Posts Tagged ‘Mexico’

Enduring Images: Interview of Jack Dykinga for Outdoor Photographer Magazine

September 15th, 2016

Enduring Images: An Interview with Pulitzer Prize Winning Photojournalist, Celebrated Nature Photographer and 2017 NANPA Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Jack Dykinga by David Leland Hyde

Including Previously Unpublished Interview Sections and Materials

Cover of Outdoor Photographer September Special Issue - Photography with a Purpose

Cover of Outdoor Photographer September 2016 Special Issue – Photography with a Purpose. (Click Image to see larger.)

Jack Dykinga won the Pulitzer Prize in photojournalism while documenting the turmoil of 1960s Chicago. In 1970 he read a Backpacker magazine interview of my father, conservation photographer Philip Hyde. The article by environmental photographer Gary Braasch inspired Dykinga to move West and begin photographing landscapes. He eventually met and became friends with Dad, who mentored him in the ways of conservation photography. They even photographed together on a number of trips, some with a few other photography friends around the Southwest U.S., as well as on mainland Mexico and Baja California.

Jack Dykinga over the years also became a pillar of Western nature photography, working with the acclaimed International League of Conservation Photographers, National Geographic, Arizona Highways and other renowned organizations. The North American Nature Photography Association plans to honor Dykinga with a Lifetime Achievement award this year, much as they did Philip Hyde and David Brower back in 1996.

My interview with Mr. Dykinga touched on how he made the transition from a Midwest urban setting to photographing the wide-open wilderness spaces of the West. It also revealed the sensibilities he discovered were necessary to photograph nature and wildlife for conservation purposes. Our discussion ranged from his experience at various well-known magazines to the refinement of his approach over the years with input from Dad. Dykinga gave insights into a number of conservation projects and the making of a number of his successful books for various causes, including the upcoming new release of A Photographer’s Life: A Journey from Pulitzer Prize-Winning Photojournalist to Celebrated Nature Photographer, in which Dykinga wrote an entire chapter about Dad.

My interview ran over 26,000 words, but I kept only 2,800 for the Outdoor Photographer piece. Some of the remaining 23,200 words will go into my book, but a few sections I will share with readers here. In one section I asked Jack Dykinga about Eliot Porter and Robert Glenn Ketchum. I specifically cut this portion from the Outdoor Photographer version because I did not feel the magazine article was the place to grind the axe about how Eliot Porter has received credit for a number of Dad’s and other’s accomplishments. At the right time and place, in the appropriate venue, a more detailed version of this discussion will be pertinent. For now, Landscape Photography Blogger is more appropriate than Outdoor Photographer for starting to bring some of it to light. The Outdoor Photographer audience is interested in learning from all of these greats of nature photography, not necessarily hearing why one or another have been over or under-recognized. In my opinion Dykinga’s response, while favoring Dad, was well-considered, balanced and tactful. Let’s see what you think when you read it below… In another section, Dykinga shared his experiences and impressions while working with National Geographic and while obtaining more personal, land and place oriented photographs.

David Leland Hyde: John Rohrbach in Regarding the Land: Robert Glenn Ketchum and the Legacy of Eliot Porter, made the exaggerated claims that Eliot Porter invented color nature photography and “almost single handedly saved the Grand Canyon.” Rohrbach also wrote that Robert Glenn Ketchum was the primary photographer carrying on Eliot Porter’s legacy. It was common knowledge among those who were there and widely known thereafter that Dad led the charge spiritually and produced the most photographs for the Grand Canyon campaign. Dad’s photographs illustrated three large format Sierra Club Books and were the cornerstone of Time and the River Flowing: Grand Canyon, the one book specifically produced to prevent two dams above and below the National Park in the Grand Canyon. Eliot Porter’s Glen Canyon book enjoyed wide readership during this time mainly because the campaign to prevent the Grand Canyon dams took on global proportions. The book Time and the River Flowing landed on the desk of every member of Congress and other Washington leaders, as well as quickly fulfilling significant international demand and distribution. As Time and the River Flowing went out all over the world, it effectively advanced the momentum of the global letter writing campaign that ultimately swayed American politicians and stopped the dams. Not all of Philip Hyde’s books in the Sierra Club Exhibit Format Series sold as well as Eliot Porter’s In Wildness Is the Preservation of the World, but Island In Time: Pt. Reyes Peninsula came out the same year. Several other photographers including Litton, Brower, Adams and others were nearly as prominent as Hyde and Porter in bringing color to landscape photography. As far as any photographer taking over Eliot Porter’s legacy, late in Porter’s life when he was ill before a Truckee Meadows Workshop, the organizers called in Hyde to take over Porter’s teaching position, not Robert Glenn Ketchum or anyone else.

Jack Dykinga: Eliot Porter was a great photographer. I will say that right off the bat. Right almost in the second line of his autobiography, without even taking a breath, it says he was a medical doctor who gave that up to be a photographer. Your dad was a self-made person who wanted to be a photographer. He wasn’t a doctor that wanted to be a photographer. He didn’t have either the baggage or the promotional ability that Porter did. A guy like Robert Glenn Ketchum had Ketchum, Idaho named after his family. He lives in Bel Air and Hollywood and he’s done a lot of good conservation work, but the hardship that your father had to go through, made him stronger. Your dad was the kind of person who had to really work for everything he got. I don’t think he had time to blow his own horn. He was trying to make a living. If I had it to do over again, I sure wish I had a lot more money. I wouldn’t have to worry about the next check. But, I think that lack of money also gives you an edge, I don’t mean a winning edge, I mean there’s a certain edge to your life where you’re really having to push pretty hard to get things done and it helps you. Porter’s work had a totally different look, whereas your father’s strength was that he gave you the monumental look of the American West. Your father did a lot more trail hiking than Eliot did and really showed us the land without showing himself.

