Posts Tagged ‘John Sexton’

Monday Blog Blog: Ansel Adams In The National Parks

February 28th, 2011

Book Review: Ansel Adams In The National Parks: Photographs From America’s Wild Places

Highlights Of And About The Essays And The Photographs

 

Ansel Adams In The National Parks by Ansel Adams. Little, Brown and Company, 2010. Amazon.com price $22.72.

How to add to what other reviewers have said? Ansel Adams In The National Parks has been reviewed in a number of other venues online (see list of relevant posts below), which represents a sizable marketing and publicity outlay for Little, Brown and Company. Little Brown was kind enough to send me a review copy as a gift, thank you to Little Brown and the Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust as well as the Center For Creative Photography. I imagine the other reviewers received advanced review copies to aid their review efforts too.

Below is what I like and dislike about this new release. I highly applaud the book and offer some criticism too. Ansel Adams in the National Parks: Photographs from America’s Wild Places (Amazon) is a beautiful addition to anyone’s library. The look and feel of this new volume about Ansel Adams, pleases the senses and says quality all the way, yet the book is reasonably priced at only $40.00. Considering the book displays “more than 225 photographs” and the reader discovers “many rarely seen and 50 never before published” Ansel Adams photographs. These facts alone make it worth owning. The new binding of  Ansel Adams: 400 Photographs, Ansel Adams In Color and Ansel Adams In The National Parks: Photographs From America’s Wild Places are all similar in attractive design and style: block lettering on white covers with smaller photographs on front and back.

In Ansel Adams In The National Parks I was happy to find many Ansel Adams photographs I have never seen before. The far majority of his photographs of the national parks in the book are a supreme joy to discover. There are perhaps half a dozen or less that I thought were below the standards of what Ansel Adams himself would have published. Ansel Adams was very particular about which of his photographs he printed and published. He printed only about 900 images out of his 50,000 original negatives.

I liked the notes and letters between Ansel Adams and Nancy Newhall and Beaumont Newhall, when they either traveled together or wrote to each other about Ansel Adams’ travels and photography on his Guggenheim to photograph the National Parks.

I also enjoyed reading darkroom black and white photographer John Sexton on printing Ansel Adams photographs in the 1970s.

It is always a treat to read Wallace Stegner. His essays are well-informed and well-argued. As good as his essays are, his fiction is even better. Why not use new essays rather than reprints of essays published in previous books about Ansel Adams? Plenty of high quality credentialed essayists would love the opportunity to write about Ansel Adams in the National Parks.

The essays in the back of Ansel Adams In The National Parks, sing, especially the last essay by William A. Turnage “Ansel Adams, Environmentalist.” William A. Turnage’s prose is lyrical as he praises and passionately gives tribute to his life-long friend and partner. The two essays by Richard B. Woodward, “Ansel Adams In The National Parks” on the travels of Ansel Adams, Nancy Newhall and Beaumont Newhall and “Ansel Adams and the Preservation of Wilderness,” each provide a well-written and fascinating short history lesson. In “Ansel Adams and the Preservation of Wilderness”  Richard B. Woodward wrote:

As our sense of what happened yesterday or decades ago is often as muddled and contentious as our plans for the future, a mechanical process that provides more or less realistic evidence of the world as it once was can be of immense practical and political value…. Architecture historians in several European countries understood this vital function of photography soon after Daguerre took credit for inventing it in 1839. In France the government had already founded the Commission des Monuments Historiques in 1837 and assigned it to compile a list of old decaying medieval and Renaissance structures—cathedrals, parks, chateaus, villages—imperiled by neglect…. In 1851, the Commission selected five photographers—Edourd-Denis Baldus, Hippolyte Bayard, Gustave Le Gray, Henri Le Secq, and O. Mestral—for an elite unite that operated under the name La Mission Heliographique. It was perhaps the first time, though by no means the last, that photographers were hired in a noble-minded effort to preserve valuable parts of the world, in this case a centuries-old heritage that France was in danger of forfeiting unless quick action was taken to save these crumbling and irreplaceable sites….

