Posts Tagged ‘nature photography’

What Urban Exploration Photography Learned From Nature

March 5th, 2012

What Did Urban Exploration Photography Learn From Nature?

Is nature glossy? Is nature always beautiful? My father Western American landscape photographer and conservationist, Philip Hyde, said “Nature is always beautiful, even when we might call a scene ugly.” Is he correct?

Red Canyon at Hance Rapid, Boulders in Dunes, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, copyright 1964 by Philip Hyde. First Published in "Time And The River Flowing: Grand Canyon" by Francois Leydet, in the Sierra Club Exhibit Format Series. The book that helped defend the Grand Canyon against two dams.

(See the photograph large: “Red Canyon At Hance Rapid, Grand Canyon National Park.”)

Nature surprises us with patterns we might not have noticed or thrilling textures and colors, but nature also at times presents us with drab or even repulsive sights so ugly they smell, such as a road killed skunk or a field spread with cattle manure. My mother, Ardis Hyde, often repeated the old adage, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” I also remember her saying, “Wow, what a beautiful field of manure,” on more than one occasion when we were hauling cow manure for the garden in “Covered Wagon,” a 1952 Chevy Step Side Pickup, see the blog post, “Covered Wagon Journal 1.”

Dad’s photographs of proposed wilderness areas and national parks documented the natural features of the land. He said he was not interested in “Pretty Pictures for Postcards.” This attitude came partially from his having studied and taught with Ansel Adams. Dad also espoused the straight photography and documentary principles of his other mentors Edward Weston, Dorothea Lange and Imogen Cunningham. These principles included keeping compositions simple and maintaining the camera’s focus crisp throughout the image, as was only attainable with a large format view camera.

Like Edward Weston, Dad presented his black and white photographs with minimal darkroom manipulation. He said, “There is no need to add drama to nature. Nature is dramatic enough.” However, when he printed dye transfer color prints and Cibachrome color prints, Dad found more color adjustment necessary, to meet his goal of making the final color print look more like the scene as he remembered it, than the film.

Today the trend in much of what is called landscape photography is toward heavy saturation, dramatic weather, unusual lighting, sunlight effects and the most dramatic cliffs, mountains or other land features. Making pictures today is in truth often two arts: Photography, defined as what occurs in camera, plus the art of post processing using Adobe Photoshop or other photo editing software. Post Processing is much like dodging and burning in the darkroom, except that in the world of digital prints and photography art, the alteration of images is easy to overdo because it takes no more effort to move the slider to 80 percent than to take it only to 10 percent. In contrast, when darkroom processing ruled, greater alteration took more work.

Landscape photography today displays magnificence. Big scenes of striking beauty possess the viewer, exhibiting an abundance of what photography galleries call, “Wow factor.” In contrast, my father’s photography grunge rocked: gritty, clear, raw and most importantly imperfect. The imperfections were minimized in the darkroom, but certainly not removed or cropped out of the photograph as they are today.

Nature is very rarely perfect. Neither is any kind of photography. While many produce sub-standard photographs, many landscape photographers thrive with quality work and high standards for maintaining a “natural look.” I have looked at much current landscape photography. In my opinion the best work continues to become better.

Nonetheless, much of landscape photographers today could re-learn, or learn back a lesson from Urban Exploration, Urb Ex or Urban Decay photography. The lesson Urban Exploration photography learned from nature. The best way to understand the lesson is to read one of the master lesson teachers in Urban Exploration Photography, Chase Jarvis. Chase Jarvis recently wrote a blog post called, “The Un-Moment: Why Gritty Beats Glossy & the Deceit of Perfection.” I recommend repeated reading of this post for landscape photographers who want to find their own voice and connect more deeply with nature. Any photographer, for that matter, who wants to have an authentic connection with his or her subject matter could learn from Chase Jarvis.

What do you think? Can the beauty of imperfection improve landscape photography? Does gritty make sense in photography genres other than Urban Exploration?

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?

Nature Magazine: East Of Zion 2

July 21st, 2011

East Of Zion By Philip Hyde, Part 2

Continued from the blog post, “Nature Magazine: East Of Zion 1.”

Originally published by Nature Magazine, March 1957

(Nature Magazine was published by the American Nature Association and taken over by Natural History Magazine in 1960.)

Mission of Nature Magazine: “To stimulate public interest in every phase of nature and the outdoors, and devoted to the practical conservation of the great natural resources of America.”

A Glimpse of the Geology of Zion National Park:

Celebrating The Divine Artistry Of Falling Water Through Deep Canyons

By Philip Hyde

Cascade, Tributary To Clear Creek, Zion National Park, Utah, copyright 1978 by Philip Hyde. From "Drylands: The Deserts of North America." 4X5 Baby Deardorf Large Format View Camera. Original dye transfer prints, Original Cibachrome prints, archival digital prints by Carr Clifton.

(View the photograph large, “Cascade, Tributary To Clear Creek, Zion National Park, Utah, 1978.”

The great architect of this beautiful landscape is moving and falling water, and to this builder and remover of the landscape can be attributed the deep canyons of the region. The violence and power of moving water is often forcefully demonstrated during a summer thunderstorm. One of the writer’s earliest and most vivid recollections of travel in this area stems from a summer visit to Zion Canyon, when he arrived in the midst of a cloudburst. The violence of the storm was enough to justify repetition of Chicken Little’s oft-quoted exclamation: “The sky is falling!” I still have a vivid mental picture of the brown torrent that was the Virgin River, gnawing great chunks from its banks, ripping out trees, carrying debris before it in the surging current. After the climax of the storm passed, the raging water quickly abated, and within a few hours the brown flood disappeared, to be replaced by the river’s normally quiet murmurings.

Even during its quieter periods, however, the river is actively working on the confines of its bed. The low resistance of sandstone to erosion, combined with the steep gradients of the streams in this region, result in a rapid deepening of the stream canyons. Because of these two factors, the stream plays a lesser part in the process of widening the canyon. Seepage of ground water, direct action of rain water, and frosts produce the curves and crenelations that add so much to the sculptured beauty of the canyon walls.

The east side of Zion National Park displays progressive steps in the erosion cycle. In the beginning of this cycle, the land is relatively flat, illustrated by the present tops of plateaus. Where a stream gathers its waters from a small area, the stream remains small, probably runs only in response to rainfall, and manages to cut only a small canyon. The east Zion area contains many examples of this phenomenon; they are within walking distance of the highway, and can be more closely studied. In many respects these small streams are miniatures of the larger ones. They demonstrate processes and effects similar to those evidenced on a larger scale by their bigger brothers.

