Archive for ‘David’s Perspective’ category

Imogen Cunningham, Minor White And Their Students On The Art Of Seeing

November 12th, 2013

Photography, Art And The Art Of Seeing

Reading Photoblogs And Networking: A New World

Photo Session, Old Tower, Broomfield, Colorado, copyright 2013 David Leland Hyde.

Photo Session, Old Tower, Broomfield, Colorado, copyright 2013 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

While junk dominates the internet in many categories of photography, some of the best photography ever made is also quietly being produced and published every day. Running a photoblog and networking with other blog writers has opened a whole new world.

One blog I have grown to enjoy is Mark Graf’s Notes In The Woods. He must be one of the most innovative photographers around today. He shares tips, tidbits and techniques that keep photography interesting. Jim Goldstein also runs a good blog with a wider mix of interests, at least indirectly related to photography, including expertise in social media and internet marketing. Recently, about two months apart, both Mark Graf and Jim Goldstein wrote about the same topic. Mark Graf advised, “Always Do That 180” and Jim Goldstein published, “Pro Tip: Always Check The Views Behind You.” Multiple bloggers post about similar subjects from time to time, but it is rare enough to stand out.

These blog articles, both advising to look behind you while you are photographing for additional photo opportunities, reminded me of my father, pioneer landscape photographer Philip Hyde, saying “a photographer has to look around.” Dad and other greats before him talked about looking in all directions. Mark Graf and Jim Goldstein are in good company. Their two blog posts triggered memories of my father in the field and how he approached making a photograph, as well as some advice given me by Stan Zrnich, one of Dad’s school associates under Ansel Adams and Edward Weston, while I photographed with him, and also a story about Imogen Cunningham told by one of Dad’s classmates, Benjamin Chinn.

Right after I read the blog posts I was photographing in Indian Valley in the Northern Sierra. I climbed into the bed of my Datsun 4×4 King Cab pickup, set up my Bogen tripod and pointed my Nikon D90 camera at the fresh snow on Grizzly Peak. In a few minutes, I turned around and looked behind me. Clouds were just peeling away to allow the sun to touch Indian Head Peak on the other side of the valley. I might have missed it if I hadn’t been recently reminded to look back.

How Philip Hyde Surveyed A Scene

My father would never have missed that moment of the light on Indian Head though… and he wouldn’t have to be reminded to look behind him. His overall approach to making photographs would have taken care of both. Dad’s approach was so different from how many photographers do it today. Often photographers now are in a hurry, I am no exception, though the more I photograph, the more I slow down. Photographers often must get somewhere else, or they are trying to “shoot” as many frames as they can in a certain amount of time. They may not be “allowing” or “making” photographs, but rather are “blazing” or “blasting away.”

When Dad was on the lookout for photographs, Mom and I were quiet in anticipation of the true quiet time, which began as soon as Dad pulled over and took out his Ziess wooden tripod and his 4X5 Baby Deardorff view camera, or the Hasselblad with Bogen tripod. He would say, “David, cut the chatter,” or “I can’t hear myself think,” or “Quiet on the Set.” While he was composing a photograph was one of the few times he asked me to be “seen and not heard. I remember him being in a different space mentally while in the act of making photographs. He kept a kind of intentional perimeter around the area he worked. Stepping into that circle was like walking into church: quiet and reverent. This working space was invisible but quite palpable, mainly made manifest by Dad’s attitude, emotional state and receptivity. In this enabling state of higher awareness, he missed nothing.

When he first arrived on any scene he would look in every direction many times and at every detail of the countryside around him. He would bend down and look up at a tree, crouch and look at a flower between two rocks, scramble up on top of a nearby overlooking rock, all in the interest of seeing every angle. He did some of this in his mind and some physically moving around in the area. By the time he settled in and planted his tripod, you knew he had checked all other possibilities and chosen one. There were exceptions to this longer process such as when he saw one isolated point of interest or when the light was fading or the situation was changing quickly for some other reason. In these instances Dad could move with the swiftness and efficiency of a stealth reconnaissance unit and make the image, but most of the time he did a good deal of looking around first.

Take A Walk In The Flow

The meditative state Dad adopted coincides with my experience in observing and photographing with Stan Zrnich, who also attended the California School of Fine Arts, now the San Francisco Art Institute, under Ansel Adams, Edward Weston and Minor White. Stan Zrnich and I took our cameras and went for a walk in downtown San Rafael, California one afternoon in July 2009. Stan talked about how Minor White taught his photography students to go into an altered state of heightened awareness when they photographed. That explained the roots of my father’s method. Stan’s calm mindset was evident in his tranquil facial expression and demeanor while walking around. He showed me numerous instances where I walked right by something photogenic, mainly because my mind was chattering on about what I thought I was looking for, what I wanted to accomplish that day by photographing and so on. Often in photography it is easy to get “stuck in the head” and become too analytical.

The book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi shares the advantages of getting “into the zone,” also called the optimal creative state. Being in this state increases effectiveness and quality of thinking, as well as even improving the quality of life. Flow describes this creative state:

People typically feel strong, alert, in effortless control, unselfconscious, and as if they were performing at the peak of their abilities. Both the sense of time and emotional problems seem to disappear. There is an exhilarating feeling of transcendence, of breaking out of the boundaries of identity.

Flow and other sources teach photographers and other artists and creative people how to obtain this state any time on demand and how to control it, rather than merely leaving its arrival to chance. Through practice we can attain this state quickly at any time. My father described it as a state of receptivity in which he looked more closely at everything and saw objects more deeply. Not only did he see the graphic qualities of subjects and what they would look like transformed into the two-dimensional plane of the photograph, but he also saw the very nature of the subject matter more deeply as well and could thereby depict it more effectively in his art. This relaxed mindset is not complex or dependent on ceremony, it can be started quite easily through deep breathing or other methods of relaxation and available by recall the more it is practiced.

The Quiet Mind Of Seeing

This is the art of seeing in photography, pirouetting in dance, or “getting air” in ski jump competition. It is the main event in any endeavor where results improve with concentration. Photographers who are in a heightened space for seeing do not miss anything in any direction. I saw this first hand from observing Dad and Stan Zrnich, They and their comrades learned it from Minor White and Imogen Cunningham in their day. Benjamin Chinn, one of Dad’s classmates known for photographing the streets of San Francisco’s Chinatown and of Paris, France, said that the “quiet mind” was responsible for much of his success in capturing people and moving events well. He said that one of his mentors, Imogen Cunningham, had made herself available for photo walks during photography school. When Minor White arrived at the right place in the curriculum, Imogen Cunningham took the students out for one or two hour walks to show them what they would have missed… and they missed a lot at first, but as their seeing strengthened over time, their images improved and they missed less and less.