Richard B. Woodward continued with sections on how photographs helped protect Yosemite National Park, Yellowstone, and many other conservation causes all over the world. Then he wrote about Ansel Adams’ leadership in the transformation of photography and its establishment as an art form:

By organizing the exhibition Group f.64 in 1932—with Edward Weston, Imogen Cunningham, and others—Adams became an eloquent spokesman for “straight photography” in San Francisco and far beyond….Finally no photographer except Stieglitz did more to win acceptance for photography as a fine art. In 1940, when the Museum of Modern Art in New York created a separate department of photography, the first in the world, Adams became one of its founding fathers. Without training as a scholar or curator, he was nonetheless instrumental in the rediscovery of Watkins, Jackson, and O’Sullivan. By extolling their achievements to Beaumont Newhall and others in the museum community, he helped to construct a nascent art historical continuum for landscape photography. His own international prominence as an artist toward the end of his life altered the material conditions for those choosing to take the medium in that direction. In the 1970s, prints by Adams became one of the pillars of an emerging market for photographs as an art collectible, for sale in galleries and auction houses. The select but not inconsiderable number of photographers lucky enough to earn a living today from sales of their prints have Adams to thank for proving this could be done. Despite an altered context and a newfound respect for photographers within the realm of contemporary art, his pictures remain basic to the photography market and show no sign of diminishing in prevalence twenty-five years after his death.

Related Posts:

“Ansel Adams In The National Parks” Ansel Adams Gallery

“Black And White Prints, Collectors And Philip Hyde” Fine Art Photography Collector’s Resource

“Ansel Adams In The National Parks” National Parks Traveler

“Ansel Adams In The National Parks” Travel Blissful

“Review: Ansel Adams In The National Parks” JMG Galleries

“Ansel Adams In The National Parks” Photonaturalist

Monday Blog Blog: Photoshop For Pros

January 24th, 2011

After School Redux, Reno, Nevada, 2009 by David Leland Hyde. "Hey, wait a minute: was that image Photoshopped?"

Whether you love or hate Photoshop, it is transforming photography and how photography is perceived. Many of you reading this may be more experienced with Photoshop than I am, but you might gain insight from the Photoshop masters who have helped me in the digital interpretation of my father pioneer landscape photographer Philip Hyde’s photographs, as well as the journey I have been on in the process.

“Most of Ansel Adams’ iconic images required greater printing skills than most photographers possess,” John Sexton said in the newly released book, Ansel Adams in the National Parks. (Be sure to catch the upcoming Landscape Photography Blogger review of this excellent new book about arguably the best black and white printer of the 20th Century.) John Sexton is a master black and white darkroom printer and was Ansel Adams’ photographic assistant in the 1970s. Landscape photographer Carr Clifton and other acknowledged Photoshop masters such as Terrance Reimer of West Coast Imaging, Kim Reed of Reed Photo Imaging, David Staley, Jr. of Outdoor Plus Digital Photo Lab and Ed Cooper, who was also a pioneer mountaineer and large format photographer and now works mainly on restoring his own color shifted early Kodak large format film, these Photoshop experts have all helped me work on Dad’s photographs. Future blog posts will feature some of them. These five gentlemen have a combined Photoshop experience of over 60 years. Even so, matching the printing of my father’s black and white silver gelatin, color dye transfer or color Cibachrome and Ilfochrome prints, has been a challenge for even these very best in the business.

Fortunately Carr Clifton was a friend and neighbor of Dad’s for over 35 years and a photographic protege as well. With the color prints that Carr Clifton has made, we have improved on a number of Dad’s prints, a large number are essentially nearly as good or equal and a small number of Dad’s prints just can’t be matched without whole days of time invested tinkering in Photoshop. Typically in our process in the last two years, after Carr Clifton finished his master work on Dad’s images, I took the finished prints and put them in front of some of the top gallerists in the world representing landscape photography and Dad’s professional landscape photographer friends. Then I often returned to Carr Clifton for more tweaking. However, from now on I need to do more and more of the Photoshop work myself rather than outsourcing it. I also intend to do all Photoshop work on my own photographs. This puts pressure on me to learn 10 years worth of skills in a year or two or less. I have to become one of the best Photoshop masters ever in crash course fashion, to have what it takes to work on Dad’s photographs. In the midst of fulfilling my many other obligations, over the last year I have been looking around and learning, gearing up for an inevitable transition to me doing most of my Photoshop work. I will share here some of the resources I have found that I like. If I forget any resources that I ought to have included, please chime in and tell me about those that have helped you.

Carr Clifton himself recommends Lynda.com because he says it teaches all levels of Photoshop skills, even the most advanced fixes to difficult problems. Lynda.com also sells a video called, “Photoshop CS5: Landscape Photography.” After meeting Bob and Betty Reed of Reed Photo Imaging in Denver, who print for John Fielder and David Muench, and meeting their son Kim Reed, the technical backbone of the business and a Photoshop genius, I bought Kim Reed’s Photoshop course called, Inside The Master’s Circle Training: Adobe Photoshop Edition. Kim Reed and John Harris, the course’s instructors, according to the DVD’s back matter, “have been retouching images for renowned fine artists and Fortune 500 companies since the early pioneering days of digital imaging.” I have only started the course and had a few short lessons from Kim himself, but from what I have seen so far the presentation is easy to follow and covers A to Z everything photographers need to master. (See a future blog post for a specific review of this DVD set.)