Another most interesting feature of the Zion region is the frequent occurrence of rock pedestals on the broad stone pavements near the highway. A closer examination of such pedestals reveals that they are capped by a material differing from the soft sandstone of the base; a layer of iron oxide that geologists believe was intruded, in solution into the sandstone. Since this material is harder, and therefore more resistant to erosive forces, it has protected the softer material directly beneath it while the surrounding material was being eroded away. So, when you look at these pedestals, you are really seeing a remnant of the layers of stone that formerly covered the presently exposed surface. The balance of this material has been carried away, either as wind-borne sand, or by stream action, to be deposited as part of a sandbar somewhere downstream. Or, perhaps it will find its way eventually to the sea, to be laid down as part of a delta at the Colorado River’s mouth.

In these pedestals, as in the rest of the landscape, can be read one of the grand lessons of geology—that Nature is not at rest, but is ever active, ever changing the face of the Earth; that even the stones, cold and dead to our eyes, have their own inner life and being. In the slow passage of geologic time, the surface we look at today will pass away to join its predecessors, each succeeding layer following in its turn, until Nature decrees a major change—such as has occurred we know not how many times past—to commence the cycle again at what men are pleased to call the beginning.

Interview of Gary Crabbe Part 3

July 12th, 2011

Landscape Photography Blogger Interviews Photographer Gary Crabbe

Last Part of A Three Part Series

(Continued from the blog post, “Interview Of Gary Crabbe Part 2.”)

On Photography For Books, Publishing, Rebuilding After An Injury And Stock Photography

Interview Conducted By Phone May 25, 2011

Cloud Rising Out Of The Owens Valley At Sunrise, Eastern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2009 by Gary Crabbe.

(See the photograph full size, “Cloud Rising Out Of The Owens Valley, Eastern Sierra Nevada.” For the story of Gary Crabbe’s transcendent experience making this photograph see his blog post, “Spirits In The Air.”)

DAVID LELAND HYDE: We continue with the conclusion of an in-depth interview of one of the leading landscape photographers working today, Gary Crabbe of Enlightened Images. Gary is also the author of an award-winning and highly acclaimed photo blog. In the first part of this series Gary and I talked about how the arts in general are relevant to landscape photography, his famous mentoring by the late landscape master Galen Rowell and the development of your own personal style. In the second part we developed the discussion about personal style, delved into the making of photography books, photo editing and selection and a bit more about Galen Rowell and how he worked. We are talking now about a few of Gary Crabbe’s photography books.

GARY CRABBE: The rest of the Voyageur Press books were in a pre-existing series. With Backroads of the California Coast: Your Guide to Scenic Getaways & Adventures, Voyageur Press put on a huge marketing campaign like they’ve done with other subjects like agriculture, trains, race cars and  basketball. If it’s kitsch, they’ve done it. They are a regional publisher so they’ve done books from Colorado to Chicago. They knew I was near San Francisco, so they asked if I wanted to do their San Francisco book and I said sure. They also said, “We’ve got this Back Roads series: Do you want to do Backroads of the California Wine Country: Your Guide to the Wine Country’s Most Scenic Backroad Adventures?” The writer that I had teamed up with on the first book project got together with me on four titles. She would say, “These are the places I’m going to be writing about.” I’d go out and photograph and the publisher would match my photos with her text.

HYDE: About your brand new release, Greetings from California: Legends, Landmarks & Lore of the Golden State: You wrote a blog post not long ago saying that when you told people your book was about history they were not enthused. You concluded that history is boring, but I find people are eating up the history. It may be the way history is presented. On my blog I’m mixing the history of conservation and the history of landscape photography. I find, to my dismay, that the history of conservation causes some yawns on a photo blog, but there aren’t as many dynamic leaders as in the history of photography. I’m finding that when history is presented with an emphasis on the interesting personalities, then people are interested. Although, I know your blog has much more traffic than mine because my traffic spiked significantly when you linked to my blog post, “Did Velvia Film Change Landscape Photography?” So what gave you the impression that history is boring?

GARY CRABBE: My blog post was more specific regarding the people I contacted to get permission or access to photograph. When they heard it was history, it didn’t mean much to them because they were thinking more about business and promotion. From the publisher’s perspective, this was to be part of a new series for which they had already published a few books they sent me like Twin Cities Then and Now (Minnesota) and Philadelphia Then and Now. My book was originally to be called, California: Then & Now comparing historical and modern photographs. That was the premise under which I did all my shooting though I didn’t need to be standing in the same spot as the historical photograph. Then someone did a book about Colorado using his grandfather’s photos. He took his modern photos in the exact same spot. He called it “Colorado: Then & Now.” After I turned in everything to Voyageur Press, they said, “We’re scrapping the series.”

HYDE: My father, pioneer landscape photographer Philip Hyde, had a lot more stories like that than like your other book where everything went smoothly. . .

GARY CRABBE: Yeah, you know it. I was sitting there with this huge knot in my stomach. Then they came back and said, “The publisher liked your work so much that we’re going to try to re-package this book as something a little bit more fun, like a scrapbook.” They still used all the same photographs and text, but instead of making it like the original layout, that even my mom had noticed from the sample copy was dry and stagnant, my book was to be the test guinea pig for repackaging. Three other photographers had their states’ Then & Now projects pulled. Whether their projects get repackaged will depend on how well my book goes over. One of the things you sign on the dotted line is that the publisher has complete and exclusive control over the design, layout and format of the book. When I saw the first layouts, I was blown away. They took this dry, dull and academic look and turned it into something that was exactly what they said: fun. They kept all the history, but they picked out pieces of my text and put in little scrapbook-like post-it notes to highlight the information instead of putting it all into one or two paragraphs of text. In my opinion it worked out perfectly, but I empathize with the three other photographers whose projects got shelved. I hope that my book does well and they can get their projects.

HYDE: Did your images cover the whole state?

GARY CRABBE: For the most part, yes. In fact I was scheduled to go off on my first shoot, down to Edwards Air force Base, when I fell off a cliff several years ago. I hadn’t even taken the first frame before I wound up in the hospital and shut down my business for half a year.

(See the photograph full size, “Morning Light, Badwater From Dantes View, Death Valley.”)

Morning Light And Clouds Over Saltpan At Badwater Basin From Dantes View, Death Valley National Park, California, copyright 2009 by Gary Crabbe.

HYDE: Wow. How did you fall off a cliff? What did you injure?

