Posts Tagged ‘Plumas County’

Inherited Nature: Father And Son Exhibit At The Capitol Arts Gallery

April 25th, 2013

Inherited Nature: Photography by Philip Hyde & David Leland Hyde

(Following is a variation of the press release for the show.)

Graffiti, Street Art, Wall, San Francisco, California, copyright 2010 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Graffiti, Street Art, Wall, San Francisco, California, copyright 2010 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90. One of the images on display in “Inherited Nature.”

(See the photograph large, “Graffiti, Street Art, Wall, San Francisco, California.”)

Plumas Arts will exhibit the historically significant photographs by Philip Hyde that helped to make many of our national parks at the Capitol Art Gallery at 525 Main Street in Quincy, California from May 3 through June 1. An opening reception Friday, May 3, 5-7 pm launches the show.  A special presentation by David Leland Hyde, Philip Hyde’s son, will also be held at the Capitol Arts Gallery on Tuesday, May 14, at 6 pm.

During his 60-year full-time large format film photography career Philip Hyde lived with his wife Ardis in Plumas County for 56 years. His photographs that are part of permanent collections and were shown in venues such as the Smithsonian, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, George Eastman House and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, now come home for a rare showing in Plumas County. The Plumas Arts show will be the first local exhibition of its kind since Hyde’s passing in 2006.

Why “Inherited Nature”?

The exhibition, titled “Inherited Nature” will also be unique because it introduces the digital photography of David Leland Hyde, who walked many wilderness miles with his parents and now works to preserve and perpetuate his father’s archives. David Leland Hyde not only inherited his father’s collection, but also his father’s love of nature, art and activism that helped shape his own photography and view of the world. Part of the show naming process included consideration of the double meaning of “nature,” as well as a third double meaning of the phrase which refers to all of us inheriting nature and passing it down as well. One title kicked around was “Nature Passed Down.” The inherited aspect of nature and landscape does not apply only to David Leland Hyde. As far as his photography is concerned, he photographs the landscape because he grew up on the land. However, having lived in cities as well as Plumas County where he was born, David also enjoys architectural, portrait and street photography.

Philip Hyde first made images of the Sierra Nevada at age 16 in 1937 on a Boy Scout backpack in Yosemite National Park with a camera he borrowed from his sister. By 1942 he was making photographs of artistic merit in black and white, and much more rare at the time, in color. In 1945, as he was about to be honorably discharged from the Army Air Corp of World War II, Hyde wrote to Ansel Adams asking for recommendations for photography schools. Adams happened at the time to be finalizing plans for a new photography department at the California School of Fine Art, now the San Francisco Art Institute. The new photography school was the first ever to teach creative photography as a profession. Adams hired Minor White as lead instructor and he brought on teachers who were luminaries and definers of the medium such as Edward Weston, Dorothea Lange and Imogen Cunningham.

Living The Understatement Style

Referred to as a quiet and humble giantby prominent landscape photographer QT Luong, Hyde chose to live in the wilderness of Plumas County, sacrificing the greater monetary success of living close to the marketplace of the Bay Area for values more important to him. He set an example of living a simple, close to nature, low-impact lifestyle that becomes more relevant as a model all the time. QT Luong wrote of Philip Hyde:

Living a simple life out of the spotlight, he always felt that his own art was secondary to nature’s beauty and fragility… As an artist, this belief was reflected in his direct style, which appears deceptively descriptive, favoring truthfulness and understatement rather than dramatization.

Philip Hyde spent over one quarter of each year of his career on the back roads, trails, rails, rivers, lakes and ocean coasts of North America making the photographs that influenced a generation of photographers. Today some find it easy to take his compositions for granted, but this mainly happens because they have been emulated countless times. Much of landscape photography today applies principles and techniques developed by Philip Hyde.

Philip Hyde’s Influence On Landscape Photographers

Philip Hyde’s wide sweeping impact started with his role as the primary illustrator of the Sierra Club Books Exhibit Format Series, the series that popularized the large coffee table photography book. The series also contained popular titles by Ansel Adams and color photographer Eliot Porter. Eliot Porter, along with Philip Hyde is credited with introducing color to landscape photography. Well known photographer William Neill said, I have little doubt that every published nature photographer of my generation has been inspired by Philip’s efforts.” To read William Neill’s tribute to Philip Hyde in full, originally published in Outdoor Photographer magazine, see the guest blog post, “Celebrating Wilderness By William Neill.”

