celebration.”)

View Up The Colorado River From Toroweap Overlook, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, copyright 1964 David Leland Hyde.

View Up The Colorado River From Toroweap Overlook, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, copyright 1964 Philip Hyde. This photograph appeared in the Sierra Club Book in the Exhibit Format Series, “Time And The River Flowing: Grand Canyon,” which helped in the campaign to prevent two dams in the Grand Canyon at either end of the national park.

Philip Hyde has had a long history of writing for, being written about and being interviewed for Outdoor Photographer Magazine. Recently, the Outdoor Photographer editor Christopher Robinson wrote a tribute about Philip Hyde for the Outdoor Photographer Blog. Read the tribute here, “Philip Hyde: Photographer, Conservationist, Artist.”

Also, in the last few weeks, QT Luong wrote an insightful, savvy, well-researched and thorough survey of Philip Hyde’s books and career defending wilderness with photography. See, “Philip Hyde Books.

G. Dan Mitchell is a prolific photographer and blogger about photography. A big thank you also to him for blogging about QT Luong’s book survey and on Philip Hyde in general. Read G. Dan Mitchell’s post here, “‘Philip Hyde Books’ – QT Luong.”

Besides appearing in more environmental campaigns than any other photographer and introducing color to landscape photography, Philip Hyde is also known for his photographs in Time and The River Flowing: Grand Canyon helping to save the Grand Canyon from two dams. Now there are new threats to the Grand Canyon. Jackson Frishman weaves a fine narrative of his visit to the Mouth of the Little Colorado River in which he discusses the proposed Grand Canyon Escalade. Here’s his own description of his blog post, “Pilgrimage To Solitude“:

Note: This is a big post on a big subject, and I appreciate your taking the time to read it through. But even if you can only look through the pretty pictures for now, I hope you’ll still find an opportunity to visit SavetheConfluence.com and read about the development threatening a wild, spectacular, culturally resonant and ecologically important corner of Grand Canyon National Park. You can see details of the proposal and hear the developers’ side of the story at GrandCanyonEscalade.com.

Greg Russell, who accompanied Jackson Frishman on his hiking adventure into Grand Canyon National Park, also wrote his own brilliant tribute to the Grand Canyon and story about their trek to Cape Solitude where they could overlook the confluence of the Little Colorado River and the Colorado River. Read Greg Russell’s blog post, “Through The Grama Grass.”

Also, I would like to mention James Hunt Photography’s Blog because he also wrote a tribute to Philip Hyde called, “Images That Change The World – Updated” that embedded the Philip Hyde Short Video back in 2011 when we released it. James Hunt is currently working to educate people about how climate change is impacting forests and wilderness in New England, in particular at the Quabbin Reservoir. The Quabbin is an “accidental wilderness” in Massachusetts two hours west of Boston, where invasive species coming up from the South, Red Pine Needle Scale and other impacts provide indications of change. You will have the opportunity to read more about James Hunt and the Quabbin in a future blog post.

Announcing An Honest Silence: A Celebration Of Wilderness

October 12th, 2012

Greg Russell, PJ Johnson And Ann Whittaker Release Their New E-Book, An Honest Silence: A Celebration of Wilderness

E-Book Cover For An Honest Silence by Greg Russell, PJ Johnson and Ann Whittaker with Foreword by David Leland Hyde.

Announcing An Honest Silence: A Celebration of Wilderness, a new e-book of essays and photographs by Greg Russell, PJ Johnson and Ann Whittaker. It might be conflict of interest to review it here because I wrote the foreword for it, but I will give a taste of what the new e-book has to offer readers and why advance reviewers, landscape photography blog writers and nature enthusiasts are excited about it.

Greg Russell mentions in his blog post pre-announcing An Honest Silence: A Celebration of Wilderness that at $5.00, the book is ultra affordable. Besides, Greg Russell points out that a portion of proceeds will go directly to the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, of which my father pioneer landscape photographer Philip Hyde was an active and prominent member for many years, and I’ve been a member for close to a decade. Check them out too. You will be glad you did.

But why another book, or e-book in this case, about wilderness? I believe Greg Russell answers this question best in his Preface:

Everyone who lets their imagination wander into open space should be lifting their voices up to be heard in support of wilderness.  If not now, when?  When it’s all gone, it will be too late. These essays are reminiscent of our own experiences and thoughts about wilderness; we are passionate about the places we spend time in the outdoors, and feel that they need to be protected and enjoyed.

In the Foreword I review the wilderness literary tradition and how this new e-book by Greg Russell, PJ Johnson and Ann Whittaker honors the tradition well:

Fiction and non-fiction anthologies, novels, short stories, magazine articles, editorials, and book after book centers on or dabbles in wilderness… We are blessed with a voluminous tradition of written pages on wilderness, yet today in the computer age, as far as I know, there has yet to be even one single e-book written about wilderness, until now.