GARY CRABBE: I was going to meet someone to do a couple days of photography in Death Valley. I had bought a cheese burger, in the town of Ridgecrest, 100 miles away and I pulled off on the side of the road. I think I was going to go off-road somewhere, but I just climbed in the back of my Toyota 4-Runner, laid the back seat down and  went to sleep. On trips I have my sleeping bag and I lay down right behind the passenger seat. Behind the driver seat is all my gear, equipment, food containers and my backpack of film. I live like a turtle when I’m the road. I just as often sleep in the back of my truck as in a hotel. Apparently I woke up to answer nature’s call and in the darkness walked off a 40 foot cliff. I didn’t remember the fall at all. I woke up in the middle of the desert floor in the middle of the night. It took minutes for my brain to say uh, uh, where am I? Why am I lying in the dirt, face down in the middle of the night? Where’s my truck? Why am I at the bottom of the cliff? OK, now I know I hurt. I have no idea how long I was unconscious. At some point in the middle of the night I woke up again. I didn’t have my truck keys. The only thing I had was a lighter. I sat there and made myself a little camp fire in the middle of the night, in the desert, by myself. Maybe an hour, two hours later, I said, “Alright, I want to get back to my truck. I know the main road is that way. I know that my truck is up there.” I worked my way down this desert wash and then finally found a place on the hill where I could scramble up. I made it back to my truck and climbed back into my sleeping bag. The next morning I got checked out by the Park Ranger of Death Valley. I had a broken wrist, bruised ribs, a yanked nerve in my back, but I managed to get all the way home to the Bay Area. My wife Connie took me to the hospital that same evening. They put me in a cast, gave me medicine and sent me home. Two days later I was lying on the couch in the fetal position, barely coherent, throwing up. My wife took me back to the hospital and they found out I had a subdural hematoma, which is the same injury that killed the actress Natasha Richardson in just about the same window of time.

HYDE: So you hit your head, is that what that means?

GARY CRABBE: Yeah, bleeding was going on in the brain. One of the guys I have coffee with in the Bay Area is a retired surgeon from the Children’s Hospital in Oakland. When I told him this story he said, “You were lucky that you even woke up. Given your injury it was just as likely that you could have climbed back in your truck and never woke up again.” It is eye opening when someone who is a surgeon says something like that. I wound up spending a week in the hospital, recovering from the trauma and the next 3 months recovering from the physical injury. I couldn’t even hold a camera. As soon as I recovered, I had to start this book project, which was supposed to be done in a year. I had to do it in about four and a half months. It was challenging. It has taken me 18 to 24 months to get my business back up to speed because my business completely shut down.

HYDE: Wow. What does your wife do for a living?

GARY CRABBE: She’s part of the reason why I get to do what I do. She’s a senior business manager at AT&T. She has the full AT&T benefit package.

HYDE: That’s nice, yeah.

GARY CRABBE: I complain about big corporations, but I got to admit. You know… I originally thought she was the type of girl that working in the big corporation in the big city would chew her up and spit her out in no time flat. Instead, she’s now been there 10 years. They were so impressed by her work that they hired her during a hiring freeze. The benefits help make our family. She has been probably one of the biggest support factors I could ever imagine.

HYDE: How many kids do you have Gary?

GARY CRABBE: Two: a nine-year-old daughter named Alyssa and a 12-year-old son, Brandon. Both of them act like teenagers or four year olds, depending…

HYDE: I’m trying to piece the chronology together in my mind. Starting out, you didn’t know much about photography. Most of the time working for Galen Rowell you didn’t want to be a photographer. Was it while you were still working for Galen Rowell that you decided that you did want to be a photographer?

GARY CRABBE: Yeah, I knew nothing and was suddenly thrust into the top level of the industry. Trial by fire. All I had was a one week vacation for my first few years of working there. The first year’s vacation my wife and I went to Crater Lake. Wow. I had just switched to using color film and trying slides, as part of my job.

HYDE: Were you still using the same original camera?

GARY CRABBE: No, once I started working for Galen Rowell I bought my first Nikon 8008 S and some Nikon lenses. As part of my job at Mountain Light, I had to work with Galen in his workshops. Staff would help the students edit their work. We would be there while Galen was doing critiques and we’d be out in the field helping the photographers. It was like osmosis. Photography was coming at me even while I was asleep. One day I was out taking a photo at local Lafayette Reservoir when a guy walked right by me and said, “I’ll buy that.” I hadn’t even taken the photo yet. I had just put the tripod and camera in place. I said, “Do you want to at least look through the lens?” He said, “Why don’t you just call me when you get your film.” I didn’t think he was serious, but I called him when I got the film. He came over to my apartment and bought a 20X24 print. It was my first print sale. I made several hundred bucks and I thought, “Wow, this is pretty cool.” I established with Galen right away that I was completely up front. If something came up involving me doing photography, I always ran it by him first. I did not want to cross the line or create more stress than he already had. One day after I had been working for him for a number of years and been on several trips, as my photography was improving by the nature of being where I was, I don’t recall where he was, maybe the Himalayas, Galapagos Islands or South America. Forbes Magazine called the office and said they needed, “Ugly, trashy images of Yosemite Valley. They’re changing concessionaires and we want to show all the negative impact.” I said, “We don’t really have much of that.” They asked some question about what Yosemite Valley looked like right at that moment. By coincidence I was scheduled to go up with my wife to Yosemite Valley that weekend. So I said, “I’ll let you know on Monday.” They asked, “Can you shoot it for us?” They never even bothered to ask if I was a photographer. “I have to ask Galen.” Galen called the office and somehow he said OK. So I called the woman at Forbes back and said I could do it. I spent three days in Yosemite National Park for Forbes Magazine running around taking pictures of gas stations, garbage cans, lines of people at the hotel, the cafeteria, the messes. It was the first editorial assignment that gave me a chance. As I got further down the road and started making more images that were salable, it started to creep into my mind that I could be a photographer. I liked it, but I wasn’t going to step on Galen’s feet to do it. I could do my own print sales if I found my own clients without doing anything in conflict with Galen. What finally made me take the leap, was my wife getting pregnant. We knew we wanted one of us to stay home with the kid and she had all these major company benefits. If I stayed home maybe I could sell a few photos. I became a photographer by nature of choosing to be a stay at home dad.

HYDE: Is it a nice fit for that?

Morning Mist Along The Mendocino Coast Near Elk, California, copyright 2010 by Gary Crabbe.

(See the photograph full size, “Morning Mist, Mendocino Coast.”)

GARY CRABBE: Yeah, except I don’t get to spend weeks and months traveling. I do know people that sacrifice their family to follow their photographic passion. That wasn’t going to be part of my consideration. I stayed close to home and fortunately all of the subsequent book projects were in California. I can be anywhere in the state within 8 ½ hours. That’s a day there and a day back.

HYDE: Well, now that you’ve developed a little more success, do you think you’ll go a little further afield, maybe, for future books projects?

GARY CRABBE: My kids are getting older. As of January, they are now old enough to walk home on their own and spend a few hours on their own during the day. That’s freeing me up much more than when someone needed to be there to pick them up.

HYDE: When the stock photography industry imploded, how much did that affect you?

GARY CRABBE: That was about the time of my fall. The changes in stock did have an emotional pull on me, not so much in my business personally, but in the broader sense. I couldn’t believe that photographers themselves were devaluing their work to commodity status. That was the part that I’ll still continue to say was difficult to see. I know the market shifts, you can’t stop the market, supply and demand and all. Digital did make the world much more accessible. It used to be with slide film, you had to get it right. If you were more than ½ a stop off, it was a disaster. I was always a proponent for photographers valuing their own work. Watching people think it was no big deal to sell unlimited commercial use of their images for say 10 bucks. That was the sad part. I still don’t sell my work royalty free. I don’t have a negative reaction to the sales model of royalty free. My main objection is to the rate people charge. If a national company wants to use one of my images royalty free, I want to see at least four figures for that. I want them to pay what I think is an appropriate value.

