Archive for ‘Interviews’ category

Interview By Joseph Munoz On “The Common Good” KQNY 91.9 FM Radio

April 11th, 2013

Interview Of David Leland Hyde By Joseph Munoz, Host Of “The Common Good” On KQNY 91.9 FM Plumas Community Radio: The Sound Of The Lost Sierra, “Real Radio for Real People.”

Airs On KQNY 91.9 FM Tuesday Mornings and Thursday Afternoons

Tuesday, April 16, from 10-11 am

Thursday, April 18, from 7-8 pm

Tuesday, April 23, 10-11 am

Thursday, April 25, 7-8 pm

NEW ADDED TIMES!

Tuesday, April 30, 10-11 pm

Wednesday, May 1, 10-11 am

(All Times Listed Are Pacific Standard Time.)

Also Airs WORLD WIDE Streaming Online At: www.KQNY919.org

(At The Same Times)

KQNY-LogoJoseph Munoz asks David Leland Hyde about growing up exploring and wilderness traveling with his mother and father Ardis and Philip Hyde, representing Philip Hyde with photography galleries, the transcendental view of nature, what it’s like being the son of a “famous photographer,” Sierra Club Books, the upcoming May 3-June 3, 2013 Philip Hyde And David Leland Hyde Plumas Arts Show at the Capitol Arts Gallery in Quincy, California and whether Quincy is becoming an Artist’s Retreat or Colony.

The Common Good Radio Show on KQNY 91.9 FM is a local Feather River Region community affairs talk show. Joseph Munoz is the host and moderator. The Common Good’s mission is to provide a forum to inform citizens of the communities in Plumas County, Sierra County and Lassen County about “past or current matters of public interest.” The approach on The Common Good is to bring to light these local affairs “in an objective, non-partisan way and to permit persons of differing views to speak in their own voice. Enlightened thinkers like John Locke believed that a free marketplace of ideas will always promote the common good in almost every aspect of society.”

Joseph Munoz, a professor, educator and administrator at Feather River College, won the Hayward Award for Excellence In Education. Feather River College in Quincy, California was recently named one of the top 10 academic community colleges in all California.

Previous guests on The Common Good have included Rob Wade, coordinator of Learning Landscapes, an outdoor classroom program for each of the schools in the Plumas Unified School District; Paul Hardy, the Executive Director of the Feather River Land Trust; and Bill Coats, one of the founders of The Quincy Library Group, nationally recognized for research and mediation of timber and lumber environmental conflicts.

Interview of Gary Crabbe Part 3

July 12th, 2011

Landscape Photography Blogger Interviews Photographer Gary Crabbe

Last Part of A Three Part Series

(Continued from the blog post, “Interview Of Gary Crabbe Part 2.”)

On Photography For Books, Publishing, Rebuilding After An Injury And Stock Photography

Interview Conducted By Phone May 25, 2011

Cloud Rising Out Of The Owens Valley At Sunrise, Eastern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2009 by Gary Crabbe.

(See the photograph full size, “Cloud Rising Out Of The Owens Valley, Eastern Sierra Nevada.” For the story of Gary Crabbe’s transcendent experience making this photograph see his blog post, “Spirits In The Air.”)

DAVID LELAND HYDE: We continue with the conclusion of an in-depth interview of one of the leading landscape photographers working today, Gary Crabbe of Enlightened Images. Gary is also the author of an award-winning and highly acclaimed photo blog. In the first part of this series Gary and I talked about how the arts in general are relevant to landscape photography, his famous mentoring by the late landscape master Galen Rowell and the development of your own personal style. In the second part we developed the discussion about personal style, delved into the making of photography books, photo editing and selection and a bit more about Galen Rowell and how he worked. We are talking now about a few of Gary Crabbe’s photography books.

GARY CRABBE: The rest of the Voyageur Press books were in a pre-existing series. With Backroads of the California Coast: Your Guide to Scenic Getaways & Adventures, Voyageur Press put on a huge marketing campaign like they’ve done with other subjects like agriculture, trains, race cars and  basketball. If it’s kitsch, they’ve done it. They are a regional publisher so they’ve done books from Colorado to Chicago. They knew I was near San Francisco, so they asked if I wanted to do their San Francisco book and I said sure. They also said, “We’ve got this Back Roads series: Do you want to do Backroads of the California Wine Country: Your Guide to the Wine Country’s Most Scenic Backroad Adventures?” The writer that I had teamed up with on the first book project got together with me on four titles. She would say, “These are the places I’m going to be writing about.” I’d go out and photograph and the publisher would match my photos with her text.

HYDE: About your brand new release, Greetings from California: Legends, Landmarks & Lore of the Golden State: You wrote a blog post not long ago saying that when you told people your book was about history they were not enthused. You concluded that history is boring, but I find people are eating up the history. It may be the way history is presented. On my blog I’m mixing the history of conservation and the history of landscape photography. I find, to my dismay, that the history of conservation causes some yawns on a photo blog, but there aren’t as many dynamic leaders as in the history of photography. I’m finding that when history is presented with an emphasis on the interesting personalities, then people are interested. Although, I know your blog has much more traffic than mine because my traffic spiked significantly when you linked to my blog post, “Did Velvia Film Change Landscape Photography?” So what gave you the impression that history is boring?

