Posts Tagged ‘Navajo’

New Releases: Philip Hyde Signature Desert Landscapes

April 9th, 2015

New Releases: The History Behind Philip Hyde Desert Icons

Archival Chromogenic Prints from Large Format Film

Evening Light On West Mitten Butte, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Utah-Arizona, copyright 1963 Philip Hyde. From Navajo Wildlands in the Sierra Club Exhibit Format Series. (Click on the image to see it large.)

Evening Light On West Mitten Butte, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Utah-Arizona, copyright 1963 Philip Hyde. From Navajo Wildlands in the Sierra Club Exhibit Format Series. (Click on the image to see it large.)

Philip Hyde began photographing the desert Southwest with large format film in 1951. At that time, he used primarily black and white film, but did expose some large format color transparencies too. The Sierra Club book, This Is Dinosaur: Echo Park and It’s Magic Rivers, with introduction, one chapter and editing by Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Wallace Stegner, included as many color plates as black and white, but editor, journalist, conservationist, pilot and river guide Martin Litton also made nearly as large a share of these images in the book as Hyde. To read more about the making of This Is Dinosaur see the blog post series, “The Battle Over Dinosaur: Birth of Modern Environmentalism.” To read more about Martin Litton see the blog post series, “Martin Litton: David Brower’s Conservation Conscience.”

While on his way back and forth from his Northern Sierra home in California to Dinosaur National Monument, Philip Hyde explored and photographed much of Nevada, Utah, Arizona and parts of New Mexico. For more on his early travels in the deserts of North America, see the blog post series, “Toward a Sense of Place,” and the blog post, “Images of the Southwest Portfolio Foreword by Philip Hyde.” Below is the history of three Philip Hyde signature desert photographs that both exemplify his style of photography and inspired two generations of photographers.

Based on the photograph locations in Hyde’s Sierra Club Books Exhibit Format Series volumes Navajo Wildlands: As long As The Rivers Shall Run (1967) and Slickrock: Endangered Canyons of the Southwest (1973) with Edward Abbey and in other Hyde books for Sunset and the prominent travel and natural history magazines of the day, large format film photographer Tom Till said that Hyde was the first to photograph areas of The Maze District of Canyonlands National Park and Waterpocket Fold in Capitol Reef National Park. Large format photographer David Muench, who was 15 years younger than Hyde, a little later was also the first to photograph some iconic desert landscapes.

Evening Light on West Mitten Butte, Monument Valley

Possibly one of the most emulated American classics of all-time, Philip Hyde’s 1963 “Evening Light on West Mitten Butte, Monument Valley,” came into the public eye just as the quality of color printing in books developed enough for such books to become popular. “Evening Light on West Mitten Butte” enjoyed much recognition when it first appeared in the Exhibit Format Series book, Navajo Wildlands in 1967. Since 1967, hundreds of thousands of similar photographs have been made and many published of this view of Monument Valley. Navajo Wildlands helped the Navajo Nation, now more correctly called by their own name Diné Nation, to form seven Navajo Tribal Parks to preserve some areas of the reservation for all generations.

Ripples on Kelso Dunes, Mojave Desert

Ripples on Kelso Dunes, Mojave Desert, California, copyright 1987 Philip Hyde. From Drylands: The Deserts of North America.

Ripples on Kelso Dunes, Mojave Desert, California (Drylands Crop) copyright 1987 Philip Hyde. From Drylands: The Deserts of North America. (Click on the image to see it large.)

Two other Philip Hyde desert landscape icons have been emulated much since their creation, but they were neither the first, nor even early in the evolution of similar images, merely the most widely known and observed for inspiration. Ridges and ripples on sand dunes had been famously photographed by Brett Weston, Edward Weston, Ansel Adams and many others well before Philip Hyde made the color photograph, “Ripples on Kelso Dunes, Mojave Desert, California” in 1987. Hyde’s photograph perhaps was early in relation to all color images of this type of scene. Regardless, it was not until after “Ripples on Kelso Dunes” appeared in Drylands: The Deserts of North America that close up images of ripples on sand dunes flooded the photography market. Hyde’s original photograph was an unusual vertical that showed the ripples on the sand dunes in the foreground with the ripples fading into the distance at the horizon. Yolla Bolly Press, the packagers of Drylands, who also packaged Galen Rowell’s Mountain Light: In Search of the Dynamic Landscape, convinced Hyde to crop “Ripples on Kelso Dunes” to a horizontal for the front pages of Drylands. This version only showing the bottom half of the original vertical, the close up part of the image, became popular for its abstract qualities. Many still today find the Drylands crop of “Ripples on Kelso Dunes” a stronger image than the original vertical.

