Posts Tagged ‘Kodak’

Book Review: Picturing America’s National Parks

September 1st, 2016

Book Review: Picturing America’s National Parks by George Eastman Museum Assistant Curator Jamie M. Allen

Cover of "Picturing America's National Parks" by Jamie M. Allen (2016).

Cover of “Picturing America’s National Parks” by Jamie M. Allen (2016). (Click on Image to See Larger.)

Landscape Photography Classics and Much More

To accompany the George Eastman Museum exhibition, Photography and America’s National Parks, the Eastman Museum and Aperture Foundation teamed up to publish assistant curator Jamie M. Allen’s new comprehensive book on the history of photography in our nation’s parks called Picturing America’s National Parks.

The George Eastman show, made up of the work of more than 50 photographers from all eras in the history of photography, includes landscape photography greats such as Ansel Adams, Alvin Langdon Coburn, Imogen Cunningham, John K. Hillers, Philip Hyde, William Henry Jackson, the Kolb Brothers, Eadweard J. Muybridge, Eliot Porter, Bradford Washburn, Carleton E. Watkins, Edward Weston and Minor White, as well as a good number of other renowned photographers who also happened to make exposures in the National Parks such as George Eastman, Andreas Feininger, Lee Friedlander, Johan Hagemeyer, Martin Parr, Stephen Shore, Garry Winogrand and others. The exhibition has also turned out to be one of the most popular and prominent museum shows of the year.

You See It “Everywhere”

As such, during the run of the exhibit from June 4 – October 2, 2016, Photography and America’s National Parks has enjoyed significant publicity, while the book, Picturing America’s National Parks, already has attracted even greater press exposure. The exhibition or the book or both were introduced or reviewed in Antiques Magazine, Outdoor Photographer magazine, the Los Angeles Times, Aperture, Real Clear Life, the Rochesteriat, the Nature Conservancy magazine, the Rochester City Newspaper, Smithsonian Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Fortune Magazine, Museum of Photographic Arts, Visit Rochester, The Atlantic, Tween Tribune, Artsy, Outside Magazine, AnOther magazine, Mother Jones magazine, USA Today, Yahoo News, Slate, Audubon magazine, Artbook, Travel & Leisure magazine, Pop Photo, and many others. The book can be found online to purchase, borrow or to read more reviews at Amazon.com, Aperture Foundation, Target.com, Bookshop.com, eBay, Google Play, Library Resource Finder, Sweet, Abelardo Morell, Schaumburg Library, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art bookshop, Worldcat, Fraser Muggeridge Studio, Loot, LibraryThing, Lenscratch, Photolucida, ALA Booklist, Beyond Words, PDN Online and many, many others too deep in Google search results to track down.

Fascinating, Well-Written and Leavened With Significant Detail

Like her pre-show introductory article in Antiques magazine, assistant Curator Jamie M. Allen’s main essay in the book is well written, smooth flowing and easy to read, yet packed with interesting history of both the national parks and early photography in them. The rest of the book displays the photographs with titles and an accompanying text for each of the featured photographers, interspersed with several paragraphs at a time on various historically relevant points such as the invention of the mass produced Kodak camera, the increase in availability of the automobile, the development of photomechanical and photolithographic postcards for sale at park concessions, 18-by-60-foot Colorama photo advertisements for the national parks, caretakers in the national parks and the National Park Service’s social media campaign #findyourpark.

Interspersed with the images from each major contributor at approximately every 16 pages, a timeline page provides the reader with significant dates in the history of photography and the history of the national parks. These timeline pages are loaded with fascinating tidbits that enrich the reading experience of the book. Despite many details included, the timelines present history in general, broad strokes. There are significant points of history, especially of the parks that are not detailed, but this would require a much larger, more difficult to read book.

A Popular Populist Approach

Ms. Jamie M. Allen approaches her subject from a populist perspective, which is somewhat unusual for a museum curator. More than one of the reviews of Picturing America’s National Parks said it was a comprehensive history of photography in the national parks. This is partly true, depending on the definitions of these terms. On a more close reading though, I would say that this volume is not necessarily the history of fine art photography or landscape photography in the national parks, but it could more accurately be described as the history of all photography in the national parks, or a history of cameras and images of any kind from any source made in the national parks.

This populist view of photography in the national parks puts significant emphasis on the various ways that photographs have helped to establish, preserve, depict and popularize the national parks. Allen observes that the history of the national parks is inextricably intertwined with the history of photography. After reading this inspiring book, I would go beyond saying that photography helped popularize the national parks to say that apparently the national parks helped popularize photography. In the development of the West, Allen points out that images produced on location at several of the most popular parks such as the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and Yosemite became a hot commodity. A cottage industry in photograph sales developed with photographers establishing small shops where tourists could purchase various types of photographic reproductions of the scenery they had enjoyed during their visit and in some cases purchase photos of themselves in the scenery.

Intertwining Histories of National Parks and Photography

The development of postcards, the snapshot camera and many other aspects of photography that were popular rather than professional, were a large part of the story of the intertwining histories. In addition these aspects make a more interesting read than a mere compilation of the great photographers who have depicted the national parks. Because some of the professionals have been left out, the collection of photographs represented acts less as a survey of those famous for photographing the parks and more as a compilation of famous people and ordinary people who also made images in the national parks.

Both the exhibition and the book tie all of this history into current trends by bringing to light the masses of images and selfies made each day and shared hourly on social media. However, Allen and the Eastman Museum go beyond the mere mention of this phenomenon, to incorporating it as an activity at the exhibit. In the entryway to the show a photograph of the Grand Canyon containing a life-sized figure of George Eastman standing on the rim gives visitors to the show an opportunity to make a selfie with Mr. Eastman and the Grand Canyon in the background to take home, share on social media and discuss the exhibit with friends online. This feature and the encouragement of phone snapshots in the museum makes the visitor experience more fun while portraying the museum as cool and up to date in their delivery of history, not to mention making the show and the museum extremely popular, as well as the objects of considerable buzz.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Allen and her team are to be commended for their fanning of the media flames through her appearance on local TV and the comprehensive development of publicity across the country, but also in their exhaustive and colossal volume of research necessary for such a project. As excellent as done, their research was not necessarily perfect, or perhaps for sake of simplicity and accessibility they chose to leave some information out. For example: the timeline for the 1960s is missing the introduction of color to photography books. Though the timelines are a small part of the overall book presentation, this was a major breakthrough for the parks, for photography and for the fortunes of Kodak because it caused a huge spike in the popularity of color film. It also was part of what led to the popularization of the coffee table photography book, which changed the face of the photography industry and paved the way for more photographers to make a living in the medium.

In the timelines, there is also no mention of the Sierra Club Exhibit Format Series, which during the 1960s, especially in the Western U.S., but also all over the world, greatly advanced the momentum of the movement to conserve more public lands and to further popularize the national parks themselves. The timeline entry for 1963 mentioned that David Brower and Eliot Porter published several books on the parks, but the mention of popular books by Philip Hyde in the Exhibit Format Series, who is represented in the Eastman Museum collection, also is omitted. David Brower called Philip Hyde his go-to photographer because he produced the images for many books that made or protected national parks just in the 1960s alone, such as The Last Redwoods (1963), Time and the River Flowing: Grand Canyon (1964), The Wild Cascades: Forgotten Parkland (1965), Not Man Apart (1965) Navajo Wildlands (1967), The Grand Colorado (1969) and even more volumes in the 1970s.