What is your experience? Do you photograph better when relaxed and focused, or sometimes better when you’re in a hurry? Do you pre-visualize and plan or allow images to appear as you wander?

My 12 “Greatest Hits” Of 2012

January 3rd, 2013

My Personal Favorites Or 12 Top Picks Of 2012, Whatever You Want To Call Them

Oaks, Grizzly Ridge, Fall, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Oaks, Grizzly Ridge, Fall, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

One of my neighbors, who I grew up with, has told me from time to time that he had to quit photography because he became too obsessed with it. It came out that he spent enough money on gear, gasoline, printing, matting and framing to put himself and his large family into debt. That was the destructive aspect, not the obsession with the art itself.

Cloudy Sunset, Genesee Valley, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Cloudy Sunset, Genesee Valley, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

When we were young men I admired the same neighbor for his focus, determination and tireless effort that made him a success in sports, a large and strong weight lifter and an airline pilot. I contend that any endeavor of meaning, especially in the arts, for excellence to be attained, requires an obsessive dedication.

This is why I thought I could never be a photographer. I still sometimes do not consider myself one. My father, pioneer landscape photographer Philip Hyde, had the passion and drive for excellence and the results to prove it, but until 2009 I had been lackadaisical about photography for 35 years. I will share more on my artistic journey below, but first I must tell you about the photographs here. Also, a big thank you to Jim Goldstein at JMG Galleries for putting this “best of the year” blog project on each year. I feel he’s a genius for inventing it.

The photographs in this blog post are all single image capture, though I do bracket for the eventual future date that I may possibly have the time to learn how to blend

Grasses, Indian Creek Below Indian Valley, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, Fall, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Grasses, Indian Creek Below Indian Valley, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, Fall, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

or even, gasp, make High Dynamic Range or HDR prints. I do minimal post-processing, though I do use Photoshop to the degree that it is essentially equivalent to the darkroom. On most images I use Photoshop “Levels,” “Curves” and “Hue/Saturation” Layers. On “Pool, Cascade, Red Clover Creek” I used the Healing Brush to remove two prominent bird droppings on the center boulder that distracted and crapped up the photograph. On “Dawn, American River From Fair

Fog, Rocky Promontory, Pacific Ocean, Mendocino Sea Coast, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Fog, Rocky Promontory, Pacific Ocean, Mendocino Sea Coast, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Oaks Bluffs,” I also used the Healing Brush to remove a sunspot. Fortunately the sunspot backdrop against the even textured and dark toned, shadowy beach enabled this easy approach. I doubt I could have pulled off some of the more complicated methods of removing sunspots in Photoshop CS4, without spending many hours on the learning curve. I saw the video on removing sunspots in CS5, which takes one tenth the time with the use of Smart Fill. Made me lust after

Pool, Cascade, Red Clover Creek, Plumas County, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Pool, Cascade, Red Clover Creek, Plumas County, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

newer versions of Photoshop software, but for now I will remain chained to my forced frugality of a full-time learning photographer and use my CS4, which is just fine.

Photoshop is a much more precise and powerful tool than any darkroom ever. I still, however, believe that we photographers have a contract with the general public that photographs traditionally are expected to represent “reality.” Nobody is arguing that photographs are “real.” Therefore, from time to time I do

Twilight, Indian Creek, Vertical, Plumas County, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Twilight, Indian Creek, Vertical, Plumas County, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

amp up the post processing way beyond what looks “real” just to be sure that the viewing public knows I have been up to something. Meanwhile, especially with landscape photography, I’ve discovered that most of the time a RAW file does not look like the scene I photographed. Usually it is less saturated, for one thing, and usually has much less range of color and tones and much less shadow and highlight detail. This can all be partially or completely solved with Photoshop and thus I do espouse it, just as I prefer to use a good hammer more than a rock to pound in nails. I’m sure I will eventually use plugins and other add-ons, just as a professional carpenter, to compete these days, needs an air compressor driven nail gun. In the near future, look for my new “Sierra Nevada Portfolio,” that will contain large versions of these images and many others, to be posted after the 17 portfolios of Dad’s photography and below my “Portfolio One” on philiphyde.com. Also, to see more of my photography and philosophy see the blog post, “David Leland Hyde Archival Prints Pre-Launch,” or “Best Photos Of 2011.”

Ice Plant, Mist, Duncan Cove State Beach, Pacific Ocean, Sonoma Coast, California copyright by David Leland Hyde.

Ice Plant, Mist, Duncan Cove State Beach, Pacific Ocean, Sonoma Coast, California copyright by David Leland Hyde.

In 2009, I first came into the digital era and bought a Nikon D90 DSLR. Until then, I had used a Pentax K1000 35 mm film camera that my father gave me around 37 years ago when I was about 10 years old. I immediately loved making photographs with the Nikon D90 digital camera because it seemed easy to obtain decent results. I would like to graduate to a better camera one of these days for the purpose of making better big prints. I purchased my camera at Costco on special.

Rocks Along Spanish Creek, Plumas County, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Rocks Along Spanish Creek, Plumas County, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

They had a package that included two lenses, a camera bag, strap, an 8 MG SD Card, a video and a few other little photo items that gave me everything I needed for pro-sumer photography. The larger lens that I don’t use very often is a Nikkor 55-200 mm, 1:4-5.6 lens. I make 95 percent of my images with the wide-angle lens, which is a basic Nikkor 18-55 mm, 1:3.5-5.6 lens. I would like to buy more lenses, but cannot justify the investment until my print sales pay for the new gear.

Community Church, Taylorsville, Plumas County, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Community Church, Taylorsville, Plumas County, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Before 2011 especially, and even now, I have little time for my own photography, but this year I still indulged in and enjoyed the making of over 10,000 images. Meanwhile, I have other goals and responsibilities including the development of my father’s large format and medium format photography in the digital era, expanding the presence of his vintage photographs in major museums and my own long, grinding, slowly developing writing career. Until 2012, I still had many frustrations with photography and still get lividly annoyed with Photoshop today.

Currently, due to several delays and complications I am blessed and cursed to be where the main subject is the wilderness landscape of the Northern Sierra Nevada. This has given me much joy, but also frustration in that I intend to photograph more people, street scenes, disasters, cultural events and other art and quasi-journalistic subjects. I would have loved to be the first photographer to arrive at the BP Gulf Oil Spill or in Japan at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster.

Dawn, American River From Fair Oaks Bluffs Near Sacramento, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Dawn, American River From Fair Oaks Bluffs Near Sacramento, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Port Of Stockton, 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.