Chinle Shales, Circle Cliffs, Vermillion Cliffs National Monument

The second signature desert landscape that Hyde made as late as 1982 was “Chinle Shales, Circle Cliffs, Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, Utah.” This photograph also graced the pages of Drylands. Photography historians have found earlier photographs with vague similarity to this image, but it was not until after 1987 that similar images showed up in numerous magazines and other publications and now on the internet on various websites of photographers of the American Southwest.

Chinle Shales, Circle Cliffs, Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, Utah, copyright 1982 Philip Hyde. From Drylands: The Deserts of North America.

Chinle Shales, Circle Cliffs, Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, Utah, copyright 1982 Philip Hyde. From Drylands: The Deserts of North America. (Click on the image to see it large.)

So what? What is the point of researching who came first and who came later? This kind of tracking is not necessarily done for further recognition in and of itself, but it does serve to further establish and educate scholars, art historians and the public in this regard: it is important for determining the influence of an artist like Philip Hyde on his medium. Influence has a great deal to do with the perception of the significance of the life’s work of any artist and how his or her work is positioned in the historical record. These three photographs play a consequential role in the history of photography, particularly of landscape photography and photography of the Western US and Colorado Plateau. Similar photographs of a location do not necessarily emulation make, but in Hyde’s case, many of the who’s who of nature photography today acknowledge having been influence by his work.

Philip Hyde made six or fewer original dye transfer or Cibachrome hand made color prints of each of these four images. Only three original dye transfer prints remain of “Havasu Falls,” two of “Chinle Shales” and none of “Evening Light, West Mitten Butte” or “Ripples on Kelso Dunes.” Please consider acquiring our new archival chromogenic prints of these images, produced in a special numbered open edition, while they are at a special introductory price for a limited time. For more about new release pricing, see the blog post, “New Releases Now at Special Introductory Pricing.” For more information about the difference between archival digital prints and archival chromogenic prints, see the blog post, “About Archival Fine Art Digital Prints.” To purchase prints, see the images large and read more descriptions see the New Releases Portfolio on the Philip Hyde Photography website.

Have you ever seen photographs similar to any of these three?

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.”

New Release: Formations From Bryce Point, Bryce Canyon National Park

April 26th, 2011

The Making Of The Widely Published And Collected Photograph In Philip Hyde’s Own Words

New Release: Formations From Bryce Point, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, 1963

Landscape Photography Blogger Introductory Note:

Formations From Bryce Point, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, copyright 1963 by Philip Hyde. Widely exhibited and published including in “Drylands: The Deserts Of North America” and related major museum exhibitions. In permanent museum collections.

(See the photograph full screen Click Here.)

As part of his first explorations of the American Southwest in 1951 and 1955, Philip Hyde documented Dinosaur National Monument on the first photography assignment for an environmental cause. (See the series of blog posts that begin with, “The Battle Over Dinosaur: Birth Of Modern Environmentalism 1“)

Ardis and Philip Hyde returned to the Southwest in the Fall of 1963 and visited Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Arches National Monument, now also a national park, Canyonlands, Natural Bridges, Monument Valley, Grand Canyon National Park, the Hopi Villages, Canyon de Chelly, Petrified Forest National Monument, Walnut Canyon, Oak Creek Canyon, “Lake” Mead National Recreation Area and Glen Canyon Dam. Philip Hyde on this trip planned to build his stock photography files, gather images for several upcoming conservation projects as well as working on an assignment from the National Park Service photographing several of the national park’s facilities and buildings’ architecture. After a stop in Zion National Park, the Hydes moved on to Bryce Canyon National Park…

Excerpted From Philip Hyde’s 1963 travel log:

By Philip Hyde

September 24, 1963: We decided to go on to Bryce Canyon and come back to Zion National Park later—after Canyonlands, or on our way home before “Lake” Mead. We broke camp and headed for Bryce Canyon. On the way out of Zion, I spent an hour or so working on the East side formations after the tunnel—Checkerboard Mesa and Navajo Formation pavements. Then we went on out of Zion and north. We stopped about 11 am at Edith Hamblin’s place on the north end of Mt. Carmel. Edith Hamblin is the widow of painter Maynard Dixon. We also stopped in to see Dick McGraw at his studio and guest house with a view toward the White Cliffs, then drove on to Bryce Canyon, arriving about 3 pm.