Hyde: In the early 1960s, the whole direction of the large format books shifted. At first there was the big black and white sensation, This Is The American Earth by Ansel Adams and Nancy Newhall, but then suddenly everybody was really excited about color.

Dykinga: Your father was more of a documenter of wild places. He would look at things as more of a narrative and a project. That’s more akin to what I do. A lot of my friends that I go camping with are what I call single image photographers. They go out and want to get the most powerful shot that day, where I’m more likely to be wrapped up in a concept. That’s because I’m the journalist. You get publishable shots every single day. They may not be the art you want to hang on your wall, but you may want to put them in a book to tell somebody a story. If you try to submit only those that whisper, you’ll never get published, but you can hang them on the wall and live with them and love them.

Hyde: With National Geographic are you doing more or less what Joel Sartore does?

Dykinga: I am a contract photographer. He is a contract photographer on their first list. I used to be on their first list. I have a deep connection with the magazine, but their overall view of landscape is erratic. We have different opinions.

Hyde: Their idea of landscape is always putting a person in the frame.

Dykinga: There you go. You hit it perfectly. The classic example would be the last issue on Yellowstone National Park with people, butchering animals, traps and cowboys. There’s not one sense of place in the whole article. Here we are in this dramatic, incredible landscape that just gets really short shrift with the tact they have taken. The current editor is a journalist. She was the editor of Time Magazine.

Hyde: Would you say that National Geographic goes after the culture more than the place or the wilderness?

Dykinga: You could say that. That’s sort of subjective. I was there when Chris Johns was editor and he loved my approach to landscapes. That went away when he went away. It changes all the time. I still work for them occasionally. A full feature is a 100 day contract and it’s pretty good money, except when you have things blow up, it maybe not as good as you thought.

Hyde: You were in Stephen Trimble’s book, Lasting Light: 125 Years of Grand Canyon Photography. I don’t know that he necessarily found all of the “Who’s who” of Grand Canyon photography, but he included many.

Dykinga: I spend less and less time in cliché locations. They may be visual touchstones for most people, but they’re not interesting to me because even more than the place the solitude is important to me.

Hyde: Like Ansel talked about with the experience?

Dykinga: Yes, a deeper connection. You can’t do that if you’re on a crowded boardwalk in Yellowstone with about 30 Chinese guys with selfie sticks like I just experienced. People now are interested in showing “me there,” more than “there.” I think there’s a profound shift with people being more anthropocentric.

Hyde: We have less and less connection to nature as decades go by and more and more words and noise surrounding ourselves when we do get out there.

Dykinga: I see it all the time where people really go on and on explaining their work. Your father’s message and his voice came through the image. If you go on and on about divinity and God and everything else, that’s maybe what you’re reading into it. A lot of us are just very happy when people see the place and make their own decisions based on their own divinity or lack thereof. That’s as good as you can go. It’s more of a Buddhist approach.

To read the best published portions of the above interview pick up the Outdoor Photographer September Special Issue still on newsstands now for a few more weeks, or available online in October.

Drylands: The Deserts Of North America 3

August 26th, 2014

Excerpts From The Text And Photographs of Drylands: The Deserts of North America by Philip Hyde, Part Three

Continued from the blog post, “Drylands: The Deserts Of North America 2.”

Capitol Reef from Cohab Canyon, Capital Reef National Park, Utah, 1978, by Philip Hyde. Nationally exhibited and first published in "Drylands: The Deserts of North America" by Philip Hyde. A stronger, more majestic photograph than a similar earlier image published in "Slickrock: The Canyon Country of Southeast Utah" with Edward Abbey.

Capitol Reef from Cohab Canyon, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah, 1978, by Philip Hyde. Nationally exhibited and first published in “Drylands: The Deserts of North America” by Philip Hyde. A stronger, more majestic photograph than a similar earlier image published in “Slickrock: The Canyon Country of Southeast Utah” with Edward Abbey.

Drylands: The Deserts of North America with photographs and text by Philip Hyde, developed out of nearly 60 years of exploring and defending western North American wilderness, with special emphasis on the five deserts of the continent. Yolla Bolly Press, which also packaged Mountain Light by Galen Rowell and other foundational landscape photography titles, recently donated its archive to Stanford University, where Drylands and its production can be viewed. Drylands is now out of print, but can be found at various online booksellers including Amazon under Drylands: The Deserts of North America by Philip Hyde.

The previous blog article in this series, “Drylands: The Deserts Of North America 2,” tells the story of the making of the book. The first blog post, “Drylands: The Deserts Of North America 1,” contained the beginning of the first chapter of the text of Drylands itself. We continue now where that blog post left off…

 

Passing through vast expanses of land that appear to be nearly bereft of any living thing, I wonder at the sight of a small plant braving the harsh environment. Its difficult circumstances do not evoke sympathy; I wonder that the plant grows in spite of difficulties, that it conserves what little moisture it gets and responds to the slightest moisture by blooming exuberantly.

Still another delight feeds the photographer within: the light. Desert light is crystalline and brilliant, making deep shadows and sparkling highlights. This is at least partly a result of the scarcity of moisture in the air—and, until recently, the scarcity of humans and their activities. When there were fewer people, the light everywhere must have had the clear quality that is still to be seen in some of the more remote quarters of the North American deserts.