At the end of 2008, I first started learning to use Photoshop by purchasing Elements and attending a three evening basic class through the Boulder Valley School District’s Life Long Learning For Adults program. The teacher recommended the Classroom In A Book series for learning Photoshop. I also bought Teach Yourself Visually: Restoration and Retouching with Photoshop Elements 2. In time I graduated to Photoshop proper and now have a large list of e-books that my computer guy downloaded for me, but I have not yet had a chance to read. I also have several printed books on Photoshop Lightroom 2.

Speaking of Lightroom, recently I was browsing around on blogs and ran across Rob Sheppard’s new blog called Nature and Photography. I remember him as the former Editor and now Editor At Large of Outdoor Photographer who had published articles about Dad numerous times and without hesitation paid Dad’s rather high minimum licensing fee for using Dad’s photographs. Ah, how times have changed, and Rob Sheppard has too. He is producing a range of interesting new books and materials as he freelances and photographs. In one blog post he discussed the use of Photoshop 9 with Lightroom. What he had to say is surprising. Here’s a taste:

Adobe just announced Photoshop Elements 9 last week, and this is a very significant upgrade that does affect digital photographers, including nature photographers. It now allows us to do some things that make work easier for certain techniques, such as double-processing RAW (really an important technique for nature photographers — more below). I have been working with the beta for a few months as I worked on a book about it, Top Tips Simplified, Photoshop Elements 9. I believe that most photographers using Lightroom and Photoshop Elements work on images more effectively and more quickly than any but the most proficient users of Photoshop…

That is a strong claim and well-substantiated by the rest of his informative post. Also in the Lightroom vein, Mark Graf on his Notes From The Woods blog, posts a link to a site called Lightroom Killer Tips as well as an extensive resource called Photoshop News. Robert Rodriguez, Jr. on his Beyond The Lens Blog, posts great videos on various Photoshop methods and other topics. Here’s one called, “Controlling Exposure and Blending in Photoshop.” Jim M. Goldstein keeps us informed with dozens and dozens of posts on Photoshop, it’s uses, techniques, and darker side. Master landscape photographer Lewis Kemper teaches Photoshop classes through several organizations and offers a superb Photoshop Training DVD set. For more on Lewis Kemper and his expertise see the blog post, “Monday Blog Blog: Lewis Kemper.”

Guy Tal’s Web Journal On Landscape and Images, often holds forth more on the philosophy of digital print making and landscape art, than on specific methods or strategies, though he covers those too. He is a crusader on behalf of the good that can be done with Photoshop and its possibilities versus old printing and developing technologies that a nostalgic minority work to hold over from the film era. Michael E. Gordon wrote an excellent review of Guy Tal’s new e-book, “Creative Landscape Photography,” that shares more on Guy Tal’s approach. Stay tuned for the soon upcoming Landscape Photography Blogger review of “Creative Landscape Photography” as well.

One of the finest teachers I have seen yet of digital landscape photography is Michael Frye. His popular and entertaining blog posts called the Photo Critique Series offer some of the best advice available today on how to whip your photographs into shape. They also encourage a lively discussion that is the most energizing and interesting aspect of all, particularly with Michael’s experienced moderation. Here’s one recent post in the series and another here to give you a sense of how it goes.

If you choose to go beyond landscape photography there are dozens, perhaps hundreds of resources out there. I will share one top quality one here: Chromasia. Anyone who wants to be impressed by a professional, high-traffic photoblog, go see this expression of the new era in which we now live. You may not even like what David J. Nightingale can do to photographs, but you will know you are seeing something that not many can do, though he does offer a full range of tutorials and coaching, so look into that too if you like too.

If I know you or I don’t know you and you provide a significant or even minor amount of Photoshop teaching, tools or some form of skill development, please don’t take it personally that I did not include you here in this post as I am typing into the wee hours and going bleary-eyed. Please do take two minutes to add a link and short, tastefully helpful blurb about your offering in the comments below.

Photography Workshops Taught By Philip Hyde

April 5th, 2010

(New content has bee added to four of the sub-tabs under INFO on the Philip Hyde Photography website. For example: under Workshops As Instructor, the text below has been added. More to come…)

El Capitan, Clouds, Fall, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, 1973 by Philip Hyde. Made while visiting Yosemite Valley to teach at the Ansel Adams Gallery Workshops. New York Life Insurance made this Yosemite classic into a poster. The New York Life logo was taken from the outline of El Capitan in this photograph.