GARY CRABBE: My blog post was more specific regarding the people I contacted to get permission or access to photograph. When they heard it was history, it didn’t mean much to them because they were thinking more about business and promotion. From the publisher’s perspective, this was to be part of a new series for which they had already published a few books they sent me like Twin Cities Then and Now (Minnesota) and Philadelphia Then and Now. My book was originally to be called, California: Then & Now comparing historical and modern photographs. That was the premise under which I did all my shooting though I didn’t need to be standing in the same spot as the historical photograph. Then someone did a book about Colorado using his grandfather’s photos. He took his modern photos in the exact same spot. He called it “Colorado: Then & Now.” After I turned in everything to Voyageur Press, they said, “We’re scrapping the series.”

HYDE: My father, pioneer landscape photographer Philip Hyde, had a lot more stories like that than like your other book where everything went smoothly. . .

GARY CRABBE: Yeah, you know it. I was sitting there with this huge knot in my stomach. Then they came back and said, “The publisher liked your work so much that we’re going to try to re-package this book as something a little bit more fun, like a scrapbook.” They still used all the same photographs and text, but instead of making it like the original layout, that even my mom had noticed from the sample copy was dry and stagnant, my book was to be the test guinea pig for repackaging. Three other photographers had their states’ Then & Now projects pulled. Whether their projects get repackaged will depend on how well my book goes over. One of the things you sign on the dotted line is that the publisher has complete and exclusive control over the design, layout and format of the book. When I saw the first layouts, I was blown away. They took this dry, dull and academic look and turned it into something that was exactly what they said: fun. They kept all the history, but they picked out pieces of my text and put in little scrapbook-like post-it notes to highlight the information instead of putting it all into one or two paragraphs of text. In my opinion it worked out perfectly, but I empathize with the three other photographers whose projects got shelved. I hope that my book does well and they can get their projects.

HYDE: Did your images cover the whole state?

GARY CRABBE: For the most part, yes. In fact I was scheduled to go off on my first shoot, down to Edwards Air force Base, when I fell off a cliff several years ago. I hadn’t even taken the first frame before I wound up in the hospital and shut down my business for half a year.

(See the photograph full size, “Morning Light, Badwater From Dantes View, Death Valley.”)

Morning Light And Clouds Over Saltpan At Badwater Basin From Dantes View, Death Valley National Park, California, copyright 2009 by Gary Crabbe.

HYDE: Wow. How did you fall off a cliff? What did you injure?

GARY CRABBE: I was going to meet someone to do a couple days of photography in Death Valley. I had bought a cheese burger, in the town of Ridgecrest, 100 miles away and I pulled off on the side of the road. I think I was going to go off-road somewhere, but I just climbed in the back of my Toyota 4-Runner, laid the back seat down and  went to sleep. On trips I have my sleeping bag and I lay down right behind the passenger seat. Behind the driver seat is all my gear, equipment, food containers and my backpack of film. I live like a turtle when I’m the road. I just as often sleep in the back of my truck as in a hotel. Apparently I woke up to answer nature’s call and in the darkness walked off a 40 foot cliff. I didn’t remember the fall at all. I woke up in the middle of the desert floor in the middle of the night. It took minutes for my brain to say uh, uh, where am I? Why am I lying in the dirt, face down in the middle of the night? Where’s my truck? Why am I at the bottom of the cliff? OK, now I know I hurt. I have no idea how long I was unconscious. At some point in the middle of the night I woke up again. I didn’t have my truck keys. The only thing I had was a lighter. I sat there and made myself a little camp fire in the middle of the night, in the desert, by myself. Maybe an hour, two hours later, I said, “Alright, I want to get back to my truck. I know the main road is that way. I know that my truck is up there.” I worked my way down this desert wash and then finally found a place on the hill where I could scramble up. I made it back to my truck and climbed back into my sleeping bag. The next morning I got checked out by the Park Ranger of Death Valley. I had a broken wrist, bruised ribs, a yanked nerve in my back, but I managed to get all the way home to the Bay Area. My wife Connie took me to the hospital that same evening. They put me in a cast, gave me medicine and sent me home. Two days later I was lying on the couch in the fetal position, barely coherent, throwing up. My wife took me back to the hospital and they found out I had a subdural hematoma, which is the same injury that killed the actress Natasha Richardson in just about the same window of time.

HYDE: So you hit your head, is that what that means?

GARY CRABBE: Yeah, bleeding was going on in the brain. One of the guys I have coffee with in the Bay Area is a retired surgeon from the Children’s Hospital in Oakland. When I told him this story he said, “You were lucky that you even woke up. Given your injury it was just as likely that you could have climbed back in your truck and never woke up again.” It is eye opening when someone who is a surgeon says something like that. I wound up spending a week in the hospital, recovering from the trauma and the next 3 months recovering from the physical injury. I couldn’t even hold a camera. As soon as I recovered, I had to start this book project, which was supposed to be done in a year. I had to do it in about four and a half months. It was challenging. It has taken me 18 to 24 months to get my business back up to speed because my business completely shut down.

HYDE: Wow. What does your wife do for a living?