As a mountain lover, I especially appreciate a characteristic that our deserts share with most of the country from the Rockies west: the deserts of North America are uncommonly mountainous. The two snowiest mountain chains in the country, the Sierra Nevada and the Cascades border the northernmost deserts on the windward sides. Scattered throughout all of the deserts are a large number of lesser mountain ranges that cast their own rain shadows on the adjacent areas. Some of these lesser ranges are high enough and wet enough to support forests on their upper slopes. Rising high above the parched plains and valleys below, they may be snow capped in winter, like the higher ones to the west. The White Mountains, Toiyabe, Snake, Ruby, and other ranges in Nevada, along with the high plateaus of Utah and Arizona and the Sierra Madre in Mexico, create their own microclimates: islands of plenty surrounded by desert.

Nowhere in the world is there as much diversity of desert weather as there is in western North America. In western Oregon, California, and Nevada precipitation occurs mostly in winter, in summer only rarely. In the eastern and southern parts of the Mexican deserts, summer is the rainy season. Where rainfall records are available for desert locations, they show radical irregularity. Downpours may occur at random intervals and locations, sometimes exceeding the year’s average in a few minutes or hours. In some places droughts can last several years, with no rainfall at all. The North American deserts are second to none for intensity of summer heat, but the dryness of the air makes the heat more bearable. Death Valley can be as hot on a summer day as any place on earth, while at higher elevations a sweater may be necessary when the sun sets and the air cools.

The great diversity of the vast desert landscape of North America suggests natural divisions that coincide with most scientific classifications. But the actual boundaries of these divisions are not so easy to draw within those of the larger desert region. In most cases, one desert shades into another, so boundaries must be somewhat arbitrary and indefinite, as are all attempts by humans to circumscribe nature. As I write this I think of Sir Francis Bacon saying: “Nature is a labyrinth in which the very haste you move with may make you lose your way.”

Continued in the blog post, “Drylands: The Deserts of North America 4.”

Which is your favorite desert?

Philip Hyde Explored Wilderness In Photographs

February 18th, 2014

Philip Hyde Speaks Out About Respecting And Defending The Five Deserts of North America

By Jane Braxton Little

Note: This article originally titled “Philip Hyde: Exploring World In Photos” by Jane Braxton Little appeared in the Feather River Bulletin on October 7, 1987 just before the release of Drylands: The Deserts of North America. Jane Braxton Little now writes for the Sacramento Bee and magazines such as Audubon, American Forests, Scientific American, Nature Conservancy, Sierra, Native Peoples and many others. She is a full-time freelance writer who travels the world on environmental stories. Drylands is out of print but readily available through used booksellers. See Drylands: The Deserts of North America on Amazon.

Anvil Cloud Over Badlands, Death Valley National Park, Mojave Desert, California, copyright 1975 Philip Hyde. A Drylands image. Philip Hyde was aided in image selection for Drylands by Jim and Carolyn Robertson of Yolla Bolly Press, who packaged the book for publishing by Harcort, Brace, Jovanovich. Yolla Bolly also packaged Galen Rowell's famous book Mountain Light. The Yolla Bolly archive with Drylands and Mountain Light now resides at Stanford University.

Anvil Cloud Over Badlands, Death Valley National Park, Mojave Desert, California, copyright 1975 Philip Hyde. A Drylands image. Philip Hyde was aided in image selection for Drylands by Jim and Carolyn Robertson of Yolla Bolly Press, who packaged the book for publishing by Harcort, Brace, Jovanovich. Yolla Bolly also packaged Galen Rowell’s famous book Mountain Light. The Yolla Bolly archive with Drylands, Mountain Light and others now resides at Stanford University.

Traveling The West

Philip Hyde glanced around his studio lined with full-color landscape photographs in various stages of framing and confessed a yen to travel.

“I haven’t taken any kind of trip for 18 months and I’m beginning to feel it,” Hyde said. “My feet are itchy.” The Mojave, Chihuahuan, Sonoran, Great Basin and Painted Deserts are what have kept Philip Hyde, age 66, at his studio in his home in the Northern Sierra. His new book, Drylands: The Deserts of North America, will be published this month.

Sculpted sand dunes, multicolored lava flows and the surreal cracks of a sun-parched mud patch are among Philip Hyde’s 95 photographs that convey, often with stark simplicity, the complex beauty of North America’s five deserts. Hyde also wrote the text of the new large format coffee table book.

Hidden Complexity In Deserts

“To the casual eye, deserts look like simple places: scattered sage brush, the occasional lizard, bare rock…” Hyde wrote in his introduction. “Yet deserts are not really simple places and the bareness can be deceptive.”

With the publication of Drylands nearly behind him, Hyde has been kept in his studio readying the photographs reproduced in the book for shows at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, opening October 23, and at Lightworks in Sacramento, scheduled to open December 2.

Drylands is the most recent of the many books and calendars that have helped to establish Hyde as one of America’s most respected and experienced landscape photographers. His work has been exhibited nationwide and is represented in major photography collections. While Hyde’s work reflects the diversity of vegetation and topography from Alaskan tundra to the mountains of central Mexico, it projects a singular attitude towards his subject.

Reverence And Discovery In Nature Photography

“I photograph nature with great respect for it,” Hyde said. “I want people to appreciate wilderness and I would like to think that I have had a hand in making them more conscious of nature.” A perfectionist, who chooses his words with precision, Hyde refolds his lunch napkin into its brass ring and labels his studio typewriter with the date he installed a new ribbon. His photographs are the products of a fine eye distinguished by an appreciation for the subtly unusual.