Just as Philip Hyde inspired photographers, his wife Ardis inspired him and traveled as his companion throughout his life and after most would have retired. With Ardis, he built his home near Indian Creek surrounded by woods. Over a two-year period, Philip designed, drew the plans and constructed not only the home with Ardis’ help, but also gathered local river rock for a large fireplace.

Ardis And Philip Hyde At Home

The Hydes first came to Plumas County in 1948 through a chance meeting on a train with Ardis’ friend from college then living at Lake Almanor, who helped Philip Hyde land a summer job in Greenville at the Cheney Mill. Having a young college kid from the city endlessly amused the other workers at the sawmill. One time young Philip even fell into the stinky millpond, which drew great laughter and a ticket home for the day to photograph. Ardis taught kindergarten and first grade for 12 years to help supplement Philip’s photography efforts beginning in 1950 when the Hydes settled in Plumas County.

While living in Plumas County for 56 years, Philip Hyde also actively contributed to the community. He was a founding artist member of Plumas Arts and contributed funds to provide lighting in the gallery. He was also one of the founders of the Plumas County Museum. He hired the architect Zach Stewart, whose famous architectural firm had hired both Hyde and Adams as photographers. Stewart charged the Plumas County Museum much less than usual for his architectural services and as a result the Plumas County Museum had money left over for a small investment fund that has helped it perpetuate for the many years since.

A portion of all proceeds from the exhibition will go directly to the Feather River Land Trust and Plumas Arts, continuing Philip Hyde’s tradition of contribution to the community.

Gallery Hours for the exhibition are Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 11am to 5:30pm and Saturdays form 11am to 3pm.  Arrangements may also be made for viewings outside these times by calling Plumas Arts at 530-283-3402.

My 12 “Greatest Hits” Of 2012

January 3rd, 2013

My Personal Favorites Or 12 Top Picks Of 2012, Whatever You Want To Call Them

Oaks, Grizzly Ridge, Fall, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Oaks, Grizzly Ridge, Fall, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

One of my neighbors, who I grew up with, has told me from time to time that he had to quit photography because he became too obsessed with it. It came out that he spent enough money on gear, gasoline, printing, matting and framing to put himself and his large family into debt. That was the destructive aspect, not the obsession with the art itself.

Cloudy Sunset, Genesee Valley, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Cloudy Sunset, Genesee Valley, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

When we were young men I admired the same neighbor for his focus, determination and tireless effort that made him a success in sports, a large and strong weight lifter and an airline pilot. I contend that any endeavor of meaning, especially in the arts, for excellence to be attained, requires an obsessive dedication.

This is why I thought I could never be a photographer. I still sometimes do not consider myself one. My father, pioneer landscape photographer Philip Hyde, had the passion and drive for excellence and the results to prove it, but until 2009 I had been lackadaisical about photography for 35 years. I will share more on my artistic journey below, but first I must tell you about the photographs here. Also, a big thank you to Jim Goldstein at JMG Galleries for putting this “best of the year” blog project on each year. I feel he’s a genius for inventing it.

The photographs in this blog post are all single image capture, though I do bracket for the eventual future date that I may possibly have the time to learn how to blend

Grasses, Indian Creek Below Indian Valley, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, Fall, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Grasses, Indian Creek Below Indian Valley, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, Fall, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

or even, gasp, make High Dynamic Range or HDR prints. I do minimal post-processing, though I do use Photoshop to the degree that it is essentially equivalent to the darkroom. On most images I use Photoshop “Levels,” “Curves” and “Hue/Saturation” Layers. On “Pool, Cascade, Red Clover Creek” I used the Healing Brush to remove two prominent bird droppings on the center boulder that distracted and crapped up the photograph. On “Dawn, American River From Fair

Fog, Rocky Promontory, Pacific Ocean, Mendocino Sea Coast, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Fog, Rocky Promontory, Pacific Ocean, Mendocino Sea Coast, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Oaks Bluffs,” I also used the Healing Brush to remove a sunspot. Fortunately the sunspot backdrop against the even textured and dark toned, shadowy beach enabled this easy approach. I doubt I could have pulled off some of the more complicated methods of removing sunspots in Photoshop CS4, without spending many hours on the learning curve. I saw the video on removing sunspots in CS5, which takes one tenth the time with the use of Smart Fill. Made me lust after

Pool, Cascade, Red Clover Creek, Plumas County, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Pool, Cascade, Red Clover Creek, Plumas County, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

newer versions of Photoshop software, but for now I will remain chained to my forced frugality of a full-time learning photographer and use my CS4, which is just fine.