Philip Hyde’s book, Island In Time: The Point Reyes Peninsula (1962) was the first book to ever raise funds to purchase land to make a national park service unit, Point Reyes National Seashore. It was also published the same year as Eliot Porter’s In Wildness Is the Preservation of the World, (also not mentioned in Picturing America’s National Parks) in 1962, giving both books the shared title of the first major book projects published in color.

Outstanding Image Choice and the Making of an Evergreen Title

I like Allen’s image choices for the sections on Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Minor White and many of the others because she used photographs we don’t often see from these well-known masters. Adams as usual gets a huge amount of credit for his work in the national parks, most of which is well-deserved. However, also as usual, Adams gets credit for some of the accomplishments of other photographers such as the help in conservation and formation of national parks, which Adams did do some and quite effectively, but not more than or even at the same level as photographers such as Philip Hyde and Eliot Porter, who essentially took over the Sierra Club Books from Ansel Adams after they transitioned to color. The description under Ansel Adams carried on at length about conservation and the national parks, whereas the Philip Hyde description mentioned it only briefly, especially in light of his much greater volume of work on wilderness and national park protection campaigns. When I asked Allen about the difference, she said that originally her text included much more about Philip Hyde’s work in preserving national parks, but that her editors cut some of it. Apparently editors need educating as well about the figures behind major conservation efforts.

To illustrate this point and to show an example of how the descriptions were presented, here is the entry for Ansel Adams:

Ansel Adams‘ (American, 1902-1984) lifelong passion for the national parks began in 1916 when, at the age of 14, he read James Mason Hutching’s 496-page book In the Heart of the Sierras (1886) and convinced his parents to take him on vacation to Yosemite Valley. Equipped with a No. 1 Brownie camera that his parents had given him, Adams took his first images of Yosemite that year. Soon after, he became involved with the Sierra Club, starting as the custodian for the club’s headquarters in Yosemite and later leading tours and participating in trips to the Yosemite High Country. He was eventually elected to the board of directors and lobbied for additional areas to be set aside as national parks and monuments. By the 1930s, Adams’ photographic work had become well known, and in 1941 he was invited to participate in a project to photograph all the national parks. Organized by the Secretary of Interior, the initiative was abruptly cancelled when the United States entered World War II. Adams continued the project independently, supported by a series of Guggenheim Fellowships. His images of the parks have come to represent the grandeur of the American landscape, conjuring a sense of pride for American viewers in both the land itself and the preservation of these spaces through the National Park Service. Adams’ photographs have also had broad international appeal, establishing the national parks as globally recognizable icons.

Compare that to the entry for Philip Hyde, which is also excellent, but not as thorough:

In 1946, Philip Hyde (American 1921-2006) became one of the first students to attend the newly formed photography program at the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute). Here he studied under Edward Weston, Minor White, Imogen Cunningham, Dorothea Lange, and many other influential photographers of the time. After graduating, Hyde served as the official photographer of the Sierra Club High Trip during the summer of 1950, thus beginning his long relationship with the organization. His involvement with the club blossomed into relationships with other groups, including the Wilderness Society and the National Audubon Society. Hyde’s photographic work was used to advocate for and realize the preservation of places such as the Grand Canyon. While he photographed the characteristic vantages of many national parks, his images also show atypical views, such as a sand dune at the Grand Canyon.

Regardless, even with some omissions, Picturing America’s National Parks is destined to be a staple of bookstores, libraries, schools and universities for many years to come. I like the accessibility of the approach, the innovative layout and the depth of information presented in an easy to digest format. I like the cover art, but don’t particularly like the no dust-jacket cover. However, this keeps the costs down also adding to accessibility. Besides, this type of jacketless cover will likely prove ideal when the book is used as a textbook. It certainly ought to be mandatory reading for anyone studying photography, the national parks or any related outdoor curriculum.

Photography and America’s National Parks at the George Eastman Museum

May 26th, 2016

Photography and America’s National Parks Exhibition at the George Eastman Museum

June 4 – October 2, 2016

Exhibition Preview Friday June 3, 2016, 7 – 9 pm

Featuring William Henry Jackson, Carleton E. Watkins, Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Philip Hyde and Contemporary Photographers

Dune at Granite Falls, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, copyright 1956 by Philip Hyde from Time and the River Flowing: Grand Canyon. This photograph will be featured in Photography in America's National Parks and is part of the George Eastman Museum permanent collection.

Dune at Granite Falls, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, copyright 1956 by Philip Hyde. Color version featured in Time and the River Flowing: Grand Canyon, the 1964 book that helped galvanize worldwide opposition to two proposed dams in the Grand Canyon. This photograph will be featured in Photography in America’s National Parks and is part of the George Eastman Museum permanent collection. (Click on image to see larger.)

American entrepreneur George Eastman founded the Eastman Kodak Company and popularized photography through the mass production of film and the cameras he manufactured. While a number of entertainers and recording artists have more than one star in different categories on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Eastman is the only honoree with two stars in the same category for the same achievement, the invention of roll film.

Besides inventing roll film, Eastman also invented the roll film holder, developed dry plate technology that simplified the mechanics of photography and bromide paper, which became a standard in the industry. Eastman’s transparent film enabled Thomas Edison to perfect the kinetoscope, a box that allowed one individual at a time to view films through a small viewer window, the forerunner of the present motion picture.

Eastman, after establishing a $200,000,000 industry, devoted most of his life to philanthropy. He pioneered sick pay, disability compensation, pensions and hospital benefits. He first distributed extra funds to employees doing a good job, one of the world’s first corporate bonuses. In the last decade of the 19th Century and in the first two of the 20th, he gave away more in wealth than anyone else besides John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie.

His gifts made the University of Rochester and MIT into first tier schools. He was the largest supporter of the education of African-Americans in the 1920s, donating to colleges like Tuskegee, Hampton, Howard and Meharry. He established dental clinics for children around the globe and founded the medical and dental school at the University of Rochester. He organized community music instruction, funded music education programs and concerts and built the Eastman Theater, still one of the largest and most eloquent concert halls in the country.

After his death in 1932, his 35,000 square foot home became part of the university, but proved too large for the president’s residence, as he had specified. In 1947, the state of New York chartered the George Eastman House as a non-profit museum of photography. After the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the George Eastman Museum became the second museum in the world to have a photography department and also the second museum in the world to have a film department.

The George Eastman Museum went on to develop one of the largest photography collections in the world including cinema art and photographic and cinematic technology, for a total of several million objects including over 450,000 photographs dating from the introduction of the medium in 1839 to the present. The collection also includes more than 28,000 motion picture films, one of the leading libraries of books related to photography and cinema and extensive holdings of documents and other objects related to George Eastman. Each year now the museum presents at least ten curated exhibitions. However, in the early days of the museum, shows were not as frequent.

In 1957, when Beaumont Newhall was head curator and Minor White was an assistant curator, the George Eastman Museum hosted a solo exhibition of the black and white prints of a new leading nature photographer and prolific user of Kodak paper and large format sheet film, Philip Hyde. The show consisted of 25 silver gelatin prints, three of which were purchased for the George Eastman House permanent collection.