“Photography for me is a discovery process,” Hyde said. “I don’t go to a place and wait. In a place that’s full of pictures, it doesn’t make sense to wait for them to happen. There are too many other pictures waiting to be taken.”

Philip Hyde and his wife Ardis spend an average of three months a year on photographic trips. They have climbed the mountains of Baja California, Mexico, rafted through the Grand Canyon, Rio Grand and many other river canyons, and camped on a glaciated beach in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska. Before each trip, Hyde studies the geology and geography of the area and researches it pictorially. Hyde explained, “Basically I’m dealing with the land. I find out what I can about it in advance. When I get there I explore it—and see what happens.”

Environmental Activism And Politics

His travel far from the conventional tourist beats is in step with his environmental politics. An outspoken conservationist, he served as a photographer for the Sierra Club Exhibit Format Series that originally popularized the large format coffee table book. Hyde produced numerous books for the San Francisco based Sierra Club and worked with many other environmental organizations. He was a major contributor to the first Sierra Club desk calendar and his work continues to appear regularly in new editions, as well as numerous other publications. His pictorial record of Glen Canyon before it was flooded by Lake Powell is just one example of his use of photographs to make political statements.

“My photographs are my voice,” Hyde asserted. “They haven’t hurt people as much as I would have if I got mad and hit them over the head.” He is generally critical of the direction of national politics and specifically critical of the Reagan administration and James Watt, Reagan’s Secretary of the Interior.

“The whole idea of conserving things is more liberal than conservative,” Hyde said. “Conservatism, as practiced in this country is exploitation. It’s big business privilege. It doesn’t jibe with conservation or true conservatism.” Hyde has devoted a lifetime to photography out of a belief in communicating conservation ideals.

Art As Communication More Than Expression

“My philosophy of photography is communication,” He explained. “That rules out getting too far out and too personal—where the communication is so obscure you go to a show and the most banal photograph has three paragraphs of text to explain it. That’s not the true medium of photography. If it needs to be explained, it’s something else.” He also does not advocate art that is different merely for the sake of being different.

“There’s so much talk about creativity,” Hyde said. “Philosophically, I don’t know about creation. It seems to me there is no real need to make nature into something else. If you make a tree into something other than a tree, that’s not photography.”

“The picture doesn’t have to communicate just what the photographer is thinking,” said Hyde. “Let people play around with it. That’s part of the fun.” The best of Hyde’s photographs leave space for the viewer to complete the scene.

Self Made, Self-Reliant And Simple

Hyde does almost all of his own photographic printing in his studio, keeps all of his own clerical records and markets the bulk of his work by himself. Despite the challenges of running a one-man business, he prefers the simplicity of being self-contained to the complexities of being an employer.

“The hardest thing I do is to make things simple,” he said. Hyde recently simplified his printing process by replacing color dye transfer printing with Cibachrome, a color printing process manufactured in Belgium and marketed by an English company. Cibachrome has complexities in the chemical and manufacturing process, not in the print making methods.

When he is at home in the Sierra, Hyde maintains a disciplined schedule, working regular hours in his studio. The house where he and Ardis have lived since 1959 is decorated with clean, understated elegance: hand-made earthenware, Navajo rugs, books, rugs, wall hangings and brass trays from when the Hydes lived in Morocco for a year.  Their food is often picked from Ardis’ garden just up hill from Indian Creek, complimented by her homemade whole wheat bread.

His photographs bear a quest for simplicity, conveying a strong sense of the individuality of a single stone or the moment of a sunset over the Grand Canyon. They are images that may accurately reflect a point in time selectively plucked from a world in constant flux.

“Every day different things are happening. Every day the sun is in a different position… Photography is an exploration more than anything else.”

Was Edward Abbey A Mystic?

September 12th, 2011

Jack Loeffler And Edward Abbey Discuss Mysticism While Camped At The Strait Of Hell On The West Coast Of Sonora, Mexico

White Herons, Playa, Baja California, Mexico, copyright 1981 by Philip Hyde.

In his biography of Edward Abbey, Adventures with Ed: A Portrait of Abbey, Jack Loeffler described traveling, friendship and working with Edward Abbey on various environmental campaigns. In one chapter Jack Loeffler told a story about exploring and car camping with the “Thoreau of the West” and his wife Clarke Cartwright Abbey on the west coast of Mainland Old Mexico. “On a dirt road that extended from El Desemboque to Kino Bay,” Jack Loeffler and Edward Abbey made camp.

They dubbed their camp “Osprey Bay” because they could see “no fewer than five inhabited osprey nests…” and during the day they could see osprey aloft nearly all the time. To get to the camp they had traveled several hundred miles from the U. S. border. Their camp was across Estrecho Infiernillo, or the Strait of Hell, from Baja California with Tiburon Island and Shark Island a few miles out in the Sea of Cortez or Gulf of California. Nineteenth century explorers called the narrow passage between Mexico and Baja California the Strait of Hell because during high tide and low tide, in some conditions, treacherous currents and sand bars tended to obstruct navigation and still do today. “There we remained for the better part of two weeks, hiking, floating in the rubber raft, avoiding stingrays, eating, drinking cold beer and warm beer, and even considering thinking about working.”

Edward Abbey made forays for firewood. Jack Loeffler and Edward Abbey dug a fire pit and lined it with large rocks in which they put a giant stuffed Turkey that Clarke Abbey had wrapped frozen before the trip. In the evening after their first Turkey feast when “the sound of the surf lulled them into a collective reverie,” Edward Abbey and Jack Loeffler set out on a walk east toward the mountains a few miles away:

The moon was bright. The air was warm. There was no wind. The conditions were ideal for a nighttime stroll near the Straight of Hell. We spoke very little for the first mile or so. We finally crossed the main north-south road and followed a trail continuing east. We were able to walk abreast and listen to the night sounds.