GARY CRABBE: She’s part of the reason why I get to do what I do. She’s a senior business manager at AT&T. She has the full AT&T benefit package.

HYDE: That’s nice, yeah.

GARY CRABBE: I complain about big corporations, but I got to admit. You know… I originally thought she was the type of girl that working in the big corporation in the big city would chew her up and spit her out in no time flat. Instead, she’s now been there 10 years. They were so impressed by her work that they hired her during a hiring freeze. The benefits help make our family. She has been probably one of the biggest support factors I could ever imagine.

HYDE: How many kids do you have Gary?

GARY CRABBE: Two: a nine-year-old daughter named Alyssa and a 12-year-old son, Brandon. Both of them act like teenagers or four year olds, depending…

HYDE: I’m trying to piece the chronology together in my mind. Starting out, you didn’t know much about photography. Most of the time working for Galen Rowell you didn’t want to be a photographer. Was it while you were still working for Galen Rowell that you decided that you did want to be a photographer?

GARY CRABBE: Yeah, I knew nothing and was suddenly thrust into the top level of the industry. Trial by fire. All I had was a one week vacation for my first few years of working there. The first year’s vacation my wife and I went to Crater Lake. Wow. I had just switched to using color film and trying slides, as part of my job.

HYDE: Were you still using the same original camera?

GARY CRABBE: No, once I started working for Galen Rowell I bought my first Nikon 8008 S and some Nikon lenses. As part of my job at Mountain Light, I had to work with Galen in his workshops. Staff would help the students edit their work. We would be there while Galen was doing critiques and we’d be out in the field helping the photographers. It was like osmosis. Photography was coming at me even while I was asleep. One day I was out taking a photo at local Lafayette Reservoir when a guy walked right by me and said, “I’ll buy that.” I hadn’t even taken the photo yet. I had just put the tripod and camera in place. I said, “Do you want to at least look through the lens?” He said, “Why don’t you just call me when you get your film.” I didn’t think he was serious, but I called him when I got the film. He came over to my apartment and bought a 20X24 print. It was my first print sale. I made several hundred bucks and I thought, “Wow, this is pretty cool.” I established with Galen right away that I was completely up front. If something came up involving me doing photography, I always ran it by him first. I did not want to cross the line or create more stress than he already had. One day after I had been working for him for a number of years and been on several trips, as my photography was improving by the nature of being where I was, I don’t recall where he was, maybe the Himalayas, Galapagos Islands or South America. Forbes Magazine called the office and said they needed, “Ugly, trashy images of Yosemite Valley. They’re changing concessionaires and we want to show all the negative impact.” I said, “We don’t really have much of that.” They asked some question about what Yosemite Valley looked like right at that moment. By coincidence I was scheduled to go up with my wife to Yosemite Valley that weekend. So I said, “I’ll let you know on Monday.” They asked, “Can you shoot it for us?” They never even bothered to ask if I was a photographer. “I have to ask Galen.” Galen called the office and somehow he said OK. So I called the woman at Forbes back and said I could do it. I spent three days in Yosemite National Park for Forbes Magazine running around taking pictures of gas stations, garbage cans, lines of people at the hotel, the cafeteria, the messes. It was the first editorial assignment that gave me a chance. As I got further down the road and started making more images that were salable, it started to creep into my mind that I could be a photographer. I liked it, but I wasn’t going to step on Galen’s feet to do it. I could do my own print sales if I found my own clients without doing anything in conflict with Galen. What finally made me take the leap, was my wife getting pregnant. We knew we wanted one of us to stay home with the kid and she had all these major company benefits. If I stayed home maybe I could sell a few photos. I became a photographer by nature of choosing to be a stay at home dad.

HYDE: Is it a nice fit for that?

Morning Mist Along The Mendocino Coast Near Elk, California, copyright 2010 by Gary Crabbe.

(See the photograph full size, “Morning Mist, Mendocino Coast.”)

GARY CRABBE: Yeah, except I don’t get to spend weeks and months traveling. I do know people that sacrifice their family to follow their photographic passion. That wasn’t going to be part of my consideration. I stayed close to home and fortunately all of the subsequent book projects were in California. I can be anywhere in the state within 8 ½ hours. That’s a day there and a day back.

HYDE: Well, now that you’ve developed a little more success, do you think you’ll go a little further afield, maybe, for future books projects?

GARY CRABBE: My kids are getting older. As of January, they are now old enough to walk home on their own and spend a few hours on their own during the day. That’s freeing me up much more than when someone needed to be there to pick them up.

HYDE: When the stock photography industry imploded, how much did that affect you?

GARY CRABBE: That was about the time of my fall. The changes in stock did have an emotional pull on me, not so much in my business personally, but in the broader sense. I couldn’t believe that photographers themselves were devaluing their work to commodity status. That was the part that I’ll still continue to say was difficult to see. I know the market shifts, you can’t stop the market, supply and demand and all. Digital did make the world much more accessible. It used to be with slide film, you had to get it right. If you were more than ½ a stop off, it was a disaster. I was always a proponent for photographers valuing their own work. Watching people think it was no big deal to sell unlimited commercial use of their images for say 10 bucks. That was the sad part. I still don’t sell my work royalty free. I don’t have a negative reaction to the sales model of royalty free. My main objection is to the rate people charge. If a national company wants to use one of my images royalty free, I want to see at least four figures for that. I want them to pay what I think is an appropriate value.