Now in 2016, to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the National Park Service, the George Eastman Museum presents Photography and America’s National Parks, an “exhibition exploring the role of photography in the development of the parks and in shaping our perception and understanding of these landscapes.”

From the early pioneers such as Alvin Langdon Coburn, Frank Jay Haynes, William Henry Jackson, the Kolb Brothers, Eadweard Muybridge and Carleton Watkins to the modernists including Ansel Adams, Edward Weston and Philip Hyde to contemporary photographers such as Marion Balanger, Binh Danh, Sean McFarland, Sharon Harper, Mark Klett, Abelardo Morell, David Benjamin Sherry and Byron Wolfe, exhibition curator Jamie M. Allen drew primarily from the George Eastman Museum collection to illuminate the history of the most significant national parks from the 1860s to the present. The exhibition also includes works on loan that broaden and deepen the presentation, as well as George Eastman’s travel albums from his trips to national parks.

To compliment the exhibition, the museum is co-publishing a book with Aperture titled, Picturing America’s National Parks, with introductory essay by Jamie M. Allen discussing the relationship between the parks and photography, available in June from the museum store and online at Eastman.org/store.

Curator Jamie M. Allen wrote an informed and well-written article about the history of photography in the national parks for the March/April issue of Antiques, The Magazine. David Leland Hyde also wrote about the exhibition for the June issue of Outdoor Photographer magazine. The same June national parks special issue of Outdoor Photographer, is graced by a cover photograph by Carr Clifton, protégé of Philip Hyde, and a special feature article by David Leland Hyde about Philip Hyde’s role in conservation campaigns that helped establish or expand more national parks and wilderness lands than any other photographer. The June special issue of Outdoor Photographer will be on newsstands this Tuesday. For more information see the Exhibition Preview. To find out about related events throughout the summer go to Philip Hyde in Photography and America’s National Parks Exhibition–Programs and Lectures at Fine Art Photography Collector’s Resource.

George Eastman Museum
900 East Avenue
Rochester, NY   14607
585-271-3361

Sources:

George Eastman Museum
Los Angeles Times
Hollywood Walk of Fame
Wikipedia
Kodak.com
Biography.com
Philanthropy Round Table Hall of Fame
Antiques, The Magazine
Outdoor Photographer magazine

San Francisco Art Institute Photography History 17

May 12th, 2016

On the Fall Program, Student Supplies and Lab Schedule

Lecture by Ansel Adams

Philip Hyde’s 1947 Class Notes Notes

California School Of Fine Arts, Now The San Francisco Art Institute

Photography Program Founded By Ansel Adams, Minor White Lead Instructor

(Continued from the blog post San Francisco Art Institute Photography History 16.)

Winter Forest Near Badger Pass, Yosemite National Park, High Sierra, California,

Winter Forest Near Badger Pass, Yosemite National Park, High Sierra, California, copyright 1949 by Philip Hyde from the Golden Decade book.

Below is the next in a series of excerpts from the only known existing complete student lecture notes from the photography program at the California School of Fine Arts, now the San Francisco Art Institute. During the “Golden Decade” while Minor White was lead instructor, beginning in the Ansel Adams Summer Session 1946, Philip Hyde kept a detailed record of class presentations.

A new book, Golden Decade: Photography at the California School of Fine Arts 1945-1955 by William Heick, Ira Latour, Ken Ball and Victoria Ball will be published June 2016 by Steidl of Germany with a small text contribution by David Leland Hyde and photographs by Philip Hyde, his classmates and other students during the era.

For the California School of Fine Arts Summer Session 1946, Ansel Adams brought in Minor White from Columbia University on recommendation from Beaumont and Nancy Newhall. 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.

Today, the San Francisco Art Institute still has one of the world’s most cutting edge photography departments, however, in 1945-1955, the first ten years of the program made history as Minor White brought in Imogen Cunningham, Lisette Model, Dorothea Lange, and many other luminaries to guest lecture. Each semester Minor White also took the students on numerous field trips, the highlight of which was a visit to Wildcat Hill in Carmel to discuss the art and craft of photography, look at prints by Edward Weston and photograph with him out on Point Lobos State Natural Reserve.

Ansel Adams first taught the Summer Session in 1945. In the summer of 1946, Minor White joined him as a teacher and at the same time, Philip Hyde joined them as an early student. Due to an office paperwork error, Philip Hyde did not start in the first full-time class in 1946, but started in the second full-time class in the Fall of 1947. The extra year on the waiting list did not go to waste, however as Philip Hyde also used his G. I. Bill Veteran’s education benefits at U. C. Berkeley to take a number of art and design courses, including classes by the famous Japanese-American painter Chiura Obata. By this lecture in August 1947, Hyde had just been married to Ardis King in June of 1947, whom he met at a New Year’s party in San Francisco at the end of 1945 and got to know in the year at U. C. Berkeley before he attended the full-time photography program in the Fall of 1947. Philip Hyde’s notes quoted below are from a lecture where Ansel Adams outlined the Summer Session and Fall Full-Time 1947 program courses, lab schedule and supplies needed.

Philip Hyde’s Lecture Notes—August, 1947

Each student will be in a conference group for attending museum and lecture events.

Program – August 18-22

Monday

Morning            Introduction
Afternoon         Design, Society and Artist with Ernest Mundt [School Director]

Tuesday

Morning            Lecture—Minor White
Afternoon          Lecture—Ansel Adams

Wednesday

Morning             Lecture—Minor White
Afternoon          Design, Society and Artist

Thursday

Morning             Lecture, Field Trip—Minor White
Afternoon           Lab

Friday

Morning              Lab
Afternoon           Design, Society and Artist

Lab Schedule Summer and Fall

[1st Year Student = 1; 2nd Year Student = 2]

Time                      Mon.           Tues.         Wed.       Thurs.      Fri.          Sat.

9 am – 12 noon         2                  2                  1                2               1               open

1 pm – 4 pm              2                  1                  2                1               2              open

4 pm – 7 pm              1                  1                  1                1               1

7 pm – 10 pm            1                  1                open            1               open

Also for 1st Year Students – Darkroom #6 – Mondays 4 pm – 7 pm, Fridays 9 am – 12 noon

Supplies for Student Purchase

  • Isopan Cut Film
  • Super XX Cut Film
  • 1 pound of Metol
  • 1 lb. Hydroquinone
  • 4 oz. Amidol
  • 4 oz.
  • 1 lb. Glacial Acetic Acid
  • 1 gallon of Acid Hypo
  • Gross 8X10 Dry Mount Tissue
  • 1 lb. Kodalk
  • 1 qt. Kodak Selenium Toner
  • 8X10 Printing Paper Contrasts—1, 2, 3 Cykora #2, Glossy #3
  • 1 Exposure Record
  • 1 Eastman Spotting Colors
  • Photo Course Worksheets
  • Spotting Brushes
  • Glassine Envelopes
  • Mount Boards

 

Interesting how many large format film photography supplies are now replaced by electronics and computers… Any thoughts on traditional processes, darkroom printing, art schools or another aspect of these notes?