“Jack.”

“Ed.”

“Do you consider yourself a mystic?”

“Wow, I have to think about that for a minute. Do you?”

“Consider you a mystic? Yes.”

Consider yourself a mystic.”

“I asked you first.”

We stumbled along the trail for a bit.

“Probably no more than you do,” I replied vaguely. “Is there any vestigial Presbyterianism left in you?”

“Oh maybe a remnant or two left over from my childhood… But I was asking if you were a mystic?”

“It’s ironic, when I was in college, I was one of the two professed atheists on the campus. It took me years to realize that my sense of atheism was mostly the result of semantics. I certainly didn’t and don’t believe in an anthropomorphic god in any biblical sense. It seems that somehow I’ve intuited the presence of some principle or urge that the English language, at least, isn’t prepared to define. I suppose any religious feelings I have stem from the way I feel about the Earth and about consciousness. I’ve suspected for a long time that the planet is the living organism and that life is the way the planet perceives. We’re just a step along the way. Humans, I mean. We’re really not all that important when you think about it.

“Yeah, I know what you mean,” said Ed. “But what about a sense of purpose? I wonder if we have any purpose in a higher sense. It seems like you spend years trying to absolve yourself from your childhood biases. If you’re really interested, that is.”

“What about you, Ed? Have you ever had a sense of the mystical?”

“Well, as you know, I’ve always tried to follow the truth no matter where it leads. And intellectually, I’ve tried to come to terms with reality by examining the evidence of my own five good bodily senses that I was born with, using my mind to the best of my ability. But there was a time back in Death Valley where I had what I guess was as close to a mystical experience as I’ve ever had. That was years ago. I was a young man. I’ve never had anything quite like it since. As close as I’ve come is after I’ve been out camping somewhere for at least two weeks. It takes at least that long for me to really get into it and leave all the baggage behind.”

“Can you describe what happened back then?” I asked.

“Well, it’s not something that’s easy to remember intellectually. It was more the way I felt. As I recall, I felt like I wasn’t separated from anything else. I was by myself at the time. It was as if I could almost perceive some fundamental activity taking place all around me. Everything was alive, even the rocks. I was part of it. Not separate from it at all. I wept for joy or something akin to joy that I can’t really describe. It was a long time ago. It’s not something that can be remembered in the normal way, or at least normal for me. The only time I can get close to it is out camping. I don’t get to do that enough. Not nearly enough.”

See a video of Jack Loeffler on the role of artists in environmental activism… Or, read more about Edward Abbey and how he met and wrote Slickrock with Philip Hyde in the blog post, “Who Was Edward Abbey?

Ansel Adams And Paul Strand On Self-Promotion and Exhibitions

July 7th, 2011

Split Boulder Near Lake Ediza, The Minarets, Ansel Adams Wilderness, Sierra Nevada, California, 1950 by Philip Hyde. First exhibited in the original "Perceptions" exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Art in 1954 with the work of the members of Group f.64, Minor White, his students and a few other Bay Area photographers. This exhibition many consider one of the foundations that defined what became known as the West Coast tradition.

(To see the photograph full screen Click Here.)

In reading the letters between Paul Strand and Ansel Adams from the Center for Creative Photography’s publication, The Archive, it quickly becomes apparent that the times then were quite different. The first exchange of letters between the two photographers in 1933 occurred during the Great Depression, when photography was almost unheard of and even other forms of art were comparatively scarce in relation to the volumes produced today.

To compete and be heard in the market today, a photographer must not only make good photographs, but also promote tastefully. Writing well online also helps to develop a following. One of today’s photographers succeeding in all three is Guy Tal. I have mentioned him before on this blog and I mention him again, because what he writes often relates to what I am learning about the history of photography and because he recommended my blog to his readers. I like Guy Tal’s blog, not because I always agree with him, but because he has a knack for stirring up ideas, thoughts and opinions and getting people to participate. Recently he wrote a blog post called, “Small Confession,” in which he acknowledges the necessity of self-promotion but confesses that he respects photographers who do it reluctantly more than those who revel in it.

Shortly after reading this post, I started reading the letters between Paul Strand and Ansel Adams. These two pioneers, despite what it appears to us now, were also reluctant self-promoters. However, they lived in a time when people were looking for something new artistically and there wasn’t all that much being created of note. Along came people like Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O’Keeffe, Pablo Picasso, Paul Strand, Ansel Adams, Edward Weston and others. These people offered something that had never been seen before.

Straight photography was not a stuffy, constraining, self-contradicting notion as it is seen by some today. It was a huge Wow, and also freeing and energizing to the medium. Also, these artists did not have to promote themselves as loudly to be heard, because there was much less noise then and fewer voices vying for the public’s attention. People mobbed most of the events of the straight photographers. Perhaps those who look at straight photography as out-dated and old-fashioned, will have justification for that opinion when their events are packed because they have invented something striking and new enough to draw hoards of people.

The first time Ansel Adams wrote to Paul Strand, he reminded him of their meeting and mentioned meeting with Alfred Stieglitz in New York City. Then Ansel Adams told Paul Strand that he had opened a small gallery…

My place is most decidedly not an imitation of Stieglitz’; I wrote him at great length and outlined my plans—I told him I was going to alternate my exhibits between photography and painting or graphic arts, that I was not a missionary or a promoter, and that I did not care if I made anything out of the gallery or not—I only hoped it would pay its own rent. I am trying to bring things to San Francisco that should have come many years ago.

