Posts Tagged ‘Imogen Cunningham’

San Francisco Art Institute Photography History 16

June 19th, 2014

Reciprocity Failure

Lecture By Ansel Adams

Introduction And Philip Hyde Lecture Notes

(Continued from the blog post, “San Francisco Art Institute Photography History 15.”)

Sunken Car, Sausalito, Marin County, Alcatraz In Distance, San Francisco Bay, California, copyright 1948 by Philip Hyde. Made during photography school.

Sunken Car, Sausalito, Marin County, Alcatraz In Distance, San Francisco Bay, California, copyright 1948 by Philip Hyde. Made during photography school.

No other known set exists of complete student lecture notes from the first ten years of the California School of Fine Arts, now the San Francisco Art Institute. During the “Golden Decade,” directly after World War II, while Minor White was lead instructor, beginning in the Summer Session 1947, Philip Hyde took detailed class notes. These notes are what make up the core of a good number of entries in this series of blog articles on the history of the San Francisco Art Institute’s photography department.

Background And Founding Of The World’s First Professional Creative Photography Training

Minor White and Philip Hyde both attended their first Ansel Adams lecture on the same day at the start of the California School of Fine Arts Summer Session 1946. Ansel Adams brought in Minor White with the idea he would take Ansel Adams’ place as lead instructor. Minor White came directly from Columbia University on Beaumont and Nancy Newhall’s recommendation. In the 1946 Summer Session Minor White quickly proved himself as a coach of the young students and as a guest lecturer. Within a few weeks Ansel Adams felt confident enough in Minor White’s teaching abilities to leave him in charge of the class and set out on the road to photograph the national parks for his recently awarded Guggenheim Fellowship.

That Fall, Minor White also led the first class of full-time students in the world’s first academic full-time creative photography program. By Fall of 1947, a new crop of first year students began learning from Minor White at the California School of Fine Arts, renamed the San Francisco Art Institute in 1961. The San Francisco Art Institute still has one of the world’s most innovative photography departments, but the first ten years of the program, now called the Golden Decade, are the stuff of legend with guest lectures arranged by Minor White that included such photographic luminaries as Imogen Cunningham, Lissette Model, Dorothea Lange, and many others; as well as the highlight of each semester: a field trip to Wildcat Hill in Carmel to visit Edward Weston, complete with a field walk with him out on Point Lobos State Natural Reserve.

Ansel Adams first taught the photography Summer Session in 1945. Minor White joined him teaching in 1946. Philip Hyde started as a student at the same time, but due to an office paperwork error, did not make the list to attend the first full-time class in Fall 1946, but began photography school in the second full-time class in Fall 1947. The Summer Session 1947 featured lectures by both Adams and White. Philip Hyde’s lecture notes begin in the Summer Session 1947. Philip Hyde proved to be one of the most eager students, despite his full personal life.

On June 29, 1947, Philip Hyde married Ardis King in Berkeley. Ardis King’s family was from Sacramento, but her parents owned a house in Berkeley, where she and her brother Clint King lived while attending the University of California Berkeley. Philip and Ardis got to know each other while attending classes at UC Berkeley, where Ardis earned her teaching credential. They took a number of classes together, including a course in Calligraphy and Japanese Painting by the famous Japanese-American artist Chiura Obata. More on these classes and their influence on the Hydes in future blog posts.

Reciprocity Failure Defined

Following Minor White’s lecture on The Technical Aspects of Visualization on August 19, 1947, Ansel Adams came before the class and held forth on Reciprocity Failure for the next two days. Most of the lecture contents were too technical to reproduce here, with many graphs depicting film densities and sensitometry readings.

Reciprocity failure oversimplified, results in the failure of film to show accurate and unflawed detail in shadows. While the subject may seem dry in some ways, it is an important concept in straight photography where the values of clarity, sharpness and clean rendering without artifacts and film noise are considered of utmost importance. Many photographers today in the digital age don’t care about the technical aspects of photography because they don’t need to in order to produce high fidelity photography. Camera technology today, if used according to the manual and a few simple rules and guidelines, does much of the work automatically, when the correct settings are chosen. However, with large format film cameras, everything had to be done manually. Ansel Adams was a stickler for all technical aspects of photography and developing a solid base of knowledge and aptitude in his students. The results speak for themselves, evident in his negatives and black and white prints, as well as the negatives and fine art prints of his students. It is precisely because of their perfection that Ansel Adams prints are some of the most sought after by collectors and considered some of the most valuable in the history of the medium.