Regardless, I had several breakthroughs in 2012. I improved technically. I became clear that even though I will keep my own photography as a sideline for now, at some point I will incorporate it into my primary work. I also caught the photography bug. I am bitten and camera smitten. Though it is an investment in the future, I photograph “too much” in that at this stage the extra time away from representing my father’s vintage work is costing me and threatening my solvency. Because of photography, I am trying to do “too much.” However, my own photography has saved me in some ways. I wrote about this in a recent blog post reviewing 2012 and introducing a poem about my mother, Ardis Hyde, who wrote most of the Hyde Travel Logs: “Happy Holidays…?…!” Besides keeping me fit and serving as an outlet, my own work has brought me more fulfillment and peace. It entices me out of the house and out from behind the desk and computer

Indian Creek And Forest From Above, Fall Snow, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Indian Creek And Forest From Above, Fall Snow, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

screen. Landscape photography has helped me feel the light on the mountains, smell the woods, hear the lulling water and expand into the spirit of open spaces. I am rooted and connected to nature more often. Yet for me any genre of photography, photography without borders, without labels or definitions, pre-planned or visualized, observed quietly or full of surprises and experimentation, any and all of it is a hoot and an inspiration. Now after almost four decades of carrying a camera off and on, I can finally say, it is an obsession.

Please share which images you like most here and which you like least…

Happy Holidays…?…!

December 20th, 2012

A Rough Year, But Already Getting Better

Christmas Tree Soft, Rough Rock, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2011 David Leland Hyde.

First A Preview And Review

Been a challenging year. Lost two out of three uncles. Relationship ups and down. Business reinvention. Stalled remodeling. Derailed writing projects. Trying to do too much with too little resources. My own photography is saving me, helping to keep me fit, serving as an outlet. Made some breakthroughs in other areas too. Retreading, retreating, retrofitting, reorganizing, organizing, and self-re-recognizing.

Wears me out just to think about this year. A year dominated by Pluto, the god of death and transformation. God of power struggles, the underworld, the subconscious, money, power, sex, transcendence, inner demons, destruction, devastation, hope, oil, gasoline, water, floods, hurricanes, nuclear accidents, secrets, lies, deception, corruption, realization, inspiration.

All that is now in the past. Coming into this moment: the smell of Douglas fir needles and the fresh cut trunk of the new Christmas tree. Colored points of light reflecting off the black windows at night. Smelling black oak and ponderosa pine smoke from the fire blazing in the woodstove. Walking carefully outside, everything sparkles, covered with tiny crystals of ice.

I am teetering on the razor edge of the present and then slipping back into the past, a farther past. Christmas has not been the same since 2002 when my mother passed on. Gazing into the Christmas tree, I am transported back to memories of turkey, dressing, pies, big salads, presents all around the room. Christmas carols and bells jingling. A poem I wrote in 2005 can best bridge the gap from here to there. It was a poem about how my mother used to make Christmas…

Click Here>>> Read My Mother’s Christmas <<<

Northern California Beaches: Misty Sonoma Coast

June 14th, 2012

Northern California Beaches: Misty Sonoma Coast

Story and Photographs by David Leland Hyde

(See my portfolio, the last one on PhilipHyde.com)

Ice Plant, Mist, Rocks, Pacific Ocean, Duncan Cove State Beach, Sonoma Coast, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

From home I swayed down the Feather River Canyon with the Ford Van loaded for a week on the road. I drove two curvy hours on California Highway 70. Then I rolled smooth and straight on flat ground through Oroville and Marysville and on south to Sacramento.

While my Mac hard drive was born again at Arden Fair Mall, I drove back to downtown Sacramento to a real live old-fashioned retail camera store, part of the chain of Ritz Camera Stores, for some extra SD cards and carrying case. I found great wall mural photographs in downtown Sacramento near the Camera Store. I retraced on Arden Way to Whole Foods for healthy nuts, fruits, veggies, a burrito, water, green tea and other road food supplies. I circled back to pick up my computer and headed toward San Francisco.

Flowers, Mist, Rock Off Shore, Sonoma Coast, California, 2012 copyright David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

I made a right at Vallejo, left in Santa Rosa, drifted through dusk in downtown Sabastopol, made the right turn onto Highway One and started getting sleepy by the time I reached Bodega Bay in full darkness. Drove on up the coast with eyes heavy and saw the extra large wide spot at Duncan Cove, Sonoma Coast State Beach without any “No Camping” signs. Pulled down close to the cliffs and fell asleep listening to the Pacific Ocean sigh against the rocky shores of the Sonoma Coast.

At first light, heavy fog broiled around and gradually lifted a bit, but not enough to let the sun come through. I made some photographs looking north, down at a secluded, inaccessible beach walled off by cliffs. The beaches south were walled off too, but also worth photographs, especially with brilliant green and red ice plant against the black rugged rocky shore and gray-green sea showing soft through the white mist and fog. The Pacific Ocean was calm and the waves were mere surges with minimal white water, except for a few crashing spray geysers here and there.

Harbor Seals At The Mouth Of The Russian River, Sonoma Coast State Beach, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

I wound on up the coast with stops whenever I saw something good. A number of the images, especially those made around sundown were more dramatic than those containing beaches show here. Many images in the batch depicted huge rocks, cliffs, rushing mists and the faint dancing ocean sliding back and forth almost out of sight, almost unnoticed, working on the rocks, crunching, rumbling, mashing, growling, whirling, swirling, swishing and gnashing. Illumination, veiling, unveiling, opaque, translucent, then clear, the misty air slicing at my skin with cool, damp gloom and mystery. This Sonoma Coast is famous for shipwrecks in the fog.

After a damp morning I arrived in Point Arena just as the sun came out. More on Point Arena, my Uncle Nick’s Memorial and the Mendocino Coast in future blog posts…

What is your favorite beach that is usually in the mist and fog more than the sun?

For more blog posts of my photographs see the Blog Category: “David’s Perspective.”

Earth Day 2012 Review: Are Social Media Earth Friendly?

April 22nd, 2012

Happy Earth Day

Spent Earth Day Outdoors And Twittered About It Later

BUT, Is That Earth Friendly?

Would activism, volunteering or something else be more Earth friendly?

(Read last year’s Earth Day Blog Post, “Earth Day Celebration Of Ardis And Philip Hyde And Canyonlands.”)

You can now enjoy following Philip Hyde Photo on Twitter.

Twitter Address: @PhilipHydePhoto

Beyond the tweets I twittered, our Earth Day included a hike along Indian Creek, or “The River,” as locals call it because it is the largest part of the Feather River. My friend Nancy’s daughter of seven and her friend, the daughter of a neighbor, made water channels and pools in the same beach sand the neighbor and I dug in when we were the two girl’s age almost 40 years ago. We hiked the rugged, rocky river shore back to the house where the girls did handstands and cartwheels on the lawn while I Twittered about our activities. Then we planted herb starts: Sweet Basil, Marjoram, Parsley, Caraway, Mint and Chamomile. Meanwhile, in the last few days, Daffodils, Lupines and a few other early bloomers had blanketed the garden. We cut Daffodils and Lupines for bouquets the girls took home. There’s nothing like the smell of Lupines or Daffodils in the early Spring.