(To see the photograph full screen Click Here.)

In 1952, two years after Philip Hyde had earned a certificate of completion from Ansel Adam’s Photography Program at the California School of Fine Arts; Minor White, lead instructor, asked him to return as a guest lecturer and guest teaching assistant. In the summer of 1968, the Ansel Adams Gallery invited Philip Hyde to attend an Ansel Adams Gallery Workshop taught by Ansel Adams and others. The next summer Philip Hyde became a teaching assistant and by the early 1970s, Philip Hyde was a co-instructor with Ansel Adams and other luminaries in various workshops such as Morley Baer, Dorr Bothwell, Norman Locks, Alan Ross, Dave Bohn, Yousef Karsh, Bob Kolbrenner, William Garnett, Steve Crouch, David Cavagnaro, Roger Minick, Ralph Putzker, Arnold Newman, Wynn Bullock, Jerry Uelsmann, John Upton and others. Philip Hyde sometimes taught the Ansel Adams June Workshop with Ansel Adams and other instructors, other years Philip Hyde co-taught the Color Workshop and some years he taught both workshops.

Philip Hyde also taught photography workshops for such organizations as the Museum of Northern Arizona, Friends of Photography, John Sexton, Morningbird Ranch, Sierra Photographic Center, Tahoe-Truckee Photographic Workshops, Utah Museum of Natural History, UCSC Extension, Anderson Ranch, Ray McSavaney, Point Reyes Field Seminars, Sea Ranch, Yosemite In Winter, Kenab Workshops, Piet Van de Mark, Owens Valley Photography Workshops, The Alaska Photographic Workshops and Nature Photography Expeditions International.

Many years of workshops, a lot of material taught. Much insight and inspiration…

More details to come…

‘Our National Parks’ Exhibition Now at Scott Nichols Gallery in San Francisco

February 20th, 2010

February 4 — March 27, 2010

(See photograph full screen: Click Here.)

Mt. Denali, Reflection Pond, Alaska Range, Denali National Park, Alaska, 1971, by Philip Hyde. First published in Alaska: The Great Land by Mike Miller and Peggy Wayburn, 1974, Sierra Club Books. Helped expand Denali National Park and other wilderness in Alaska. It is a matter of record that Philip Hyde's photographs helped make more national parks than any other photographer, but Ken Burns did not mention this in his PBS Special that prominently showcased Ansel Adams' photographs. Gregarious Ansel Adams was a strong proponent of Philip Hyde's work and reserved Philip Hyde was happy to see Ansel Adams receive more recognition. Mary Street Alinder, Ansel Adams biographer, just today wrote in an e-mail that Ansel Adams thought Philip Hyde did not get what he deserved even from the Sierra Club.

The Scott Nichols Gallery is proud to present ‘Our National Parks‘. Photographs by Ansel Adams, William Bell, Wynn Bullock, Anne Brigman, Harry Callahan, Paul Caponigro, Imogen Cunningham, William Garnett, Rolfe Horn, Philip Hyde, William Henry Jackson, Rondal Partridge, Eliot Porter, Michael Rauner, Alan Ross, Don Ross, John Sexton, Carleton E. Watkins, Brett Weston, Edward Weston and others. The exhibition will be on view through March 27, 2010.

On August 25th, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed into law an act creating the National Park Service. Photographs made as early the 1860s by Carleton E. Watkins and his contemporaries, brought about recognition and preservation of our national treasures. This exhibition celebrates the beauty and majesty of our country’s landscape from Yosemite National Park to the Cape Cod National Seashore. Nineteenth century photographs are represented by Carelton E. Watkins’ grand Yosemite views, William Henry Jackson’s dramatic Yellowstone scenes, and William Bell and the Kolb Brothers southwestern vistas. H.C. Tibbitt’s photograph, The Fall Of The Monarch With Troop F, Sixth Cavalry, United States Army, Mariposa Grove, 1899, illustrates how the military was used to protect Yosemite before the National Park Service.

El Capitan, Winter, Yosemite National Park, California, 1948, by Ansel Adams. Courtesy Scott Nichols Gallery.

Ansel Adams’ early photographs are prominent in this exhibition, “From Glacier Point,” 1927 and “Monolith and The Face of Half Dome, Yosemite National Park,” also 1927, plus classic images from Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Denali National Park, and Cape Cod National Seashore. Adams received a camera and made his first trip to Yosemite in 1916. Inspired by the splendor and overwhelming sensory experience of Yosemite, Ansel Adams wrote, “a new era began for me.” He later joined the Sierra Club, became a life member and served on the board of directors. His photographic book, Sierra Nevada: The John Muir Trail influenced the creation of Kings Canyon National Park further south in California’s Sierra Nevada.