The Film Photography Project blog gives an excellent explanation of reciprocity failure:

Whether you’re using a lower speed film in daylight, trying to maximize your depth of field in a landscape, or just setting up the camera for an exposure at night, sooner or later you’re going to start pushing the limits of your film’s light gathering ability. As light becomes more scarce, the silver halide grains residing in your film will be less uniformly struck by photons, causing a steep drop in density after a few seconds of needed exposure. This exponentially diminishing response to low light levels is more popularly known as a film’s reciprocity failure.

The Film Photography Project goes on to give examples of how different films exhibit reciprocity failure. For example, with black and white film, exposures of one or two seconds or longer will result in reduced density, that is, thin or non-existent shadow detail. With color negative film, exposures over 20 seconds cause color-shifting as different color dye layers in the film absorb light at different rates during prolonged exposure. With color slide film, exposures over five seconds result in color shifts similar to color negative film, while high color saturation slide films such as Fuji Velvia color shift to an even greater degree than lower color density films.

Ansel Adams’ two-day lecture on reciprocity failure gave his students the tools to avoid reciprocity failure. Some of the technical terms and information implies previous knowledge from earlier lectures of various photographic subjects such as the Zone System. Stay tuned for a simple explanation of the Zone System in future posts in this series. These notes are presented primarily for the historical record.

Philip Hyde’s Lecture Notes, August 19, 1947

Reciprocity failure—inertia of film in low intensity light—film doesn’t respond to slight illumination.

Visualization and light metering—Use a long tube for the light meter to explore light readings of distant objects.

A Wratten 90 filter (tan color) for viewing—neutralizes color

Example: Greens on Kodak Verichrome Pan film drop nearly a full zone in value due to lack of green sensitivity.

All measurements for density should be above film base plus fog.

[Film base plus fog refers to the inherent density of any film before exposure. It consists of the film base plus any fog that has accumulated on the film due to subtle light exposure in handling]

For the sake of measurement and calculations, film base plus fog should not be less than 0.1 in density.

Pre-Exposure Exercise

Expose a white card for Zone II or Zone I depending on amount of exposure added. Then expose the scene normally. The units added will equal the numeric relation between zones. That is:

Zone I = 1 unit

Zone II = 2 units

Zone III = 4 units

Zone IV = 8 units

Zone V = 16 units

Zone VI = 32 units

…and so on up to Zone X

More on reciprocity failure and the Zone System in upcoming posts…

(Continued in the blog post, “San Francisco Art Institute Photography History 17.”)

My impressions from this lecture and other sources, as well as my own experiences, leads me to believe that it was complicated to make good photographs with large format film cameras. When photographers take for granted how easy photography is now, I often think of my father, Philip Hyde’s notes and his early training with Ansel Adams. What are your thoughts?

The Art Of Vision: Outdoor Photographer Magazine Article By David Leland Hyde

February 24th, 2014

The Art Of Vision

Learn to connect with the landscape like the great masters Ansel Adams, Minor White, Philip Hyde and others

By David Leland Hyde, Photography By Philip Hyde And David Leland Hyde

Original Proposed Article Title: Minor White, Philip Hyde and His Schoolmates on The Art Of Seeing

Expanded and revised from the blog post, “Imogen Cunningham, Minor White And Their Students On The Art Of Seeing.”

My four page feature article in this month’s print issue of Outdoor Photographer magazine, delineating how to more effectively harness the creative mind, bond with the natural world and make more sensitive imagery, has stirred up significant buzz and even a touch of controversy. See the examples below. For more on my writing background see, “About David Leland Hyde.”

You can find the March print issue of Outdoor Photographer magazine on newsstands and in bookstores online and off, or wherever else you get magazines now. For a sneak preview of my article, you can read the online version on the Outdoor Photographer magazine website under the category “Locations,” or just go to, “The Art Of Vision: Learn to Connect with the Landscape Like the Great Masters Ansel Adams, Minor White, Philip Hyde and Others.”

A very big thank you to all those who have commented on Twitter, sent me e-mail and otherwise showed signs of enjoying the article. Here is some of the feedback, including some by today’s who’s who in nature and landscape photography:

Indeed a wonderful article. Deep and inspirational. I am so glad that Outdoor Photographer published it, most of all for them, since articles like these raise publications of photography to another level. Well done.  – Rafael Rojas

I really enjoyed this article – if only all photography writing was as good.  – Tim Parkin

In my own photography journey I noticed an incredible improvement in both my images, and my happiness, when I started doing my twilight photography. Those images required me to commit to a single composition for the entire evening, and as a result I spent a lot more time looking, observing, and fine-tuning. I got into that “zone.” Eventually I started taking that approach more for many of my images. Slowing down like that is harder in the digital world, but David makes a very compelling case for it, and hopefully it will inspire some photographers to try it out.  — Floris van Breugel