HYDE: Royalty free means selling the rights to an image forever for any use at a one time fee, right? And it is becoming more and more prevalent, correct?

GARY CRABBE: Yes, correct. Originally royalty free first came on the scene in the mid-90s as a reaction to regular stock photography, which was value based on use. It became price based on file size. You turned your work into a widget. Then suddenly photographers were offering widgets for 1/10th the cost of what the widgets were originally selling for, which became micro stock.

HYDE: Did your income mix change like many other full-time photographers during that time period—that is, the mix between stock photography and fine print sales, what would you say the ratio is and was?

GARY CRABBE: The ratio has remained relatively consistent, maybe around 70/30, 60/40, sometimes 80/20, somewhere in that neighborhood. But in a down economy, I still sell my work as only rights managed, value based on use. I may have fewer sales, but I’m still insisting on what I consider is a fair value for the use of my work. In a down economy, the first budget to go is an arts budget. People will still buy jewelry before they’ll buy something to put on their walls. As the economy ebbs and flows, sales tend to ebb and flow in relation, but in a down economy, prints may relatively dry up for a while and  then come back as people think, “Oh I have a little more expendable income.”

HYDE: My business is nearly 100 percent prints and I noticed that I was starting at the wrong time, but it is starting to pick up again.

GARY CRABBE: I will say, since the beginning of the year, I’ve had a considerable number of print sales.

HYDE: Is there anything else that you feel people ought to know about you Gary that maybe they couldn’t read somewhere else?

GARY CRABBE: All I can say is that I chose my company name, Enlightened Images, because I consider myself spiritual, especially in terms of nature and the universe. I have this big interconnected picture of how we as a species on a planet are in the universe.

HYDE: I really like the name. Thank you so much for your time Gary.

GARY CRABBE: My pleasure. David, have yourself a wonderful day and thank you.

Interview Of Gary Crabbe Part 2

June 27th, 2011

Landscape Photography Blogger Interviews Photographer Gary Crabbe

Part Two of a Three Part Series

(Continued from the blog post, “Interview Of Gary Crabbe Part 1.”)

On Personal Style, Book Projects, Photo Editing And Working With Galen Rowell

Interview Conducted By Phone May 25, 2011

Rural Highway Below Mount Shasta, Northern California, copyright 2009 by Gary Crabbe.

(View photograph large: “Mt. Shasta.”)

HYDE: You also said that one important lesson in landscape photography you learned from Galen Rowell had to do primarily with responding to the light.

GARY CRABBE: That lesson originated with Galen Rowell and ever since I’ve become hyper-sensitive and in tune with what the light is doing and what the light is hitting, versus the subject I set out to photograph. Now I say to my student’s, “A boring subject in great light will always make a better photo than a great subject in boring light.” I may have a subject in mind, but if I see the light happening somewhere else, I am willing at a moment’s notice to drop any preconceived idea.

HYDE: That flexibility strikes me as not only the similarity between you and Galen Rowell, but also between Galen Rowell and my father, Philip Hyde. Many landscape photographers have this philosophy that they go out, scout out a location, then literally set up camp and wait for the right light, sometimes for as long as several days. My dad never did that. He would photograph in the middle of the day rather than wait. Part of it had to do with limitations of budget and time. He had to cover certain territory because he had his itinerary planned. He had obligations. He was often on assignment and someone else was paying his expenses. Certain landscape photographers like Jack Dykinga, for example, take the exact opposite approach. Jack Dykinga is sometimes on a loose assignment from a group like the iLCP, International League of Conservation Photographers. He may be setting the direction and parameters of the assignment, maybe he picks his own. He’ll wait days for the right light or weather conditions. Do you do that?

GARY CRABBE: No, I wish I could. I know a friend who does and he returns with some gorgeous images. He also has the patience to wait for something better. I don’t get it. (Laughter) I make the best of what I can because I can’t wait with my book projects. Plus I’m also a stay at home Dad. I’m the one that drops my kids off at school and picks them up in the afternoon. When I’m out photographing, I have to turn tail and get back. My time is limited. I did double back one time on my way to Lava Beds National Monument up in Northern California on my last book project. I cut from Weed over to the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge and then on to Lava Beds. I looked in my rear view mirror and said, “Wow, there’s a great shot of Mount Shasta,” making a note to come back for sunrise. I circled around through Alturas into Susanville, back over to Lassen Volcanic National Park and then up again toward Mt. Shasta, making a 500 mile loop. I can’t recall many occasions where I’ve made that choice, but it was my time to make something work. That’s why I’m here.

HYDE: So looping back 500 miles was more the exception than the rule for you?

GARY CRABBE: Absolutely, and it was one nice sunrise morning. Sure, I could have said, “I wanted more clouds in the sky, or the moon setting,” but I didn’t have the luxury to do that. In that regard I’m more of an editorial photojournalist. I’m out there to document the place. I need to get this, this, this and this for my book project. I work myself to max out a set schedule. Landscape photography art does not always happen like it did at Lava Beds National Monument. Two mornings later I also shot a wonderful sunrise in Susanville, but, the morning in between was crap. (Laughter) Nothing came out. It wasn’t the right weather. I couldn’t just stay there and hope that the next day was going to get better and miss all the other photographs I needed. In that regard, it sounds trite, but it’s a job. My work dictates my schedule and then my creative instincts guide what I do within the confines of that schedule. I just spent two days in Yosemite National Park. I had to get Vernal Falls for my next book project, Where to Photograph in Northern California. I’ve rarely ever tried to take, for lack of a better word, cheesy, iconic photos like the rainbow and Vernal Falls. But it’s the kind of photograph that provides the reason to go up to Yosemite National Park and face the crowds. It’s ironic to dread Yosemite Valley, but that’s summertime. In the text I’ll explain that to photograph the rainbow your best chance of seeing it is at ‘this time’ and ‘this time.’ Sure, my photograph was of Vernal Falls from the Mist Trail, but I am always happier as in this case when I came back with my own personal vision of the scene as opposed to the same image that has been on a post card for the last 35 years in every gift shop in Yosemite National Park.

HYDE: Speaking of waterfalls, I really like your “Sunlight on Berry Creek Falls.” You know my dad made a well-known photograph of Berry Creek Falls. Your photograph makes it look even more picturesque now. Berry Creek is a really nice waterfall. The way you framed it, that’s one of the best waterfall photographs I’ve ever seen.

GARY CRABBE: Wow, I’m beyond flattered. I just wrote about it. I put up an article at a place called Pro Photo Resource. It was called, “Seeking Out Definitive Moments In Outdoor, Nature And Travel Photography.” Berry Creek Falls was one of my examples.