Twitter asks the question, “What are you doing now?”

A few tweets:

Happy Earthday. Some day everyone will be green, but isn’t it ironic that by then might be too late. A little too ironic…

Earth Day. Friend Nancy is coming over w/her 2 kids. We will dust off the Solar Oven for kids to see in action baking a cake.

Hiking, outdoors, maybe photos, probably just enjoy Earth Day. Enjoy the Earth. Do you enjoy the outdoors?

Children dug in the beach sand at the river high in snow melt. We sat in the shade of Alders just starting to leaf. Watching next generation

What did you do for Earth Day? What do you think of social media? Is there any overlap? Please share your opinion…

Best Photos Of 2011

December 28th, 2011

My Best Photos of 2011…

…And A Brief Summary Of How They Were Made

Curved Shadow On Cliffs At Drakes Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore, California, copyright 2011 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Last Light On Mount Hough, Arlington Ridge, Indian Valley, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2011 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

The Mayan Calendar signals not so much an ending, as many have misinterpreted, but a new beginning in 2012. The Mayan Calendar, besides merely dividing up and organizing time like any calendar, also measured the nature of time. Time periods were represented by architypal glyphs that described the nature of events likely to occur during that time cycle. According to the Mayan Calendar, the current time cycle has certain characteristics, as will future time cycles. Perhaps those who have been paying attention to events around the world have observed the nature of the transition between time cycles. The new beginning already under way in 2011 is characterized by upheaval of various industries brought on by the internet and transparency, development of green technologies, communications technologies and political regime changes.

The Mayans had two calendars. One for measuring in short time intervals such as 26 days, 20 days and 13 days. The 13 day cycle is the basis of this calendar. The Mayan’s second calendar measured longer time spans like 360 days, 7,200 days and

Granite, Pool, Maple Leaves At Indian Falls, Northern Sierra Nevada, California copyright 2011 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

144,000 days. This second calendar the Mayans called their “Long Count.” In 2012 the Mayan Calendar reaches the end of the current Long Count, which began in 3114 BCE, and begins a new Long Count. The year 2012, marks a transition from one world age to another. The smallest unit of time in the Mayan Calendar was 13 days. The next largest measurement was 20 days. The shorter calendar divided the year into 13 months of 20 days. In honor of the Mayan Calendars, the passing away of the old order and the transition to a new way of life on Earth, I have selected the best 13

Grain Processing Plant At Night, Great Central Valley, California, copyright 2011 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

photographs from 2011. Keeping time as the Mayans did, in 13s rather than 12s, as with the Gregorian Calendar, enhances creativity, connection with nature, grounding and expansion of thought to more awareness of the universe and the unity of all things. Whereas the number 12, used in the Gregorian Calendar and our daily time keeping system of clocks, encourages logic, systematization and conformity to the established order.

Clocks and factories developed in Europe at the same time in history. Factory

Thistle Heads And Pines, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2011 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

management encouraged town citizens to follow a system of time schedule regimentation. Large clocks in town centers were installed to regulate workers in large numbers. The daily schedule regulated by clocks with time measured in units of 12, brought higher productivity and profitability to the factories, while instilling a certain order in worker’s lives and dependence on the factory system. Today in this time of transition, the human race is reinventing time and the system and thereby changing our lifestyle from

Tent Camp, Night Mist, Occupy UC Davis, Davis, California, copyright 2011 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

servitude to freedom. In that spirit I present my Best Photos of 2011, as suggested by Jim M. Goldstein’s blog project.

All of these photographs except “Dancer Pose, Natarajasana, Black Oak, Mount Jura,” are single image capture with minimal post processing, if any. To read my photography philosophy and artist’s statement see the blog post, “My Favorite Photos of 2010.”

The first landscape photograph comes from Point Reyes National Seashore,

Old Cabin Porch, Feather River Canyon, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2011 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

California. I chose it as a tribute to my father, pioneer conservation photographer Philip Hyde, whose photographs originally helped create Point Reyes National Seashore. Point Reyes, on the coast of Marin County just north of the San Francisco Bay Area, is not an easy place to photograph because it is a low moor country of rolling grassland hills. The skies are often drab and the scenery rather subtle in its beauty. I have fond memories of backpacking with my parents on Drake’s Beach, renting bicycles in Olema and riding along the tree lined sleepy roads of

Dancer Pose, Natarajasana, Black Oak, Mount Jura, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2011 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

the Inverness Ridge area. Despite the challenges, Dad made some timeless photographs around Point Reyes, including one “quintessential Philip Hyde” that he titled simply, “Drake’s Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore.” Many masters of the West Coast tradition photographed Point Reyes including Ansel Adams, Brett Weston, Edward Weston, Eadweard Muybridge and others.

During our travel adventure in Point Reyes, I was fortunate to arrive with my companions at Drake’s Beach while the low sun angle brought on the evening magic hour. I photographed until Sundown. Before we visited Drake’s Beach, my party and I had walked out to the top of the stairway down to the Lighthouse, but the gate at the top of the stairway was already closed and locked for the evening. On the way out to the Lighthouse, I made the tenth photograph in this blog post, “Sand Fence Near Point Reyes Light House.” After some group photos, rock climbing and other fun around the Point Reyes Lighthouse, we drove down to Drakes Beach where I made the first photograph.

The second landscape photograph of the Sun hitting just the very top of Mt. Hough in the Northern Sierra Nevada did not result from careful planning, studying a photographer’s ephemeris or long

Japanese Maple In Upper Garden Against Forest And Sky, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2011 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

waiting for the right moment. I was driving home from Greenville one day and looked up and there it was. (View this photograph large: “Last Light On Mt. Hough, Arlington Ridge.”) Photographs like this are gifts from Nature, God or whatever you believe in or call it. The photograph comes through me and I merely receive it. I am the creator, yet not the creator.

“Granite, Pool, Maple Leaves” surprised me. That day at Indian Falls I thought I had made a number of excellent photographs, but none of them turned out to be all that great when I opened them in Photoshop. However, “Granite, Pool, Maple Leaves” grew on me and people I showed it to liked it. (View large:

Sand Fence Near Point Reyes Lighthouse, Point Reyes National Seashore, California, copyright 2011 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Granite, Pool, Maple Leaves At Indian Falls.”) The seventh and 12th photographs, “Old Cabin Porch, Feather River Canyon” and “Indian Creek Above Indian Falls” came from around the same area on a different day.