Photoshop is a much more precise and powerful tool than any darkroom ever. I still, however, believe that we photographers have a contract with the general public that photographs traditionally are expected to represent “reality.” Nobody is arguing that photographs are “real.” Therefore, from time to time I do

Twilight, Indian Creek, Vertical, Plumas County, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Twilight, Indian Creek, Vertical, Plumas County, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

amp up the post processing way beyond what looks “real” just to be sure that the viewing public knows I have been up to something. Meanwhile, especially with landscape photography, I’ve discovered that most of the time a RAW file does not look like the scene I photographed. Usually it is less saturated, for one thing, and usually has much less range of color and tones and much less shadow and highlight detail. This can all be partially or completely solved with Photoshop and thus I do espouse it, just as I prefer to use a good hammer more than a rock to pound in nails. I’m sure I will eventually use plugins and other add-ons, just as a professional carpenter, to compete these days, needs an air compressor driven nail gun. In the near future, look for my new “Sierra Nevada Portfolio,” that will contain large versions of these images and many others, to be posted after the 17 portfolios of Dad’s photography and below my “Portfolio One” on philiphyde.com. Also, to see more of my photography and philosophy see the blog post, “David Leland Hyde Archival Prints Pre-Launch,” or “Best Photos Of 2011.”

Ice Plant, Mist, Duncan Cove State Beach, Pacific Ocean, Sonoma Coast, California copyright by David Leland Hyde.

Ice Plant, Mist, Duncan Cove State Beach, Pacific Ocean, Sonoma Coast, California copyright by David Leland Hyde.

In 2009, I first came into the digital era and bought a Nikon D90 DSLR. Until then, I had used a Pentax K1000 35 mm film camera that my father gave me around 37 years ago when I was about 10 years old. I immediately loved making photographs with the Nikon D90 digital camera because it seemed easy to obtain decent results. I would like to graduate to a better camera one of these days for the purpose of making better big prints. I purchased my camera at Costco on special.

Rocks Along Spanish Creek, Plumas County, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Rocks Along Spanish Creek, Plumas County, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

They had a package that included two lenses, a camera bag, strap, an 8 MG SD Card, a video and a few other little photo items that gave me everything I needed for pro-sumer photography. The larger lens that I don’t use very often is a Nikkor 55-200 mm, 1:4-5.6 lens. I make 95 percent of my images with the wide-angle lens, which is a basic Nikkor 18-55 mm, 1:3.5-5.6 lens. I would like to buy more lenses, but cannot justify the investment until my print sales pay for the new gear.

Community Church, Taylorsville, Plumas County, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Community Church, Taylorsville, Plumas County, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Before 2011 especially, and even now, I have little time for my own photography, but this year I still indulged in and enjoyed the making of over 10,000 images. Meanwhile, I have other goals and responsibilities including the development of my father’s large format and medium format photography in the digital era, expanding the presence of his vintage photographs in major museums and my own long, grinding, slowly developing writing career. Until 2012, I still had many frustrations with photography and still get lividly annoyed with Photoshop today.

Currently, due to several delays and complications I am blessed and cursed to be where the main subject is the wilderness landscape of the Northern Sierra Nevada. This has given me much joy, but also frustration in that I intend to photograph more people, street scenes, disasters, cultural events and other art and quasi-journalistic subjects. I would have loved to be the first photographer to arrive at the BP Gulf Oil Spill or in Japan at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster.