From there I go on to express other reasons why we all need wilderness and in addition why it can do anyone much good to read An Honest Silence, closing with:

The early pioneers of wilderness writing would be happy to join me in welcoming three fresh talented voices to the wilderness tradition. Some day, they too may be seen as pioneers in their own avenue of expression.

The essays by Greg Russell passionately connect you to the land through his eyes. The writings by PJ Johnson will make you think and provide a wake-up call regarding how we treat wilderness. Ann Whittaker’s lyrical prose will move you to see yourself more deeply through wilderness. All in all, An Honest Silence is an excellent read and will bring more meaning to your own experience of wilderness. Don’t wait. Go download it now. You will be glad you did.

Buy Now

What Urban Exploration Photography Learned From Nature

March 5th, 2012

What Did Urban Exploration Photography Learn From Nature?

Is nature glossy? Is nature always beautiful? My father Western American landscape photographer and conservationist, Philip Hyde, said “Nature is always beautiful, even when we might call a scene ugly.” Is he correct?

Red Canyon at Hance Rapid, Boulders in Dunes, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, copyright 1964 by Philip Hyde. First Published in "Time And The River Flowing: Grand Canyon" by Francois Leydet, in the Sierra Club Exhibit Format Series. The book that helped defend the Grand Canyon against two dams.

(See the photograph large: “Red Canyon At Hance Rapid, Grand Canyon National Park.”)

Nature surprises us with patterns we might not have noticed or thrilling textures and colors, but nature also at times presents us with drab or even repulsive sights so ugly they smell, such as a road killed skunk or a field spread with cattle manure. My mother, Ardis Hyde, often repeated the old adage, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” I also remember her saying, “Wow, what a beautiful field of manure,” on more than one occasion when we were hauling cow manure for the garden in “Covered Wagon,” a 1952 Chevy Step Side Pickup, see the blog post, “Covered Wagon Journal 1.”

Dad’s photographs of proposed wilderness areas and national parks documented the natural features of the land. He said he was not interested in “Pretty Pictures for Postcards.” This attitude came partially from his having studied and taught with Ansel Adams. Dad also espoused the straight photography and documentary principles of his other mentors Edward Weston, Dorothea Lange and Imogen Cunningham. These principles included keeping compositions simple and maintaining the camera’s focus crisp throughout the image, as was only attainable with a large format view camera.

Like Edward Weston, Dad presented his black and white photographs with minimal darkroom manipulation. He said, “There is no need to add drama to nature. Nature is dramatic enough.” However, when he printed dye transfer color prints and Cibachrome color prints, Dad found more color adjustment necessary, to meet his goal of making the final color print look more like the scene as he remembered it, than the film.

Today the trend in much of what is called landscape photography is toward heavy saturation, dramatic weather, unusual lighting, sunlight effects and the most dramatic cliffs, mountains or other land features. Making pictures today is in truth often two arts: Photography, defined as what occurs in camera, plus the art of post processing using Adobe Photoshop or other photo editing software. Post Processing is much like dodging and burning in the darkroom, except that in the world of digital prints and photography art, the alteration of images is easy to overdo because it takes no more effort to move the slider to 80 percent than to take it only to 10 percent. In contrast, when darkroom processing ruled, greater alteration took more work.

Landscape photography today displays magnificence. Big scenes of striking beauty possess the viewer, exhibiting an abundance of what photography galleries call, “Wow factor.” In contrast, my father’s photography grunge rocked: gritty, clear, raw and most importantly imperfect. The imperfections were minimized in the darkroom, but certainly not removed or cropped out of the photograph as they are today.

Nature is very rarely perfect. Neither is any kind of photography. While many produce sub-standard photographs, many landscape photographers thrive with quality work and high standards for maintaining a “natural look.” I have looked at much current landscape photography. In my opinion the best work continues to become better.

Nonetheless, much of landscape photographers today could re-learn, or learn back a lesson from Urban Exploration, Urb Ex or Urban Decay photography. The lesson Urban Exploration photography learned from nature. The best way to understand the lesson is to read one of the master lesson teachers in Urban Exploration Photography, Chase Jarvis. Chase Jarvis recently wrote a blog post called, “The Un-Moment: Why Gritty Beats Glossy & the Deceit of Perfection.” I recommend repeated reading of this post for landscape photographers who want to find their own voice and connect more deeply with nature. Any photographer, for that matter, who wants to have an authentic connection with his or her subject matter could learn from Chase Jarvis.

What do you think? Can the beauty of imperfection improve landscape photography? Does gritty make sense in photography genres other than Urban Exploration?