Rolling through Central Valley towns on California State Highway 113 on my way to Occupy UC Davis, I noticed these strangely shaped and colored shadows on this odd industrial farm building. I stopped and made, “Grain Processing Plant At Night, Great Central Valley.”

Arlington Ridge, Oak Knoll, Indian Valley, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2011 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Once I arrived at UC Davis that evening about 10:00 pm, I found the main Quad and made photographs there and in front of the Financial Aid building until around 2:00 am, then got up later that morning at 7:00 and photographed most of the day. I share more about the experience of photographing Occupy UC Davis in my blog post, “Occupy Wall Street At UC Davis.” Both of the Occupy UC Davis photographs that made it into the top 13 group here, I made the first night I arrived within a few minutes of each other. Number 13 at the end of this blog post, “Tents, Fountain, Dutton Hall Financial Aid, Occupy UC Davis” was one of the last few I made at the Financial Aid Building before I wandered back out to the Main Quad. On my way out to the Main Quad a group of campus Policemen pulled up in two police cars and asked me if I was photographing for my own purposes or for the media. I said that I was a blogger but I didn’t know yet how the photographs were going to turn out. I made “Tent Camp, Night Mist, Occupy UC Davis” shortly after.

Last week, after playing ice hockey and making a series of action photos at a local pond ice hockey game, I noticed these thistle heads next to the pond backlit by the sun. The beauty of the golden illumination around the edges of each thistle head caught my eye, but I made quick exposures not thinking much of note would result. The moment I reviewed this photograph after

Indian Creek Above Indian Falls (Vertical), Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2011 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

pressing the shutter, I decided it was one of my best of the year.

The ‘nude in nature’ photograph of a friend is a tribute to Edward Weston and Kim Weston, who showed me excellent hospitality last year when I visited Edward Weston’s home where Kim Weston now lives on Wildcat Hill in Carmel Highlands, California. Kim Weston leads photo workshops on the spot where Edward Weston lived. Kim Weston is also known for his nudes in nature, as of course was his grandfather.

My mother, Ardis King Hyde, descended from four generations of farmers in California’s Great Central Valley. She excelled in the art of gardening and farming, as did all of her three brothers. She studied and planted ornamental shrubs and trees, flowers and vegetables. She planted a number of Japanese Maples that put on a brilliant display every Fall color season without fail, even on a lesser Fall color year like this one, where most of the other trees leaves turned quickly from green to brown in a matter of less than

Tents, Fountain, Dutton Hall Financial Aid, Occupy UC Davis, Davis, California, copyright 2011 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

a week without stopping at yellow, orange or red in between. I have made many photographs of Mom’s Japanese Maples, especially in the Fall the last several years. This year’s photograph, “Japanese Maple In Upper Garden Against Forest And Sky” in my opinion is the best.

Unlike this winter, which so far has proved to be mainly dry and cold, last winter proved heavier than many with snow after snow hitting the Northern Sierra Nevada. During the many weeks when not much else could be accomplished outdoors, I went out photographing often. “Arlington Ridge, Oak Knoll, Indian Valley” was one of the gift fruits of these labors of love. Thank you for sharing in this love. To view more of my photographs see the blog post, “David Leland Hyde Archival Prints Prelaunch” or my portfolio on the Philip Hyde website.

‘Occupy Wall Street’ At UC Davis

December 8th, 2011

Occupy UC Davis: Save Public Education

Background Scenario to My On Location Account: Video Induced Honesty, World Wide Outrage and Pepper Spraying as Meme

'Save Public Education,' Tents, Protest Signs, Early Morning, Main Quad, UC Davis, Davis, California copyright 2011 by David Leland Hyde.

The peaceful Occupy Wall Street uprising of 99 percent of the people against the richest ruling class one percent, started in New York in September and spread around the world. Out of all Occupy Wall Street protests from Philadelphia to San Francisco to many “small town, USA” main streets, Occupy UC Davis has drawn the most publicity and discussion.

Why? Simple answer: Police brutality. As you may have seen on major network news, YouTube or any number of blogs around the internet, University of California, Davis Campus Police officer John Pike pepper sprayed his way into history, became a Photoshop Meme and is now known as “Casually Pepper Spray Everything Cop.” Students did not take it sitting down for long. They responded powerfully to the excessive force applied against them. In one video made at an Occupy UC Davis demonstration, one member led the crowd in a chant. He shouted, “Is this what a police state looks like?” And the crowd roared, “This is what a police state looks like.”

Late Sun On 'Occupy UC Davis' Tent Encampment, Main Quad, UC Davis, Davis, California copyright 2011 by David Leland Hyde.

The Chief of UC Davis Campus Police, Annette Spicuzza, later explained to the Sacramento Bee that John Pike and another police officer pepper sprayed the students seated on the ground, arms linked with no way to protect their faces because, “There was no way out of that circle. They were cutting the officers off from their support. It’s a very volatile situation.” However, the website, Know Your Meme, said over a dozen videos from different angles were uploaded to YouTube and showed that the UC Davis police were walking freely around the area. Soon after Chief Spicuzza placed the two officers on leave. University of California President Mark Yudof subsequently put Chief Spicuzza on leave as well. Meanwhile UC Davis dropped charges against the non-violent student demonstrators.

Occupy UC Davis participants demand UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi resign largely because she defended the Police actions to begin with, but as dissent increased, she realigned with Occupy UC Davis student and faculty protestors. Following the pepper spray incident she sent a letter to University officials: “The group was informed in writing… that if they did not dismantle the encampment, it would have to be removed…  However a number of protestors refused our warning, offering us no option but to ask the police to assist in their removal.” Later after the uprising reached a crescendo, she told a crowd of over 1,000 students at a town hall that she, “Explicitly directed the chief of police that violence should be avoided at all costs.”

Traveling To Photograph ‘Occupy UC Davis’ And What I Discovered

Tibetan Prayer Flags, Geodesic Dome Tent, Tents, Fog, Night, Main Quad, UC Davis, Davis, California copyright 2011 by David Leland Hyde.

Believing this to be a potentially significant defining moment in history, and living within 180 miles of Davis, last week I packed up my father pioneer landscape photographer Philip Hyde’s trusty 1984 Ford Econoline traveling Van and headed for UC Davis to document with photography what I could. I missed a major rally scheduled for 9:00 am Monday, November 28, 2011, but finally finished enough work to get away and arrived on the UC Davis campus that evening. I found the Quad by 10:00 pm, just in time to photograph several TV crews from various stations filming in front of UC Davis’ Dutton Hall Financial Aid. Donations from around the world through Amazon.com had just paid for 25 new tents to bring the total in the Quad up to 75 and add more than a dozen to the inside lobby and main entry courtyard of the financial aid building. That day financial aid closed down early and remained closed the following day except for check disbursement.