In this current world of quick, fast and overly saturated photography, David shows us how to slow down and “smell the roses” to make meaningful images through the historical approaches of masters like his father, Minor White and Ansel Adams.  – Joseph Kayne

Great article. I would like to see more of these photography-as-art pieces.  – Chuck Kimmerle

One of the best articles that Outdoor Photographer has run in a long time. Like Floris and Chuck, I too would rather read articles that educate and inspire like David’s rather than another “Best Winter Hotspots” or “DOF De-Mystified.” The qualities that made Galen Rowell’s OP columns so interesting to read back in the day are the same qualities found in David’s article. I think it’s fine to have sensationalist headlines on the cover to sell magazines but inside the magazine should be filled with substantive content.  – Richard Wong

A superb article touching on many important points. I’d love to see more like it in print.  – Guy Tal

It was a great article (mandatory reading)… Hopefully David’s article will set the magazine on a more educational path. (Ten Secrets/Ten Top Spots has run its course.) Good stuff.  – Michael Gordon

Really great article David. Congratulations. It makes me want to go out and take photographs – to feel that ‘in the moment’ feeling. And your Dad’s photograph of “White Domes, Valley of Fire” is just especially sublime. The kind of photograph I can contemplate for a very long time.  – Eric Fredine

Excellent! Very refreshing to see an article about being in the moment, instead of “getting the shot.”  — Lori Kincaid

Must read. Wonderful Piece. If you haven’t already you should read this article by David Leland Hyde.  – Rob Tiley

Great article on mindfulness when making photos. I found myself slowing down just from the rhythm of the words.  – Nancy E. Presser

REALLY great piece! Terrific history lesson, too.  – Robin Black

One of the best articles in Outdoor Photographer magazine in a while.  – QT Luong

Loved hearing about David’s experiences with his father in this month’s isssue of Outdoor Photographer.  – Russ Bishop

Great Read! David’s opening photo, of tall grasses lit by the sun next to a stream, is exquisite. The kind of image that instantly brings peace to the viewer.  – Bret Edge

I haven’t subscribed to Outdoor Photographer for many years and more articles like this would make it more tempting to read more often. For the past year I have been trying to slow down and not force the issue, letting the images reveal themselves rather than actively hunting. Freeman Patterson’s Photography and the Art of Seeing was the first photography book I ever bought and it may be time to pull it off of the shelf for another reading. Thanks for the reminder.  – David Chauvin

Fantastic read! Congratulations!! Hope you and Outdoor Photographer do more of these types of articles.  – Colleen Miniuk-Sperry

About time there’s more than just the latest equipment review and how it will make you like Ansel Adams. If someone wants to create a great photograph, the process begins with clarity of vision and ends with well-crafted execution of the image. The equipment is just the tools of the trade and worthless without the vision and craft. Edward Weston didn’t have great equipment, but brought to fruition through great vision and exquisite craft. Ansel had the best equipment and a great vision. Philip Hyde likewise. Many of today’s “photographers” have the best equipment and tools the world has yet imagined. However most lack a clear vision and many of those are clueless as to the craft. Instead, they rely upon the crutch of technology and gimmicks contained in their iPhones and plug-ins on their editing software. Still others offer excuses for their lack of vision and craft and reliance upon funky effects. No matter how eloquently you explain the image, “I worked so hard…” underneath it all, a polished turd smells the same. Your article is a good start to get the ball rolling to a higher plane. Keep it going…  – Larry Angier

What a refreshing article!  First I have to say how happy I am to see such a wonderful piece of writing. It is long overdue. David Leland Hyde gives us a glimpse into the true meaning of the photographic vision. Learning how to see, not just with our eyes and camera, but with our soul. Getting in tune with the environment we’re in while out in the field, taking our time, and planning. In this day and time we see so much about gear and equipment, and so little about photographic  substance. I hope that there will be more articles like this in the future.  — Rachel Cohen

Absolutely loved the piece in Outdoor Photographer. It’s rare to see something of useful value in the rags these days. Great insight into the minds of very gifted photographers. You gave some very good information on creativity, lacking in most magazines recently. — Ed Cooley

Excellent article! I think David hit a rich vein of subject matter both personally and for the photography community. The ideas in the article need to be shared and become a bigger part of the discussion in photography (and life in general). The pixel peepers, the camera companies, the low hanging fruit photo tours, etc, have all hogged the mike for too long. Sing it out brother David! It will be interesting to see the reaction you get from the article. The quiet approach and the process of slowing down the feverish mental activity scare many. There’s no hiding from the truth in such a state. It’s a lot easier to be go go go because then there’s no time for the big questions. I enjoyed reading about White’s blank mind and the receptive place of readiness in the creation of a photograph. The very first book on photography I read was Freeman Patterson’s Photography and the Art of Seeing. I pull it off the bookshelf and read it every so often because I need to be reminded of one of the first ideas Patterson shares in the book – letting go of self is an essential precondition of real seeing. I’m not a big fan of pre-planning images because I feel too much organization and control results in self as an obstruction in the creative process. It’s my experience that my images which are too pre-conceived, while they may achieve a good technical level, lack soul. I don’t achieve a feeling of transcendence in their creation and viewers don’t respond in a very strong emotional way either. I totally agree with Stan Zrnich – “the process is about getting out of my own way and quieting the ego.” Too much desire to control maybe doesn’t result so much in the Art of Seeing as the Art of Ego.  – Peter Carroll