Dawn, American River From Fair Oaks Bluffs Near Sacramento, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Dawn, American River From Fair Oaks Bluffs Near Sacramento, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Port Of Stockton, Great Central Valley, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Port Of Stockton, San Joaquin River Deep Water Tidal Channel, Great Central Valley, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Regardless, I had several breakthroughs in 2012. I improved technically. I became clear that even though I will keep my own photography as a sideline for now, at some point I will incorporate it into my primary work. I also caught the photography bug. I am bitten and camera smitten. Though it is an investment in the future, I photograph “too much” in that at this stage the extra time away from representing my father’s vintage work is costing me and threatening my solvency. Because of photography, I am trying to do “too much.” However, my own photography has saved me in some ways. I wrote about this in a recent blog post reviewing 2012 and introducing a poem about my mother, Ardis Hyde, who wrote most of the Hyde Travel Logs: “Happy Holidays…?…!” Besides keeping me fit and serving as an outlet, my own work has brought me more fulfillment and peace. It entices me out of the house and out from behind the desk and computer

Indian Creek And Forest From Above, Fall Snow, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

Indian Creek And Forest From Above, Fall Snow, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde.

screen. Landscape photography has helped me feel the light on the mountains, smell the woods, hear the lulling water and expand into the spirit of open spaces. I am rooted and connected to nature more often. Yet for me any genre of photography, photography without borders, without labels or definitions, pre-planned or visualized, observed quietly or full of surprises and experimentation, any and all of it is a hoot and an inspiration. Now after almost four decades of carrying a camera off and on, I can finally say, it is an obsession.

Please share which images you like most here and which you like least…

Plumas Arts Reinvents The Capitol Club In Quincy, California

June 29th, 2012

Announcing The Grand Opening Of The Capitol Arts Gallery

525 Main Street Across From The County Courthouse
Quincy, California   95971
530-283-3402

Opening Reception 5:00-7:00 pm June 29, 2012

Group Exhibition June 29, 2012 Through August 22, 2012

Mount Hough, Arlington Ridge And Cottonwoods Across Indian Valley, Plumas County, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2009 by David Leland Hyde. A 16X24 archival print of this photograph will participate in the Capitol Arts Center Grand Opening Show. The Plumas Arts Grand Opening Group Exhibition is the first time David Leland Hyde’s photography has been exhibited in a “brick and mortar” venue. David Leland Hyde was born in Plumas County. He is the son of pioneer landscape photographer Philip Hyde, who lived in Plumas County for 56 years. Philip Hyde was one of the founders of the Plumas County Museum. He hired the architect of the Plumas County Museum and was active in local community affairs including being a member of the nationally acclaimed Quincy Library Group that created a bridge between environmentalists and timber interests. For more on Philip Hyde click on his name in the main text.

(See the photograph large: “Mount Hough Across Indian Valley.”)

For more information about the current Lumiere Gallery group show in Atlanta, Georgia, see the blog post, “Lumiere Gallery Presents: Designed By Nature.”

The history of art, local Plumas County artists, Plumas Arts and the history of watering holes, bars, taverns, drinking establishments, clubs and historic saloons converged last year and will culminate in a new Grand Opening of the Capitol Art Gallery at 525 Main Street in downtown Quincy, California, the county seat of Plumas county.

The historic two-story Capitol Saloon, established in 1873 by Andrew “Doc” Hall, thrived for over a century and a quarter before falling on hard times in recent years. The Capitol Club, as it was later called, stood vacant until the 25-year-old Quincy, California based art association, Plumas Arts, bought the building outright for $70,500 in September 2011 and paid its back taxes, reinventing the premises as The Capitol Art Gallery.

The Capitol Arts Gallery opened on May 4, 2011 with a rare local exhibition by internationally recognized landscape photographer Carr Clifton. The Grand Opening of the Capitol Arts Gallery and opening reception will be this evening, Friday, June 29, 2012 from 5:00 to 7:00 pm. Carr Clifton’s opening reception and the gala Grand Opening this evening may be the most colorful and captivating events in the long history of “The Cap” besides “A spectacular shoot-out that occurred in front of the saloon in February 1886, resulting in the death of one man and the ostracizing of the other,” historically recounted by Las Plumas of the Plumas County Museum Association, which pioneer landscape photographer Philip Hyde helped found.