HYDE: Royalty free means selling the rights to an image forever for any use at a one time fee, right? And it is becoming more and more prevalent, correct?

GARY CRABBE: Yes, correct. Originally royalty free first came on the scene in the mid-90s as a reaction to regular stock photography, which was value based on use. It became price based on file size. You turned your work into a widget. Then suddenly photographers were offering widgets for 1/10th the cost of what the widgets were originally selling for, which became micro stock.

HYDE: Did your income mix change like many other full-time photographers during that time period—that is, the mix between stock photography and fine print sales, what would you say the ratio is and was?

GARY CRABBE: The ratio has remained relatively consistent, maybe around 70/30, 60/40, sometimes 80/20, somewhere in that neighborhood. But in a down economy, I still sell my work as only rights managed, value based on use. I may have fewer sales, but I’m still insisting on what I consider is a fair value for the use of my work. In a down economy, the first budget to go is an arts budget. People will still buy jewelry before they’ll buy something to put on their walls. As the economy ebbs and flows, sales tend to ebb and flow in relation, but in a down economy, prints may relatively dry up for a while and  then come back as people think, “Oh I have a little more expendable income.”

HYDE: My business is nearly 100 percent prints and I noticed that I was starting at the wrong time, but it is starting to pick up again.

GARY CRABBE: I will say, since the beginning of the year, I’ve had a considerable number of print sales.

HYDE: Is there anything else that you feel people ought to know about you Gary that maybe they couldn’t read somewhere else?

GARY CRABBE: All I can say is that I chose my company name, Enlightened Images, because I consider myself spiritual, especially in terms of nature and the universe. I have this big interconnected picture of how we as a species on a planet are in the universe.

HYDE: I really like the name. Thank you so much for your time Gary.

GARY CRABBE: My pleasure. David, have yourself a wonderful day and thank you.

Philip Hyde At Home In The Wilds 2

July 28th, 2010

The Now Defunct Darkroom Photography Magazine: Masters of the Darkroom Series Presents Part Two Of An Interview With Philip Hyde By Merry Selk Blodgett

At Home In The Wilds

CONTINUED FROM THE BLOG POST, “Philip Hyde At Home In The Wilds 1.” For more on early color printing and the dye transfer process, see also the blog posts, “The Legend Of Dye Transfer Printing 1,” and “The Legend of Dye Transfer Printing 2.”)

“Even after five years, I haven’t been able to get into all the refinements of the dye transfer process.”

Mt. Brooks, Brooks Range, Denali National Park, Alaska, 1971 by Philip Hyde. This photograph Philip Hyde made with the same tripod setup as his horizontal of "Mt. Denali, Wonder Lake." After he triggered the shutter on the Mt. Denali image, he swiveled the camera about one frame's width to the left and made this photograph. Edward Weston used to do this too. Actually, the two Philip Hyde Alaska photographs overlap. David Leland Hyde at age six was present for both on this rare sunny day in Denali National Park. This digital image and the prints made from it so far were from a flatbed Creo scan of a dye transfer print. You would think that scanning the print directly would cause the scan to match the dye transfer print. However, this image took more photoshop work to match the color balance, contrast and other qualities, particularly the sharpness of the original print than did "Mt. Denali, Wonder Lake, Alaska," which we drum scanned from a transparency. Recently we made a drum scan of the original transparency of the photograph above, "Mt. Brooks, Brooks Range, Alaska." The resulting file will help assure that future large archival fine art digital prints of this photograph will maintain Philip Hyde's high standards of sharpness, detail and color fidelity.

(To see the photograph full size, Click Here.)

(To see “Mt. Denali, Wonder Lake (Horizontal)” full size Click Here.)

(To see “Mt. Denali, Reflection Pond (Vertical)” full size Click Here.)

DARKROOM PHOTOGRAPHY: How does your dye transfer printing relate to your primary objective of portraying nature?

PHILIP HYDE: I have always wanted to interpret and express the beauty of what I see in nature. My major objective is producing a print that, as Ansel Adams says, carries out the score of the negative. So I orchestrate the dye transfer process to produce a print that conveys the colors and beauty of the original transparencies. Sometimes getting everything just right can be very time-consuming.

DARKROOM PHOTOGRAPHY: Are you ever tempted to go back out into the field and let a custom lab do the darkroom work for you?

PHILIP HYDE: No…it would be very hard for me to sell a print made by a lab as my own work. That’s really why I’m doing dye transfer printing, because I can carry the process all the way from start to finish. I make the print the way I want. Also, there’s a cost factor. A single dye transfer print from a custom lab costs $200 and up.

DARKROOM PHOTOGRAPHY: You mentioned before that the longevity of the dye transfer process appealed to you. How long do you expect your prints to last?