Please write me in the Contact Form above, by e-mail or comment here and let me know your reactions, ideas, critiques or any other response you have to the article…

 

Golden Decade Photography Exhibit At Mumm Napa Gallery

February 13th, 2014

The Golden Decade: Photography at the California School of Fine Arts, 1945-1955

Mumm Napa Gallery Exhibition

February 15 through July 13, 2014

Opening Reception February 15, 6:30 – 8:30 pm

Mumm Napa Gallery

Several artists featured in the exhibit will attend…

RSVP  707-967-7740

Glacial Granite, High Sierra Backcountry, Yosemite National Park, California, copyright 1950 Philip Hyde. A 1950 vintage silver gelatin 5X7 contact print and two other Philip Hyde photographs will participate in the Golden Decade Photography Exhibit at Mumms Napa, Main Gallery.

Glacial Granite, High Sierra Backcountry, Yosemite National Park, California, copyright 1950 Philip Hyde. A 1950 vintage silver gelatin 5X7 contact print and two other Philip Hyde photographs will participate in the Golden Decade Photography Exhibit at Mumms Napa, Main Gallery.

Smith Andersen North and Mumm Napa Gallery are pleased to present The Golden Decade: Photography at the California School of Fine Arts 1945-1955, featuring the work of over 30 artists who emerged from the first 10 years of the photography program founded by Ansel Adams and led by Minor White. The program was the first in the nation to teach creative photography as a profession.

Minor White became the primary influence on the development of the new department after he replaced Ansel Adams as director in 1946. The school’s guest instructors were among the most influential figures in photography, including Edward Weston, Dorothea Lange, Imogen Cunningham, and Lisette Model.

The department gave rise to photographers who became important contributors to visual culture and whose work was shown in important exhibits, such as The Family of Man (MoMA, 1955, New York and international venues) and Perceptions (San Francisco Museum of Art, 1954). Among the artists were Rose Mandel, William Heick, Pat Harris, Bob Hollingsworth, C. Cameron Macauley, Ira Latour, Benjamen Chinn, Gerald Ratto, David Johnson, Ruth-Marion Baruch, Pirkle Jones, Philip Hyde, and John Upton; the last three of whom had significant publishing careers. Many of them were prominently featured in Aperture magazine, in the early years while Minor White was the editor, and Philip Hyde was exhibited in the Smithsonian and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The California School of Fine Arts was renamed the San Francisco Art Institute in 1961, and the school continues to train and develop world-renowned artists.

The Golden Decade: Photography at the California School of Fine Arts 1945-1955 Mumm Napa Gallery exhibit consists of almost 100 prints, many of which have not been shown before. We look forward to seeing you at Mumm Napa.

Mumm Napa

8445 Silverado Trail

Rutherford, California.

For more information and directions to the exhibit visit < Mumm Napa > .

New Silver Gelatin Black And White Prints

February 5th, 2014

Son Hand Prints New Silver Gelatin Black And White Prints From Philip Hyde’s Original Negatives

 

Granite Arrow Shaped Rock, Hemlock Tree, High Sierra Near Matterhorn Canyon, Yosemite National Park, California, 1950.

Granite, Hemlock Tree, High Sierra Near Matterhorn Canyon, Yosemite National Park, California, copyright 1950 Philip Hyde. One of those darkroom printed in 2014 by David Leland Hyde and Stefan Kirkeby.

In October 2013 and January 2014, David Leland Hyde and Stefan Kirkeby darkroom hand printed brand new contemporary silver gelatin prints from Philip Hyde’s best vintage original negatives of Alaska, Grand Canyon, Glen Canyon, the Redwoods and Point Reyes. In October Hyde and Kirkeby printed 10 images for a total of 62 contemporary prints and in January they printed six images for a total of 28 prints.

In most cases, the vintage prints of these particular negatives are nearly or all sold out. More importantly, with these new prints, the public can obtain darkroom prints in the same tradition that Philip Hyde made his own, with much less outlay. The black and white estate prints made by Imogen Cunningham’s heirs are valued at $2,500 and the contemporary black and white prints of images by one of Philip Hyde’s classmates, William Heick, are priced at $1,800. The contemporary darkroom prints of Philip Hyde’s top black and white photographs are valued at only $1200.