Philip Hyde and his son David Leland Hyde will be just two of more than 35 local artists, whose art will appear in the Grand Opening Exhibition. Philip Hyde’s “Cathedral In The Desert,” that American Photo Magazine named one of the top 100 photographs of the 20th century will be in the show as well as “The Minarets,” that Ansel Adams said he liked better than his own photograph of the Minarets, as well as “Misty Morning, Indian Creek” and “Spanish Creek” will appear in the show. David Leland Hyde’s “Grasses, Clouds Reflected, Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park, California” and “Mount Hough, Arlington Ridge And Cottonwoods Across Indian Valley” will also hang in the exhibition. When asked which artists might be of interest to a national and international audience, Plumas Arts’ Executive Director for over 25 years, Roxanne Valladao replied, “They all are. It’s not fair for me to say which artists are more important or more interesting than the others. The show represents all of our members that wanted to be in the show.” Indeed the Plumas Arts membership is “diverse and talented,” reported the Feather River Bulletin and Indian Valley Record. “The exhibition will feature two dimensional and three dimensional fine art and artisan creations in wood, basketry, pottery and jewelry… Plumas Arts will also use the evening to offer recognition to the generous individuals and groups that offered financial and volunteer support… All who made a financial donation of $100 or more or offered volunteer labor will be given a fine art print of Indian Creek by late local artist bob Pfenning.”

Executive Director Roxanne Valladao said that 36 people so far have donated their time and 57 people have donated money to the “Place of Our Own” fund that became the Capitol Arts Gallery. The California Arts Council article on Plumas Arts said that after decades of saving, sacrificing and fundraising, Plumas Arts was in the fortuitous position to take advantage of a foreclosure auction to purchase the Capitol Club. Donations paid for the bulk of renovations while dozens of volunteers cleaned, dumped trash, demolished walls, replaced rotted floors and walls, painted, polished and redesigned the space into a beautiful contemporary art gallery space that still retains the charm of the historical building as well. Organizations such as the California Arts Council, the Plumas County Board of Supervisors, Feather River College, Pacific Gas & Electric, High Sierra Music Foundation and a number of other local and state organizations contributed funding or expertise to the project. A gorgeous wood floor installation that would have cost tens of thousands of dollars came together under the efforts of Feather River College Students in Free Enterprise, also known as S.I.F.E., with a LOWE’s foundation grant.

As said in the California Arts Council organ ArtWorks, “For a rural arts council in one of the most economically challenged, least populated (Plumas County’s population is 20,000), and geographically isolated counties in the state, the notion of owning such a part of local history might seem part of a dreamscape.” However, local artists have earned this dream. Artists in Plumas County who support Plumas Arts range in experience, schooling, expertise, recognition and fame, but they all have actively participated in the development of the arts in Quincy and in the entire county. Plumas Arts members hail from the Plumas County communities of Quincy, Portola, Greenville, Chester, Taylorsville, Crescent Mills, Canyon Dam, Hamilton Branch, Westwood, Graeagle, Blairsden, Loyalton, Belden, Bucks Lake, Meadow Valley, Cromberg, Johnsville, Lake Almanor, Tobin, Twain and others. The Capitol Art Gallery is now open Wednesday through Friday 11:00 am to 5:30 pm and Saturday from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.

Living The Good Life 1: The Book and Background

October 11th, 2011

Living The Good Life, Part One

Reflections on the book that launched the 1950s Back to the Land movement, Living the Good Life: How to Live Sanely and Simply in a Troubled World by Helen and Scott Nearing, and how Ardis and Philip Hyde implemented the book’s philosophy…

Lower Lawn, Japanese Maples, Aspens, Raised Beds, Apple Orchard, Part of Gardens At Rough Rock, Spring, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2009 by David Leland Hyde.

Living The Good Life With Ardis And Philip Hyde, Part One

By Nancy Presser and David Leland Hyde

The first day I met David Leland Hyde, he introduced me to the life and work of his late mother and father, Ardis and Philip Hyde. David explained his father’s life long dedication to wilderness conservation through landscape photography of the American West. David also shared how his father designed, drew the plans and built the family home.

Even though David was fighting off a mid-winter flu, he still took the time to lead me through the Hyde house and Philip Hyde’s photography studio. David said that his father built the place himself over two years beginning in 1957. Ardis Hyde helped in the evenings and taught kindergarten during the day. They acquired 18 acres and built what was originally a 1200 square foot home plus garage and studio, all on Ardis’ school teaching salary. Quite a feat I think even in the 1950s.