Monday Blog Blog: Derrick Birdsall

September 26th, 2011

Monday Blog Blog: Derrick Birdsall of My Sight Picture Lands A Book Deal To Photograph North Texas Frontier Forts And Lives For A Week In A Historical Log Cabin

Sunset, Log Cabin, Farmer's Branch Historical Park, Farmer's Branch, Texas, copyright 2009 Derrick Birdsall.

(See the photograph large here.)

What in the world is Monday Blog Blog? See the blog post, “Monday Blog Blog Celebration.”

Some photographers have no problem with singing their own praises or even over-blowing the merit of their own work. In contrast, many photographers and other creative people hesitate to promote themselves because either they doubt their own work, feel self-aggrandizement is tacky or any number of other reasons. My father, pioneer landscape photographer Philip Hyde, fit into the second category and architectural, historical, street and landscape photographer Derrick Birdsall does as well.

When I proposed doing a Monday Blog Blog on Derrick Birdsall and his popular blog My Sight Picture, he said something about the caliber of photographers I feature, how short a time he had been “serious” about photography and that he felt highly honored to be the subject of such a blog post. My reply was that my father liked to support and encourage those who were the most dedicated to the craft and the most accelerated in their development. Besides, Dad was always egalitarian in his association with all levels of photographers. I added that even though Landscape Photography Blogger exists to honor my father, it is my blog, doggon it, and I will feature who I want, which essentially in time will be a wide variety of landscape photographers from all over the world that I haven’t even met yet, but to start with I will feature those who I like and who support this blog the most.

Derrick Birdsall began his participation on this blog by asking in a comment if I thought that the current period was another Golden Era for photography. See comments on the blog post, “Photography’s Golden Era 2.” Ever since, he has shown a knack for asking pithy, discussion sparking and often difficult questions. I have always been amazed at his prolific volume of photography. This month, for example, he made over 20,000 exposures. Also, he puts up blog posts more frequently than any other blog I follow.

Just five years ago, Derrick Birdsall began photographing with a small Hewlett Packard “point-and-shoot” that came with a printer he bought. Because it was convenient to keep in his pocket, he took it everywhere he went. At first he had mainly an “I was here” style, but once he was out exploring around the Gila River in New Mexico and a storm blew across the canyon. Derrick “snapped” a few pictures and found that one of them had an “Ansel Adams style to it and something just clicked in my head, that I could do this.” He now photographs mainly with his Canon 7D, with his earlier Canon 50D as a backup. For post processing, he uses only Adobe Lightroom and Idealab/Google Picasa, no Photoshop.

Right away Derrick made an impression on me with his polite, Southern manner sprinkled with “please” and “thank you, Sir.” He was born in Virginia and has lived in Texas since the 4th Grade. His distinct photography in some ways is best exemplified by his photographs from his visit to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Rather than going for the landmarks: the adobe, Native Americans on the Plaza, or other typical Santa Fe clichés, his images on Smug Mug are of the land and not even of the most prominent features. He explained that this was partially circumstantial as he had attended a museum conference, took a walk and photographed what looked good to him. “A lot of times we miss something right under our noses because we’re too busy trying to put tripods where someone else already has. Part of my uniqueness is that growing up, I never spent much time looking at, or learning about art or photography. Even now, I don’t look to others’ photographs to guide what I do.”

He photographs landscapes, motorcycles, shooting competitions, airplanes, animals, architecture and many other subjects. Here’s his explanation for wide variety over specialization:

If I had my druthers, I’d be out working the Texas deserts and canyons every day with a camera. Unfortunately for me, I can’t get out there all the time, so I take images of what I have access to. There’s beauty to be found everywhere—whether that’s in a majestic desert landscape, a nice macro that you walk by every day, your dog laying out in the sun, or whatever you might pass by.  My rule number one is that to take a good picture, you’ve got to have your camera with you everywhere you go.  That way if you see something that catches your eye, you can take the time to stop and capture that moment. That being said, I think that to really capture the essence of something, you have to know it, and the images I share with folks are of things I know and love.  Basically, it’s all about ‘seeing.’  Once you start hunting for the light, you see it everywhere you go. I also use every photo opportunity as a way to become more skilled with the camera across the board. For example, I can learn something from taking an image of a hot rod and apply it to capturing reflections of a pool of water in the desert. In the short time I’ve been working at this, I’ve learned that photography is often about trial and error. Every time you hit the shutter button it’s a learning experience. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, and the more images you take, the better you get at being able to bend the camera to your will so that you can capture the image you visualized.