(Continued in the blog post San Francisco Art Institute Photography History 18.)

eBook Review: Creative Processing Techniques In Nature Photography By Guy Tal

August 7th, 2013

Review Of Guy Tal’s Creative Processing Techniques In Nature Photography

“In art, the hand can never execute anything higher than the heart can imagine.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The goal is to produce images that uniquely represent the photographer’s vision and possess meanings beyond the literal visual elements they portray.” – Guy Tal

Cover, Creative Processing Techniques In Nature Photography By Guy Tal.

Cover, Creative Processing Techniques In Nature Photography By Guy Tal. Click On The Image To Read More…

In Guy Tal’s ebook, Creative Processing Techniques In Nature Photography, he assures the reader that digital image processing can be a much richer introspective and creative experience than can possibly be provided by formulas or rote routines to “achieve such trivial goals as more vibrant colors or gimmicky visual effects.”

In the introduction to Creative Processing Techniques, Guy Tal wrote, “The digital studio at your fingertips is every bit the fertile bed for creative expression as any field technique…” He refers to the process of visualization discussed in his ebook, Creative Landscape Photography, and explains how decisions in the “studio” give the photographer a wide spectrum of possibilities and control for attaining the “visualized end result.”

Guy clearly favors creative post-processing over using presets or leaving image files the way the camera captured them. He also makes a good case that the answer to the question, ‘How much is too much?’ is best left up to each photographer’s own discretion and intended use of the image. He argues that the creative photographer’s purpose is to go beyond a mere documentary recording of subjects. However, he urges us to remember, “We chose the medium of nature photography because we were moved by the beauty of natural phenomena, and we may not want to venture too far from our source of inspiration.”

From Basics To Advanced Techniques

From the basics of monitor calibration, definitions of bits, 8-bit versus 16-bit, RGB, CMYK, color channels, RAW files, JPEGs, TIFFs, GIFs, conversions, Bayer patterns, Digital Negative or DNG files, clipping of highlight or shadow detail, file storage, compression, Tiff versus PSD and other image file formats, pixels, PPI, DPI, the International Color Consortium or ICC Profiles, color space or gamut, monitor and printer profiling or calibration using a colorimeter, target images, hue, saturation, “dodging” and “burning,” .icc, .icm, Perceptual and Relative Colorimetric rendering intents, sRGB, Adobe RGB, Kodak’s ProPhoto RGB,  pixilation, and why images do not look the same online as they do when made into archival fine art digital prints, all the way through the process of creating and working on digital master files, Guy Tal guides us with smooth, clear and thoughtful precision. Not only are you rarely confused by Guy’s explanations, but at the end of each chapter to assure even better understanding of the ideas presented, we find short, fun exercises and self-quizes about various points in the text.

Guy Tal suggests that as you process an image, you may change your mind as to how you will finish it. Your pre-visualized goal when you made the photograph can be refined and reconsidered along the way in a process Guy calls Dynamic Visualization. The way Guy Tal presents global and local adjustments had me anticipating the development of my next photograph in the digital darkroom. I became inspired by the possibilities as I began to see the process through new eyes from what I did previously. I realized that by employing Guy Tal’s workflow, I caught his vision and enthusiasm for image refinement, while at the same time I came into a deeper understanding of my own approach to creative landscape photography.

Unconventional Self-Awareness In Photography

Guy Tal is photographically self-aware and by example he teaches the reader to be more self-aware of his or her own creative process. Guy’s wisdom is often unconventional. For example, one of his image captions reads:

Do not assume that just because something is technically deficient, it should always be corrected. For example, the image on the right contains areas of both over-exposed highlights and under-exposed shadows. Still, I found these perfectly acceptable and decided not to correct them. In fact, it is likely that if I had corrected them (e.g., by blending multiple exposures), the result would have looked decidedly unnatural.

In the film era, under and over exposed areas in photographs were common, even with the use of the zone system. It was only with the advent of digital and especially High Dynamic Range or HDR that striving for detail in all areas of photographs became the norm. In this sense, Guy Tal’s experience in large format film photography serves him well as to what is worth spending time adjusting. Along the same lines, Guy provides good guidance as to what to adjust and what not to adjust in RAW conversion, as well as what to adjust minimally to avoid detail loss and fringe artifacts.

Guy Tal also bucks another trend in the digital darkroom. He points out that high contrast, more color saturated images often make a stronger first impression but may have less “’staying power’ if bold color is all they have to offer.” He writes, “…nuanced and subtle images often invite closer inspection and result in a more extended, contemplative viewing experience.” In this spirit Guy tells us how to use the various controls in Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom. Not only does he provide a clear description of each tool and how it works, but he also explains various situations where one tool works better than another and shows us how the results differ.

Photoshop Setup And Tool Optimization

From giving recommendations for how to arrange your tools for easy access in Adobe Photoshop, to how best to apply each tool and adjustment, Guy shows you the best practices and set up to make Photoshop easier to use. My impression is that with Guy’s technical background, he has a better understanding how and why each tool in Photoshop works the way it does, than many of the most prominent photographers in the field. Reading Guy’s ebook clarified some ambiguities and showed me better technique than what I have learned by observing or talking to many other photographers working in Photoshop. For example, I had learned that in using “Levels” to find the white and black point in an image that it is necessary to bring the corresponding sliders into the histogram slightly. However, Guy recommends bringing the sliders to where they are either just touching the histogram or even just outside the histogram, not touching it at all. Guy explains succinctly why this is a better approach.

In this extensive ebook Guy also discusses layer blending and how to combine the highlight detail from one image with the shadow detail of another, a process many refer to as High Dynamic Range or HDR. With Guy’s specific and complete directions, I performed my first blending of two versions of an image. How exciting: I have hard drives filled with bracketed images waiting for this moment. As can be expected, much more can be learned and realized by applying each exercise to your own images. I had a sense of anticipation and accomplishment in the learning by running my own images through each process and exercise that Guy outlines.

Global And Local Adjustments And A Different Way To Dodge And Burn

Besides philosophy and global adjustments, Guy also touches briefly on a number of local adjustments including Cloning and Spot Removal. This helps to round out the reading experience, but other books or tutorials may be necessary for more detail. I like the way Guy moves on to expand on more advanced methods such as Layer Masking and various uses for these layer masks. Most of Guy’s explanations are clear and thorough, but in some instances, he summarized a bit too much in my opinion, shortening the explanation of certain steps when he might have included more specifics without taking too much more space and reader time. Nonetheless, no one book could ever cover all features and tools in Photoshop. Anyone can Google the step-by-step functions of whatever basic tools Guy leaves out. Guy warns us against attachment to any particular tools or methods, but shares the importance of developing a strong working approach to visualizing and finding gaps between what we envision and what we have so far attained. Meanwhile, Guy’s explanation of non-destructive Dodging and Burning is comprehensive and extremely helpful for improved image editing, as are most of his other process explanations.

Before reading Creative Processing Techniques, I had a fair understanding of many of the controls in Photoshop, but some of the time I was just guessing as to how to obtain what I wanted in my images. Afterwards, I now have much more control and am more able to directly obtain what I intend in my photographs. Guy wrote by e-mail that it is better to learn good workflow and processing methods from the beginning rather than trying to unlearn bad habits later. With the reading of Guy’s ebook, I feel I have caught the best wave to take me all the way into the shore of happy image making.