After I knew David better he shared with me that everything around us in the home, the flat roof, the solar hot water panels, the clerestory windows, the raised bed vegetable garden, the fruit trees and the whimsical stone lined pond and flower garden were all ideals of self reliance and low impact living that his parent’s adopted back in the 1950s. The foundation of the Hyde’s living philosophy came from the book Living the Good Life: How to Live Sanely and Simply in a Troubled World by Helen and Scott Nearing. This Amazon link goes to the original version which is now out of print and only available used. The new version, The Good Life: Helen and Scott Nearing’s Sixty Years of Self-Sufficient Living, contains the Nearing’s first book Living The Good Life and their second book Continuing The Good Life all in one volume for one low price. Recently, David happened to have his mom’s personal copy of Living The Good Life around and loaned it to me to read.

David is a voracious reader and has loaned or recommended many books to me to read in the time I have known him. However, intuition told me that reading this book was a priority. He first presented Living the Good Life to me in a way that made a lasting impression. He said:

In the 1990s I planted a garden at my place in Pecos, New Mexico. My mother gave me advice regularly and a local green thumb friend also taught me quite a few tricks to gardening in that area. For example, if you plant Marigolds around the perimeter of your vegetable garden it greatly decreases pesky bugs and slugs. As I delved back into gardening, I thought back on the vegetable gardens I had planted with my mother and on the gigantic 40X60 foot plantation that she tended in various years. I also realized that she was probably one of the foremost experts on gardening for butterflies in the Northern Sierra Nevada of California. At the same time some friends of mine had bought land outside Santa Fe, New Mexico and were building and farming. One day while visiting my parents in California, I interviewed my mother about vegetable gardening and gardening for butterflies. I recorded the interview, which turned out to be a delightful discourse between us and illustrated very well my mother’s deep knowledge and love of plants, insects and other aspects of pesticide-free gardening. I wish now that I had made dozens of tapes of her because she was an expert in canning, freezing, preserving, making her own soap, bread, cheese, butter, tofu and many other household items and foods. At the end of our session, she pulled me close and said very seriously, “David, here’s the basis of your mother and father’s philosophy and what we based our home lifestyle upon,” as she handed me her copy of Living The Good Life. She passed on not long afterwards. Ironically, I have only read the first few chapters. Living The Good Life has been on my list for a long time, ever since her passing in 2002. I regret that I did not get a chance to read it and discuss it while she was alive.

Because I now had a key into the insight of Ardis and Philip Hyde, I opened this crucial book to see how I could get to know the Hyde’s better and to learn more about growing a life close to the land. Being a city girl from Long Beach I never lived on the land and I wanted to learn how people did it. The closest I’ve ever come was when I helped create a cooperative organic garden outside San Diego, which we called the Edible Village. We cultivated structures out of plants. We made a dome from collected branches that became a bean and herb garden. We also built a corn maze for the kids and a labyrinth out of plants and rocks. Each participant picked out his or her own stone along the perimeter. We also had chickens and practiced biodynamic composting. I will share more about all of this in blog posts to come in this series. The introduction to Living The Good Life, written in the 1930s, and preface, written in the 1970s, are all about how crazy and chaotic the world was then. What struck me was that nothing has changed. Meanwhile, I have been working to simplify my own life over the last 10 years.

David noticed that I continued reading Living The Good Life more than most of the other books he had shown me. He asked me if I would like to write about my reflections as I read the book and how it relates to what I am discovering about the lifestyle of the Hydes. Helen and Scott Nearing, as well as Ardis and Philip Hyde in kind, had approaches to life that serve as examples that can guide us today toward living more happily and sustainably. What I find most fascinating about reading The Good Life now is that although the first publication of the book was in 1954 and the sixth printing was in 1971, we still have the same, if not worse, chaotic, degenerating society.

Helen and Scott Nearing wrote Living The Good Life after coming out of the Depression of the 1930s:

We had tried living in several cities, at home and abroad. In varying degrees we met the same obstacles to a simple, quiet life—complexity, tension, strain, artificiality, and heavy overhead costs. These costs were payable only in cash, which had to be earned under conditions imposed upon one by the city—for its benefit and advantage. Even if cash income had been of no concern to us, we were convinced that it was virtually impossible to counter city pressures and preserve physical health, mental balance and social sanity through long periods of city dwelling. After careful consideration we decided that we could live a saner, quieter, more worthwhile life in the country than in any urban or suburban center.