The big news recently was a book deal with TSTC Publishing for a coffee table book featuring Derrick Birdsall’s photographs of the Texas Frontier Forts. Derrick Birdsall has a background in history and has been photographing the Texas Frontier Forts seriously since 2009. He earned an MA in History from Sam Houston State University and since then has been working in museums for over 20 years. He learned from a competitive shooting mentor that if you want to succeed, “you have to let other people know what your goals are and they will help you reach your goals.” Derrick Birdsall has had the goal to produce a coffee table book on the Texas Frontier Forts for some time. At one point, he collaborated with Margaret Hoogstra, who manages a cultural tourism trail centered on the Texas Frontier Forts called Texas Forts Trail. She was at a meeting with a representative from TSTC Publishing and they started talking about potential book projects. Margaret Hoogstra mentioned Derrick Birdsall’s photography of the forts. Subsequently the publisher set up a meeting in which they agreed to do the book. Derrick called it a “networking success.”

The forts project hits so many buttons for me. For starters, I am a historian by trade… I love history, always have. Secondly, the bulk of the forts are well off the beaten path and in some truly beautiful country. Thirdly, they are some of the only places you can get to anymore where you can not only see things the way they were, but you can feel it too. Standing inside some of the old buildings and hearing the wind whistling through the cracks in the walls without the interruption of modern noises is just magical to me… I can get my history fix and my landscape fix in the same breath.

The city of Farmer’s Branch, Texas has a historical city park with 28 acres of grounds and 12 structures dating from the 1840s to the 1930s. Derrick Birdsall, park Superintendent for 12 years, slept in one of the log cabins for a week this last March in commemoration of Farmer’s Branch Historical Park’s 25th Anniversary. The Dallas Morning News article shared how Superintendent Birdsall wore period clothing and cooked over an open fire to help bring frontier days to life. See the YouTube video here. The Farmer’s Branch Historical Park, with over 80,000 visitor’s a year, is an outdoor museum, special event venue and educational facility sharing the heritage of North Texas and Dallas County.

I enjoy being able to teach people… and there are definitely perks associated with the museum world. From time to time I can flash my “museum card” and get access to places that I otherwise would not have…. My museum is… not your usual gallery type setting. One of the things that just flat drives me nuts is that quite a few of the folks who work in a gallery setting are elitist snobs. It’s my belief that the objects in our care are to be shared with as many folks as possible and that visitors should have reasonable access to the artifacts. A lot of the gallery types keep everything behind glass if it’s accessible at all and more often than not you can’t even see the items because they are hiding back in the stacks. How can you educate and teach your visitors if all of your tools are locked up behind closed doors? The other thing that I notice about some folks in more traditional types of museums is that while they are often times highly educated, they only know what they’ve read, and not because they have any experience in their subject matter.  Those are the folks that talk about the rules in art and photography but if you put a paintbrush or camera in their hands they wouldn’t have the slightest idea how to use it.

When Derrick Birdsall studied museums, he attended graduate school. When he learned competition shooting, he took classes from the best marksmen in the world (See a YouTube video of the “Three Gun” type of shooting he does here). However, with photography he has been largely self-taught. He took one class online with master landscape photographer William Neill, but the rest of his training has been through trial and error in the field. He chooses photographs and guides his photography with the help of pre-visualization. In shooting competition, he made a sight picture, aligning the front and rear sight of his gun with the target. He also learned to fire between breaths, during what is called the respiratory pause. He sometimes uses this technique while photographing. As a result of his training, he can often defy the rules about when a tripod is necessary. He wrote about the parallels between both types of “shooting” in an excellent blog post appropriately called, “Sight Picture,” similar to the name of his highly visited blog My Sight Picture. Take a sight along his photo blog for yourself. You will see the work of a new voice in photography, traveling at a high velocity toward his target.

Monday Blog Blog: Greg Boyer

May 16th, 2011

Monday Blog Blog: Greg Boyer Photography

Raised on ranches as a boy and now living in Bishop, California in the shadow of the Eastern Sierra Nevada, Greg Boyer first became serious about photography in the early 1970s. He first began making landscape photographs at age 12 when his father gave him an Argus C3. In 1960, a trip to Yosemite National Park helped spark his creative inspiration. By the time he reached age 13, he had been to 18 states.

Moonrise Over Mono Lake, Eastern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2008 by Greg Boyer.

(View the photograph larger Click Here.)

(What in the world is Monday Blog Blog? To find out more read the blog post, “Monday Blog Blog Celebration.”)

Greg Boyer’s father was in the Army Air Corp which became the US Air Force. He later became a safety engineer for a the U.S. government and in the Missile Industry. The family began ranching in California and then moved to Idaho north of Boise along the Payette River. Greg Boyer worked on his father’s ranch while also photographing and hiking the mountains and back country of Idaho.