To order click this link: Creative Processing Techniques. Also, a two volume bundle discount is available when you purchase Guy Tal’s Creative Processing Techniques with Creative B&W Processing Techniques.

Sierra Club Books: Exhibit Format Series 1

October 20th, 2011

Sierra Club Books: Exhibit Format Series

The 2oth Century’s Biggest Advance In Landscape Photography

Part One: Introduction

Hyde’s Wall, East Moody Canyon, Escalante Wilderness, now the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah, copyright 1968 by Philip Hyde. One of the most renowned photographs from the Sierra Club Exhibit Format Series. “Hyde’s Wall,” originally titled “Juniper, Wall, Escalante” was first published in the Sierra Club book “Slickrock: The Canyon Country of Southeast Utah” with Edward Abbey. For more about Edward Abbey, “Hyde’s Wall,” “Slickrock” and how the wall originally became known as Hyde’s Wall, see future blog posts in this series.

(See the photograph large: “Hyde’s Wall, E. Moody Canyon, Escalante Wilderness.”)

The 19th Century’s most significant advance in photography took place with the invention of flexible, paper-based photographic film by George Eastman, the founder of Kodak, in 1884. Another beginning that would grow and converge with photography in the mid 20th Century, was the founding of the Sierra Club in 1892 by 182 charter members who elected John Muir their first president. To read about how John Muir influenced pioneer landscape photographer Philip Hyde, see the blog post, “Philip Hyde’s Trubute To John Muir.”

In 1951, the Sierra Club sent a young photographer named Philip Hyde, recently out of photography school under Ansel Adams, to Dinosaur National Monument, on the first ever photography assignment for an environmental cause. To learn more about the national battle to save Dinosaur National Monument that many consider the birth of modern environmentalism, see the blog post, “The Battle Over Dinosaur: Birth Of Modern Environmentalism 1.” Philip Hyde’s photographs with those by journalist Martin Litton became the first photography book ever published for an environmental cause: This Is Dinosaur: Echo Park Country And It’s Magic Rivers. Read more about Martin Litton in the blog post, “Martin Litton: David Brower’s Conservation Conscience 1.”

By 1960, David Brower, an accomplished climber, Sierra Club high trip leader, member of the Sierra Club Board of Directors and previously a manager at the University of California Press, helped the Sierra Club establish the Sierra Club Foundation. One of the purposes of the Sierra Club Foundation was to develop a Sierra Club publishing program. Sierra Club Books launched the Exhibit Format Series with the first volume, This is the American Earth, with text by Nancy Newhall and photographs primarily by Ansel Adams with a handful of other photographers including Philip Hyde, Edward Weston and Minor White. The new Exhibit Format Series brought Sierra Club books and the cause of conservation national recognition, while advancing the art of photography and helping to establish landscape photography as a popular and persuasive art form. To learn more about David Brower see the blog post, “David Brower: Photographer And Environmentalist 1.”

In his 1971 book about David Brower, Encounters with the Archdruid, John McPhee described the coffee table books from the Exhibit Format Series:

Big, four-pound, creamily beautiful, living-room furniture books that argued the cause of conservation in terms, photographically, of exquisite details from the natural world and, textually, of essences of writers like Thoreau and Muir.

William Neill, in his 2006 tribute to Philip Hyde wrote:

Philip Hyde was the workhorse for the Sierra Club book series, providing images for nearly every battle of theirs in the 1960s and 1970s.  When David Brower, the director of the Club and creator of the book series, needed images to help preserve an endangered landscape, Philip and camera went to work.  Books in which his photographs are instrumental include: The Last Redwoods, Slickrock, Island in time: The Point Reyes Peninsula, Time and the River Flowing: Grand Canyon, Navajo Wildlands, The Wild Cascades: Forgotten Parkland, and This Is Dinosaur: Echo Park Country and Its Magic Rivers. I have little doubt that every published nature photographer of my generation has been inspired by Philip’s efforts.  The large number of photographers, professional or not, working today to use their imagery to help preserve wild places, both locally and on national issues, owe Philip a great debt. The success of the Sierra Club books not only gave a great boost to its own membership, but also showed publishers that such books had commercial value, thus spawning the publication of thousands of books modeled after them.  The resulting nature book industry allowed many photographers to develop careers, and brought to light many issues of preservation.  Even those not familiar with the full extent of Hyde’s accomplishments can trace their roots to his efforts.

To read the full tribute, see the guest blog post, “Celebrating Wilderness By William Neill.” Stay tuned for the next installment in this series about the launching of the Sierra Club book program and the making of This is the American Earth.

(Continued in the blog post, “Sierra Club Books: Exhibit Format Series 2.”)

Telephone Fun With Al Weber

September 20th, 2011

Aerial, Commercial and Landscape Photographer Al Weber With Some Observations About The Telephone

About Al Weber…

Aerial Of San Rafael Swell, Utah copyright Al Weber.

Al Weber taught photography at the Ansel Adams Gallery workshops for many years. He also taught photography through the University of California Santa Cruz Extension along with Philip Hyde, Wynn Bullock, Dick Arentz, Dave Bohn, Wynn Hutchings and many others. Al Weber also ran his own popular photography workshops for many decades, the reunions of which are now called the Photographer’s Rendezvous and are well attended. The Center for Photographic Art in Carmel, California, recently held an exhibition of Al Weber’s aerial photography and published a 56 page catalog of the event. Al Weber has been exhibited in over 200 prominent venues world wide. He fondly recalls when his friend Philip Hyde attended the Rendezvous or when he ran into Philip Hyde in the field in some lonely place like the East Side of the Sierra Nevada, maybe somewhere near Bishop, Lee Vining or Mono Lake. Al Weber was one of the instigators of the photographic element of the Save Mono Lake Project called At Mono Lake. Al Weber’s biography on the Lumiere Gallery website gives more particulars:

 Al Weber was born in Denver Colorado in 1930. He received an A.A. in photography and a B.A. in Eduction from the University of Denver and served as a Captain in the Marines during the Korean Conflict. After his military service he moved to the Monterey Peninsula and established himself as a commercial photograph. Weber’s career spans six decades. He is internationally recognized for the breadth of his work and contributions as a teacher and mentor. Weber’s images have been shown in over 200 exhibitions. An accomplished commercial photographer, his commissions include work for Time-Life, Fortune and Holiday magazines. Corporate clients include Dupont, Kaiser, International Harvester, Eastman Kodak, Polaroid and Hasselblad. His photographs are in the permanent collections of The Art Institute of Chicago, M. H. de Young Museum, UCLA, Utah Museum of Fine Arts and the Ansel Adams Collection.

With a wry sense of humor, Al Weber is not a big talker, but he knows how to sip a good drink and tell a story. In his newsletter that he calls the “Stare Network,” Al Weber is also good at poking fun at what needs poking fun at. Here’s an original piece by Al Weber originally published in his newsletter:

The Telephone

By Al Weber

 My daughter-in-law, Sara, was talking on her cell phone as I walked into the living room. From there into the dining room, a distance of 20 feet, was my son, Robert, sitting at the table and also talking on his phone. They were talking to each other.

At the airport in El Paso, a group of teenagers sat nearby in the waiting area. They were talking to each other on their cell phones.

Approaching Winnemucca, Nevada on Interstate 80, already driving substantially above the speed limit, a car passed me. They were really hauling. The driver was on his cell phone.