HYDE: I want to talk to you about each of your book projects, maybe a spattering of what was interesting about each project. It’s important for people to know that you have illustrated six coffee table books. Also, there is one more question about your experience with Galen and Barbara Rowell that I want to ask you. It is personal to me because of my process working with my father’s photographs. Carr Clifton helped me all along in choosing images and many other people helped too, various gallery owners and other experts. I had consulting work by Ryan Baldwin, who at one point ran Galen Rowell’s Mountain Light Gallery in Emeryville. Did you work there when he did?

GARY CRABBE: Yes. I know him very well.

HYDE: OK. He actually did a little consulting with me in the very beginning when I really didn’t know anything about anything. He helped me start choosing images. I feel like my vision and my ability to choose photographs grew exponentially over the years since then. Ryan Baldwin’s good advice was to choose images of my dad’s at first that no other photographer could have done. He suggested that later I could mix in some that my dad did first and everybody else has done since. My question to you is, in managing Galen Rowell’s stock department of 300,000 images, you must have learned a lot about photo selection from Galen and also from editors. You stepped into it with no idea of what makes a good photograph. Tell me a little about your learning curve, what was that like?

Stormy Sunrise Over Lava Beds National Monument, Siskiyou County, California, copyright 2009 by Gary Crabbe.

(View the photograph large: “Lava Beds.”)

GARY CRABBE: Interesting question. I feel bad that at one point I fibbed to Galen, some people might call it a lie. I was so green, that when I first started working at Mountain Light and he asked me, “You know what a dupe is, right?” I said, “Sure.” (Laughter) I asked another employee later, “What is a dupe?” He said, “Oh, you know, a duplicate slide.” “Oh yeah,” I said. That’s how green I was. First I learned the basic technical points of what editors need. For a magazine cover, you need to have some negative space where your text can go, your subject needs to be centered in this area, you need to have space at the bottom of the frame where they can add the mailing label and bar code and so on. When you’re selecting a double page spread, be sure the most important part of the subject is not in the middle of the frame where the seam of the paper goes. I would go through slides and pull out what I thought might be appropriate and Galen would tell me what was good for what reason, “Yes this is good, this is good, no this one wouldn’t work.” Galen obviously had his own preferences. As part of the interview process, we started having people do light test submissions. You were put in a situation where an editor called you from National Audubon or National Wildlife Federation and you needed to send 20 images of polar bears or penguins. We would give the applicant the entire penguin folder or the entire polar bear folder and we’d see what they would choose to send. It was a great litmus test to see how people responded to what a photo editor wanted and how they responded to Galen’s images as well. Over time I got to where I could usually look at a sheet of 20 slides in approximately one second and know whether there were any images on that page worth taking a second look at for any given project. We’re dealing with hundreds of thousands of images. For example: you know you need a shot of the Marin County Coast. Galen didn’t have separate organized folders other than every shot from Marin County going into one folder. So I’d be looking at images of Point Reyes next to Mount Tamalpais next to Bolinas next to Fairfax, somewhere in that jumble of 35 mm frames was the photograph you needed. It always seemed that there was one or two images that would stand out. Those were the ones I found where the story and the light came together in the best way possible. That’s what I use to guide the editing of my own images. (For more about how Gary Crabbe edits photographs see his post on Jim M. Goldstein’s Blog, “Pro Tips: Photo Editing With Gary Crabbe.”) You want the viewer to instantly know what your photograph is about, if there is confusion, you’ve lost them. If something in the composition creates an emotional or bio-physiological hiccup, you’ve lost them. And this is what I said in this recent article I wrote is, you want every photograph you take to be a headline and an exclamation point for whatever you are photographing. You want the story to come across that quick, with no ambiguity whatsoever.

HYDE: Of course that is for editorial stock photography, but to play devil’s advocate, Paul Strand and my father even, at times, made images that when you look at them at first you have no idea what you are looking at, you can’t figure out what it is. (Find out more about the history of abstract photography and Paul Strand in the blog post, “Straight Photography And Abstraction.”)

GARY CRABBE: That’s true. That is where art photography is different. I love doing abstract photography myself, but that wasn’t the sort of work that Galen did. I used to judge local camera clubs. And they’d have a category that was called “Contemporary,” which meant it had to be some kind of abstract or manipulated photo. I would stand in front of 30 or 40 amateur photographers and say, “The faster I can figure out what you did the less I like it.”

HYDE: But it’s the opposite for magazine submissions or other types of stock photography, correct?

GARY CRABBE: Yes, but you are still trying to generate instant emotional impact, even from an abstract. You are trying to create some kind of subconscious emotional reaction. You don’t have to know what it’s about, but you need to know how it feels. And that’s where art becomes personal and subjective. Some people say, “That doesn’t do anything for me.” Others say, “I could spend a week looking at all the detail in that photograph.” All you can do as an artist is put out what you find interesting.

HYDE: When you first started working for Galen Rowell, your article said something like you had seen only two photography exhibitions, but was there an educational process for learning about the work of other landscape photographers?

GARY CRABBE: Looking through photography magazines, who pays attention to photographer credit lines? Other photographers. That’s how you learn. Every time I saw an image that made me say, “Wow,” I noticed the name. I began to recognize the names Galen’s work was published with right up through the evolution of outdoor photography. I certainly have developed my own personal preferences for the sort of work I like seeing.

HYDE: I’d like to hear how each of your book projects came about.  So how did Backroads of the California Coast: Your Guide to Scenic Getaways & Adventures published in 2001, which won Book of the Year 2002 from the California Outdoor Travel Writers Association, how did that book come about?

GARY CRABBE: Way back when, trying to get your work in front of people, you would buy these source book ads and they would be like $1000 or $2000 a page. And the publisher would send these big books out to all the advertising agencies and publishers and whatever. I went into one of those books my first year as an independent photographer. One of the images I put in was of a twisting road below the Grand Tetons. One day a publisher sent me a note, “Do you have more good road shots like that? We’re doing a book called, ‘The Back Roads of Northern California.’ We would like you to submit some photographs for the cover.” They already had the whole book photographed and written, they were just looking for a different cover. They went through my submission and they didn’t choose any of my photographs. They went with a photo by the photographer for the book, but the quality of the images I submitted stuck in their mind. From that one failed submission, when a well-published travel writer approached them to do a book on the California Coast, they asked, “We need a photographer for this project, are you interested?” That’s how it started. Voyager Press has been the publisher for five out of my six published books.

HYDE: So were Our San Francisco and Yosemite & The Eastern Sierra, similar books?