Best General View, Yosemite Valley, Circa 1867, by Carleton Watkins. Courtesy Scott Nichols Gallery.

In 1955, at the request of the National Park Service, Ansel Adams and Nancy Newhall curated an exhibition for the Sierra Club’s Le Conte Memorial building in Yosemite Valley. The exhibition and subsequent book, This Is the American Earth, first in the Exhibit Format Series, became a popular success. Exhibited across the country and Europe, the exhibition included the photographs of Wynn Bullock, William Garnett, Philip Hyde, Eliot Porter, Brett and Edward Weston, and many others featured in ‘Our National Parks’. The Exhibit Format Series expanded to dozens of books, many of which helped in campaigns to create new national parks. Ansel Adams, Eliot Porter and Philip Hyde were the primary contributors of the series.

See photograph full screen: Click Here.

Lava, Flowers, Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, 1983, by Philip Hyde.

The National Park mission remains the same today as it did one hundred and fifty years ago to those inspired by the magnificence of our country’s natural wonders — to make the parks accessible to all and to preserve them for future generations.

Scott Nichols at the Scott Nichols Gallery next to Philip Hyde's "Mt. Denali, Reflection Pond" under the title script for the exhibition, by Alex Ramos with i-Phone.

Scott Nichols Gallery
49 Geary Street #415
San Francisco, California 94108
415-788-4641
www.scottnicholsgallery.com
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 11-5:30 and by appointment.

58 Years In The Wilderness Intro 2

January 18th, 2010

Drake's Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore, California, 1972, by Philip Hyde. From the Reprint of "Island In Time: Point Reyes Peninsula." (Out of Print)

(See the photograph full screen: Click Here.)

(CONTINUED FROM BLOG POST, “58 Years In The Wilderness Intro 1“)

Why did the pair spend one third of their lives pursuing this unusual brand of adventure?

As the 1950s became the 1960s, groups like the Sierra Club, the Wilderness Society, the Izaak Walton League, the National Audubon Society and the National Wildlife Federation brought public attention to protecting and enjoying nature. Howard Zahniser of the Wilderness Society authored the Wilderness Act legally defining wilderness. In 1962, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring came out in protest of chemical spraying and exposed corporate environmental negligence. The same year, Sierra Club Books released In Wildness Is The Preservation of the World with color photographs by Eliot Porter with quotes from Henry David Thoreau and Island in time: The Point Reyes Peninsula by Harold Gilliam with photographs by Philip Hyde. These were the first two widely distributed books with large color fine art landscape photographs sharing the beauty of nature. While Eliot Porter’s book was all color, Philip Hyde mixed beautiful vintage black and white photographs with large color plates. Dad was recognized as a master of both mediums, though as color caught on, Porter’s book sold more copies. A handful of photographers, through the Sierra Club and its leader David Brower, brought wilderness right to the United States Congress and Senate and into living rooms across the country. The Sierra Club had reinvented the large picture book as the Exhibit Format Series. These high-quality coffee table volumes represented, as never before, the wild places the Sierra Club wanted to protect.

Photographs first helped preserve wilderness in 1864, moving President Abraham Lincoln to establish Yosemite as the world’s first scenic land preserve. Yet in the 1950s and 1960s the use of the camera to defend wilderness reached its zenith. More preserves, wildernesses, National Parks and Monuments formed out of campaigns by environmental groups than ever as America’s leaders and people saw natural landscapes through a “new” medium. During the heyday of the Sierra Club publishing program, Club membership grew exponentially. The first book in the series, This Is The American Earth featured primarily the work of Ansel Adams though other well-known western photographers such as Eliot Porter, Philip Hyde, Edward Weston, Pirkle Jones, Minor White and Cedric Wright had one or two photographs. Ansel Adams, Eliot Porter and Philip Hyde became the primary illustrators of the series. Dad’s photographs in particular, appeared in eight out of the sixteen books published in the sequence. Several volumes in the series became bestsellers and this combined with Washington DC lobbying, brought the Sierra Club into national prominence.

After marrying in June 1947, Dad and Mom joined the Sierra Club later that year while Dad started photography school. The Club had just over 900 members, but within the next two decades the ranks swelled to over one million. Other conservation organizations like the Wilderness Society also grew exponentially and many new organizations formed.