In line at the post office, John Livingstone was talking on his phone. He didn’t really need a phone as everyone in the building could hear him.

Cruising the aisles in Safeway, a man blocked others as he got instructions, via his phone, on which brand of tomatoes to buy.

On TV, a man dressed in blue jeans with no belt and wearing a T-shirt introduced a new electronic gadget at a San Francisco trade show. I’m told he is a genius. His name is Jobs. Now I’m told his gadget is faulty. What do you expect from someone who dresses like that? Twelve weeks at Parris Island might straighten him out (Marine boot camp).

Growing up in Denver, I remember our telephone. It quietly sat there on a recessed shelf by the front door. It rang a few times each week. Someone always answered it. Today, rarely do I reach a real person when I place a call. Push this or push that. They’re always out or on the other line. “Your call is very important to us…..” If it’s so important, why don’t you just answer the phone?

Of all the people who should be competent with a telephone, AT&T seems obvious. My darkroom phone quit and Suzie called for service. The Keystone Cops or maybe the Marx Brothers couldn’t be funnier. Almost an hour of press this or press that, then several hang-ups and finally a recording offering a repair man in 5 days, who would arrive somewhere between 8AM and 8PM.

No one, it seems has one telephone. They’re all over the house. And then there is ‘Call Waiting’ and blocked numbers and on and on.

We live in a frenzy dominated by telephones. The time wasted, just waiting for that call back, is maddening. The advertisement says, “Just ask your doctor”. Who are they kidding? The cardiologist I go to may be very smart when it comes to fixing my body, but he can’t seem to figure out how to use a telephone. Neither can his receptionist.

The only people skilled in telephone use are the marketers, always at mealtime of course.

It appears this man Jobs contributes mightily to our plight, our uncontrollable attraction to a complicated, expensive device that has become more of a toy than a tool. But it’s so magnetic, and the colors are so cool. There are so many functions and it makes us feel so hip. I’d like to suggest one more function to Mr. Jobs. Bring back the reliability of the old telephones.

Learn More…

Listen to excerpts of Al Weber’s Gallery Talk. For more Al Weber images, view his Lumiere Gallery Artist’s Page. To read more about Ansel Adams Gallery Workshops see the blog post, “Photography Workshops Taught By Philip Hyde.”

New Portfolio: Yosemite And Sierra Black And White Prints

August 30th, 2011

New Portfolio Added To PhilipHyde.com: Yosemite, Kings Canyon And Sierra Nevada Vintage Black and White Prints

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.  –John Muir

McClure Meadow, Evolution Valley, Kings Canyon National Park, Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 1970 by Philip Hyde. Deardorff 5X7 Large Format Camera. Widely exhibited and published including in “The Range of Light” with quotes by John Muir. Still available as an original vintage darkroom black and white print. Three 8X10 vintage prints left available for sale at this time. Other original vintage black and white prints in the “Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Sierra Portfolio” also available in limited quantities. Please inquire for details.

(See the photograph larger: “McClure Meadow, Evolution Valley, Kings Canyon.”)

In his preface to The Range of Light, with Selections from the Writings of John Muir, my father pioneer landscape photographer Philip Hyde wrote about choosing photographs and John Muir quotes for his book. To read more about The Range of Light see the blog post, “Philip Hyde’s Tribute To John Muir.” Philip Hyde described his process in the Preface to The Range of Light:

It was a labor of love rereading John Muir some fifty years after my first reading. In searching for quotations to use with my photographs, I found the same inspiration and delight I recall feeling in the past—more, really, since my love for the mountains has only increased with the familiarity experience has given me… I wanted to go out again, to go in further, to explore all the places I had missed, and I wanted to improve on the pictures I had made to illustrate the heightened savor I was finding in his words. In nearly a lifetime of returning again and again, I began to feel I had barely scratched the surface. But over the life of the project, my view began to shift from unfulfilled desire to gratitude. I was coming to see that I would never satisfy my thirst for wildness and mountains. I could never make all the definitive photographs of them. But hadn’t I already had more than most men’s share of them? In general, the matching of quotations with pictures should be understood as equivalents—some descriptive, some expressing an experience of feeling that seems to parallel in some way one which John Muir describes. Others are visual equivalents of the words in less direct, more personal ways. There was a basic purpose in all this: my hope to somehow discharge a little of my debt to John Muir for his keen observation that informed and sharpened my own; for his words that amplified my feeling and experience, and colored them both brighter; for his boundless enthusiasm for Nature; for his clear vision that it would not be enough, living in an exploitive culture just to love Nature, but essential for Nature’s continued existence unimpaired, that one work to carry those “good tidings” to others who would, in their turn, work to protect Nature.

In 1938, just before he turned 17, Philip Hyde first visited Yosemite National Park and the Sierra Nevada. On that trip he made his first photographs with a Kodak Readyset 120 camera that he borrowed from his sister. He brought the camera along thinking he would photograph his Boy Scout friends, but when he had the film developed, he discovered that most of the photographs were of nature rather than people, a tendency that stayed with him throughout his career. For more on Philip Hyde’s early trips to Yosemite National Park, see the blog post, “Lake Tenaya And Yosemite National Park.” His wilderness photographs participated in more environmental campaigns than any other photographer of his time and helped to establish the genre of landscape photography as a recognized art form while his photographs served as the backbone of the groundbreaking Sierra Club Books Exhibit Format Series. The Exhibit Format Series, invented by Ansel Adams, David Brower and Nancy Newhall, became known for popularizing the coffee table photography book and helping to establish many national parks and wilderness areas of the Western U. S. Beginning with participation in the first book in the Sierra Club Books Exhibit Format Series, This Is The American Earth, Philip Hyde went on to publish more photographs in more volumes in the series than any of the other photographers, including Eliot Porter, who was known for illustrating the best selling book of the series, In Wildness Is the Preservation of the World with quotes by Henry David Thoreau. To read more about these photographers and the development of the Sierra Club Books Exhibit Format Series see the blog post, “How Color Came To Landscape Photography.”

Though the various book projects influenced a generation of photographers and brought his work acclaim, Philip Hyde himself said, “I didn’t want to be distracted by fame.” He was more apt to spend his time working on any of many local environmental campaigns around the West, rather than talking to photography galleries, museum curators or photography agents. Although the best art museums and collectors did take interest in his work, often through recommendations from mentors such as Ansel Adams, Edward Weston and Minor White; Philip Hyde, until recently has been less well-known than some other leading landscape photographers. Now for the first time in more than a decade, Philip Hyde’s vintage black and white prints, as well as his original dye transfer and Cibachrome prints are offered by a select number of the world’s best photography galleries. To read more about the galleries who carry Philip Hyde’s work see the blog posts in the category “Galleries for Philip Hyde” or go to “About Vintage And Black And White Prints.” A limited number of his vintage and original prints are still available for viewing and acquisition on the Philip Hyde Photography website. As we scan Philip Hyde’s original vintage black and white prints and film, a few new images, and on a few rare occasions a whole new portfolio is added to PhilipHyde.com. The selection of photographs chosen for the new “Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Sierra Black and White Portfolio” were carefully reviewed by many experts in the art world, in photography galleries and by other professional photographers. Please enjoy and write me as you have questions.