In the mid 1970s and early 1980s, Greg Boyer worked as a well driller and did construction work building irrigation pumping plants along the Sacramento river in California. At the zenith of Greg Boyer’s early photography life, he recently explained, he dove in more deeply and then faded after a camera catastrophe and other life changes:

I was about the same age as Galen Rowell. He was in all the magazines. He was an outdoor hero. I was doing mountain climbing and some of the same things he was but on a smaller scale. I was always an explorer as a kid. The last year I was very serious about photography was 1975 when I was photographing on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho, a wild and wooly place. I was using a Nikon F2. I had a 500 mm lens on and I was getting ready to change the focusing screen. I set the camera down and it fell off the rock perch I set it on at the edge of a deep gorge. I was rummaging in my camera bag trying to find the focusing screen and all I heard was the first clunk of my camera bouncing several times down in the ravine. I turned around and the camera was gone. On the second bounce I saw the body go one direction and the lens go the other. Soon after that my ex wife and I moved back to California in 1975. I was drilling wells and the work was demanding. I didn’t have the time to devote to photography that I wanted to. I was raising a family. I still made snapshots of my kids and family vacations.

Greg Boyer worked for Campbell Soup for 14 years as a maintenance planner. When an opportunity to go back to school came, he took it. He attended UC Davis in Multi-Media Design, where he learned about video production and Photoshop, which he had originally started to learn in 1992. He worked in Video Production from 1997 to 2005. Around that time the video business began to change. The video company he worked for and many others were casualties.

In 2004 Greg Boyer bought a Nikon D2X digital camera. With his extensive knowledge of Photoshop, he also began digital printing. Thus began a whole new experience with photography:

With digital photography I found out how to express the way I saw a scene. I couldn’t do that with film. Digital landscape photography was everything film photography could have been to me but that I never had with film. I never had the tools to do what I really wanted to do until digital came along.  It’s the immediacy of the digital image. You can see right away what you have. You can look at the image and at the histogram and then do something different if it doesn’t work. In the film era you didn’t know what you had until you had the rolls processed. Then you might never make it back to the same place, or you had to get back there in the same conditions.

In late 2005, Greg Boyer was diagnosed with Emphysema. When he told his son, his son said, “Well, you better quit wasting time.” After thinking about it, Greg Boyer realized his son was right. He decided to change his lifestyle and do what he really loved, which meant getting back in touch with nature and taking up photography again. Soon afterwards he moved to Bishop, California to be near the Sierra Nevada in a small-town atmosphere and clean air. Greg Boyer described his experience of connecting with nature and the philosophy behind it:

Krishnamurti was an influence on the way I look at what I’m doing in landscape photography. I go out and get absorbed by my surroundings. When I’m out taking photographs it is a spiritual experience of that moment in time and space when it is all yours. You are it and it is you. Krishnamurti wrote about seeing and not categorizing. His philosophy was that by defining something you separate yourself from it. He gave me a new way of being out and connected to nature. Civilization’s mistake is in separating from the natural world.

In the Eastern Sierra Nevada Greg Boyer now goes backpacking at least twice a year. He still carries 50-60 pounds of gear on backpacks including cameras and lenses. Greg Boyer said he is ‘living the dream,’ but he is glad he doesn’t have to rely on photography for a living in today’s conditions. He has the freedom to pursue landscape photography as he likes:

I’m enjoying life and having a good time. This is the way life was meant to be. I’m blessed to be doing what I love in a beautiful place. At Campbell Soup some people had been working there for 35-40 years and hated every minute of it. I feel bad for people who are stuck doing something they have no idea they can get out of. Many people are not doing what they love to do. I like sharing what I’m doing in photography. I like the interaction with other photographers in the photo blogosphere. Besides, I live a few blocks from Galen Rowell’s Mountain Light Gallery.

Take a close look at Greg Boyer Photography and his blog, which offer an inspirational perspective on landscape photography. His blog posts about Photoshop and other post-processing tools and techniques provide an experienced presentation of simple and advanced methods.

Monday Blog Blog: Buzztail Blog Shakes And Makes A Difference

March 14th, 2011

California Quarter Image, Reverse Side, Courtesy Wikimedia Commons, 2005. First seen on PJ Finn's Buzztail Blog.

What is Monday Blog Blog? See the blog post, “Monday Blog Blog Celebration.”

NEW! Special Update: Buzztail Blog Has Added A New Writer

Greg Russell, author of the photo blog, Alpenglow Images, will lend his blog post writing skills to help PJ Finn develop Buzztail Blog

Check out Greg Russell’s first Buzztail blog post, “Learning To Stand, Part I.”

What is Conservation Anyway?

Whether we are called conservationists, environmentalists, activists or some other term, a growing number of people both breathe air, drink water and want to maintain the quality of both for future generations. There are a certain faction of people in the United States who swallow the marketing and spin dished at them by big oil and big coal backed media. The spin says that we can continue to take old decayed organic material that we call oil and coal from deep in the earth, run it through refineries, machines and other hot devices, then spew it into the atmosphere indefinitely without any negative consequences. In my opinion, the idea that any negative consequences will be considered a theory until they have proven true, is ludicrous and nothing short of mass-suicide. The people swallowing and perpetuating the propaganda apparently have never ventured out into nature to observe the obvious signs of change all around us in every ecosystem.