PHILIP HYDE: Well, that’s hard to say; hundreds of years I’d hope. The nice thing about dye transfer is that not only is the final color image quite stable, but the intermediate films, the separations, which contain all the color information, are actually black and white. So a basic record of the color image exists on black and white film, which, if archivally processed and stored, can last for thousands of years. That’s more than permanent enough for me. Another reason I’m into making dye transfers of my transparencies is that I have to send out my originals for reproduction in books and magazines, and they are often returned after reproduction with thumbprints or dirt all over them. If I’ve made dye transfer separations beforehand, I’m protected.

DARKROOM PHOTOGRAPHY: How did you first get interested in photography?

PHILIP HYDE: When I was 16, I went backpacking in the Sierra with the Scouts. I took a folding Kodak with me, and I got hooked on it. I guess it’s just like falling in love with anything. When I sent the films to the druggist, I thought the results were completely inadequate, so at age 17, I set up a darkroom and started working. Though I now work in color, most of my early work was black and white.

“Imogen Cunningham is a wonderful example—she just kept on being a photographer until she faded away.”

DARKROOM PHOTOGRAPHY: Over the years, you’ve collaborated with the Sierra Club to produce books that have been instrumental in saving wildernesses, books like Slickrock, about the southwestern Canyonlands, and Alaska: The Great Land. How did you first become involved with the Sierra Club?

PHILIP HYDE:  When I returned to San Francisco from the service in 1946, I enrolled in Ansel Adams’ new photography program at the California School of Fine Arts now the San Francisco Art Institute. I became interested in what the Sierra Club was doing at that time, so Ansel introduced me to Dave Brower (then Sierra Club Executive Director), and that was the beginning of a life-long relationship.

DARKROOM PHOTOGRAPHY: Do you ever think of retiring from photography?

PHILIP HYDE: I can’t think of what I’d retire from, or for, or to. It disturbs me to slow down when there’s so much more to be done. Imogen Cunningham is a wonderful example—she just kept on being a photographer until she faded away. That’s a great way to go.

For the story of how Philip Hyde finally did go see the blog post, “Earth Day Celebration Of Ardis And Philip Hyde And Canyonlands.”

Philip Hyde At Home In The Wilds 1

June 17th, 2010

Darkroom Photography Magazine: Masters of the Darkroom Series Presents Part One Of An Interview With Philip Hyde By Merry Selk Blodgett

At Home In The Wilds

One of this century’s premier interpreters of the American wilderness, Philip Hyde has carried his 4X5 to places no camera had been before. Famous for Sierra Club books like Island In Time and The Last Redwoods, Philip Hyde is also a dedicated darkroom “do-it-yourselfer” who uses the complex and beautiful dye transfer process to make color prints. (See the blog posts, “The Legend Of Dye Transfer Printing 1,” and “The Legend of Dye Transfer Printing 2.”) Together with his wife and son, Philip Hyde lives far up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, in a house he built himself…

“When I first chose photography, I knew I was choosing the pleasures of creativity over the consolations of wealth.”

 

Virginia Creeper, Northern Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, 1977 by Philip Hyde. This photograph made at the home of the artist, became one of his signature images, though it is not in a pure sense a landscape photograph, as it depicts a domesticated vine on the wall of his house. The photograph appeared on more magazine covers than any other Philip Hyde image, starting with the now defunct Darkroom Photography magazine in 1980. Records are incomplete but some other covers included the Audubon Nature Calendar 1986, Scribner’s Group Catalog 1986, Photo-Design Magazine 1985, a poster by James Randklev 1986, New York Life Calendar 1987, Fine Print Custom Photo Lab Catalog 1987 and a number of other company catalogs and brochures. Ardis Hyde originally planted the Virginia Creeper. She was locally well-known in Plumas County for her work with the Audubon Society, for organic gardening and because she gave Virginia Creeper starts to many people. Virginia Creeper can be seen growing all over the Feather River country partly due to the gifts of Ardis Hyde.

DARKROOM PHOTOGRAPHY: It’s very beautiful up here in the mountains; the view from this window could be a Sierra Club calendar. But you’re also very far from any large towns, not to mention cities. Do you ever feel isolated up here?

PHILIP HYDE: I don’t think it’s isolation, I think it’s insulation. We’re insulated from a lot of urban influences that I’m not all that interested in. Don’t get me wrong…I like people. I’m very involved in the photographic workshops I’ve been doing. But I guess I like people best in small quantities. For me, the urban environment is too much of a man-made kind of thing. What’s most important to me is to be able to look out the window and see the changes of the seasons, or the rain pouring down, or the stars at night.

DARKROOM PHOTOGRAPHY: You’ve got a reputation as one of the top nature photographers in the country. Has your photography made you financially successful?

PHILIP HYDE: I’m not really trying to play the money game. Photography has provided a living, not a bad living at all. But when I left the city in 1959 to come up here, I knew that I was leaving behind the opportunity to make lots of money. I think that when I first chose photography, I knew I was choosing the pleasures of creativity over the consolations of wealth.

DARKROOM PHOTOGRAPHY: What is your personal definition of success?

PHILIP HYDE: I define success for myself in terms of my lifestyle. Success is freedom and opportunity to do what I want to do. I would say I’m a success in that respect. But some people seem to think that once you’re successful, you can just coast from then on. That’s certainly not true for me; I have to keep working hard, which is a good thing, or I might sit back on the oars and float downstream.