Hyde and Kirkeby only made 3-8 prints of most of the images. Most of the new silver gelatin prints are available only in a limited edition of 10 prints per image, though a few of the photographs are limited editions of 20. For ins and outs of limited editions see the blog post, “Why Photography Galleries, Curators And Collectors Like Limited Editions.”

“We made these darkroom prints in collaboration to maintain coherence between the new and old silver gelatin prints, “ explained Stefan Kirkeby. “Making prints in the darkroom like this carries on the legacy of all the early darkroom printers. We do it out of respect for the medium.”

Stefan Kirkeby has helped other black and white photographers make new silver gelatin prints including Golden Decade photographers Stan Zrnich, David Johnson, William Heick and the heirs of Don Whyte, Benjamen Chinn and many others.

“We used Ilford warm tone fiber-based paper,” Stefan Kirkeby said. “It contains the most silver of all Ilford papers. That’s why the prints have such beautiful warm tone blacks like Philip Hyde’s prints from the 1940s and 1950s.” At Stefan’s darkroom in San Rafael, we used a Durst Laborata 1200 for the 2 ¼ and 4×5 negatives. We also made some contact prints from two of Philip Hyde’s early 8×10 negatives: “Looking Down Merced River At El Capitan” and “Aspens, Conway Summit” that appeared in This Is The American Earth, the first book in the Sierra Club Exhibit Format Series by Ansel Adams and Nancy Newhall. For the 5×7 negatives we rented a darkroom at Rayco in San Francisco where they had a Durst 8×10 Enlarger with a 5×7 easel.

“Philip Hyde did a lot of work and did not get enough recognition,” Stefan Kirkeby said. “So many people are using the parks without knowing that he helped protect those lands with his photography. We are printing and sharing his photographs out of respect for his hard work.”

Have you ever been in a darkroom or made silver gelatin prints?

Smith Andersen North Gallery Representing Philip Hyde At Photo L. A.

January 13th, 2014

Smith Andersen North Gallery at Booth 308

The 23rd Annual International Los Angeles Photographic Art Exposition

L. A. Mart

1933 Broadway

Los Angeles, California   90007

January 16 – 19, 2014

 

Featuring photography by:

Daido Moriyama

Philip Hyde

Paul Caponigro

Benjamen Chinn

Golden Decade Photographers

Malick Sidibé

Klea McKenna

  

Stocking-by-Daido-Moriyama-blog

Stocking, copyright Daido Moriyama. Used by permission of Smith Andersen North Gallery.

In keeping with the increasing significance of Los Angeles in the international art market, Photo L. A. 2014 has relocated to the historic L. A. Mart in downtown Los Angeles. Photo L. A. is the longest running art fair West of New York. Photo L. A. organizers are expecting photography galleries and participants from all over the world and the West Coast in particular. The City of Los Angeles will host three major art shows the same weekend. The L. A. Art Show will be held at the L. A. Convention Center January 15-19 and Classic Photographs Los Angeles 2014 will grace Bonham’s on Sunset Boulevard on Janauary 18 and 19.

Photo L. A. will offer participants the opportunity to visit the booths of 54 gallery exhibitors, 11 non-profit organizations, six installations and five art schools. In Booth 308, near the main entrance, Smith Andersen North Gallery of San Anselmo, Marin County, California, will show some of the most sought after photography on the market today. Stefan Kirkeby, proprietor of Smith Andersen North said his gallery will be one of the few galleries exhibiting at Photo L. A. with a primary focus on California and West Coast photographers. However, Smith Andersen North will also show the world-famous Japanese street photographer Diado Moriyama, known for depicting the breakdown of traditional values in post World War II Japan.

Kirkeby also said that Smith Andersen North is one of the few Galleries publishing and producing copper plate photogravure prints. Smith Andersen North Lab produces photogravures of the photographs of Daido Moriyama and Malick Sidibé, an African black and white photographer most noted for his portraits of 1960s popular culture in Africa’s fastest growing city, Bamako, Mali.

Stefan Kirkeby is possibly most acclaimed for his custom wood framing and installations at many of California’s major museums including the recent Fisher Collection expansion at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Kirkeby also specializes in the development of the photography from the first ten years of Ansel Adams’ photography department at the California School of Fine Art, now the San Francisco Art Institute. This first ten years of the world’s first photography school to teach creative photography as a profession, when Minor White was lead instructor with guest lecturers Edward Weston, Imogen Cunningham, Dorothea Lange, Lisette Model and others, is now called the Golden Decade. The first contemporary group show of Golden Decade photographers at Smith Andersen North enjoyed a turnout of over 500 patrons. To read more about this see the blog post, “Over 500 People Attend Golden Decade Opening.” For more history and background on the Golden Decade, see the blog post, “The Golden Decade: Photography At The California School Of Fine Arts.”