Ansel Adams went on to ask Paul Strand if he would be interested in exhibiting his photographs at Ansel Adams’ gallery. Paul Strand wrote back…

Actually I have little interest in exhibitions—because at the basis they seem to be un-American—just a mean and meaningless affair; mean in that they exploit the artist to entertain the public free of charge—meaningless in that they seldom establish any standards.

I turned down three museums last year in just the above terms—Their impudence and complete ignorance of what they are doing is just disgusting—They think that flattery is a substitute—but they can all go to hell as far as I am concerned—for I refuse to be part of that racket—that is my general feeling about exhibitions—I can never get used to the idea that pictures are free entertainment in the U.S., elsewhere too, that the people who claim to enjoy a thing never support the individual who makes what gives them pleasure.

Paul Strand went on to explain that it was difficult to send his prints out of Mexico, where he was living at the time, for fear they might be damaged, and that he might entertain the idea if he could ever make it to San Francisco in person. Paul Strand told Ansel Adams of a show he had in Mexico under extenuating circumstances, that over 3,000 people came to see in 10 days. Not bad for someone who despised the whole idea. For more about the photography of Paul Strand see the blog posts, “Straight Photography And Abstraction,” and “Photography’s Golden Era 5.”

(This blog post was originally posted March 24, 2010.)

New Portfolio Added: Old Mexico And Baja California

June 9th, 2011

New Portfolio: Old Mexico and Baja California In Color

Ardis And Philip Hyde’s Old Mexico And Baja California Travels And A New Portfolio Of Philip Hyde’s Photographs Added To PhilipHyde.com

Comala Church Interior, Comala, State of Colima, Mexico, copyright 1995 by Philip Hyde. This medium format photograph is a raw high resolution scan file, not yet post-processed for printing.

(See the photograph full screen Click Here.)

Ardis, David and Philip Hyde traveled to Baja California, Mexico with trip leader and photographer Terrence Moore and assistant leader Tom Pew in 1973. The purpose of the journey was to seek out the wildest places on the Baja peninsula that could be reached by four wheel drive vehicle. The year 1973 will always be significant to Baja California wilderness history because that year the Mexican Government completed all pavement sections of the main road from Tijuana and Mexicali on the California, United States border to the end of the 800-mile Baja peninsula at Cabo San Lucas and Cabo Falso. In 1973, Cabo San Lucas was still mainly wild, while today it is a tourist mecca and resort destination. See Philip Hyde’s well-known black and white photograph of Cabo Falso compared with the beaches at Cabo Falso and Cabo San Lucas today.

Outdoor Photographer Terrence Moore had been an expert for decades on Baja California, Mexico. Terrence Moore knew the roads, the missions, the towns, the beaches or playas, the Mexican people and the Spanish language. Tom Pew was also a long-time Baja California explorer, long time Southwestern US explorer and the publisher of American West Magazine when it was about all aspects of the Southwest, particularly the arts of the Southwest, as opposed to after 1989 when he sold American West Magazine and it became solely a cowboy Western magazine.

The 1973 Baja California Camping Trip Began A Wilderness Love Affair

The 1973 four-wheel-drive wilderness camping trip down Baja California began in Yuma, Arizona where Ardis, David and Philip Hyde met trip leader and photographer Terrence Moore, as well as assistant leader and publisher Tom Pew and the rest of the participants in the group. They all set out in the Hydes’ Toyota Land Cruiser Wagon and two Chevrolet Blazers down the Gulf of California coast from Mexicali to San Felipe to Puertocitos, Bahia San Luis Gonzaga, Calamujue, San Borja Mission, Bahia de los Angeles, Bahia de la Giganta, San Javier Mission, Punta Conejo, La Paz, Cabo Pulmo and finally to Cabo San Lucas. On the return up Baja California, back to the US, the Hydes traveled without the group back to La Paz and then on to Commandu, Bahia Concepcion, Rancho Rosarito, Rancho Jaraguay, El Rosario, San Ysidro, Baja and finally to San Diego, California, USA. For more about the 1973 Baja California trip stay tuned for future blog posts.

The 1973 wilderness camping trip began Ardis and Philip Hyde’s love affair with Baja California, as well as their love affair with Mexico. The Hydes returned to Baja California in  1981, 1984, 1988, and in 1995 with Jack Dykinga and Susan and Tom Bean when Ardis Hyde was nearly 70 years old and Philip Hyde was almost 74.

Travels To Mainland Old Mexico

In 1980, Ardis and Philip Hyde visited mainland Mexico. They traveled by air from Sacramento, California to Guadalajara, Mexico, rented a car and drove to Patzcuaro Michoacan, Mexico and Colima. Near Colima they re-discovered Rancho El Balcon, where Ardis Hyde’s Grandparents and her father’s family lived for nearly a decade in the early 1900s. Ardis and Philip Hyde attended an Audubon seminar at Cobano, visited Cuyatlan Lagoon, Manzanillo and Volcan de Colima before flying back to the US. More on this trip in future blog posts.