What writers, artists or other influences helped you connect to a place?

Did Velvia Film Change Landscape Photography?

May 12th, 2011

Did the “over-saturation” of landscape photographs start with digital printing and Photoshop, or did it originate well before that in the film era with the advent of Fuji Velvia Film and Kodak Ektachrome E100VS Film? Is “over-saturation” a myth?

Urban Railroad Distortion, Reno, Nevada, copyright 2009 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90. Post-processed in Photoshop.

In his 1993 book Galen Rowell’s Vision: The Art of Adventure Photography, Galen Rowell wrote a chapter called Velvet Media in which he extolled the virtues of Fuji Velvia film, with some cautions. Galen Rowell wrote:

After twenty-five years of using Kodachrome film whenever sharpness was of the utmost importance, I abruptly gave up on it in February 1990 after seeing tests of an amazing new slide film from Japan…. Fuji’s introduction of ISO 50 Velvia at the Photo Marketing Association show in Las Vegas… After I returned home, I ran controlled comparisons of Velvia against Kodachrome 25, Kodachrome 64 and Fuji Pro 50. On my own light table the next morning, I clearly saw the end of an era. Velvia was the best of all existing worlds. Its resolution exceeded that of Kodachrome 25 and the other test films in high-contrast tests simulating daylight and equaled Kodachrome 25 in soft light. Its color saturation and separation of tones exceeded those of Fuji Pro 50 and the other films. I was aware that many photographers would prefer Kodachrome’s relatively muted colors, but I believed much of this was due to a conditioned constancy illusion that Kodachrome slides accurately represented the natural world. I knew better and fully expected Velvia to establish a new constancy illusion with picture editors and the public… I wanted to see the world freshly through this new tool and to push it to the limit to see what it would do. Over the years, the limitations of other films had caused me to consider certain kinds of subject matter and lighting as impossible. Murky renditions of greens in shadow under a blue sky on Kodachrome became vivid on Velvia. Fuji Pro 50 renditions of delicate foliage have very strong color, but also a lack of resolution that calls attention to itself, especially when compared with Kodachrome 25. Velvia holds both color and sharpness.… I soon began asking, ‘Is anything wrong with this film?’ not only to myself but to other users. The few negative answers had to do with too strong colors and a slower film speed than the advertised ISO 50.

In early 2010, in the comments on Steve Sieren’s blog post, “Ever Wonder About The History Of Landscape Photography?” large format landscape photographer Michael Gordon commented about how Fuji Velvia film had changed Landscape Photography. Michael Gordon first did a blog post about Velvia in 2008. In his 2010 comment, Michael Gordon said, “Want to be shocked? Compare Hyde’s “Drylands” photos to the current crop of Velvia-ized desert landscape photographs. Porter too. Not many years have passed, and despite the drying climate, the desert sure got a lot more vibrant in photographs!” Other comments on Steve Sieren’s blog post addressed the effect Velvia film had in the hands of various landscape photographers and its general impact on all landscape photography.

Many galleries, museums, photographers and others blame “over-saturation,” if it exists and can be defined, on the advent of the digital age and Photoshop, but here we see much evidence that “over-saturation” began long before. Also in 2010, outdoor, documentary and landscape photographer Carr Clifton offered his thoughts and possible explanation as to what happened in landscape photography from 1990 through the early years of the new millennium. Carr Clifton said, “When we first started printing digitally, we were used to trying to get the richest and even the hottest color out of whatever film we were using. Many films didn’t have the rich color palette that we now see. The same thing happened back in the 1990s with Velvia. Velvia was different because for the first time, it offered too much color, more than you see in nature. When everybody started scanning film and making digital prints, even the scans of Velvia were too gaudy.”

On reading Galen Rowell’s Outdoor Photographer features, Sierra Magazine articles and several of his books I discovered that he wrote more eloquently about photography than perhaps just about anyone else ever, with the possible exception of Robert Adams, Charis Wilson, Edward Weston, Minor White and Ansel Adams at times. That puts Galen Rowell at the top of all writers on photography. He is also admirable as a landscape photographer because he was self-taught. My father, pioneer landscape photographer Philip Hyde has been said by many of the who’s who of photography today to have influenced a generation of photographers. See the blog posts, “How Color Came To Landscape Photography,” “The Golden Decade: California School Of Fine Arts Photography,” and the series beginning with the blog post, “The Battle Over Dinosaur: Birth Of Modern Environmentalism.”

Notwithstanding, Galen Rowell also influenced a generation, the next generation, our generation, the landscape photographers just coming into prominence now. Galen Rowell was also one of the most talented photographers who ever lived. He was the master of “fast and light” and capturing unusually powerful landscape photographs. When we showed the Philip Hyde exhibition at Galen Rowell’s Mountain Light Gallery, I found through talking to guests and staff that Galen Rowell was also known as a life-changing mentor, a generous mountain guide, a driven activist for various conservation and social causes and a dynamic leader of an organization of top quality people who continue to inspire the world. However, some segments of the art establishment hardly recognize him because they feel he overdid the color. Carr Clifton, who also greatly admired Galen Rowell put forward the theory that when Velvia film first emerged on the scene and also in the early days of digital printing, that Galen Rowell went a little far with the color, but never lived to rein in when other photographers did.

“It was around 2003-2004 that everybody started to pull back some and bring their color back into the realm of reality,” Carr Clifton said. “All except for a few blatant examples that remain. Galen, unfortunately for all of photography, died in the plane crash in early 2002. We were all very sad about it. Now Galen’s prints are frozen in a state of too much syrup. He never made it to the time in 2003-2004 when everyone backed their color off.” Because Galen was so admired, there are now many photographers who try to do what he did with sunrise-drenched mountain tops, brilliant reflections and ultra-vivid colors. Other landscape photographers agree with Carr Clifton. They believe that Galen Rowell might very well have pushed his own work back down the color saturation scale if he had lived. It’s all conjecture, but an interesting theory and something to consider in view of how much landscape photographers try to emulate Galen Rowell’s work. For more about other concerns over the direction of landscape photography today see the blog post, “Is Landscape Photography Thriving Or Dying?” For a new way to look at it and other remedies see the blog post, “What Urban Exploration Photography Learned From Nature.”

Travel and landscape photographer Richard Wong wrote on this subject in November 2010:

…Galen did have a large audience probably due to several factors, one of which was a long relationship with Outdoor Photographer Magazine dating back to the beginning from what I understand, but even before that he had “street cred” in the outdoor community for being a prolific adventurer and rock climber. There were photographers just as good if not better out there at all the different things he did but he was able to connect with and convey his philosophy to his audience much more effectively than most. He was a great writer. And also someone who was always striving to innovate. Looking at his body of work, you can clearly see the evolution over the years. You also have a good point about the color. I was told that his staff worked on those digital masters from his slides in the years prior to his death and probably against advisement, he wanted to push the envelop on the saturation. You can tell by looking at some of his prints up close at his gallery and also in some of his books that some highlight detail was probably sacrificed due to saturation. His Evolution Lake image for example. With that said, I have always overlooked that phase of his career because that doesn’t define his body of work. One thing I’ve always pondered is what Galen would be doing now on the Nikon D700 if he were still around. Breaking new ground for photography I would imagine.