At Bryce Canyon we went to the visitor’s center to meet with the Park Engineer and Naturalist. Then we headed on out to the first overlook road. In the fairyland section the light was gorgeous. I took my 4X5 view camera and walked down the trail half a mile or so into the canyon. I made six color transparencies and two black and white negatives. Then we drove back to the Visitor’s Center in later light which was also very good. Called it a day and headed to the campground, which was rather exposed with little gravel platforms for camp sites. The Park Ranger said that the low last night was down to 29 degrees Fahrenheit, so I put antifreeze into the radiator that I bought in Hatch, Utah.

September 25: In the morning I went up to the Visitor’s Center to shoot interiors for the National Park Service. Then we went first to Sunset Point and down the Navajo Loop Trail to the canyon bottom where I made several exposures. We drove out along the loop road to

Various viewpoints and eventually to Rainbow Point, then back along the rim. Back at Sunset Point I caught the late light and walked down the Queen’s Garden Trail just at Sunset when the light was magnificent. I photographed until the light failed. When we returned to the car, we ran into Adele and John Hampton of Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, whom we had met in Zion National Park. We had dinner with them and talked until about 9 pm—late for us.

September 26: We were up before dawn, about 5:30 am, to catch the sunrise light on the Queen’s Garden Trail. Hiked down into Queen’s Garden working all the way as the light was spectacular. Photographed in the Queen’s Garden until about 9 am, then back up to the car, showered, packed up and set out for Capitol Reef about 10:30 am. Drove down into the Paria Valley—now called Bryce Valley—around Tropic, Utah. Tropic is just awakening from its sleepy, remote, Mormon character to tourist awareness. However, only the main “street” has changed adding a drive-in and frosty store. The road is now paved all the way to Escalante, Utah—not just paved, but realigned to “modern” engineering high standards—70 mph in most places. It circles around the Table Cliffs of the Aquarius Plateau and crosses several layered ridges and streaks across some broad open plateau tops to reach Escalante. Several roads beckoned. One that looked interesting was the one to Hole In The Rock, which we will take before we finish this project—maybe on this trip or perhaps next Spring. About eight miles East of Escalante the dirt started and except for a stretch on top of a ridge several miles long near Boulder, Utah, it was much like it was five or six years ago, though the surface this time was in better shape and some of the notable grades have been eliminated.

Landscape Photography Blogger Postscript

Philip Hyde made four dye transfer prints of “Formations From Bryce Point, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, 1963” in the early 1970s and two more in 1987 when Drylands: The Deserts Of North America came out. See the blog post, “The Legend of Dye Transfer Printing, Interrupted 1” for more about dye transfer printing and “Philip Hyde At Home In The Wilds 1” for an interview in which Philip Hyde talks about his approach to dye transfer printing. Now for the first time since Kodak discontinued the manufacture of dye transfer printing materials in the early 1990s, “Formations From Bryce Point, Bryce Canyon National Park” is available as a color fine art print in archival digital print form. Also for a limited time “Formations From Bryce Point” is available at introductory New Release Pricing. For more about Philip Hyde’s connection to the Southwest see the blog post, “Earth Day Celebration Of Ardis And Philip Hyde And Canyonlands.”

Glen Canyon Portfolio 3

April 14th, 2011

Glen Canyon Portfolio 3

Photographer’s Comment From The Original Vintage Black And White Glen Canyon Portfolio

Continued from the blog post, “Glen Canyon Portfolio 2.”

By Philip Hyde

Cathedral In The Desert (Horizontal), Glen Canyon, Utah, 1964 by Philip Hyde.

(See the photograph full screen Click Here.)

My involvement with the Colorado Plateau province and its centerpiece, the Colorado River, began in 1951 when I was commissioned by the Sierra Club to find out and to photographically document what was in Dinosaur National Monument, particularly along the Yampa River and Green River, that would be impacted by the dams proposed in the Upper Colorado River Storage Project.