Photography itself had undergone a transformation as well. Soft focus pictorialism dominated the first third of the 1900s. Few photographers successfully bucked the trend toward printing on canvas and other art papers, soft focus and special effects that made photographs resemble paintings, until Alfred Stieglitz published a magazine called Camera Work in which he began to encourage what he called “straight photography.” Photographers in the Western United States increasingly made photographs of landscapes without people. Only a few pioneers had captured landscapes previously, they were not common. In 1932 photographers Willard Van Dyke, Imogen Cunningham, Edward Weston, Henry Swift, Sonya Noskowiak, John Paul Edwards and Ansel Adams formed Group f.64 in San Francisco. Named after f.64, the smallest lens setting enabling the most detail in a photograph, the group composed a manifesto limiting “members and invitational names to those workers who are striving to define photography as an art form by simple and direct presentation through purely photographic methods… Pure photography is defined as possessing no qualities of technique, composition or idea, derivative of any other art form.”

In the mid 1940s, Group f.64 member Ansel Adams founded a fine art Photography Department, the first ever of its kind, at the California School of Fine Arts, now the San Francisco Arts Institute. When Ansel Adams first started the department, students of painting, sculpture and other disciplines erupted into a school-wide protest against photography being part of a fine art school. In those days, photography was not considered an art form, let alone a fine art. Yet Ansel Adams persisted with encouragement and support from San Francisco art patron Albert Bender and other California art movers, as well as fellow photographers such as Paul Strand in the Midwest, whose work appeared in Camera Work, and from Alfred Stieglitz himself. Group f.64 members Edward Weston and Imogen Cunningham helped teach at the California School of Fine Arts. Besides Philip Hyde, the program turned out such notable photographers as Pirkle Jones, Ruth-Marion Baruch, Charles Wong, Bill Heick, Cameron Macaulay, Benjamen Chinn, Don Whyte, Rose Mandel, Bob Hollingsworth, Stan Zrnich, Pat Harris Noyes, David Johnson, Ira Latour, Gerald Ratto, John Upton, Walter Stoy,  and others.

With three years of photography school and a certificate of completion, Dad built on what became known as the west coast tradition and went on to influence a generation of nature photographers with his simple, understated forms and subtle desert and mountain landscapes.

“Dear Phil,” Minor White, lead instructor at CSFA, wrote in a letter to Dad in 1950, “Your pictures are as clean as Ansel’s, with a slant of your own seeing. You are starting your career as few of my students have done. In a way I envy your present mastery of the medium…”

By 1971, Ansel Adams wrote that Philip Hyde was “one of the very best photographers of the natural scene in America.” Ansel Adams said he liked Dad’s photograph, “The Minarets from Tarn Above Lake Ediza,” better than his own photograph of the Minarets in the Ansel Adams Wilderness. In 1999, American Photo Magazine named Dad’s “Cathedral in the Desert, Glen Canyon” one of the top 100 photographs of the 20th Century. Dad’s work appeared in more than 75 books, 130 newspapers, 100 exhibitions and over 60 magazines including Audubon, Wilderness, Life, National Geographic, Aperture, Newsweek, Time and Reader’s Digest. He has received many awards including one for lifetime achievement from the North American Nature Photography Association in 1996 and the Albert Bender Award in 1956. The principal artist in over a dozen books, he also wrote magazine articles and an autobiographical essay to accompany his photographs and the writings he selected of John Muir’s in The Range of Light (1992). Dad wrote the text for Drylands: The Deserts of North America (1987), which won three literary awards. Beginning in the 1970s he taught photographic workshops for more than 30 years for organizations such as the Museum of Northern Arizona, John Sexton Workshops, Ansel Adams Gallery Workshops in Yosemite and many other schools of photography.

Dad and Mom stand as examples of how to tread lightly on the earth and find satisfaction in a simple self-sufficient lifestyle. Early in Dad’s career he made a decision to live in the mountains of Northeastern California far away from the photography marketplace. By living in such a remote place, he also gave up the opportunity to be more involved in the Sierra Club and other organizations. With fewer book signings, gallery openings and connections he sacrificed greater financial success to live close to nature.

Mom worked by his side from the beginning. While he attended the California School of Fine Art she worked as the receptionist at the school. Later she became known as an excellent kindergarten teacher and was renowned in the mountain valleys of Plumas County for her knowledge of birds, plants, organic gardening and natural cuisine long before it became popular. Dad thought he would go on working and making photographs his entire life, but in the summer of 1999 he began to lose his eyesight, and within a year he was completely blind.

(See the photograph full screen: Click Here.)

Virginia Creeper, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, 1977, by Philip Hyde. Made more magazine covers than any other Philip Hyde photograph. Example of Straight Photography and colorful enough without amping up the saturation.