GARY CRABBE: All of them except for Yosemite & The Eastern Sierra, that’s the one that was published by a different publisher as its own stand-alone project. The editor for that book was Peter Beren, the foremost publisher for Sierra Club books. Peter knew me from Mountain Light. I worked with him as kind of a liaison. I had also done some freelance projects for him as a photo editor. I remember this vividly, it was my daughter’s first birthday, a Saturday afternoon, the house was packed with friends and relatives. My office phone rang. I was thinking I’m not going to bother answering. The phone rang once, twice, a third time, “Oh I can’t stand it.” I raced back to my office as fast as I could go, grabbed the phone, and I hear, “Gary, this is Peter Beren. You’ve got a bunch of Yosemite images, right?” I said, “Hi Peter, yeah.” “Great. I’m going to recommend your photos for a book project.” “OK, thanks.” “Alright, bye.” That was the entire extent of the conversation. A couple weeks later, the publisher called me from her office in New York, “Can you have images to us by next Wednesday?” “Sure.” I never needed to take another picture for that book. Every image came from my existing slides. I sent them 300. They did a beautiful job. Unfortunately the book is out of print now, but I remember approving all the color proofs. On their third or fourth go around, I said it was great, but they still went two more rounds with some of the images. They did an impeccable job with the printing. Peter did the editing of the book. He gathered quotes from Ansel Adams, John Muir and others, which they matched up with my images and boom, the book was done that fast.

Continued in the blog post, “Interview Of Gary Crabbe Part 3.”

Interview Of Gary Crabbe Part 1

June 21st, 2011

Landscape Photography Blogger Interviews Photographer Gary Crabbe

Part One of a Three Part Series

On The Arts, Photography, Working With Galen Rowell And Personal Style

Interview Conducted By Phone May 25, 2011

Full Moon Setting Over Rock Outcrop Near Tioga Pass, Yosemite National Park, California, copyright 2010 Gary Crabbe.

(See the photograph large Click Here.)

DAVID LELAND HYDE: I read your articles on working with Galen Rowell on Naturescapes.net and on your Enlightened Images blog. In your website bio it said you started taking photographs while you were going to college at Humboldt State University.

GARY CRABBE: That’s correct. It was one of those art electives to make me a more well-rounded square. It was basic black and white photography 101 and an introduction to composition, how to use the enlargers in a darkroom, process film and all that fun stuff.

HYDE: Did you make your own prints?

GARY CRABBE: I certainly did for that class. Also, I started taking photos for the Theater Department in 1988 or 1989. I bought a bathroom darkroom setup. I’d literally shoot photos of a stage production in dress rehearsal. I would get up on stage with a little old manual Minolta X-370 camera, some 3200 speed Tri-X film, shoot without flash, hand held. Because I was also an actor and director I had a sense of what to shoot. Then I’d run home and print 20 or so 8X10 RC prints that night and give them to the theater department the next morning. The art department mounted them on mat boards and by 5:00 pm the Theater Department would have a full exhibit of my prints in the lobby of the theater for opening night of the play.

HYDE: When did you start photographing in color?

GARY CRABBE: Not at all until much later. I had been working as a breakfast cook all through college and after, flipping pancakes, cooking omelet’s, all that. I was so sick of it. I was screaming profanities every morning and my wife said, “Just go for a different job.” I looked through the newspaper and applied for everything I could. One of the ads I applied for in that time just said, “Outdoor Photo Agency,” and, “must like dogs.” I didn’t know what an “Outdoor Photo Agency” was, but I like photos, dogs and the outdoors. I sent in an application, got called for an interview, showed up to the place in Albany, California, before they had the gallery in Emeryville and there was Galen Rowell’s name and the Mountain Light Gallery logo hanging over the front door. I instantly recognized it because one of the very few photographic exhibitions I’d ever gone to on my own was Galen’s Mountain Light exhibit, when it showed at the California Academy of Sciences. I got the job. I was immediately thrust in as this $7 an hour file boy, where my job was to take the slides that were coming back from magazines and publishers and put them back in their spots in the file drawers. It was an intensive sudden exposure to Galen’s work. Then I went off for three weeks on my honeymoon to Hawaii.

HYDE: Your article said that when you came back the woman that had been running the stock department for Galen Rowell had been fired. Why did they choose you? For the filing job, they didn’t want someone who was a photographer. But you would think that for the stock job they would want a photographer.

GARY CRABBE: You’d think that, but they had been very badly burned by some photographers that they had previously had in their employ. They wouldn’t hire another photographer.

HYDE: How did they get burned?

GARY CRABBE: One photographer actually had the gall to take Galen Rowell’s Rainbow Over The Potala Palace photo out of the office and make his own prints of it. One photographer was caught submitting his own images to clients and making sales through Mountain Light, of his own stuff, when they were supposed to be selling Galen’s work.

HYDE: How do you feel your background in theater and what you learned there ties into photography? And the second part of the question is: Did Galen and Barbara Rowell believe your experience with theater might be an asset to choosing photographs or being the stock manager?

GARY CRABBE: I think it was the idea that I had a broader exposure to the Arts, with a capital “A.” I had some basic interest in photography, but I had absolutely zero interest in being a photographer. When I graduated college, if someone said in five years or ten years, I would be a professional photographer, I would have said that they were out of their gourd. I think probably my specific directorial talent and theater background translates into photography in that it was a form of visual storytelling. We had text, granted, that we don’t have in photography, but the idea was that you would use actors and sets to create a composition of a particular moment. When I was photographing the actors on stage, I’d be waiting for that decisive moment. I would be able to communicate the emotional content of the scene, without the text, but still get it across so when the people were walking into the lobby that night, they would be able to build some anticipation. When the photos were used for publicity, it would hopefully spark interest.

(For more on the decisive moment in photography see Gary Crabbe’s recent article on Pro Photo Resource, “Seeking Out Difinitive Moments In Outdoor, Nature And Travel Photography.”)

HYDE: You wrote that Galen Rowell encouraged the use of a tripod and approached 35mm photography with the same deliberate, meticulous set up of the shot as they call it, as people who use a large format camera. I thought, maybe that’s key to why Galen’s compositions look like he could have made them with a larger camera. At the same time you wrote, “Watching Galen’s approach to a scene was like watching a creative dynamo. I always likened it to the cartoon of the Tasmanian Devil with a camera.” When Galen Rowell came on a scene and he decided to make a photograph, what did he do?

Sunrise Light On Coastal Fog Over Hills Near The Mouth Of The Klamath River, Redwood National Park, California, copyright 2010 by Gary Crabbe.

GARY CRABBE: Galen would often tell his students in a workshop that when they were shooting landscapes they should take their time and treat it as deliberately as someone setting up a large format camera. His own way of pursuing photography was a bit different. Galen, in semi-jest, described photography as an action sport. His brain was turbo charged. His experience allowed him to work and recognize things at a quick pace. When it becomes innate, you walk up on a scene and you know if you need to change lenses and when. You know which filter you want to use. You know you need a fast shutter speed. These thoughts are coming almost instantaneously. You are reaching in the bag and you’re not even thinking about it, your body is doing it. That’s because you have absorbed the skills and the science of your art to a point that it is deeply engrained. That’s the way Galen approached and did his own work, but for students who hadn’t reached that level, he taught the deliberate landscape. Galen would say, “Oh, I like this,” and he would set up and make the shot. Then he’d say, “Ooh, I like this,” and he’d go get that shot. “Ooh, I like this over here,” and he’d run 100 yards and set up another shot. He was doing what he advocated the student‘s to do, but at 8X speed. That’s the Tasmanian edge. In one of his video’s he’s literally running by the shore of Mono Lake going from one spot to another. His landscape photography was an action sport, because he was so active getting to the right place at the right time, or trying to connect whatever was happening here with whatever was happening over there.