It was a tough assignment for a fledgling photographer whose only other exposure to the landscape of the Colorado Plateau province had been as a boy on a visit to Grand Canyon. My work up to that time had been in the well-watered forests and mountains of the Pacific Coast, and I was at first a victim of the landscape shock Dutton speaks of in his Tertiary History of the Grand Canyon Region. I had to learn how to cope, both physically and photographically, with the heat, haze, and dryness that dulled the mind, fogged the shadow, and made the distances disappear.

I needed more time to digest what I saw in the arid lands, and besides I still had a love affair going with mountains. It wasn’t until 1955 that I went back to accompany a Sierra Club group that floated the length of Glen Canyon from Hite to Lees Ferry. One of the high points of this trip, oddly enough, was the prelude, a two-day school bus ride around the canyon overland from Lees Ferry to the start of the river trip at Hite. The frustration of being imprisoned on a bus going through such radically different and beautiful country was so great that it etched that country in my mind and programmed me to spend the next twenty-plus years trying to find some of those retinal images that had rushed past too fast, unfixed on film. Leaving Lees Ferry we scanned the Vermillion Cliffs while climbing up the edge of the Kaibab, then the White Cliffs while climbing the Southern Utah plateaus; we then made the long descent down the slopes of Thousand Lake Mountain through Capitol Reef, past the soft gray shales of Caineville, into the deepening, sinuous White Canyon to Hite and the Colorado River.

In my memory of the river trip, nights on rocks radiating too much heat for sleeping are mingled with days of growing awe of the strange forms of this stone country. My awareness of water as a miracle was born in the shining trickles in canyon bottoms and the sudden springs that gushed out of rock as though piped through the water bearing Navajo Sandstone. These imprints went deep. This landscape took hold of me, in spite of physical discomforts and the initial visual strangeness.

An opportunity for a closer look at a piece of Glen came in the spring of 1962, when I joined a backpack expedition into Rainbow Bridge whose purpose was to study the possibility of building a small dam to prevent the reservoir’s waters from undermining Rainbow Bridge’s sandstone base.

Later, in June, I joined another float trip, this time with fewer people and a slower pace that provided better opportunities for making photographs. The collection made on this trip provided a majority of the photographs in this portfolio. A high point was climbing to the top of Rainbow Bridge at David Brower’s urging, with his climbing expertise to assure success.

Glen Canyon Dam was nearly finished at this point; a short time after the trip, the gates of the diversion tunnels were closed to begin the filling of “Lake” Powell.

Two years later, in 1964, I participated in a wake for Glen Canyon. Starting near the dam on two hundred feet of water, we floated over Music Temple and passed over the Great Overhang in Moki Canyon well known to river travelers, but now barely traceable by the top of its great curve. We boated through the narrows of Aztec Creek, floating over what had been a most beautiful stream junction, with small, sculptured pools in lovely curves linked by a trickle of water. Landing a short distance below Rainbow Bridge, we walked past groups of people in yachting clothes to pay our respects to the now domesticated bridge. We then returned to our raft to push out of the narrows past some small boats in a cove cowering from the howling gale roaring across the reservoir’s open water; such gales were unknown on the river with its high, sheltering walls. Oh, there were some healthy winds on the river, but they gave you a choice: if blowing downstream, you could continue; if blowing upstream, you found the nearest sandbar, made camp, and hoped the wind would abate after sundown.

Continuing up the stormy “lake,” we entered the Escalante arm, crossed its flooded lower reaches to Clear Creek while marveling at the sheer height of the canyon walls, and walked the remaining mile of canyon above slack water into the Cathedral in the Desert. This place was not drowned yet, but later that summer we learned that the water had come in for the first time and flushed out the floor, destroying the lovely rich green moss carpet the ages had furnished.

Investigating half-drowned Davis Gulch and Soda Gulch, we floated past half-submerged entrances, straining to imagine their lost beauty, up to the point where the boat grated on sand at water’s edge; then we walked up canyon as far as we could. In Soda we found the water lapping at the base of Gregory Natural Bridge, a named glory among uncounted, unnamed glories flickering out.