The centerpiece of the Smith Andersen North booth at Photo L. A. will feature Golden Decade photographers, particularly Philip Hyde, Benjamen Chinn and Paul Caponigro. Kirkeby said, “I chose to show Philip Hyde at Photo L. A. to support the upcoming Philip Hyde show at Smith Andersen North. We just finished a show with Paul Caponigro and have exhibited not long ago Benjamin Chinn as well.” One of the hottest contemporary artists today is Klea McKenna, who will also be featured at Photo L. A.. McKenna is a San Francisco based experimental photographer.

Tickets to Photo L. A. are $20.00 for one day and $30.00 for the weekend. Any Landscape Photography Blogger reader who would like a complimentary ticket to the show, please contact Smith Andersen North Gallery at 415-455-9733 and tell them David Leland Hyde sent you. They will contact Stefan Kirkeby at the show and he will put you on the Will Call List for a free one day pass.

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?

Inherited Nature: Father And Son Exhibit At The Capitol Arts Gallery

April 25th, 2013

Inherited Nature: Photography by Philip Hyde & David Leland Hyde

(Following is a variation of the press release for the show.)

Graffiti, Street Art, Wall, San Francisco, California, copyright 2010 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Graffiti, Street Art, Wall, San Francisco, California, copyright 2010 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90. One of the images on display in “Inherited Nature.”

(See the photograph large, “Graffiti, Street Art, Wall, San Francisco, California.”)

Plumas Arts will exhibit the historically significant photographs by Philip Hyde that helped to make many of our national parks at the Capitol Art Gallery at 525 Main Street in Quincy, California from May 3 through June 1. An opening reception Friday, May 3, 5-7 pm launches the show.  A special presentation by David Leland Hyde, Philip Hyde’s son, will also be held at the Capitol Arts Gallery on Tuesday, May 14, at 6 pm.

During his 60-year full-time large format film photography career Philip Hyde lived with his wife Ardis in Plumas County for 56 years. His photographs that are part of permanent collections and were shown in venues such as the Smithsonian, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, George Eastman House and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, now come home for a rare showing in Plumas County. The Plumas Arts show will be the first local exhibition of its kind since Hyde’s passing in 2006.

Why “Inherited Nature”?

The exhibition, titled “Inherited Nature” will also be unique because it introduces the digital photography of David Leland Hyde, who walked many wilderness miles with his parents and now works to preserve and perpetuate his father’s archives. David Leland Hyde not only inherited his father’s collection, but also his father’s love of nature, art and activism that helped shape his own photography and view of the world. Part of the show naming process included consideration of the double meaning of “nature,” as well as a third double meaning of the phrase which refers to all of us inheriting nature and passing it down as well. One title kicked around was “Nature Passed Down.” The inherited aspect of nature and landscape does not apply only to David Leland Hyde. As far as his photography is concerned, he photographs the landscape because he grew up on the land. However, having lived in cities as well as Plumas County where he was born, David also enjoys architectural, portrait and street photography.

Philip Hyde first made images of the Sierra Nevada at age 16 in 1937 on a Boy Scout backpack in Yosemite National Park with a camera he borrowed from his sister. By 1942 he was making photographs of artistic merit in black and white, and much more rare at the time, in color. In 1945, as he was about to be honorably discharged from the Army Air Corp of World War II, Hyde wrote to Ansel Adams asking for recommendations for photography schools. Adams happened at the time to be finalizing plans for a new photography department at the California School of Fine Art, now the San Francisco Art Institute. The new photography school was the first ever to teach creative photography as a profession. Adams hired Minor White as lead instructor and he brought on teachers who were luminaries and definers of the medium such as Edward Weston, Dorothea Lange and Imogen Cunningham.

Living The Understatement Style

Referred to as a quiet and humble giantby prominent landscape photographer QT Luong, Hyde chose to live in the wilderness of Plumas County, sacrificing the greater monetary success of living close to the marketplace of the Bay Area for values more important to him. He set an example of living a simple, close to nature, low-impact lifestyle that becomes more relevant as a model all the time. QT Luong wrote of Philip Hyde:

Living a simple life out of the spotlight, he always felt that his own art was secondary to nature’s beauty and fragility… As an artist, this belief was reflected in his direct style, which appears deceptively descriptive, favoring truthfulness and understatement rather than dramatization.