Can Landscape Photography And Environmentalism Combine Well?

Meanwhile some photographers do not recognize the connection between landscape photography and the need to help preserve the land. Some photographers have also forgotten that landscape photography helped birth conservation in the 1800s. Nonetheless, many landscape photographers are aware of the tradition they are part of and are also rediscovering that photographs are one of the best tools available for making a difference. Because Global Warming has become so politicized and controversial, as have many other conservation and environmental issues, or for other good reasons, some photographers who are also great activists, choose to keep their photography and conservation efforts separate. My father pioneer landscape photographer Philip Hyde set himself apart by combining conservation and photography way before it was cool, hip and groovy to do so, but many other landscape photographers of note including Ansel Adams and Eliot Porter chose to separate the two endeavors to varying degrees. For more discussion on whether or not to mix conservation and photography see the blog post and comments on, “Wallace Stegner: The Wilderness Idea.”

PJ Finn, Photomontana Blog and Buzztail Blog

One photographer who is also an environmentalist is Paul Johnson, online a.k.a. PJ Finn. PJ Finn runs an insightful photography blog called Photo Montana, as well as a blog for activism, wilderness and environmental news called Buzztail Blog, which incidentally came before the photoblog. Buzztail refers to the noise a rattlesnake makes with its tail as a metaphor for what conservationists and environmentalists do when they report on and draw attention to various environmental issues. For more information about PJ Finn see his bio and the previous Landscape Photography Blogger blog post, “Photomontana Takes On Sacred Cows,” which recommends PJ Finn’s blogging on both blogs. Lately PJ Finn, after a move to Southern California, has rededicated himself to building up his Buzztail blog. Please lend PJ Finn a hand over there, stop by, make a comment, link to his blogs and otherwise offer up a big thanks to him for all of the good work he does.

Monday Blog Blog: Greg Russell, Ph.D.

January 31st, 2011

Monday Blog Blog: Greg Russell Of Alpenglow Images Raises A Family, Teaches, Grades Papers, Writes Papers, Blogs, Photographs, Photoshops, Shops, Plasticizes And More

Pines, Fog, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California, 2009 by Greg Russell.

When I first started Landscape Photography Blogger, many generous photographers and other visitors commented on the blog posts I wrote, but rarely on the blog posts written by Dad that I republished from magazines, newspapers, travel logs, field notes and Dad’s books. For some time, blog posts by my father, though they enjoyed more traffic, did not receive as many comments. Now that has changed.

One day a young man came by and made a comment on Dad’s front notes I had re-published here from my father’s book Navajo Wildlands: As Long As The Rivers Shall Run in the ground-breaking Sierra Club Books Exhibit Format Series. The series of three blog posts named after Dad’s piece starting with, “Toward A Sense Of Place 1” is especially poignant and illustrative of Dad’s philosophy with which I was lucky enough to grow up. The young man, Greg Russell, also made a comment on my “About The Blog Author” page. His comments were insightful and showed that he himself had a strong conviction about wilderness and a profound connection to the land. I was impressed and I went to Greg Russell’s blog, Alpenglow Images, to take a look at his photographs. His images were beautiful, many of them perhaps a bit too much so in that they looked to me to be similar to a lot of other work I had seen. He had a slightly different twist on “Mesa Arch” in Canyonlands and on the sand dunes in Death Valley, some waterfalls, some sunsets. Regardless, he and I struck up an online friendship based on his excellent comments that make a consistent contribution on this blog.

Photography can in some ways be rife with elitism. Some photographers are the most generous and helpful people you will ever meet. Some are arrogant, cliquish and exclusionary to outsiders. One time I heard the story of an aspiring landscape photographer having a friendly talk with another landscape photographer. The veteran photographer, who claimed to be well-known (I’ve never heard of him) as soon as he found out the newbie made his living from another source other than photography, practically ended the conversation in mid-sentence. This same photographer had gone on and on about how he had first made the plunge into being a full-time photographer. Eventually the listener to these great tales of heroism asked, “Well, how did you do it? What did you actually do to bring in the bacon while you were getting started?” It turns out the arrogant photographer confided that his wife had a rather large trust fund. This is the classic story. Many, many people, more and more all the time, buy their way into being full-time in photography, rather than beginning part-time and working on a shoestring. Yet those who already have their place successfully bought and paid for, have the audacity to look down on those who are still learning. Wait a minute, I thought that was everybody? I guess not. Some people know it all already.

Greg Russell started part-time and built up his photography the old-fashioned way. It started as a hobby and progressed to what his wife Stephanie now calls, “A serious addiction.” Should we all hold hands and look down on Greg Russell because he is part-time? It would be a grave error to do so. Out of all photography blogs I have yet seen, he is the one whose work has most improved over the year that I have observed his photography. His voice and vision are starting to shine and he has a strong one of each, I assure you.