In subsequent trips to the Colorado Plateau province, I have passed the remnants of Glen Canyon to go on to happier places to walk and photograph. Somehow, the passing of Glen Canyon gave me a better reason to see as much of the province as I could, before all of it changed. These trips took me to the Grand Canyon, Navajoland, slickrock country – Escalante, Waterpocket Fold, Canyonlands – from the edge of the Great Basin to the feet of the Rocky Mountains.  Subconsciously I always kept looking for something as fine as Glen Canyon, holding my memories of Glen Canyon up to new country as a standard for color, sculpture, and fineness of detail.

My search confirms an early belief that Glen Canyon was one of the two grand climaxes of the land of the sediments, both born of the river. The other, kindred though quite different, but not less glorious, is Grand Canyon. One is flooded. The other, owing its life to the sacrifice of the flooded one, still lives.

To read an impassioned essay by Philip Hyde on the failings of the Glen Canyon Dam project see the blog post, “Lament For Glen Canyon By Philip Hyde 1.” To read about Canyonlands National Park and other areas of the land of sediments see the blog post, “Earth Day Celebration Of Ardis And Philip Hyde And Canyonlands.”

Who Was Edward Abbey?

October 14th, 2010

Edward Abbey: The Thoreau of the American West

Green River At Hardscrabble Bottom, Canyonlands National Park, Utah, 1971 by Philip Hyde. First published in "Slickrock: The Canyon Country of Southeast Utah," 1971, in the Sierra Club Exhibit Format Series. (RAW SCAN--not yet printing.) Edward Abbey's caption for this photograph in "Slickrock" was "Hardscrabble Bottom along the Green. A great good place. A man could whittle away his life down here and never lose a minute."

(See the RAW SCAN of the photograph full screen Click Here.)

Novelist, essayist, philosopher, conservationist, environmentalists, social critic, gadfly, anarchist, self-declared extremist, lover, father, original monkey wrencher and author of 21 books of fiction and non-fiction, Edward Abbey may have been one of the most popular writers to take the American West and most often the Southwest as his subject. Larry McMurtry called Edward Abbey, “The Thoreau of the American West.”

Edward Abbey attracted a cult following but was uncomfortable with it. His books today enjoy an ever-widening readership, as the modern environmental movement that he helped popularize continues to grow. Desert Solitaire, Edward Abbey’s crowning achievement is a lament for wilderness lost, a celebration of a quiet life in the desert landscape and a portrayal of the Southwest unlike any other. Edward Abbey’s enjoyable romping anarchist novel The Monkey Wrench Gang is on a similar list for environmental activists who would prevent the plundering of natural resources. His wry wit and vivid prose carry on the legend of Edward Abbey.

Edward Abbey And Philip Hyde Meet In Canyonlands

In the introduction to Slickrock: The Canyon Country of Southeast Utah by Edward Abbey and Philip Hyde, John G. Mitchell, editor of Sierra Club Books, described how Edward Abbey and Philip Hyde first met in a remote part of Canyonlands National Park:

Edward Abbey and a friend had been exploring a small canyon near the Doll’s House (In the Maze, Canyonlands). Friend, scrambling solo, encounters man with tripod on the rimrock. Cameraman explains he is doing a book. Funny, friend says, so is my buddy. Cameraman asks identity of buddy. Edward Abbey, says Friend. Funny, says Cameraman, same book. Friend hollers down canyon: Hey, Ed. Guy up here says you’re collaborators. Abbey scrambles up. Ed Abbey, says Friend, meet Philip Hyde.

Edward Abbey and Philip Hyde Describe Each Other

There will be more on Slickrock: The Canyon Country of Southeast Utah in blog posts to come. In Slickrock, Edward Abbey described Philip Hyde. His description is on the home page of PhilipHyde.com. For more about Philip Hyde in Canyonlands see the blog post, “Earth Day Celebration Of Ardis And Philip Hyde And Canyonlands.” Philip Hyde also described Edward Abbey on the back flap of the original 1971 edition of Slickrock:

I remember Abbey in a sandstone window overlooking a maze of canyons that wind off toward the deep gorge of the Colorado River. He was chewing on a blade of grass and his sombrero was low again in observance of sundown. Darkness was coming on fast. Time to return to camp. Abbey removed the hat and holding it level, slowly extended his arm toward the big river. Though it struck me as an unusual gesture, it was at once natural and moving. Abbey, saluting the Slickrock with that silly sombrero, reaching out to the stark chiseled bounties of that wild beyond.