As part of Philip Hyde’s desert project that later became the book Drylands: The Deserts of North America, Ardis and Philip Hyde made a field trip to the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts through Arizona and into Baja California, Mexico at San Luis and through the Pinacate Volcano Field and the Cerro Colorado Volcanic Crater area in Pinacate Biosphere Reserve, Mexico and the Elegante Volcano field in Pinacate Natonal Park, Mexico, Puerto Penasco, Playa Encanto, Cabeza Prieta, Granite Range, Ligerta RV Park, Microonda Basura, Kino Bay, Hermosilo, Nogales, Chihuahua, Paquime, PIrineos, Cuatro Cienegas, Pozo Churince, Canon Huasteco, Gomez Palacio, Posada del Rio, Villa Humada, Samalayuca Sand Dunes and up to El Paso, Texas. The Hydes also returned to the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts in 1989. In 1990, Ardis and Philip Hyde traveled to Mexico City and the City of Oaxaca, Oaxaca, Mexico. See the blog post, “Mexico City And Oaxaca Travel Log.”

The New Portfolio And Future New Releases

The photographs in the “Old Mexico And Baja California Color Portfolio” on PhilipHyde.com represent a cross-section of the places Ardis and Philip Hyde visited in Mexico and Baja California. The portfolio as you see it is just beginning and currently incomplete with many of the images remaining in raw high resolution drum scan form, not yet post-processed for archival fine art digital printing. Also, only 12 photographs out of 18 to 20 are now available for viewing even in raw form. Many more Mexico and Baja California photographs will be drum scanned, post-processed and made available as archival fine art digital prints. Please stay tuned.

Color Magazine Feature Out Now

January 4th, 2011

Cirios Silhouettes At Sundown, Baja California, Mexico, 1984 by Philip Hyde. This photograph appears on the title page of the March 2011, Issue 12 of Color Magazine, along with 14 other photographs in the feature article.

March Issue #12 Of Color Magazine Featuring Philip Hyde In Stores Now

At home I have three file safe drawers full of clippings of articles either by or about my father master landscape photographer Philip Hyde. The article files start in 1947 and keep going right past Dad’s passing in 2006, up to the present.

A recent issue of Outdoor Photographer contained a well-written feature about Point Reyes by Sean Arbabi that mentions Dad’s photography there, along with that of Ansel Adams, Brett Weston and other great landscape masters. The piece even mentioned that my father’s photographs helped to make Point Reyes a National Seashore. That was one of the better articles.

A few of the articles in my file safes about Dad are excellent. Some even from the very best magazines are riddled with inaccuracies and misconceptions. The majority are essentially mediocre in that they don’t dig very deep or say much that hasn’t been said before. The majority of writers just don’t make those one or two extra phone calls that turn the article into a multi-source story with more dimension. This is mainly because publishers don’t pay writers much for their submissions any more. With this backdrop, imagine the unfortunate freelance writer, David Best, also a photographer in his own right and known as Panoramaman, writing me and telling me he wants me to review his rough draft for his feature on Philip Hyde for Color Magazine.

Color Magazine is one of the most respected photography magazines today, especially for collectors of fine art photography, along with Black and White Magazine, both published by Ross Periodicals. All along Color Magazine planned to do a feature article on Philip Hyde, but they did not want it to follow too soon after their article on Eliot Porter.

David Best interviewed me over a year ago. I thought he asked excellent questions in the interview. It went very well. Then he sent me his article. I warned him I would beat him up on the details. To my pleasant surprise his draft did a wonderful job of capturing the essence of Dad’s love of nature, while also presenting the story of his landscape photography career in a quality, smooth-flowing narrative that showed a fine dexterity with words. I did beat him up to make sure the facts were straight. I’m not sure he was very happy about it, but I went on to also give a hard time to the friendly, conscientious editor John Lavine to get the facts correct too. He said David Best took it all in stride. Regardless, between David Best’s superlative prose and the layout and photograph selection by John Lavine, in my opinion the final article is one of the best ever written about Dad, which is saying a great deal considering there are 63 years of articles in my file drawers.

Do yourself a favor and go out to the bookstore or newsstand and grab your own copy of this excellent magazine. The current issue with Philip Hyde in it is Issue 12, March 2011. It will be on retail shelves through March, but I wouldn’t wait because every time I have gone to get Color Magazine it has been sold out.

For more on the history of color landscape photography and Philip Hyde’s role in it see also the blog post, “How Color Came To Landscape Photography.” To read how color landscape photography changed after 1990, see the blog post, “Did Velvia Film Change Landscape Photography?

New Release Pricing Extended

December 20th, 2010

Current Blog Post below this announcement…

Two 2010 New Releases Are Still At New Release Pricing Extended Through January:

1. “Men of Oaxaca Waiting For The Train, Oaxaca, Mexico, 1990” Click Here to view,

2. “Mt. Jefferson, Jefferson Wilderness Area, Oregon Cascades, 1959” Click Here to view,

Find also at PhilipHyde.com in the “New Releases Portfolio.”

For a breakdown of new release pricing see the blog post, “New Release Pricing.”

Mexico City And Oaxaca Travel Log

December 20th, 2010

Mexico City And Oaxaca 1990 Travel Log

Excerpts From Ardis Hyde’s 1990 Mexican Travel Log

Men Of Oaxaca Waiting For The Train, City Of Oaxaca, State Of Oaxaca, Mexico, 1990 by Philip Hyde. When I first discovered this photograph in Dad's files, it did not have a name or description but it was in the Oaxaca section. I called it "Men of Oaxaca." I didn't even know where it was in Oaxaca. However, I found it in the Travel Logs called, "Waiting For The Train, Oaxaca Train Station." This is what it is now called on the website. However, I have been referring to it on the blog as, "Men Of Oaxaca Waiting For The Train" so that people know it is the same photograph. Eventually I will drop "Men of Oaxaca" because we don't really know if they are from Oaxaca or not. They are just waiting in the train station.

(To see the photograph full-screen Click Here.)