Yet Dad proved there is more to vision than eyes and more to seeing than vision. He was one of the first to visualize a civilization in harmony with all life rather than exploiting the Earth as a commodity. In his photography training, as in any good art training, he learned to see deeply. Photography is the art of seeing patterns, forms, relationships that the untrained eye would not see. One day in 1987 he slowed his gait as he passed through our yard at home. He stared at the Virginia Creeper Vines against the weathered gray cedar siding of the house he built. Besides autumn reds, yellows and oranges contrasting with unturned green leaves, some of the leaves reflected blue from the sky. Most eyes do not notice the blue because we automatically edit it to green, the expected color for leaves without the reflected sheen. He ran inside and gathered his wooden Reis tripod and 4X5 Baby Deardorf view camera and set up on our front lawn for one of his most widely-published and exhibited photographs.

By late 2001, his 58-year photography career ended suddenly as his sight fully faded to black and he could no longer make photographs or even print them in his darkroom. Mom acted as his guide, business manager and constant companion. She tried to do the work of two people, keeping up with the photography business and finances as well as maintaining the grounds, house and kitchen. Then the second devastation arrived, Mom died suddenly in March 2002.When she passed on, I moved back to the mountain home where I was born, from my place across the country in upstate New York. We cried, reminisced and cried some more. Sometimes we screamed into the lonely woods, at the sky, at the stars, but the night absorbed it all. In time we began to talk on tape about the many wilderness miles we walked together. Dad described his adventures with Mom seeking the “Good Life” while helping to protect such places as Dinosaur National Monument, The Grand Canyon, The California Redwoods, and many other seashores and wilderness areas of the American West.

Until his death in 2006, I read him the environmental news almost daily. He relied on dreams for glimpses of the natural world he spent a lifetime defending. We sought to make sense of the loss of my mother; the loss of Dad’s eyesight and the state of environmental decline and violence the world is in today. Dad sometimes wondered why he worked so hard. Unfortunately environmental battles are never won, they are merely postponed. The dam site is still there, the mineral resources are still in the ground, the trees are still uncut, the road plans may some day yet destroy the pristine meadow. The beaches are always ripe for new hotels and condominiums. Nonetheless Dad saw clearly two possible visions for the future. In one we continue to poison our home until we destroy ourselves. In the other we learn to live in harmony with life and sustain ourselves on this planet perpetually. In the chapters that follow, I retrace the wanderings of Ardis and Philip and sometimes me tagging along, throughout the wilds on an odyssey through remote terrain from Alaska to Switzerland to Mexico to Southern Utah, my dad’s favorite state besides his home in the mountains of Northern California. All with the purpose of offering a glimpse of how one family lived and did what they could to make a difference and inspire others to do the same, to bring about the future with the most possibilities.

58 Years In The Wilderness Intro 1

January 18th, 2010

Cathedral In The Desert, Glen Canyon, Utah, 1964, by Philip Hyde. Named One of The Top 100 Photographs of the 20th Century by American Photo Magazine

(See the photograph full screen: Click Here.)

Revised January 17, 2010
Originally written 2005

From 58 Years In The Wilderness:
The Story of Ardis and Philip Hyde Traveling, Defending and Living in the Wilderness

Introduction First Draft

Two days of rain battered our white plastic rain fly. The 20-foot-square white tarp hung from ropes tied to trees on the two diagonal corners and to stakes in the ground on the remaining corners. Under the tarp our orange four-man tent billowed in gusts of wind.

I snuggled into my down sleeping bag in the tent and listened to the drone of rain. Just outside the front flap of the tent, though well under the rain fly, squatted Mom. She held a Sierra Club cup with a decaf coffee freshly poured from the small teapot on the grate down at the fire.

It was April 1970 and we were backpacking in Coyote Gulch in the Escalante Wilderness, Utah in an area that later became inaccessible as the waters of “Lake” Powell drowned the mouth of Coyote Gulch. My dad, Philip Hyde, a freelance landscape photographer, often worked with the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations such as the Wilderness Society and National Audubon. He found out about this spectacular red-walled canyon full of arches, overhangs and green seeps slipping over hidden ledges, because the area was part of a proposed wilderness and more than once put forward as a potential National Park. By 1970 Dad’s photographs had already appeared in dozens of books and before the United States Congress, Senate and many other state and local political leaders on behalf of wild lands all over the Western U.S. His photographs were applied to more environmental campaigns than those of any other photographer of his time.