I photographed Dutton Hall and then headed out to the Quad proper. A good number of students were still awake. I met Devin, Michelle, Anne and a number of others. Considering it was the last week of school before finals week, the Occupy UC Davis encampment had plenty of supporters and participants. I talked a bit and photographed until around 1:30 am, when the cold fog got the best of my fingers and toes. The nearby parking structure allowed free parking from 10:00 pm until 7:00 am. Besides the hundreds of bicycles in the Quad, there were still many vehicles in the parking structure despite postings of a regular security patrol. I decided to do my part in violating the campus policy of no camping and promptly curled up in my ultra comfortable bed in my warm van. I was not disturbed. Apparently UC Davis Police were preoccupied. Earlier in front of Dutton Hall, I witnessed several Campus Police cars drive up and a large group of police officers approach to talk to the student leaders present. At that point, both sides were going out of their way to be cordial to each other, but the police were making their presence known.

The morning fog brought a damper, lower cold. I put on my gloves and another jacket, fed the parking meter and walked back out to the Quad for more photographs. The student protesters on hand recommended I attend the teach-ins in the afternoon. Occupy UC Davis protesters had added quite a few signs and banners to the front of Dutton Hall. Besides the small signs everywhere that said, “No Tuition Hikes,” there was a huge poster of the list of the three main student demands posted near the doors, a gigantic sign that explained financial aid was closed and why from the protesters viewpoint, and a big banner calling for a general strike at UC Davis. The RNs and many teachers were already on strike.

Teach-Ins, Power, Organizing And Goals

Occupy UC Davis Information Booth, Main Quad, UC Davis, Davis, California copyright 2011 by David Leland Hyde.

Returning to my van I ate lunch, caught up on phone calls and drove off in search of a coffee shop to get online. I finished my internet business just in time to head back to UC Davis for the fog clearing and the Teach-Ins. The Teach-Ins scheduled an hour apart in the geodesic dome for November 29 by UC Davis professors or associate professors included Ari Kelman speaking about “Radicalism in the 1910s,” Victoria Langland, “Student Activism In Brazil, 1960,” Bob Ostertag, “Power and Approaches to Organizing,” and Larry Bogad, “Tactical Performance, Radical Spectacles.” Because it was just a little after 3:00 pm when I arrived at the Occupy UC Davis Information Booth, Professor Bob Ostertag had just begun leading his mix of discussion and lecture.

I made some photographs of the gathered group, gradually listening more closely to the discussion and Dr. Bob Ostertag’s captivating approach. As described at the heading of his recent article about Occupy UC Davis for the Huffington Post, Professor Bob Ostertag is a composer, historian, journalist, and Professor of Technocultural Studies, Film and Music at UC Davis. The students were highly focused, serious, and determined but they were for the most part without strong leadership and a well defined, unified direction. Many of them wanted to nominate leaders but others were also hesitant to do so. At the same time, they were concerned that the movement they had started continue and not fizzle out.

Professor Bob Ostertag Leading A Teach-In Discussion, Geodesic Dome Tent, Main Quad, UC Davis, Davis, California copyright 2011 by David Leland Hyde.

Professor Bob Ostertag witnessed some activism in South America and had other relevant experience leading groups. He defined the difference between organizing and mobilizing in non-violent movements. He pointed out that Police Officer John Pike pepper sprayed a line of seated students and suddenly 3,000 people turned out and mobilized, but at that time had yet to truly organize. The other part of the discourse I listened in on concerned setting goals. In my observation anger and outrage at the Police brutality were the primary motivators, as I easily understand, but Professor Ostertag helped to spark debate among the students about what their ultimate goals for the movement were. Occupy UC Davis’ immediate demands are for Chancellor Linda Katehi to resign, Police off campus with an alternative safety force and a freeze on tuition fee increases. In addition many other ideas were bandied around including the creation of feedback mechanisms in the University of California system allowing more student input to decisions and the reversal of the trend toward privatization of public education.

What Is At Stake?

In Dr. Bob Ostertag’s poignant piece for the Huffington Post he wrote:

Yes, there were about 200 people in the quad. It is a piece of grass that was placed by the designers of the campus to be an open, central meeting place for the university community. But somehow, 200 students in the quad has become a problem. A huge problem. A problem so big that, well, yeah it was too bad those kids got pepper sprayed, but hey, there were 200 people in the quad.

Like the chancellor, Chief Spicuzza justified the assault by saying that the protest was “not safe for multiple reasons,” none of which she specified.

How is it that non-violent student protest has suddenly become “unsafe” in the United States?

Good question, how is it indeed…?

Is it possible that certain factions have helped us learn to give up our rights? Is the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights now a sham, merely an outdated philosophical façade? Fox news anchor Bill O’Reilly has the answer: “I don’t think we have the right to Monday-morning quarterback the police. Particularly at a place like UC Davis, which is a fairly liberal campus.” Wait a minute, if we still have a government of the people, by the people and for the people, then the Police work for us. When did we give up the right to direct the way they respond, especially to peaceful protests?

See more of my best photographs in the blog posts, “David Leland Hyde Archival Prints Pre-Launch” and “My Favorite Photos Of 2010.”

References:

Know Your Meme

Davis.Patch.com

Huffington Post: Militarization of Campus Police by Bob Ostertag and other posts.

Occupy California Blog

The Washington Post

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 24th, 2011

Pumpkin, Melting Snow Patterns On Deck, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2011 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Dear Pilgrims and Natives, the Turkey is a little slim this year, but we all still have much that deserves gratitude. Every day, even in the darkest of times, each of us can find something for which we are grateful. This Thanksgiving I am grateful for good neighbors, good friends, a good guitar or two or three strummed or picked around a warm wood stove with a glass of wine and more food than anyone needs. I am also grateful for Lumiere Gallery and the Messages From The Wilderness Show. I am grateful for all other photography galleries and venues that have hosted exhibitions of Dad’s photographs in the last few years, as well as each of the photography galleries that now represent my father’s pioneering conservation landscapes in the form of vintage black and white prints, archival digital prints, dye transfer prints and Cibachrome prints. I am also thankful to the following bloggers and websites for either Tweeting, Twittering, Re-tweeting, putting on Google+, on Facebook, embedding in their website or photoblog, or otherwise linking to or mentioning the ALL NEW PHILIP HYDE SHORT VIDEO. Dad would be shocked, humbled, amazed, and when he got used to the idea, happy to see his photographs shown around the world. Thank you to each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart…

Note: Those names below in blue are links as customary. Those in black that are not links I either could not find again or they were buried in a long list of shares. Topsy and some other social media search sites are currently having technical difficulties. Even the Holy Grail, Google Search, does not seem to crawl all tweets and shares, even on its own platform Google+. Also, as I am not yet a participant of some of the social media, not all searches are available to me. If you are one of those listed below and would like your name linked to your share or post of the video, please send me the link in the contact form above or in an e-mail. Same goes for those who I have accidentally omitted from the list and deserve my apologies.