DARKROOM PHOTOGRAPHY: Anyone who makes his own dye transfer color prints certainly isn’t resting on his oars. Frankly, I was surprised to discover that someone as closely associated with outdoor color work as yourself would be spending so much time indoors. Dye transfer color printing is notoriously difficult and time-consuming; it’s usually done only in specially-equipped labs. What made you decide to tackle such a formidable process?

PHILIP HYDE: The beauty of a well-made dye transfer print, for one thing. It’s permanence, for another. I don’t know, maybe it’s lunacy. Or maybe it’s self-punishment and that’s part of my philosophy too. I think that you don’t get something for nothing in this world, and that perhaps struggling for it is a good thing. I’m saying that somewhat facetiously, but I’m not joking. I think there are a lot of aspects of photography now that are so automatic and so easy, and I think that explains the fact that there isn’t an awful lot that’s significant, from a long-term standpoint, being produced.

“Success is freedom and opportunity to do what I want to do.”

DARKROOM PHOTOGRAPHY: I take it you’re not partial to motorized, auto-everything 35mm SLRs.

PHILIP HYDE: Well, do you know that old saw about the bunch of monkeys? If you set a bunch of monkeys up at typewriters eventually they would end up typing the Encyclopedia Britannica. That’s a lot of nonsense really, but it’s certainly true that if you run enough film through a camera, sooner or later you’re going to make a significant image. I think an awful lot of people are using 35mm that way. On the other hand, there definitely are people whose work is suited to 35mm…people who can exploit the freedom and flexibility of that format.

DARKROOM PHOTOGRAPHY: But you’d rather carry around a 4X5 camera and 30 pounds of gear as you hike through the wilderness.

PHILIP HYDE: Yes.

DARKROOM PHOTOGRAPHY: Why?

PHILIP HYDE: For one thing, it would be very hard for me to make high-quality large dye transfer prints from 35mm originals. But deeper than that, I like the 4X5 format because it disciplines you to see carefully. By the time you’ve made the exposure, you are aware of little things you wouldn’t notice in a 35mm viewer. And it’s a discipline in not being profligate with materials; when you’re carrying 30 pounds on your back and have a limited supply of film, you look at everything very critically. You’re less apt to bang away and ask questions later.

DARKROOM PHOTOGRAPHY: Let’s return to your current work with the dye transfer color printing process. How long have you been doing it, and how did you get started?

PHILIP HYDE: I began dye transfer printing in 1974. I had been mulling it over for a few years before; my photographer friend Dennis Brokaw tipped the scales when he said he would help me begin. I can still remember the first dye transfer print I made. I was so excited, after years of seeing bad color prints made from my transparencies.

DARKROOM PHOTOGRAPHY: Doesn’t the process require a lot of skill and care on your part?

PHILIP HYDE: I suppose so, if you define skill as a reasonably precise manipulation of the material, and having your head together enough so that you do all the intermediate steps in the right order. Dye transfer is a rather complex process, especially when your originals are transparencies, as mine are. But there’s one nice compensation for all the complexity; there are a tremendous number of adjustments and controls at each step of the process, so you can alter the color balance, intensity of colors, and contrast along the way. Even after five years, I haven’t been able to get into all the refinements of the process.

DARKROOM PHOTOGRAPHY: How does your dye transfer printing relate to your primary objective of portraying nature?

PHILIP HYDE: I have always wanted to interpret and express the beauty of what I see in nature. My major objective is…

CONTINUED IN THE UPCOMING BLOG POST, “Philip Hyde At Home In The Wilds 2.”

Son Of Environmental Photographer Interview By Richard Wong

May 5th, 2010

Richard Wong Interviews David Leland Hyde on his Field Report Blog About Philip Hyde Photography

Richard Wong asks about the business and creative side of Philip Hyde Photography and the representation of Philip Hyde in the digital age and beyond. Also a behind the scenes look at upcoming and ongoing events such as the Philip Hyde Exhibition at Mountain Light Gallery.

Read the Richard Wong Interview on the Field Report Blog Click Here.

Backpacker Magazine Interview: Conservation Photographer Philip Hyde Part 2

March 31st, 2010

McClure Meadow, Evolution Valley, King's Canyon National Park, California, 1951 by Philip Hyde. "The Evolution Country" was one of Philip Hyde's all-time favorite places to backpack.

Continued from the blog post, “Backpacker Interview: Conservation Photographer 1.”

See also the blog post, “The 1970s Backpacking Boom, Conservation and Photography.”

This interview republished by permission of the writer Gary Braasch and Bill Kemsley, Jr., founder of Backpacker Magazine.

BACKPACKER MAGAZINE:  You have not only made your creativity into a successful way of life but taken photographs that have been instrumental in battles for very important wilderness areas. How can other photographers—skilled amateurs—use their creativity for conservation?

PHILIP HYDE:  Off the top of my head, they’d do a lot better by going to law school because it looks to me as if the fight is now in lawyer’s hands. But on a local level, an individual can do a lot by becoming familiar with a place that needs protection and by studying the issues. The camera can be an important tool to him. The person can make himself an ad hoc committee on a project and carry it along until something gets done. The weekend photographer may have an even more important role in such cases than the professional, who is always hung up on having to make a living from photography. There are thousands of causes I could donate my photographs to if I were only privately endowed.