For further reading see also Helen Nearing’s latest book, Loving and Leaving the Good Life, written after Scott Nearing passed on at age 100. Here’s Wilda Williams’ Library Journal description:

This quiet and reserved memoir is a tribute to the “good life” and the ideals of self-sufficiency, simplicity, socialism, and pacifism that Helen and Scott Nearing shared for 53 years. Helen was 24 years old in 1928 when she met Scott, a married 45-year-old economics professor who had been blacklisted by universities and publishers for his radical views. In 1932, the Nearings left New York City for a Vermont farm, beginning the homesteading life described in their Living the Good Life (1954), the bible of the back-to-the-land movement. Later, they moved to Maine where, during the 1960s and 1970s, they played host to 2000 visitors a year. For Scott and Helen, old age was a “time of fulfillment. Scott kept his strength and bearing all through his last decades.” But as he neared his 100th birthday in 1983, he chose to leave the good life peacefully by fasting. Helen is a modest narrator, at times so self-effacing that she switches into third person as when she discusses her relationship with the Indian philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti. Still, her eloquent chapter on death and old age and her loving portrait of a remarkable man makes this a recommended purchase…

Both the Nearings and the Hydes managed to find and implement the Good Life. For a lively discussion on creating the Good Life on a larger scale through building a sustainable world and the issues related to it see the blog post, “Art, Earth And Ethics 1.”

How would you define The Good Life?

(Continued in the next blog post, “Living The Good Life 2.”)

Philip Hyde At Home In The Wilds 1

June 17th, 2010

Darkroom Photography Magazine: Masters of the Darkroom Series Presents Part One Of An Interview With Philip Hyde By Merry Selk Blodgett

At Home In The Wilds

One of this century’s premier interpreters of the American wilderness, Philip Hyde has carried his 4X5 to places no camera had been before. Famous for Sierra Club books like Island In Time and The Last Redwoods, Philip Hyde is also a dedicated darkroom “do-it-yourselfer” who uses the complex and beautiful dye transfer process to make color prints. (See the blog posts, “The Legend Of Dye Transfer Printing 1,” and “The Legend of Dye Transfer Printing 2.”) Together with his wife and son, Philip Hyde lives far up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, in a house he built himself…

“When I first chose photography, I knew I was choosing the pleasures of creativity over the consolations of wealth.”

 

Virginia Creeper, Northern Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, 1977 by Philip Hyde. This photograph made at the home of the artist, became one of his signature images, though it is not in a pure sense a landscape photograph, as it depicts a domesticated vine on the wall of his house. The photograph appeared on more magazine covers than any other Philip Hyde image, starting with the now defunct Darkroom Photography magazine in 1980. Records are incomplete but some other covers included the Audubon Nature Calendar 1986, Scribner’s Group Catalog 1986, Photo-Design Magazine 1985, a poster by James Randklev 1986, New York Life Calendar 1987, Fine Print Custom Photo Lab Catalog 1987 and a number of other company catalogs and brochures. Ardis Hyde originally planted the Virginia Creeper. She was locally well-known in Plumas County for her work with the Audubon Society, for organic gardening and because she gave Virginia Creeper starts to many people. Virginia Creeper can be seen growing all over the Feather River country partly due to the gifts of Ardis Hyde.

DARKROOM PHOTOGRAPHY: It’s very beautiful up here in the mountains; the view from this window could be a Sierra Club calendar. But you’re also very far from any large towns, not to mention cities. Do you ever feel isolated up here?

PHILIP HYDE: I don’t think it’s isolation, I think it’s insulation. We’re insulated from a lot of urban influences that I’m not all that interested in. Don’t get me wrong…I like people. I’m very involved in the photographic workshops I’ve been doing. But I guess I like people best in small quantities. For me, the urban environment is too much of a man-made kind of thing. What’s most important to me is to be able to look out the window and see the changes of the seasons, or the rain pouring down, or the stars at night.

DARKROOM PHOTOGRAPHY: You’ve got a reputation as one of the top nature photographers in the country. Has your photography made you financially successful?