Edward Abbey On How To Get To Know Canyon Country

One of Edward Abbey’s most well-known quotes gives advice on how to connect with the natural world:

Do not jump into your automobile next June and rush out to the Canyon country hoping to see some of that which I have attempted to evoke in these pages. In the first place you can’t see anything from a car; you’ve got to get out of the goddamned contraption and walk, better yet crawl, on hands and knees, over the sandstone and through the…cactus. When traces of blood begin to mark your trail you’ll see something, maybe.

Greg Russell of Alpenglow Images wrote a thoughtful post yesterday called “Aspen Trees and Staying Close to Home” in which he wrote about Edward Abbey and also decided to photograph near his home rather than traveling for Fall color. His results were just as fine, in my opinion.

A Tribute To Edward Abbey

Edward Abbey born in Pennsylvania in 1927, now has a state historical marker commemorating his birth and life:

Author and defender of wilderness,
most famous for his two books Desert
Solitaire
and The Monkey Wrench Gang.
Born in Indiana, Pa., in 1927, Abbey grew
up in and around the village of Home.
Although he moved to the western U.S.
in 1948, books such as Appalachian
Wilderness
, The Journey Home, and The
Fool's Progress
describe his native
county, where he learned to love nature.
Abbey died in Tucson, Arizona, in 1989.

PENNSYLVANIA HISTORICAL AND MUSEUM COMMISSION 1996

From an environmental activism perspective, possibly the most important historical fact about Edward Abbey is that he helped start the environmental organization called Black Mesa Defense Fund, the first radical environmental group, after which Dave Foreman later patterned Earth First. The Black Mesa Defense Fund direct-action campaign against the strip mining on Black Mesa, shared by the Navajo and Hopi people, was organized by the American Indian Movement, Edward Abbey, Marc Gaede (a photographer and environmentalist who also taught a few workshops with Philip Hyde), and others in 1970. Black Mesa Defense Fund is considered the first modern-day environmental confrontational protest organization.

Edward Abbey References

(Click on each for more information or to purchase)

Abbey’s Web

Slickrock: The Canyon Country of Southeast Utah by Edward Abbey and Philip Hyde

Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey

The Monkey Wrench Gang By Edward Abbey

Down the River by Edward Abbey

The Serpents of Paradise by Edward Abbey

Beyond the Wall: Essays from the Outside by Edward Abbey

Resist Much Obey Little: Remembering Ed Abbey edited by James R. Hepworth and Gregory McNamee

Confessions of a Barbarian: Selections from the Journals of Edward Abbey by Edward Abbey

Adventures with Ed: A Portrait of Abbey by Jack Loeffler

Edward Abbey: A Life by James M. Cahalan

Epitaph For A Desert Anarchist: The Life And Legacy Of Edward Abbey by James Bishop, Jr.

Toward a Sense of Place By Philip Hyde 2

January 20th, 2010

(CONTINUED FROM BLOG POST, “Toward a Sense of Place 1“)

Anasazi Big Horn Sheep Petroglyphs, Monument Valley, Utah-Arizona, 1963, by Philip Hyde. From Navajo Wildlands.

(See the photograph full screen: Click Here.)

By Philip Hyde

From Navajo Wildlands: As Long As The Rivers Shall Run

Sierra Club—Ballantine Books 1967

*Note: Beware of using this as a travel guide. The areas where people are allowed and the approaches to them may have changed since 1965. Also, the politically correct term for the native people now is their own word, “Dineh,” in its various spellings, rather than the Spanish word in common practice then, “Navajo.”

Toward A Sense of Place (Continued)

In the Spring of 1965, when heavy runoff in the canyons kept even the Park Service vehicles out, many of the Navajo men walked into the canyons to start their spring plowing and planting. There are more horse-drawn wagons in the Canyon de Chelly region than almost anywhere else, with good reason—they still rely on dependable foot power in traveling the canyon bottoms.

The best way really to feel the country is to visit it in many seasons and to know something about it beforehand. In a region where so much geology is laid bare, a smattering of geology is illuminating, and of prehistory, for the evidences of ancient occupation a searching eye will discover. The petroglyphs and pictographs fascinate me. We were delighted by the humor in a petroglyph some eight centuries old—with its wonderful incised figures of Kokopeli, lying on his back with one knee up, playing the flute. Some of the pictographs in Canyon de Chelly are sheer drama. The Ute Fight Mural, a Navajo charcoal drawing of about a hundred years ago, portrays a battle between Navajos and Utes. A short distance farther up the same canyon is a drawing depicting the coming of Spaniards on horseback.