BACKPACKER MAGAZINE:  How did your career evolve?

PHILIP HYDE:  I started in photography through nature, rather than vice versa, because of an early interest in mountains. Like everyone else, I carried a little camera around to take pictures of my favorite mountains, and one thing led to another. That was before World War II. When the war ended, just before I got out of the service, I wrote to Ansel Adams. He said he was starting a school of photography; that’s where I spent the next three years. Ansel knew I was interested in conservation and nature, and helped me get acquainted with people in the Sierra Club. My first major published photos were in the Sierra Club Bulletin of May, 1951. Making photographs of Dinosaur National Monument was the first conservation project I did for the Sierra Club. Even with that beginning my wife, Ardis, taught school for 12 years to support us.

BACKPACKER MAGAZINE:  There’s a lot of Ansel’s influence showing in your earlier work.

PHILIP HYDE:  Yes, some people have always said that. But I don’t think I ever imitated him. That picture of Yosemite is a good example of my evolution. Twenty years ago, I had great difficulty making photographs in Yosemite because all I could see was Ansel Adams, and I was sure I didn’t want to duplicate his pictures. Now I can go to Yosemite and see it through my own eyes. I have a tremendous debt to Ansel—not just for having taught me technique but for having inspired me, introduced me to the Sierra Club and helped me get on my way. I want to acknowledge that debt, but I don’t agree that my pictures have ever been more than superficially like his pictures.

BACKPACKER MAGAZINE:  Let’s discuss taking photos for straight illustration to show other people what a place is like, versus an artistic, creative image done to please yourself. The difference seems apparent in comparing many of your shots in The Wild Cascades with those in Slickrock. For instance, the photographs in the first book have much less emphasis on small detail.

PHILIP HYDE:  Several things happened between books. One was my own development. I think I started out with the idea of showing people what an area was like. When I went there I was very conscious of it as a place. Through the years as I visited more and more places, I began to realize that the PLACE, in capitals, is not really what we’re looking for after all; PLACE has become a commercial object more than anything else. To illustrate: There is no difference between Capitol Reef National Monument and Capitol Reef National Park. The place is the same, but the name change was sponsored by Utah’s industrial tourism because the term “national park” puts the place on the map. If the current wilderness proposal goes through the way it should, a very large percentage of the park will be preserved as wilderness, and the place will remain pretty much the same. Practically every book project I’ve ever worked on has had a very strong conservation aspect for saving a place. Another difference between the two books you mentioned is not the photographer’s approach but the editing. For The Wild Cascades and The Last Redwoods I produced many of the photographs, and I certainly edited them. I didn’t just dump the takes on somebody’s desk. But working with David Brower, he pretty much decided what ended up in a book. Practically all the exhibit format books were crash projects; that was Dave’s way of working. When he got an idea, he wanted to see it in a book as fast as possible. I was sympathetic to that wish because some of the places were threatened, but it often meant that the people involved didn’t really have time to do their best work I think that shows up in the photographs as well as the texts. Slickrock is a more finished book because I took all the photographs and I worked on the project a lot longer. I worked on it for several years before I ever talked to anyone about a book. I helped with the photo selection; the design and sequence of photographs were worked out by the book’s editor and a designer.

BACKPACKER MAGAZINE:  It seems more and more nature photographers and editors are using images that suggest an area or give an impression of it without being specific about the exact location or subject, such as your exquisite photos of small details in Slickrock and here in Backpacker Magazine. Do you see this as a major trend in outdoor photography?

PHILIP HYDE:  I think that aspect is coming out more and more. You know, there are common elements to any scene. During the gasoline shortage I thought; “What can I do? I’ve got to go where the wild places are and make pictures of them.” But if the subject were the little common things of nature, I wouldn’t have to travel very far. Maybe, conservation-wise, that’s what we all must do. Instead of flying off to another part of the world and burning up all that fuel getting there, maybe we should just look down at our feet. I’m fond of quoting what John Ruskin said: “There was always more in the world than a man could see, walked he ever so slowly. He will see no more for going fast.”

Backpacker Magazine Interview: Conservation Photographer Philip Hyde Part 1

March 17th, 2010

Upper Iceberg Lake, Minarets Wilderness, Now Cecile Lake, Ansel Adams Wilderness, 1950 by Philip Hyde. The Minarets were one of the first places Philip Hyde backpacked with his father Leland Hyde and brother David Lee Hyde in the early 1940s before World War II.

In Keeping with the vision of publisher Bill Kemsley, Jr., Backpacker Magazine writers interviewed landscape photographers who were significant in the fledgling modern environmental movement. For background on Bill Kemsley, Jr., the founding of Backpacker Magazine and on how the original Backpacker Magazine became a force for wilderness conservation and a voice for environmental photographers, read the blog post, “The 1970s Backpacking Boom, Conservation and Photography.”

