Glen Canyon Portfolio 1

January 27th, 2011 by David Leland Hyde Leave a reply »

Glen Canyon Portfolio 1

Landscape Photography Blogger’s Introduction

Bend In Colorado River Above Klondike Bar, Glen Canyon, 1962 by Philip Hyde.

(To see the photograph full screen Click Here.)

The original Glen Canyon Portfolio came out in 1979. Northland Press of Flagstaff, Arizona published a limited edition lithograph portfolio of 20 images photographed by my father landscape photographer Philip Hyde in 1955, 1958, 1961, 1962, 1963 and 1964. Dad first visited the Glen Canyon vicinity in 1955. He joined river trips on the Colorado River through Glen Canyon in 1958, 1962 and 1964 after the gates on Glen Canyon Dam had already closed and the reservoir “Lake” Powell, or as Dad and many other land conservationists and environmentalists called it, Lake Foul, was already filling and drowning spectacular side canyons.

The river trips Dad participated in, all were with David Brower, the first executive director of the Sierra Club and leader of the environmental coalitions that helped to keep dams out of the Grand Canyon, keep the trees in Redwood National Park and in North Cascades National Park and helped to expand or establish dozens of other national parks and wilderness areas of the development sensitive Western United States. David Brower was the father of modern environmentalism. He usually had his movie camera rolling while on the river and hiking the side canyons of the doomed Glen Canyon. My father even captured David Brower filming on still camera film.

Landscape and nature photographer Eliot Porter also photographed Glen Canyon and produced a gorgeous Sierra Club Book called “The Place No One Knew” in the Exhibit Format Series. Some of Eliot Porter’s images were intimate and sensitive, some grand and majestic, but they were all in color. Besides Eliot Porter, other photographers documented Glen Canyon, some of them were on the river trips with my father and David Brower. The talented photographer Tad Nichols made black and white prints of Glen Canyon. Environmental activist, singer and song writer Katie Lee also made both black and white and color photographs of Glen Canyon. Dad remains one of just a few formally trained creative photographers who made high quality original black and white photographs and prints of Glen Canyon. Dad’s vintage black and white prints of the doomed and drowning canyon are the only vintage black and white prints of their kind.

Recently I searched through the files and found the corresponding vintage black and white prints for each of the 20 images in the original Glen Canyon lithograph portfolio. I scanned them with an Epson 610 everyday desktop flatbed scanner that I purchased in 1998 with my Dell Windows ’98 computer. The scans came out a bit too dark in places. Some of the shadows are too large and too black without any detail in areas where the vintage black and white prints have detail. I will have to experiment more with the limited settings. Nonetheless, with a little tweaking in Photoshop to get the scans to look more like the prints do, they are at least somewhat viewable. They do not do justice to the gorgeous and luminous prints that my father made. He was a black and white printer extraordinaire.

To read more about Glen Canyon see the blog post, “Glen Canyon Lament By Philip Hyde 1,” “Glen Canyon Lament By Philip Hyde 2,” and “Glen Canyon Lament By Philip Hyde 3.” To read what David Brower wrote about Glen Canyon go to, “Let The River Run Through It.” To read about the movement to remove dams see the blog post, “A River Will Run Through It.”

The best scans from the original black and white prints from the original Glen Canyon Portfolio I combined with scans of vintage black and white prints from Grand Canyon National Park. Click on the title here: Glen & Grand Canyon Vintage Black and White Prints to view the images. Enjoy.

This series on the Glen Canyon Portfolio continued with the blog post, “Glen Canyon Portfolio 2.”

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14 comments

  1. pj says:

    Magnificent selection David. I was totally captivated by the strength of your father’s photos.

    Once again they show the power of black and white to reach beneath the obvious and right down into the spirit. Thanks for posting these.

  2. Greg Boyer says:

    Thank you for sharing. While most of us will not get to experience some of these places personally, some day I hope that common sense will prevail and the dams will be removed and Nature will reclaim these magnificent areas. Grateful that your father left this legacy for us all.