Mexico City (Ciudad de Mexico) is the Federal District (Distrito Federal) capital, largest city in the Americas, and the third largest city in the world after Seoul and Tokyo. My mother Ardis Hyde abbreviated the Mexico City airport as “Mex DF”, short for Mexico Distrito Federal. My father landscape photographer Philip Hyde was 68 years old and my mother was 64 when they boarded a Continental flight from Reno to Houston via Denver on January 4,1990. My mother wrote:

Clear skies on takeoff from Denver. The Airbus to Houston left more than half an hour late. The wide body plane had seats seven and eight abreast at intervals. We had two seats, one by a window. We could see the front range of the Rockies, pure white with fresh snow. Despite a tail wind, we arrived late in Houston. It was very slow deplaning. We hurried through the huge terminal searching for our gate. We inquired of a courtesy car and the driver told us to hop aboard. We would never have made it without his help. It was a long way to the gate. We were the last to board and almost missed our flight. Clouds covered Mexico City solidly. On the ground in Mexico City, where we arrived on time, we groped around finding our way. We bought pesos and finally exited customs after filling out many forms but moving quickly past the officials. Dusk brought heavy traffic negotiated by taxi to the Ritz Hotel at Madera 30: $43.50 a night with senior discount. Room 510 was quiet and appointed well but not fancy. We were exhausted from the trip and went to bed early.

Future blog posts and eventual releases of new photographs will illustrate the activities of the following days in Mexico City. My mother wrote, “Philip was happily snapping 35 mm pictures” in the city center of street life, of El Sagrario, the old Cathedral, of the bustle and of the art in the city center. At the Palacio National, the Mexican seat of government since the Aztec Empire, many of the palace’s building materials originally belonged to Montezuma. My mother continued, “Philip made a fascinating study of the Diego Rivera Murals on the second floor, in the back courtyard and in the Hall of the Constitution.”

The Hydes attended the Epiphany, 12th Day of Christmas and Dia de Reyes, gift giving to children. They explored the Museo de la Ciudad de Mexico and many other museums. They tried staying in different hotels. They saw the “beautiful glass ceiling of the Gran Hotel,” and visited the Universidad to make photographs of the Diego Rivera murals on the library exterior. They took the autobus to the Teotihuacan Pyramids.

On January 15, the Hydes took a taxi to the train station bound for the City of Oaxaca in the State of Oaxaca:

At the train station we visited in line with two Americans Philip recognized from our hotel, as well as Earl and Shirley Binin, our friends from Connecticut, all boarding the same train to Oaxaca. The train to Oaxaca pulled out promptly at 7:00 pm. We had a neat ‘Alcoba,’ sleeper room and dinner included with our ticket. The diner car was neat and clean. After a visit in the diner car with the Binins we went off to our Alcoba to go to bed early. It was a bumpy ride all night. The train never went very fast. I was in the upper bunk and Philip took the lower. We slept OK. We woke up early and watched the daylight appear through the train windows. Outside we saw mountains, a river gorge and flowing streams through a forest of Kaypok trees. We had breakfast at 7:15 am as the train progressed out onto cultivated flatter terrain. We arrived in Oaxaca at 9:30 am. Philip made photographs in the Oaxaca train station. One was of three men waiting for the train. They were as weathered and tired-looking as the old worn wall of the train station behind them.

More to come…

New Releases Now At Special Introductory Pricing

June 28th, 2010

 

Big News!

For A Limited Time Four NEW RELEASES of Archival Fine Art Digital Prints Will Be at Special Introductory Prices:

1.  “Waiting For The Train, Oaxaca Train Station, Oaxaca, Mexico”
Never before published or exhibited. World Premier at Mountain Light Gallery. (See the photograph full page, CLICK HERE.)

Base Of Havasu Falls, Havasupai Indian Reservation, Grand Canyon, Arizona, 1968 by Philip Hyde.

Also, for more information about the process of bringing these photographs into the digital age, scanning, processing and making archival fine art digital prints see the blog post, “About Archival Fine Art Digital Prints,” and the blog post, “New Philip Hyde Releases At Mountain Light Gallery Exhibition.” For more information on the exhibition see the blog post, “Photography Of Philip Hyde At Mountain Light Gallery.”


2.  “Pioneer Basin, Fourth Recess, John Muir Wilderness, Sierra Nevada, California”
Never before published or exhibited. World Premier at Mountain Light Gallery. To read the story behind this photograph see the blog post, “New Releases Time & Prints Running Out.”
(See the photograph full page, CLICK HERE.)


3.  “Base of Havasu Falls, Havasupai Indian Reservation, Grand Canyon, Arizona”
Widely published and exhibited but not for over 30 years. Contemporary Premier at Mountain Light Gallery. Added to website today.
(See the photograph full page, CLICK HERE.)


4.  “Mt. Jefferson, Jefferson Wilderness Area, Oregon Cascades, Oregon”
Published over 50 years ago but never exhibited. World Premier at Mountain Light Gallery. Added to website today.
(See the photograph full page, CLICK HERE.)

Mt. Jefferson, Jefferson Wilderness Area, Oregon Cascade Mountains, Oregon, 1959 by Philip Hyde. Sent by David Brower to photograph this wilderness area for a potential campaign to establish a National Park. However, the idea of a National Park in the Oregon Cascades never gained significant support.

The special pricing will last until five (5) prints are sold of the image offered, or until the end of 2010, whichever comes first. Once five prints sell or 2010 ends, the prints will revert to the regular pricing.

For Print Acquisitions Please Go To Contact Page Or Order Prints Inside New Releases Portfolio and click on information at the bottom of the page.