HYDE: My father, Philip Hyde, had a more contemplative approach. I don’t know if you’ve seen my blog post, “Galen Rowell And Outdoor Photographer Style.” It compares my dad’s style, which was very yin, meditative and receptive to Galen Rowell’s approach, which as you say and as he wrote was much more of a yang, create the photograph you want style: “I’m visualizing. I’m going to go out there and based on the situation I’m going over here and I’m getting this and going after that.” I also notice there are differences between the approach that comes out of using a large format camera and using a 35 mm camera. For example, I’ve only ever photographed with a 35mm camera, I guess I did actually take a few photographs with a medium format, but I’ve never photographed with a large format camera… I notice if I’m photographing a car, I’ll make 30 photographs of that one car. Whereas, my dad used to sort of frown on that approach to photography. He frowned on just going out and banging away, making loads of photographs, roll after roll after roll. But I find that’s what I do. The smaller camera’s more conducive to that, but is that what Galen did?

GARY CRABBE: I think as you point out the key to the difference in approach was format. Galen would say to students, “Oh, there’s too much foreground,” or “Oh, how come you didn’t see this ugly stick down here,” or “You’ve got all this nasty stuff going along the edges.” You’re right, with large format, you only have one frame. You may shoot five frames your whole afternoon out. You have to be very deliberate about things like: Is there anything along the edges that I don’t like? Is there a nice visual pathway? Is the composition right? Is it better from here or is it better over there? That’s the approach Galen was trying to encourage his students to take. He was bringing them to a better level of photography through a more deliberate cognitive awareness of what they were doing. With Galen though, he would go out with one, two or three primary guiding ideas that set his compass needle and the rest of it was responsive. Once he got out to the spot where his pre-visualization took him, active visualization took over. That’s when he would turn on his little dynamo. So it was a little bit of both. He’d have a very strong idea with elements A, B, C and D. He would go to the field at this time, somewhere in this general angle and then he’d start looking at, “OK, there’s A and there’s B and there’s C. And if I want to get A, B and C together I need to move myself over there.” And that’s how I learned to do it too. With the 35 mm format, he bracketed exposures and composition. He might go out on an afternoon run with his camera and he might take one photograph or he might take six rolls. If nothing stopped him in his tracks, he’d just keep going. If something went, “Wow, this is pretty good,” he’d stop and work it.

HYDE: How is your approach similar to Galen’s and how is it different?

GARY CRABBE: My approach is very similar to Galen’s in that it is responsive to what I am seeing. I use a general idea to get me where I want to be. I’ve got this picture in my mind with this and that. That to gets me to the place. Then, much like Galen I hop from “Oh, I like this, I like that, I like this.” The primary difference is that Galen was so incredibly driven, working each scene, active, like a sport and a lifestyle. I’m a little more relaxed and Buddhist. I like taking my time on trails and I like to stop. I have a personal, slower pace, not only out on the trails, but in life in general. Galen was a dynamo. Sometimes I’m just happy to be a cow under a shade tree in the middle of summer.

Continued In the blog post, “Interview Of Gary Crabbe Part 2.”

Nature Magazine: East Of Zion 1

June 16th, 2011

East Of Zion By Philip Hyde

Originally published by Nature Magazine, March 1957

(Nature Magazine was published by the American Nature Association and taken over by Natural History Magazine in 1960.)

Mission of Nature Magazine: “To stimulate public interest in every phase of nature and the outdoors, and devoted to the practical conservation of the great natural resources of America.”

From Wikipedia: American Nature Association, headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, was the publisher of Nature Magazine from 1923 to 1959;[1] and a discount reseller of natural science books for its members.[2] It was founded by Arthur Newton Pack and his father, Charles.[3] Nature Magazine was an “illustrated monthly with popular articles about nature”[4] and later, the “interpreter of the great outdoors.”[5] A May 1924 review of the organization and its magazine, written by Carroll Lane Fenton and published in American Midland Naturalist called the magazine “excellent” with “abundant pictures, admirably printed”; and said it was a “highly worth while publication” that deserves a wide circulation among town and school libraries.”[2] Natural History magazine absorbed Nature Magazine in January 1960.[6]

References:

  1. WorldCat
  2. Journal Storage (JSTOR)
  3. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
  4. Google Books
  5. National Mail Order Association
  6. Smithsonian Institute Libraries

East Of Zion By Philip Hyde

A Glimpse of the Geology of Zion National Park

Wall Of Hidden Canyon, Zion National Park, Utah, copyright 1977 by Philip Hyde.

(See the photograph full screen Click Here.)

To a casual tourist, the eastern portion of Zion National Park in Utah may be just an area through which to pass quickly on the way to the spectacularly beautiful, pink and white walled Zion Canyon on the Virgin River. It is this Zion Canyon that gives its name to the National Park. A closer look along the way, however, reveals many highly interesting facts and features. If the visitor is interested in poking a bit beneath the surface appearances of the landscape, this country will come alive for him. Here are all the ingredients that went into the making of the more showy Virgin River canyon, but in this eastern area it is possible to examine them more intimately.

This part of the country is reached on Utah State Highway 15, from the west by way of Zion Canyon, or from the east from Mt. Carmel Junction. The traveler from the east will find the formations on the way to Zion National Park from either Bryce Canyon National Park, on the north, or Grand Canyon National Park, over the Arizona line to the south. In a region so abundant with colorful natural wonders, this area fully deserves its status as part of one of the great National Parks established to protect these natural wonders.

If you come west from the Mt. Carmel Junction, into Zion National Park, you will emerge gently into this colorfully carved introduction through Zion Canyon. The highway from the junction runs roughly west, climbing first over a series of plateau-ridges, then, near the entrance checking station at the Park boundary, it begins to descend gradually. Almost before you become aware of it, small canyons are born and mature rapidly on either side of the highway. By the time you reach the east portal of the Zion-Mt. Carmel tunnel the canyon that the highway has rough paralleled has become a vertically walled abyss. Intermingled with the deepening system of canyons that form the drainage of the usually dry plateau are great, gradually sloping, stratified sandstone pavements, with their delicately eroded concentric curves that are the delight of photographers and painters in search of interesting forms and color. The formation exposed in this area is the same Navajo Sandstone that forms the top layers of the cliffs and towers of Zion Canyon. Seen in these more intimate and accessible surroundings, the erosion sculptures fashioned by the artful fingers of wind and water can be more closely appreciated.

In the washes at the feet of these stone pavements, in the proper season, are many and varied wildflowers and plants. If your visit occurs during early summer, you may be rewarded by the sight of the bright-plumed spikes of yucca, or clumps of the brilliant orange butterfly milkweed. The sharp, linear, spike-like forms of the yuccas are in pleasing contrast to the swirling curves of the stratified rocks.