Philip Hyde spent over one quarter of each year of his career on the back roads, trails, rails, rivers, lakes and ocean coasts of North America making the photographs that influenced a generation of photographers. Today some find it easy to take his compositions for granted, but this mainly happens because they have been emulated countless times. Much of landscape photography today applies principles and techniques developed by Philip Hyde.

Philip Hyde’s Influence On Landscape Photographers

Philip Hyde’s wide sweeping impact started with his role as the primary illustrator of the Sierra Club Books Exhibit Format Series, the series that popularized the large coffee table photography book. The series also contained popular titles by Ansel Adams and color photographer Eliot Porter. Eliot Porter, along with Philip Hyde is credited with introducing color to landscape photography. Well known photographer William Neill said, I have little doubt that every published nature photographer of my generation has been inspired by Philip’s efforts.” To read William Neill’s tribute to Philip Hyde in full, originally published in Outdoor Photographer magazine, see the guest blog post, “Celebrating Wilderness By William Neill.”

Just as Philip Hyde inspired photographers, his wife Ardis inspired him and traveled as his companion throughout his life and after most would have retired. With Ardis, he built his home near Indian Creek surrounded by woods. Over a two-year period, Philip designed, drew the plans and constructed not only the home with Ardis’ help, but also gathered local river rock for a large fireplace.

Ardis And Philip Hyde At Home

The Hydes first came to Plumas County in 1948 through a chance meeting on a train with Ardis’ friend from college then living at Lake Almanor, who helped Philip Hyde land a summer job in Greenville at the Cheney Mill. Having a young college kid from the city endlessly amused the other workers at the sawmill. One time young Philip even fell into the stinky millpond, which drew great laughter and a ticket home for the day to photograph. Ardis taught kindergarten and first grade for 12 years to help supplement Philip’s photography efforts beginning in 1950 when the Hydes settled in Plumas County.

While living in Plumas County for 56 years, Philip Hyde also actively contributed to the community. He was a founding artist member of Plumas Arts and contributed funds to provide lighting in the gallery. He was also one of the founders of the Plumas County Museum. He hired the architect Zach Stewart, whose famous architectural firm had hired both Hyde and Adams as photographers. Stewart charged the Plumas County Museum much less than usual for his architectural services and as a result the Plumas County Museum had money left over for a small investment fund that has helped it perpetuate for the many years since.

A portion of all proceeds from the exhibition will go directly to the Feather River Land Trust and Plumas Arts, continuing Philip Hyde’s tradition of contribution to the community.

Gallery Hours for the exhibition are Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 11am to 5:30pm and Saturdays form 11am to 3pm.  Arrangements may also be made for viewings outside these times by calling Plumas Arts at 530-283-3402.

The History Of Photography Collecting 1

November 29th, 2012

The History of Photography Collecting 1

Photography Has Proven One Of The Most Profitable And Satisfying Of All Art Forms To Collect…

While Photography as an art form has matured and found substantial space in most major museums, more people make and share photographs than ever before with the proliferation of digital cameras and camera phones. Interest in collecting photography has also grown dramatically, not to mention the value of some photographs. The art of collecting photography has followed the medium in an upward climb in popularity throughout its existence. But how did photography collecting begin? Who were the first collectors? What types of photographs were the first collected? Why were daguerreotypes so popular?

>> Read More >>

 

Figurehead Gallery Group Show: The Legacy of Ansel Adams & Minor White

October 26th, 2012

Golden Decade

Photographers

The Legacy Of Ansel Adams And Minor White

Reception:  Sunday, November 4, 2012, 1-4 pm

Exhibit:  November 1-December 1, 2012

EXTENDED TO DECEMBER 22, 2012

Buckskin Gulch, Paria River Canyon, Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness, Utah, copyright 1969 Philip Hyde. Baby Deardorff 4X5 large format view camera. Buckskin Gulch is the featured image on the announcement for The Legacy of Ansel Adams and Minor White show.

Photographs by Ansel Adams, Minor White, Philip Hyde, Bill Heick, Charles Wong, David Johnson, Benjamen Chinn, Ira Latour, Zoe Brown, John Upton, Gerald Ratto, Stan Zrnich, Pat Harris, Don Whyte, Lee Blodget, Fred Hill, Helen Howell, Harold Zegart, Cameron Macauley, Stephen Goldstine, Bob Hollingsworth, Al Richter and Leonard Zielaskewitz.

The Figurehead Gallery in Downtown Livermore is pleased to present an exhibit of photographs of the first students of the Photography Department at the California School of Fine Arts, now the San Francisco Art Institute. Founded by Ansel Adams, directed by Minor White, and staffed by such luminaries as Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, Dorothea Lange, Lisette Model, and Edward Weston, the first photography department in the US to teach creative photography as a full-time profession began in 1945 at the California School of Fine Art, now the San Francisco Art Institute. The importance of the school and its influence, not only on West Coast Photography but on photography as a whole, has been far-reaching, lasting well into the 21st century. Along with approximately 100 former student’s vintage and modern photographic prints, also on view will be several vintage prints by Ansel Adams on loan from his granddaughter, Sylvia Desin.