The pictographers knew with assurance what they wanted to record. My own processes in deciding what a photographer should report were less sure. I started out with several ideas, rejected them, and reluctantly concluded that I should emphasize the land, not the people. I had read more about the country, been exposed more to it. I found the Navajos fascinating and beautiful. They fit their land far better than whites fit theirs. Yet, I felt that emphasis on the people would preclude the sense of place, a sense that I think the Navajos themselves feel strongly.

They also value highly their personal privacy. One can try to make grab shots, which violate that sense of privacy, or spend enough years living and working with the people to know how not to violate. I would not do the former and couldn’t do the latter. I hoped that the absence of a human figure would not suggest the absence of a human eye, and that mine would be sensitive enough to the Navajo’s own sensitivity to his land. This hope was the basic challenge. There were other challenges.

Some Navajo areas are nationally known and celebrated; others are neither. I wanted both. Photographers must also fuss with logistics, and I would try to do my share. They also need intuition and luck. I rarely wait for something to happen. I haven’t the patience, and besides, there are usually too many things around already happening. So I hoped to be in the right places when the light said now!

(See the photograph full screen: Click Here.)

Stormlight, Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona, 1963, by Philip Hyde. From Navajo Wildlands.

I remember a storm-lit view of Canyon de Chelly. It had just stopped raining heavily when my wife came charging into the back office of the Visitor Center and said, “Come out and see what’s happening over on the rim.” Together we grabbed camera and gear and ran half a mile or more to the edge of the canyon. A shaft of sharp yellow light was burning its way through a rent in the clouds. Still breathing heard, I managed to set up the camera, calculate the exposure, and release the shutter. Thirty seconds later the clouds closed, and the light was gone.

I begin to see when I leave the car behind. The immensity of the Navajo country, however, made working with the car essential in many places. Nevertheless, the times I remember with most pleasure are those when we were walking around Navajo Mountain into the canyons of the Rainbow Plateau, or backpacking to Keet Seel. These were the wilderness experiences, and the others are pale. For more on wilderness see the blog post, “Wallace Stegner: The Wilderness Idea.”

Navajo Mountain was another adventure, thanks again to the primitiveness of a road. There is something exciting about a rough dirt road into new country, particularly if its remoteness is famous. At Rainbow Lodge Trading Post, you are about as far from pavement as a Navajo can get. Kayenta once had such remoteness, as did Monument Valley. Remoteness vanished when the high-standard paved highway came.

We arrived at the Rainbow Post in late afternoon to find Myles Headrick, the trader, busy with several groups of customers. We sat on grain sacks piled against the wall and we watched the trading process. We couldn’t understand the soft exchange of words in Navajo, but we could watch facial expressions and gestures, hear the modulations and occasional chuckles.  We spent an hour or more cultivating what Sally Carrighar, in Moonlight at Midday, calls the Quiet Mind. She speaks of it as an Eskimo trait, but the Navajos share it. I think we could expect to find it in any individual or any 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.

Relaxed and willing, we waited out four days of rain before starting our descent into the canyons of the Rainbow Plateau. But first we had to go down about four miles to our Navajo packer’s Hogan. We navigated more than drove, for the road was all too often a sea of mud. Somehow we made it down to the sandy flat below the Mountain’s shoulder, and found our way among the maze of tracks to the Hogan. We were pleased to be asked in, but the darkness that had begun while we visited was not too reassuring when we left the hogan’s snugness. How would you put on film our apprehension of that slippery slide to Rainbow Lodge? Or how we kept moving, foot by foot, grateful for the rocky places that had once worried our tires? Or how time was suspended in our concentration until, an infinity later, our headlights found the Trading Post? This is the kind of adventure that highway engineers seem determined to wipe out, and what diminishes this diminishes me. Whom does an overtamed world serve?

Our Navajo Mountain adventure took on a new aspect two mornings later when our packer brought up his retinue of three horses, four people, and two dogs….

(CONTINUED IN BLOG POST, “Toward a Sense of Place 3“)