Fuji Velvia film was not the only film that amped up the saturation. Galen Rowell provided a warning against overdoing the color saturation in this quote also from the 1995 book, Galen Rowell’s Vision: The Art of Adventure Photography:

 

Much of what people were saying when Velvia first came out applies to Kodak E100VS today. Sometimes it looks garish, sometimes it looks great, and much of the time it will produce the image that editors will choose. Kodak E100VS often produces bright colors closer to what you believe you saw in flat light or at a distance, but if you use it all the time, you risk having the sum total of your style appear garish and suspect. In direct light this film doesn’t just come near the edge of the color saturation envelope; it moves beyond into a realm that requires the same sort of restraint as the use of color-enhancing filters does.

Probably the same could be said for the color saturation adjustment slider in Photoshop. What do you think? Is “over-saturation” an overblown issue? Is it a myth? Is over-saturation a problem in landscape photography today?

The Legend Of Dye Transfer Printing, Interrupted 1

April 12th, 2010

Misty Morning, Indian Creek, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, 1983 by Philip Hyde. The original color transparency went missing. As a result until 2008, this image had not been printed or published for over 20 years. With the digital age it can again be printed. The new large digital file came from a scan on a Creo CCD Flatbed Scanner of a Philip Hyde original dye transfer print. Most of the other photographs on the Philip Hyde Photography website are made from a drum scan of the original 4X5 color transparency, 4X5, 5X7 or 8X10 black and white negative, or a film duplicate of one of these.

(See the photograph full screen Click Here.)

The stuff of myth, legend and dreams, dye transfer print making helped bring color to the silver screen in 1922. Hollywood called it Technicolor and it resulted in the best and brightest color that films have ever offered. It was the most widely used motion picture technology until 1952. “Everything else is a pale comparison,” said Brad Miller of Technicolor Labs in Grass Valley, California.

During the 1940s, Kodak released the process for still photography print making. It was the method taught in photography schools and the honored child of famous photographers such as William Eggleston, Ernst Haas, Ctein, Eve Arnold, Beaumont Newhall, Galen Rowell, Cole Weston, John Ward, Eliot Porter, Philip Hyde and others. Then in 1994, Kodak abandoned the process and the many photographers, famous or not who were producing the prints. There was outcry across the land, even the world.

I remember my father, fine art landscape photographer Philip Hyde, regularly being mad at Kodak about something. Kodak notoriously favored the mass market and made decisions from a strictly bottom line numbers perspective that often hurt the professional photographer to make the hobbyist happy. Dad used to rail about corporate greed and breaches of trust with those who like him, were working full-time, Kodak’s loyal volume supply buyers. However, nothing compared with the day the music died first in 1991 with discontinuation of the matrix film, then in 1994 with Kodak discontinuing the remaining dye transfer materials. After the dust settled, I don’t think Dad ever recovered completely from the loss of dye transfer print making. He bought up supplies like many others but refused to spend his life’s savings on large stock piles of materials at age 73. As it was, he gave what he had away to another dye transfer printer when he lost his eyesight in 1999-2000.

With these influences, the 1990s marked a change of direction in Dad’s life. After pinching every penny and saving all of them he could, he had invested small sums in the stock market for years. His modest stock portfolio had done so well that by 1994, he had become an avid reader of the Wall Street Journal and Barron’s. He was a highly conservative, buy and hold, blue chip stock investor. It had been working for him quite well and he made far more in the stock market than he ever did in photography.

He was still smarting from his crowning book achievement, Drylands: The Deserts of North America published in 1987, being remaindered, re-published in 1990 and remaindered a second time. He was disappointed because the accountants had taken over book publishing and if books sold more slowly they were remaindered. He seemed down about the influence of corporate decision makers on photography in general and he was not one to get down about anything. He experienced more demand for his time by environmental activist groups and organizations like the Museum of Northern Arizona and Ansel Adams Gallery asking him to do more workshops. The workshops rekindled his photography spark some, but for a few years he went into semi-retirement. Dye transfer and desert landscapes were the two reasons Dad converted to color in a long, gradual process during the decade of the 1970s. More on that in another blog post and in my book. He did in time begin printing again in earnest. He made beautiful color Cibachrome prints, but it was never the same as dye transfer print making. What was it about this elusive process that captured the minds of famous photographers and darkroom techies alike?

One of the photographers famous for his dye transfer prints is Ctein, one of a few still making dye transfer prints today. He wrote on his website:

Dye transfer prints are simply without peer. They have a richness, depth, and fidelity unmatched by any other kind of photographic print. They can show extraordinary subtlety of tone and hue, combined with a brightness range of 500:1 from blackest black to whitest white. After 70 years, dye transfer printing has become a nearly-lost art…today only a few dozen people in the entire world still make dye transfer prints… Dye transfer printing is very time-consuming and expensive. Making the first 16″ x 20″ dye print from a negative costs me over $100 in materials and several days’ time. Dye transfer printing also demands extraordinary skill, understanding, and good artistic judgement… In 1991 Kodak discontinued a special film called Pan Matrix Film which I need to make prints directly from color negatives. In 1994 Kodak abruptly and without warning ceased production of Matrix Film (used for printing from separations) and all other dye transfer materials… As an artist, I couldn’t stand the idea of spending the rest of my life thinking, “Gee that’s a pretty nice print… it would have been so much lovelier as a dye transfer.” I mortgaged myself to the hilt and packed a large amount of this unique film in a deep freeze… I stockpiled enough chemicals, dye and paper to allow me to continue printing. I went deeply in debt, but I can continue creating my art for at least several more years. Those few of us still making dye transfer prints survive on such hoarded supplies. Kodak’s decision to kill dye transfer constitutes an artistic loss of the highest order.

Landscape photographer Charles Cramer described his experience on his website:

When I started making color prints in the late 70s, things were fairly primitive, but there was one process with a mythical reputation that offered tremendous control—dye transfer. I had no idea how all-consuming making dye transfer prints would be. To create one print required the precise exposure and development of approximately twelve sheets of film. The colors are literally disassembled into B&W, and then reassembled in a process akin to silk-screening. With all the steps involved, it offered tremendous control—but also the possibility for things to go terribly wrong. I labored mightily for more than fifteen years with dye transfer. When all the planets aligned, a beautiful print could emerge. But you didn’t know how it would look until the final step of “rolling” out a print. I started making dye transfer prints in 1981. In 1994, Kodak, the only supplier of dye transfer materials, announced they had ceased production. Any remaining inventory was divided up amongst existing customers. I scraped together as much as I could afford to get a decent stockpile… By the time I started in dye transfer, most everyone else had quit. The biggest obstacle was getting good information. There was very little in the literature, and I tried to collect everything I could. There are so many steps to making a print—so many variables— combined with the fact that there’s no feedback until you finally make the print, that it’s hard to isolate exactly what does what.

Charles Cramer taught dye transfer printing for the Ansel Adams Gallery Workshops starting in 1987. He teaches at the Ansel Adams Gallery to this day. Upcoming blog posts will describe how Philip Hyde learned dye transfer printing and will include Philip Hyde’s description of the process, as well as my memories of him singing along to his big band jazz records as he printed.

CONTINUED IN THE BLOG POST, “The Legend of Dye Transfer Printing, Interrupted 2