In case you may imagine that his only talent is photography, he also has a family: his wife and a boy of three so far. Besides making photographs, helping with the kid, blogging and processing photographs, he also is completely inundated each evening with tests and papers to grade, lectures to plan, and papers he is working to get published. Greg Russell in his other life has a Ph.D. in Biology with an emphasis in Animal Physiology. He teaches at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, Orange County, California. He lives in Riverside. If you know the area, you know that is a bear of a commute too. He also happens to be the director of the Plastination Lab on campus. “Plasti-what?” You say. Plastination is the process of preserving animal creatures or part of them in plastic for further study, research and teaching. He plastinated a group of brains, no joke, for the Arizona Science Center in Phoenix. For that display his lab embalmed, dehydrated in acetone and permeated with polymer, a fancy way of saying they petrified the stuff with plastic, a brain from a monkey, a rat, a sheep, a cat and a rattlesnake, whose brain is only the size of a fingernail. So when they say that rattlesnakes don’t bite lawyers out of professional courtesy, it truly is an insulting joke. I guess there is no joke for full-time photographers who look down on part-time photographers. Maybe their brains have already been through Greg’s lab. Greg Russell, Ph.D. and his lab also not long ago plastinated a five foot long Humboldt Squid, one of only a few others in the world.

Go see his photographs. You will not regret it. His blog is loaded with well-thought-out and well-written posts about photography of well, er, um Alpenglow, one other subject I need to clear the air about. I will leave you with a comment I made on Greg Russell’s blog post, “Two Saints.”

These are both beautiful photographs. I like the subtle pinks, blues and purples. I had an interesting conversation the other day with Gary Crabbe about photographer influences, “magic hour” and alpenglow. As you may know, he started as a photographer working for Galen Rowell. Anyway, I wrote a comment that I thought might offend him. I said that I thought his sunset images were more profitable than of high quality like his other photographs. He is a very nice guy and a long-time professional photographer. Apparently he was not offended at all. He did make an excellent point in defense of photographs of Sierra and other mountain alpenglow with just the tips lit up, reminiscent of Galen Rowell’s work. He said that many people became photographers because of Sierra sunsets and sunrises. He also said that while they had been done before, many photographs of high mountain lakes with peaks reflected cause him to feel nostalgic about some of the best memories in his life of being in the high Sierra. How could I disagree either with the logic or with the argument put across with such a winning charm and kind voice? I couldn’t and I can’t because some of my best memories of my life are of mountain sunsets and sunrises when I think about it. So you keep on doing your mountain alpenglow. I no longer consider myself a detractor, especially since I see in much of your later imagery a solid attempt and success at capturing something a bit different and unique. Try to keep doing that too. Best wishes my friend.

Keep your ears tuned and eyes peeled for Greg Russell’s new blog posts. He will probably tell you more about why he called it Alpenglow Images himself. To get you started on Greg’s philosophy, read about his interesting process of how he re-designed his artists statement in his post, “(Re) Alignment,” or read his artists statement itself. For a more complete idea on his approach to photographing wilderness, see his blog post right here on Landscape Photography Blogger, “Moving Past The Repertoire.” Any of his material will drive you on in your own quest for affinity with nature and for the quintessential landscape photograph. Happy trails.

Monday Blog Blog: Van Lieu Photography

January 17th, 2011

Monday Blog Blog Featuring Van Lieu Photography And Photographing An Island Blog

Blizzard On Low Beach I, Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, 2009 by Dirck Van Lieu.

On a small island only 47 square miles in area and 30 miles South of Cape Cod off the Massachusetts coast, live portrait, architectural, and fine art landscape photographers Dirck and Sharon Van Lieu with their two cats Cass and Lucy.

In the 1800s, Nantucket was the whaling capital of the world but after the demise of the whaling industry the piers and ship ways sat idle and rusted back into the sea. In time Nantucket became a summer retreat for elite New Englanders and New Yorkers. Currently the island has a thriving art and tourism trade, primarily in the summer. The population swells from 10,000 in the Winter to over 50,000 in the summer. Today many of the permanent islanders are much more sensitive to the environment than their whaling predecessors. Local interest in the delicate natural balance of the island is evident.

Footpath, Squam Swamp, Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, 2010 by Sharon Van Lieu.

In one area of Nantucket, called Squam Swamp, “a large number of hardwood trees grow relatively tall, by Nantucket standards,” Sharon Van Lieu said. “The area is lower and protects the trees from the salty winds. The trees are covered in lichen, a sign of Nantucket’s clean air and high humidity. The ground is dense with ferns and mushrooms. Some places are under water in the swamp where the roots and branches spread out, looking for oxygen.”