Ardis and David, Camp at Icicle Springs, Coyote Gulch, Escalante Wilderness, Utah, 1970, by Philip Hyde. Baby Deardorf 4X5 View Camera taking a break, Hasselblad in operation. Ardis Hyde writing in the trip log.

The wind picked up and the rain fly pelted the tent roof, keeping me from dozing off and getting my daily nap I usually had in the afternoon at age five.

“Where’s Daddy-O?” I asked, up on an elbow to see Mom.

“He’s getting firewood.”

“In the rain?”

“He must have had to go farther than expected and decided to hole up under an overhang or something,” Mom said.

“Hmm. I hope he’s all right.”

“Now David, your father is a very capable man. Do you want more hot chocolate?”

“Yeah,” I sat up, pulled my Sierra Club cup out and held it up to her.

“Say please,” she responded.

“Please,” I said.

She carried my cup down to the fire in the rain, balanced it on a rock, lifted the larger kettle from the campfire with pliers, tilted it and poured into my cup spilling only slightly. She delivered the hot chocolate to me, safely squatting and dry still just inside the tent and without shoes.

“Let that cool again now,” she said.

“OK,” I said, balancing the cup to the side and scrunching back down into my bag. “It seems pretty dark.”

“There is plenty of light left,” she said.

The wind and rain blended into a rising roar. I was back down into my bag but up on my elbows. I shivered though I was a mummy in down. I sipped tiny scalding tastes of hot chocolate. The light from the campfire flashed and flickered dimly on the tent ceiling. The shadows deepened. Every few seconds I heard the splitting of limbs or the thunk of twigs on the tarp. The fresh smell of masses of water pounding sand and sandstone was punctuated with bursts of lightning followed by deafening cracks in the sky.

Just then Dad appeared with a large arm-full of wood.

“You sure are soaking wet,” Mom said. “Why don’t you come in and take off those wet clothes?”

“I need to get a few more armloads of wood,” he said. He began to jog off into the rain but she stopped him.

“Philip?”

“Ardis?”

“There’s hot chocolate here,”

“Ummm,” he said kissing her quickly on the lips and running. “Thank you love, I’ll have some in just a minute.”

I snuggled deeper. Mom poked the fire. The rain fell even harder. It seemed the raindrops were bunching together in torrents and falling like waterfalls on the flap bucking in the wind.

Mom never doubted Dad’s capabilities. She added her talents to the collaboration perfected and imperfected by time and exposure to a spectrum of weather conditions. Dad fixed flat tires, dead batteries and broken equipment with patience, ingenuity and often little resources. Mom planned and prepared. She managed the food and supplies. She supported emotionally, physically and spiritually. She kept the daily trip logs, read the guidebooks and for fun studied plants, animals and especially birds.

Preparing for excursions, Dad studied the geology of the area he would scour for picture possibilities. In the field he knew the weather. On his studio wall he kept a chart of more than 20 types of clouds. He could often accurately predict the weather by looking at the sky or indicators like the barometer and thermometer. He kept a constant vigil for the light and atmospheric conditions favorable to photography.

From their marriage on June 29, 1947, until Dad began to lose his eyesight in 1999, he spent an average of 99 days a year in the field. Mom accompanied him more than half the time. They traveled mainly between April and October in the Western United States camping, backpacking, driving, riding horses, mules, trains, planes and boats to access wilderness for almost one third of every year of his working life. Summers were not the best months for photographs, but that was mainly when he traveled, so that Mom could go along in her time off from teaching kindergarten.

The summer of 1955 was typical of Dad’s early career. After buying a 1954 Chevrolet Pickup in March from Brett Weston, a contemporary photographer, Mom and Dad spent 12 days in April in the California Redwoods, across the state, 300 miles west of their home in the mountains of Northeastern California. Then Dad turned around and journeyed alone 600 miles south of home, May 3-14 to photograph Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park. Continuously for the next three months Mom and Dad backpacked, camped, river rafted and drove thousands of miles through Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon. This included three river trips: 13 days on the Colorado River through little known Glen Canyon, 26 days on the Yampa River in Utah and Wyoming inside Dinosaur National Park, and five days on the Ladore River, also in Dinosaur. By August 16, after three weeks in Wyoming in Yellowstone National Park and Grand Tetons National Park on a Sierra Club Pack Trip, Mom got a ride home with participants, but Dad continued on to Glacier National Park, Montana for 10 days and Olympic National Park, Washington for two more weeks. Dad did not see home until September 10.

Why did the pair spend one third of their lives pursuing this unusual brand of adventure?  (Rhetoric question. Part of the text.)

(CONTINUED IN BLOG POST, “58 Years In The Wilderness Intro 2“)