Probably the landmark that will be first remembered by most visitors to Zion National Park from the East is the pale pyramid of Checkerboard Mesa, whose bulk is framed in one’s windshield shortly after leaving the checking station. This is a well-known example of what geologists call “cross-bedding,” and tells us that this region, in a remote period of earth-history, was a dry, sandy, desert-like place. Only the caprice of desert winds, constantly shifting loose sand, could produce the intricate layered patterns as we see them today, solidified into rock. This rock, however, is relatively soft, and is highly susceptible to the sculpturing forces of erosion that patiently pluck it away, grain by grain.

Continued in the upcoming blog post, “Nature Magazine: East Of Zion 2.”

Learn more about Bryce Canyon National Park in the blog post, “New Release: Formations From Bryce Point, Bryce Canyon National Park.”

Glen Canyon Portfolio 1

January 27th, 2011

Glen Canyon Portfolio 1

Landscape Photography Blogger’s Introduction

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

(To see the photograph full screen Click Here.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday Blog Blog: Photoshop For Pros

January 24th, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Favorite Photos Of 2010

January 7th, 2011

Mirror Lake, Mist, Winter, Yosemite National Park, Sierra Nevada, California, 2010 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

For the next 10 or more years, in some ways the rest of my life, I have my work assignment: representing my father, prominent Western landscape photographer Philip Hyde. Also, you may or may not notice from this blog, but I consider myself a writer first and a photographer as a sideline, at least for quite some time to come.

Edward Weston’s Darkroom, Wildcat Hill, Carmel Highlands, California, 2010 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

My secret to making it into print in the past was to edit several more times than I do when I write blog posts. However, I haven’t made any print or online magazine submissions recently.

Fall Color, Summit County, Rocky Mountains, Colorado, 2010 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Even though I am still interviewing people for my book, I hope to get a chance to do more regular magazine writing this year. Perhaps I will even write about other interests besides my father, his photography and life, as is my focus here and during the majority of days.

Mission San Miguel De Arcangel, Paso Robles, California, 2010 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Meanwhile, I have been inspired by photographer and fellow blogger Jim M. Goldstein, who seems to have instigated nearly every photo blogger in the photo blogosphere to post their “Best Photos of 2010.” To see more “Best Photos of 2010” from all around the web see Jim M. Goldstein’s blog post, “Top 10 ‘Top Photo Lists.'” Also, the Nature Conservancy just posted a great slide show of its, “Best Nature Photos of 2010.”

Neighbors, San Francisco, California, 2010 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

I am discovering that I greatly enjoy the photography blogosphere. The community is diverse yet generally friendly and helpful to each fellow blogger. Each photo blogger benefits from the network and contributes as well. Each blogger has something to teach and something to learn. Like minds tend to come together and those who differ widely also cross-pollinate methods and ideas and friendships develop. Through the process I am catching a more serious case of the photography bug all the time. I make photographs in my spare time, about five minutes a month.

Reflection Detail, Manzanita Lake, Lassen Volcanic National Park, California, 2010 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

I photograph a combination of subjects and do not limit myself to a certain genre or type of photography like many “experts” suggest. My father knew how to specialize. His type of landscape photography was ideal for him. His work was also part of one of the biggest changes in photography to come along, besides perhaps what is happening now and when negatives changed from glass plates to film. Digital photography today, besides being much easier than film, is also more freeing, providing the flexibility and opportunity to pursue various branches of photography and often combine them in new ways.

Fast Food Traveling Band, Travel Stop On Interstate 5, Northern California, 2010 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

The Road To Mt. Hough, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, 2010 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

I was fortunate to grow up in the wilderness. I find because natural surroundings are my roots that I naturally photograph the natural scene. However, I also notice that I am drawn to photograph people, and people in nature. I am attracted to social activism as well as environmental activism. If I were to pursue photography full-time rather than writing, or more than writing, the ideal life for me would be as a freelance photojournalist. I would be on the plane as soon as news broke of the BP Oil Spill, down there right in the oil slick with the workers and dead birds. Or I could see photographing inner city poverty and homeless people, or the dot com collapse, hurricanes, earthquakes, environmental disasters, as long as I wasn’t sensationalizing other people’s misfortunes, but doing something to help them.

Colorado Cleanup Demolition, Downtown Denver, Colorado, 2010 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

These photographs show where my vision is at this time after making digital photographs for just under two years and film photographs off and on for most of my life. Most of the images here are camera raw or close to it with only a few minor adjustments. One of my favorite photography quotes not by my father is, “To see color as form means looking at the image in a new way, trying to free oneself from absorption in subject matter.” –Cole Weston. This quote is part of what I’m about in my photography and will substitute for my own artist’s statement until I write one.

Summit Sunset, Loveland Pass, Rocky Mountains, Colorado, 2010 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90. I remember the evening I made this photograph. I had just that morning been commenting that sunsets are cliche and voila: one of the most amazing sunsets I have ever seen was waiting for me just as I emerged from the Loveland Pass Eisenhower Tunnel. I was in the fast lane and literally skidded to a stop in about a foot of snow and flying powder on the center median to make this photograph. Fortunately I was in my 4X4 truck or I would not have made it back onto the pavement without a tow.

“Freeing oneself from absorption in subject matter,” is nearly the opposite of what my father was doing with a camera. His photography was primarily about place and as Emerson put it, “the integrity of natural objects.” I would expand my statement to include the integrity of all objects, as well as the breakdown, disintegration and rearrangement of all objects. Not to mention the celebration of place without attachment to place or to subject matter in the photograph.

Another photographer, I don’t remember who, said something else I like that applies, “Photography is not about what objects look like, it is about what objects look like when photographed.”

Snow Cornice Detail Along Highway 50, Nevada, 2010 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90. Sometimes it pays off to be out driving across several states after a fresh snowfall. Amazingly, even though I drive back and forth from California to Colorado a few times a year, I still drive fewer than 8,000 miles a year, significantly less than the average American at just over 12,000 miles a year.

Whiz Burgers, San Francisco, California, 2010 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90. Something about fast food, the Catholic Church and all those electric wires powered by San Francisco’s electricity grid set me onto going for an apocalyptic sky look.

As long as I’m borrowing phrases from other photographers I will quote my favorite pioneer landscape photographer and hero, my father, from his Artist’s Statement to close this post. To me this is one of the wisest statements he ever made and part of what drives me, “A mind at peace may be found in any individual or people who have kept touch with what the land is saying and who lack the benefits of instant dissemination of the human troubles that make news. After reading Gandhi, I see that what we need now is a peaceful environmental revolution. The Earth will survive, but will man survive on the Earth?”

To read an introduction to what else I learned from my father see the blog post, “Memories Of Finally Working With Dad.” For more of my photographs see the blog posts, “David Leland Hyde Archival Prints Pre-Launch” and “Best Photos Of 2011.”