PHILIP HYDE: I’m not really trying to play the money game. Photography has provided a living, not a bad living at all. But when I left the city in 1959 to come up here, I knew that I was leaving behind the opportunity to make lots of money. I think that when I first chose photography, I knew I was choosing the pleasures of creativity over the consolations of wealth.

DARKROOM PHOTOGRAPHY: What is your personal definition of success?

PHILIP HYDE: I define success for myself in terms of my lifestyle. Success is freedom and opportunity to do what I want to do. I would say I’m a success in that respect. But some people seem to think that once you’re successful, you can just coast from then on. That’s certainly not true for me; I have to keep working hard, which is a good thing, or I might sit back on the oars and float downstream.

DARKROOM PHOTOGRAPHY: Anyone who makes his own dye transfer color prints certainly isn’t resting on his oars. Frankly, I was surprised to discover that someone as closely associated with outdoor color work as yourself would be spending so much time indoors. Dye transfer color printing is notoriously difficult and time-consuming; it’s usually done only in specially-equipped labs. What made you decide to tackle such a formidable process?

PHILIP HYDE: The beauty of a well-made dye transfer print, for one thing. It’s permanence, for another. I don’t know, maybe it’s lunacy. Or maybe it’s self-punishment and that’s part of my philosophy too. I think that you don’t get something for nothing in this world, and that perhaps struggling for it is a good thing. I’m saying that somewhat facetiously, but I’m not joking. I think there are a lot of aspects of photography now that are so automatic and so easy, and I think that explains the fact that there isn’t an awful lot that’s significant, from a long-term standpoint, being produced.

“Success is freedom and opportunity to do what I want to do.”

DARKROOM PHOTOGRAPHY: I take it you’re not partial to motorized, auto-everything 35mm SLRs.

PHILIP HYDE: Well, do you know that old saw about the bunch of monkeys? If you set a bunch of monkeys up at typewriters eventually they would end up typing the Encyclopedia Britannica. That’s a lot of nonsense really, but it’s certainly true that if you run enough film through a camera, sooner or later you’re going to make a significant image. I think an awful lot of people are using 35mm that way. On the other hand, there definitely are people whose work is suited to 35mm…people who can exploit the freedom and flexibility of that format.

DARKROOM PHOTOGRAPHY: But you’d rather carry around a 4X5 camera and 30 pounds of gear as you hike through the wilderness.

PHILIP HYDE: Yes.

DARKROOM PHOTOGRAPHY: Why?

PHILIP HYDE: For one thing, it would be very hard for me to make high-quality large dye transfer prints from 35mm originals. But deeper than that, I like the 4X5 format because it disciplines you to see carefully. By the time you’ve made the exposure, you are aware of little things you wouldn’t notice in a 35mm viewer. And it’s a discipline in not being profligate with materials; when you’re carrying 30 pounds on your back and have a limited supply of film, you look at everything very critically. You’re less apt to bang away and ask questions later.

DARKROOM PHOTOGRAPHY: Let’s return to your current work with the dye transfer color printing process. How long have you been doing it, and how did you get started?

PHILIP HYDE: I began dye transfer printing in 1974. I had been mulling it over for a few years before; my photographer friend Dennis Brokaw tipped the scales when he said he would help me begin. I can still remember the first dye transfer print I made. I was so excited, after years of seeing bad color prints made from my transparencies.

DARKROOM PHOTOGRAPHY: Doesn’t the process require a lot of skill and care on your part?

PHILIP HYDE: I suppose so, if you define skill as a reasonably precise manipulation of the material, and having your head together enough so that you do all the intermediate steps in the right order. Dye transfer is a rather complex process, especially when your originals are transparencies, as mine are. But there’s one nice compensation for all the complexity; there are a tremendous number of adjustments and controls at each step of the process, so you can alter the color balance, intensity of colors, and contrast along the way. Even after five years, I haven’t been able to get into all the refinements of the process.

DARKROOM PHOTOGRAPHY: How does your dye transfer printing relate to your primary objective of portraying nature?

PHILIP HYDE: I have always wanted to interpret and express the beauty of what I see in nature. My major objective is…

CONTINUED IN THE UPCOMING BLOG POST, “Philip Hyde At Home In The Wilds 2.”