The following interview helped inspired Pulitzer Prize winning photographer Jack Dykinga to leave photojournalism and the city of Chicago, move to the West and take up landscape photography for conservation. The interview was first published in the Spring 1975 issue of Backpacker Magazine. Interviewer, Gary Braasch is an environmental photojournalist who went on to attain the Sierra Club’s Ansel Adams Award for conservation photography, “Outstanding Nature Photographer” from the North American Nature Photography Association and “Legend Behind the Lens” from Nikon. He was also a Founding Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers of which Philip Hyde and Galen Rowell are the only honorary members. Click Here to read about his latest book, Earth Under Fire, and previous books he has written about nature photography and the environment. The following article is republished with the permission of Gary Braasch and Bill Kemsley, Jr., founder of Backpacker Magazine.

BACKPACKER MAGAZINE:  The world is so full of beautiful places. How do you, with a drive to photograph them all, decide when and where to travel?

PHILIP HYDE:  My trip planning evolves out of a combination of wanting to go back to places I really liked where I find a lot of subject matter, and the need to see new territory. Sometimes when I go to a new place I get certain images that I will never again get just because of the newness and the excitement of being in a place that’s different.

BACKPACKER MAGAZINE:  What kind of kit do you take backpacking?

PHILIP HYDE:  This is always a great debate. Should I take the Hasselblad and have a lot of 2 ¼ X 2 ¼ inch exposures, or should I take the view camera and make a few good 4 X 5s? It depends on the situation and the place and how vigorous I feel. If I backpack the view camera for three or four days, I can carry three or four film magazines—36 or 48 sheets—and two or three lenses. My tripod weighs about five pounds. By the time I have it all thrown in I’ve got 30 pounds. The Hasselblad, with a lot of rolls, will add up to about half that.

BACKPACKER MAGAZINE:  But what kind of sacrifices to you make in the rest of your dunnage to survive the weight when you’re going into the wilderness for any length of time?

PHILIP HYDE:  Everything else is minimal. We backpack with just a piece of plastic for tent, tarp and groundsheet combined. A down bag. We survive on stuff like muesli, and the cooking is pretty simple. I find that if I carry too much, I just don’t have the energy or inclination to take pictures.

BACKPACKER MAGAZINE:  One answer, of course, is to go to a smaller camera. Why do you continue to use a 4 X 5 primarily rather than a 35mm, which is so much lighter?

PHILIP HYDE:  The basic reason is that I can’t get the detail I want on 35mm. A 35mm original boosted up to 20 X 24 inches or even 8 X 10 doesn’t have the sharpness I’m looking for. I’m always trying to compromise with the Hasselblad because with it I can go farther, faster and lighter. But then I get something I really like on the 2 ¼ X 2 ¼ inch film and wish I had taken my view camera along and done a little more struggling to get the picture on 4 X 5. Maybe that’s pure stubbornness, but I still think there’s a difference, and the difference, as far as I’m concerned, is crucial. There’s something else too: the view camera is a terrific discipline. I don’t have nearly the discipline with the Hasselblad because I know the film’s cheap and there’s a lot of it. Expense-wise, I can shoot only about two exposures of 4 X 5 for a roll of 120 film or about 20 exposures og 35mm film. If I get one or two really good 4 X 5 pictures, I’m way ahead of the game because I often don’t get that many on a roll of Hasselblad film.

BACKPACKER MAGAZINE:  The discipline you talk about—is it mostly a discipline of time? Waiting, walking around, getting the right angles and the right light?

PHILIP HYDE:  What I do is form a scene with my eyes and mind before exposure, rather than inside the camera. As an art-school-trained photographer, I have an axe to grind about getting people to look harder. I don’t think the small camera does much for that because it’s too easy. As for waiting, I don’t wait. In fact it’s almost always the other way around. A fellow who was here the other day looked at a photo of a meadow with a cloud up above it. He remarked, “Gee, you must have waited a long time until that cloud got just the way you wanted it.” I had to laugh because that wasn’t what happened at all. The cloud was already there when I saw it, and I had a hell of a time getting the view camera set up before it was gone. There are photographers who claim to work the other way. They know there’s going to be a picture at a certain place and certain time of day, so they go there. But I can’t imagine doing that, because the world is too full of pictures to wait a long time for any one of them. Also, it’s very difficult for me to visualize a picture if it’s not already there. It becomes something that’s kind of put together—constructed. And if I were going to do that, it would be much more efficient to be a hand artist and paint the scene. Photography is the art of getting what’s there, not creating something.

BACKPACKER MAGAZINE:  Are you saying that photography isn’t creative—isn’t a fine art?

PHILIP HYDE:  What I want to say about creativity in photography is that it is analyzing what is there, rather than constructing something out of one’s imagination. Analysis consists of seeing strongly. If you define creativity as the expression of individuality, then the kind of photography you’re talking about is “creative” when it communicates the maker’s viewpoint and individual vision. This may be more subtle than in other mediums, and our audience, despite Marshall McLuhan, still isn’t very educated about appreciating photographs, which explains why there are still people around asking, “But is it art?” It’s safe to say that photography can be art, and I see more and more evidence of individual expression by a growing number of photographers.

(CONTINUED IN THE BLOG POST “Backpacker Interview: Conservation Photographer 2“)

To hear from Paul Strand and other photographers about creative photography and how a photograph becomes art, see the blog post, “What Makes A Photograph Art?