Jim M. Goldstein

William Neill

Sharon and Dirk Van Lieu

Robert Rodriguez, Jr.

Guy Tal

Art Wolfe

PJ Finn

Richard Wong

Stephen Gingold

G. Dan Mitchell

Steve Sieren

Seung Kye Lee

Dan Baumbach

Greg Russell

Michael Frye

Paul Dickenson

Michael E. Gordon

Jim Sabiston

Carl Donohue

Q.T. Luong

Russ Bishop

Sven Seebeck

Michael R. Reynolds

John Paul Caponigro

Paul Colangelo

Sean Arbabi

Buzztail

Atlanta Celebrates Photography

Alltop

Creative Live

F8 Daily

Networked Blogs

World Panorama Stock

Fox News Travel Section

Newsodrome

Technorati

Shootplex

Photo Life Magazine

Photogravity

New School of Photography

Gaia Gallery

Byte Photo

Orlando Photography

Travelscenics

Mitrasites

James Hunt

Northern Sierra Nevada Fall Color

November 9th, 2011

Fall Color In The Northern Sierra Nevada Of Northeastern California

Indian Creek Above Indian Falls, Fall Color, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2011 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90. Single exposure. I saw this scene with the sunlight on a large area of the trees making an array of reflections as I drove home from the annual Apple Harvest at the Dawn Institute near Indian Falls. By the time I turned around, came back, parked and set up, the sunlight had faded down to this one small spotlight. There were no more still afternoons on Indian Creek when I looked before the trees lost most of their leaves.

Autumn 2011 has been the strangest Fall color season yet in the Sierra Nevada of Northern California. Many types of trees in the Northern Sierra have had a leaf disease. I have seen it mainly effecting black oaks and some maples, but also showing up on the leaves of some Indian Rhubarb. The leaf disease has caused many deciduous trees to turn brown and not produce any Fall color at all. Because of erratic weather and temperatures, some trees without leaf disease dropped their green summer cloaks slower than usual, others changed into their Fall color dressing much faster than usual.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service puts out a report called Pest Alert. The following is what Pest Alert said about this leaf disease:

A phenomenon known as Sudden Oak Death was first reported in 1995 in central coastal California. Since then, tens of thousands of tanoaks (Lithocarpus densiflorus), coast live oaks (Quercus agrifolia), and California black oaks (Quercus kelloggii) have been killed by a newly identified fungus, Phytophthora ramorum. On these hosts, the fungus causes a bleeding canker on the stem. The pathogen also infects Rhododendron spp., huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum), bay laurel (Umbellularia californica), madrone (Arbutus menziesii), bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum), manzanita (Arctostaphylos manzanita), and California buckeye (Aesculus californica). On these hosts the fungus causes leaf spot and twig dieback. As of January 2002, the disease was known to occur only in California and southwestern Oregon; however, transporting infected hosts may spread the disease. The pathogen has the potential to infect oaks and other trees and shrubs elsewhere in the United States. Limited tests show that many oaks are susceptible to the fungus, including northern red oak and pin oak, which are highly susceptible. On oaks and tanoak, cankers are formed on the stems. Cankered trees may survive for one to several years, but once crown dieback begins, leaves turn from green to pale yellow to brown within a few weeks. A black or reddish ooze often bleeds from the cankers, staining the surface of the bark and the lichens that grow on it. Bleeding ooze may be difficult to see if it has dried or has been washed off by rain, although remnant dark staining is usually present.

Indian Rhubarb Near Indian Falls, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2011 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90. Single exposure. The wild Indian Rhubarb had just begun to change color as I made this photograph. I probably missed the peak of the Indian Rhubarb because I haven't made it back since.

I have seen the red ooze or the dark stain on many leaves of many trees this Fall season. Some disease has also infected the aspens, the leaves of which in many cases this Fall turned straight from green to brown, or from green briefly to gold and then to brown. Before the last storm, some of the Indian Rhubarb looked like it was starting to show some good color. At first, in early October, it seemed all the tree species leaves were turning faster than usual, then for about a week everything turned very slowly. It was unusually warm into early October. We went skinny dipping in Indian Creek on October 1. It was a bit too cold to feel the elation Walt Whitman described in Leaves of Grass, but it was the first time we have ever swam in Indian Creek that late in the year without wetsuits and river rafts. In early October the oaks were just starting to go yellow and I’m sure the aspens were already turning up high. In the second week of October I heard that the aspens at higher elevations had gone straight from green leaves to brown. Here the few my mother planted were normal: their leaves turned from green to yellow and gold.

Maple Impressions, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2011 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90. Single exposure. I tried a number of soft focus images of this composition. This was the frame that seemed to work best, but I'm still not sure if it is as I would like it to be.

After being warm enough to skinny dip on October 1, it snowed the morning of October 5. The temperatures dropped from 85 plus degrees Fahrenheit in a few days down to 34 degrees with a light dusting of snow. The temperature drop brought on the Fall color. During the first week of October, in a sea of green leaves I saw only one yellow Indian Rhubarb leaf. Today I will go check on more patches of wild Indian Rhubarb, but I believe I missed the peak of the Fall color for the Indian Rhubarb, which is a shame. I had looked forward to a lot of Fall color photography this year, but it has been for the most part a disappointment, except for in my mother’s garden right around the house where her dogwoods and Japanese maples were consistently brilliant in oranges, yellows, and reds as usual. The Virginia Creeper also proved disappointing, changing straight from green to red without much in between this year. For more contemporary landscape photography see the blog post, “David Leland Hyde Archival Print Pre-Launch.”

Was your Fall color season unusual this year? Where did you photograph?

Winter Snow On Desert Landscapes

March 7th, 2011

Angular Boulders, Snow Covered Mesa, San Rafael Swell, Utah, 2009 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

A road trip across the Western United States can take many courses. Often when driving from the Denver area to Northern California people travel north on Interstate 25 into Wyoming, then take Interstate 80 west into Utah and Nevada. This route is the fastest by a little over an hour, but it is more developed and goes through flatter, less interesting country than other alternatives. The route I like is direct and nearly as fast, but much more scenic and remote. I take Interstate 70 west from Denver over the Rocky Mountains, down into the Colorado River canyon, through Grand Junction and into Utah’s Canyon Country, past the turnoffs for Moab and Canyonlands National Park, Arches, The Grand Canyon, Capitol Reef, Bryce and Zion National Parks, over the San Rafael Swell, until Interstate 70 meets Interstate 15. To read more about one special trip to some of these destinations see the blog post, “Earth Day Celebration Of Ardis And Philip Hyde And Canyonlands.” I then go south on Interstate 15 a short way to Beaver, Utah, turn west on Utah State Highway 21, go through Milford and into Nevada, onto US Highway 50, the “Loneliest Highway in America,” past Great Basin National Park and Wheeler Peak, through Ely, Eureka, Austin, Reno and into California.