  3. Hi PJ, thank you for your appreciation and feedback. I thought you in particular might like these.

    Many thanks, Greg. Let’s hope Glen Canyon is restored in our lifetimes. I would like to see more than just the tops of the side canyon walls.

  4. Greg Russell says:

    Man, this is such an awesome collection of images. It makes me want to go get lost in a slot canyon NOW, lay back under a cottonwood tree and contemplate life and great photography. Thanks for sharing this David…

    I’m glad we have your father’s images, amongst others’ resources (e.g. Ed Abbey’s writing) to know what this great wilderness was like before it was dammed.

  5. Hi Greg, thank you for sharing those feelings about canyon country. There is something haunting about river canyons. The American Southwest is like good wine, once it gets in your blood and you get a taste for it, you are hooked.

  6. Hi David, I love these photographs, and I feel that your father loved this part of the world. Is there really any hope that this canyon will be restored someday? But, what do you think,how will it look after decades of water damage?

  7. Hi Peter, glad to see you here. There is definitely hope. I have not stayed up on the exact status of the campaign right now, but there are a large number of people who have put their commitment into resurrecting Glen Canyon from under the waters. Right now we have two huge reservoirs, “Lake” Mead and “Lake” Powell that are both half-full, or in the case of a reservoir I suppose optimistic would be to say it is half empty. This makes no sense at all in and of itself, but to make matters worse, just one of these mud sinks evaporates enough water every year to supply the greater Los Angeles Basin. The waste has to be stopped at some point if the American West is to every solve its severe water problems. Here they promised us the dams would do the trick, but they didn’t study it very carefully. The Bureau of Reclamation railroaded those dams through as fast as they could.

    I don’t know the scientific ins and outs, but I have faith that Mother Nature will heal those canyons when given the opportunity. It might not happen fast by human standards, but nature accomplishes all with time. The biggest challenge are the tremendous deposits of Colorado River mud in the upper reaches of both reservoirs. Those will take some time for the river to wash away. Generally speaking, standing water does not do that much damage in and of itself. There is a heavy “bathtub ring” of silt deposit on the walls of the canyons between the low water now and the high water point. However, it is already washing away and has even disappeared in some places. Trees will grow again, grasses, all of that. Probably another big restoration problem will be all of the garbage at the bottom. Besides the obvious beer cans, food and camping trash, there are all sorts of sunken boats and hardware, BBQs, lounge chairs, gas cans, you name it. I would imagine that the Glen Canyon Institute has some kind of tentative plan for clean up because they propose to turn Glen Canyon into a National Park, as it had been proposed long ago before World War II. See the “Dinosaur: Birth of Modern Environmentalism” series of blog posts in the “Excerpts of New Book” category.

  8. What glorious shots. My two favorites of the group were ‘Escalante River near Willow Canyon’ and ‘Cathedral in the Desert’. I would love to see one of your dad’s original prints of the Escalante River photograph. I bet they are spectacular!

    If they do reclaim Glen Canyon, it will be interesting to see how it has changed after being underwater for so long. I hope we get the chance.

    Sharon

  9. I appreciate your enjoyment of this addition to the website, Sharon. Yes, let’s hope we do get a chance to find out what Glen Canyon will be like when it emerges from the depths. When my current situation settles down a bit, I do plan to get back in touch with the Glen Canyon Institute, see what I can do to help and see what the status is of the campaign. I get their newsletter and renew my support of them each year, but I don’t get much chance to read it in detail.

  10. Great collection David and thanks for sharing, I feel so fortunate to be able to see these and get a sense of what the canyon felt like before the dams. My favorite is “Reflections in Plunge Pool” (though I like them all) – really love the contrast between the rocks and sand, and the smooth reflection of the sky – just great composition and sense of time/place.

    Really inspiring – back to the basics for me…

  11. Hi Robert, thank you for the comment and your kind words about my father’s work. He was always a good example for photographers. His photographs seem to have that elusive element that inspires others to do better work, though I don’t think any one artist has a corner on that. Some do it more than others, but we all inspire each other. Your work has already inspired me.

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