The Van Lieu husband and wife team tastefully capture remarkable photographs of Nantucket’s natural features and many of those that are man-made as well. They specialize in architectural photography of Nantucket Island’s many interesting structures and old homes. Sharon and Dirck Van Lieu also photograph fine portraits of people, as well as quality images of birds and other wildlife.

In addition, Sharon Van Lieu writes a blog “Photographing An Island.” Sharon Van Lieu posts her own and Dirck’s photographs of beach scenes, clouds, dunes, woods, birds, and the ocean…the ocean in many seasons, all times of day and at night. The ocean photographed in such a way that I can look at the images forever. It is impressive how many different ways Dirck and Sharon Van Lieu can photograph the ocean and keep it fresh and interesting…The ocean rolling in all directions, illusive, ever-present, dangerous, playful, calm, tempestuous, the ocean for miles and miles… I can almost taste the salty air when I view their photographs…

I discovered Van Lieu Photography through our blogs. Sharon Van Lieu was one of the first few people to comment on Landscape Photography Blogger when I first started. This might sound cliché, but I don’t know how to put it otherwise: Sharon Van Lieu is just plain nice. She is extremely observant and always catches things I wouldn’t. She has a thoughtful comment or awareness that adds to any subject. She never just rattles off something trite. She writes unique and friendly, yet surprising comments. I think she has a combination of New England charm and that Southern hospitality she imported originally from Texas.

Go find out for yourself…

Photo Montana Takes On Sacred Cows

September 20th, 2010

Reader Recommendation: PJ Finn’s PhotoMontana.net

Lower Falls, Yellowstone National Park, Montana, 1986 by Paul Johnson/PJ Finn. 35 mm Kodachrome original.

PJ Finn of PhotoMontana.net said he likes to “challenge Sacred Cows.” He likes to test assumptions, challenge clichés, philosophize and post excellent photography. Landscape Photography Blogger recommends to readers PJ Finn’s photo blog at photomontana.net. PJ Finn, known offline as Paul Johnson, also blogs about environmental issues at buzztail.net. PJ challenges a few sacred cows in his blog post, “That Which Can’t Be Said,” and regularly in other posts such as, “Uniqueness” and “Saturday Morning Blog Notes.”

PJ offers his opinion in such a way as to stir up comment. He invites discussion on his blog and generally sets the example of how to attract a loyal following by running an informative, professional, insightful, inspiring blog.

What PJ Finn Says About Philip Hyde:

Philip Hyde was a master landscape photographer.  When I first got involved with photography in the mid 1970′s, I’d come across his work now and then in books and publications devoted to nature and wilderness photography. It usually stopped me right in my tracks. It was superb. It’s easy enough to throw the word ‘master’ around, but in the case of Philip Hyde it truly applies. In addition to his photography work, Philip Hyde was also a strong voice in the environmental movement and in wilderness preservation efforts.

What PJ Finn Says About Himself:

I’m originally from Minnesota, and moved here to western Montana in 1983 to roam the wilderness and make my mark as a photographer. The mark was small. I found out over the years that I wasn’t really wired for professional photography, and have since re-claimed my amateur status, and wear it with great relief.

I’m getting notoriously cranky and contrary with age. I don’t shoot professionally, I don’t accept assignments, and I don’t shoot for pay. I shoot what I want and make no apologies.

I do however make a select few of my photos, both from the past and new ones, available for sale as prints. You can see them here at PJ’s gallery site. You can also find some of them here at redbubble that are available as notecards and postcards.

When I first seriously picked up a camera in the mid 1970′s, I went through the inevitable phase that I imagine most photographers go through. Everything in front of you is fair game for the camera. The ‘Wow! Click…’ phase. Most of that is useless for anything but memory triggers. They can still be fun to look at, but they don’t amount to much else. As I went along I found my vision becoming more selective, and I was building a body of photographs that I was pleased with. During a divorce about ten years ago I had my stuff in storage while I was getting myself situated again. A storage disaster ruined much of what I had except for a relatively small handful of usable negatives and transparencies.

I am digitizing the few that I think are worthy and using them here on my sites, but essentially I am starting over, and doing it digitally and on the internet rather than on film and in the darkroom. In short, if I want to build up a body of work, I need to get out and do it, and that’s exactly what I intend to do with the second half of my life.

Stop by Photomontana.net to see PJ Finn. It will be well worth your time. You will learn something by viewing his photographs and it won’t hurt to breathe a bit of Montana sky, relax and enjoy the journey a bit. Read what PJ or Paul Johnson said about Landscape Photography Blogger at PhotoMontana.net. Read more about PJ Finn’s Buzztail Blog in the blog post, “Monday Blog Blog: Buzztail Blog Shakes And Makes A Difference.”