Wheeler Peak With Snow Streamer, Great Basin National Park, Nevada, 2010 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

This itinerary takes me on a traverse of one of the world’s most majestic mountain ranges, the Rocky Mountains, climbing to over 11,000 feet at the top of Loveland Pass. It winds through the enchanting headwaters and upper canyons of the Colorado River and the verdant foothill farmland of the Rocky Mountains’ West Slope. From the great heights of the Rockies, Interstate 70 drops all the way to 4,075 feet when it crosses the Green River in Utah. It then rises again to cross the plateaus, canyons, hoodoos, monuments, bluffs, arches and other spectacular formations of the Colorado Plateau of Southern Utah. With all of this breath-taking scenery left behind, many people consider Nevada plain, but Nevada has an elusive beauty of its own with the roller coaster traverse of Basin and Range, mountains and valleys. Nevada is one of the places where the West lives up to its reputation for wide open spaces. With up to 80-mile straightaways, Highway 50 crosses huge dried up prehistoric glacial Pleistocene lake beds, sometimes still in the form of mud flats, sometimes sprinkled with sage, sometimes lush with grasslands and ranches. Then the “Loneliest Highway In America” roller coaster ride makes a few turns and rises over mountain ranges between the giant valleys. Each mountain range sequesters its own secret old mines, ghost towns, rugged canyons, forests, mountain meadows, rushing streams, snow-capped peaks, small settlements, ranches and mineral deposits. US Highway 50 is a road tripper’s dream, but its beauty is somewhat hidden and subtle, it does not blare at the traveler, but whispers like the ghosts lurking on its dusty side roads.

Juniper Tree Skeleton Along US Highway 50, Nevada, 2010 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

In the winter any route from Colorado to Northern California is susceptible to sudden storms, icy roads, blizzards, bitter below zero daytime high temperatures, heavy snows and snow drifts. Driving is risky with few guard rails on the steep, winding, approaches to the passes over the many mountain ranges that run north-south and all but block passage to the unprepared traveler. Any venture through this near wilderness, must not be taken lightly in the winter season and must be planned around the weather. Such adventures must be well-timed to avoid heavy winter storms that pass from West to East across the open expanses and often leave unwary motorists stranded for days in their vehicles waiting for assistance that may never come, or at the least may come too late.

So far I have been fortunate most of the time to have good traveling days even in the winter, with only minor snow or rain showers while on the road. One time I drove in horizontal snow with up to five inches on the pavement, not able to see far beyond the front of the hood, just trying to limp to the next town with a motel. In mid November 2010, a low pressure system hit the Western states. This storm system produced heavy snows and temperatures as low as -15 degrees Fahrenheit in mountain towns in Northern California and in Boulder, Colorado, as well as -25 degree weather on the Colorado Plateau in Utah. The roads were treacherous enough to question making any kind of journey at all, but according to the Doppler radar a window of opportunity opened up where it looked as though I could leave Boulder, Colorado and make it over Loveland Pass, out of the Rocky Mountains and down into lower terrain in Utah before the next major rack of clouds and snow hit. Sure enough I made it over the Rockies and into Utah by evening sailing clear. I imagined that I would drive as far as I could before the storm hit, find a good place to stop and wait out the system’s passing over night.

Dried Desert Flowers In The Snow, Along US Highway 50, Nevada, 2010 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

As I breezed through Green River, Utah the sky was still completely clear and full of bright stars and moonlight. From Green River it is about 104 wide open empty miles to the next town of any kind, Salina, Utah. About half-way to Salina the wind started to blow much harder and clouds began to dot the sky. Within another 10 miles tiny flakes of snow mixed in with the high winds. I was still about 40 miles from Salina. As I drove directly into the storm, the snow fell heavier and heavier. Soon it was piling up on the pavement. Fortunately, I was in my truck, which is four-wheel-drive and good at negotiating snow, unless the roads are also icy due to cold temperatures as was the case that night. By this time I was about 30 miles from civilization in Salina, the snow had become very heavy and the road was obliterated beyond recognition, even though Interstate 70 is a four lane freeway in that area. I thought about stopping, but decided I would press on because I didn’t want to get buried in snow on the side of the road. Needless to say, the last 25 miles were very slow and half the time I was merely hoping I was mostly on the road. Apparently the locals and other travelers had turned off for the night and retreated from the storm. I was nearly alone on the Interstate. Then far ahead I spotted a lone big rig truck plowing its way through the mess. I drove up behind and used the big truck’s taillights as a guide, hoping that his sense of the road would prove accurate. This went on for what seemed like hours and then we came up on a snow plow. The truck and I had been going about 10 miles an hour, but the snow plow was going about five miles an hour. The last 12 miles took 2 1/2 hours. I have never been more happy to see a freeway off ramp than that night in Salina. As I slowed even more to nose down the off ramp, my truck began to slide to one side. Fortunately I was able to correct and stay on what was left of the off ramp. I fish-tailed to the right, across and up what looked like the driveway to a local motel. The cheesy, low-budget room with internet access, color TV, half-broken wooden veneer furniture and musty bedding seemed like the coziest room I had ever slept in.

Rabbit Tracks And Shadows Along US Highway 50, Nevada, 2010 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Morning came quickly as I had arrived late and hit the hay around 2:00 am. I dragged myself to the 1970s era window curtain, pulled it open and beheld a new world. There was about six inches of new snow, but the skies were blue. I waited until around 9:30 am to get rolling, hoping that by then the snow plows would have made a few passes. Once I made it onto the freeway, both lanes were clear and the slow lane was even half dry. I didn’t loose any time as I drove off down the Interstate at near normal travel speed. Driving late into the night was now taking its toll on my body, but my persistence paid off as I had smooth sailing nearly all day except some snow patches on the road on the high passes and some slow-going around Ely, Nevada where there was still a lot of snow on US Highway 50. The real payoff came in the form of the gorgeous scenery freshly covered with new snow. I was on a deadline and couldn’t stop too often, but I did allow myself to stop for as many photographs as I possibly could dare. I made it to my meeting late, but it was quite a day photographing along the “Loneliest Highway in America,” well worth driving one evening in a blizzard and risking getting stuck on the side of the road in the middle of the high desert in the snow.