Several of the photographers, now in their 80′s and 90′s, will be in attendance as well as many family members of the photographers who have passed away. David Leland Hyde will include his father Philip Hyde’s vintage and more recent color photographs in the exhibition. Ken Ball and Victoria Whyte Ball, daughter of Philip Hyde’s classmate Don Whyte, opened the Figurehead Gallery to honor her father and the other photographers of the Golden Decade and to showcase local art from the East Bay Area.
The Figurehead Gallery
Old Theater Mall
2222 2nd Street, Suites 20 & 21
Livermore, CA 94550
925•337•1799
www.figureheadgallery.com

Minor White-Philip Hyde Letters 3

April 26th, 2012

Minor White Letters To Philip Hyde 3

Stick To One Style. Scope Is Fatal To Recognition…

Do you agree or disagree?

(Continued from the blog post, “Minor White-Philip Hyde Letters 2.”)

Note On Minor White’s Letters And The San Francisco Art Institute

Late Sun Near Point Pedro, Pacific Ocean, California, copyright 1948 by Philip Hyde. Scan of original hand made vintage black and white print. Photograph made on a California School of Fine Arts field trip.

Philip Hyde first met Minor White in the 1946 Photography Summer Session taught by Ansel Adams at the renowned California School of Fine Arts, now the San Francisco Art Institute. Ansel Adams soon after made Minor White lead instructor of the new photography program, which was the first to train photographers for a non-commercial creative photography full-time profession. Philip Hyde enrolled in the full time day student photography course taught by Minor White in 1947 and earned his certificate of completion in the Spring of 1950. His group was the second full-time class to go through the school. The letter correspondence between Philip Hyde and Minor White began shortly after in May 1950. The letters of Minor White to Philip Hyde are clearly responses to letters from Philip Hyde to Minor White. However, the first three letters from Philip Hyde to Minor White are missing. For more related background on Minor White, Alfred Stieglitz, Philip Hyde, Ansel Adams and other points in the history of photography see the blog post, “Minor White–Philip Hyde Letters.”

Letter From Minor White To Philip Hyde

(From Philip Hyde’s correspondence file with Minor White. Used with acknowledgement from the Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, New Jersey, copyright by the Trustees of Princeton University.)

“Make A Name For Yourself Faster, And Money Faster By Sticking To One Style Until You Catch On With The Public. Scope… Is Fatal To Recognition…”

30 Nov 1950

Dear Phil,

Say I want to apologize for being so remote the other morning. I was under the impression that you were returning that afternoon and could spend more time to talk and look at pictures. Sorry as hell.

Must say that your pictures looked better than ever. Clean as Ansel’s and a slant of your own seeing. Was amused at Pete’s choices—as I have been several times lately when the opportunity came up for him to pick from other people’s work. Still the same seeing as his Filmore project—think the years out of photography will be better for him than anything else.

The Albert Bender Grants-In-Aid foundation is including photography this year. Ansel Adams is chairman of the committee and I am serving on it also—so is Imogen Cunningham. Ansel is so confident that you will hit the Guggenheim that he would just as soon not consider any application you might make for the Bender. I am still seeing to it that you get an application—and leave the rest up to you. It’s 1200 bucks for creative photography or some project that can include creative photography.

When I get in a philosophical mood (which at the moment I am as far from as possible—printing all day) wonder if you will continue the approach to photography you now have for how many years. You are starting a career dead center in the same tradition Ansel stands for. Starting as positively few of my students have done. You earned the position, I can add happily. If I just can curb my patience, it will be heartening to see how you grow. And in a way I envy your present mastery of the medium, it is full and fulfilling, and your pictures show you are creating freely. Pursue the vein as long as it lasts. The tradition you are following is a fertile one. You can make a name for yourself faster, and money faster by sticking to one style until you catch on with the public. Scope, that I am always chasing, is fatal to recognition I gather. At least so I am told. But that is hardly anything to keep me from photographing everything I can in as appropriate a manor as I can manage, NO?

Cheerio, old bean, best regards to ‘wife and kids.’ Sorry I am in no mood to rave on. I probably ought to frame the folded fine prints. One of them is only a hair off success.

Minor [Hand written signature]

(Emphasis on the above bold sentence added by Landscape Photography Blogger.)

(Continued in the blog post, “Minor White-Philip Hyde Letters 4.”)

Do you agree that scope is fatal to recognition? Does this still apply today? Please share your thoughts…