Posts Tagged ‘Redwoods’

Actor, Photographer, Apple Farmer And 1960s Activist Nicholas King’s Memorial

July 25th, 2012

Not His Talented Acting Or Photography, But His Saving Of A Group Of Randomly Shaped Spires Made Of Rebar And His Cultivation Of Apple Trees Will Make History

Redwoods, Rocks, Pacific Ocean, Mendocino Coast Near Elk And Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

This Blog Post Is In Honor Of My Uncle Nicholas King And Will Partially Introduce My Family, Mainly On My Mother Ardis King Hyde’s Side…

Robert Nicholas King, who passed on April 3, 2012 at age 79, helped protect the Watts Towers. To read more see the Los Angeles Times Article on how Nicholas King helped save the Watts Towers of Los Angeles and allowed the unusual sculpture to become world-renowned.

Eureka Hill Road, Redwoods, Garcia River Canyon, Near “The Land,” Point Arena, California, 2012 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Nicholas King was my mother’s middle brother out of three, all younger than her. His first name was Robert, but when he started working in Hollywood and off Broadway, because there was another actor named Robert King, he dropped his first name and went by his middle name Nicholas or Nick for the rest of his life.

When he died of complications from dementia, Nicholas King had lived in a nursing home in

Point Arena Movie Theater With Marquee Showing Nicholas King Memorial, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Santa Rosa for three years. After he passed away his sons, Silas and Julian, my youngest cousins, and their older sister Sarah and brother Sam, just a few years younger than me, planned a memorial for their father appropriately enough in the movie theater in their hometown, Point Arena, California on the Mendocino Coast. For more biographical information, see the

Film Projector, Lobby, Point Arena Movie Theater, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Wikipedia entry on Nicholas King.

Nicholas King came to Point Arena in a round about way, having left Hollywood for the 1960s hippie scene in San Francisco and in turn having dropped out of the hippie scene in San Francisco to move to “The Land,” a community land cooperative near Point Arena rich in Redwood forests and fertile bottom land along the Garcia River. Nick was glad to get away, to drop out, as they said in the

Sarah King Bjorg, Nicholas King (Photo) And Sam Rodia King, Lobby of Point Arena Theater, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

1960s. His departure from Hollywood occurred not long after he had tried out for a lead role in a film and landed the part. However, due to life complications, he was not able to accept the role. The actor who did take the part became a star largely on the acclaim he received from playing that character. I don’t think my Uncle Nick ever completely recovered from that missed opportunity. He had great confidence, poise and will his entire life, but his smooth surface was also ruffled deep underneath

Ben King (Van King’s Son), Kate Todd (Nick’s First Wife), Van King (Nick’s Brother), Johanna King Hoite (Van’s Daughter) And Vigo Hoite (Johanna’s Oldest Son) At Nick King’s Memorial, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

by a subtle self-punishment that came up in unusual ways. In some respects he was one of the most optimistic people I have ever known, yet he also could get down on himself and circumstances and on some occasions felt that people were out to get him.

The Land was a paradise both won and lost, with an idyllic plan of sharing land between 10 families who were close friends, but whose relationships went on the rocks at times, finally culminating in a deep support and

Potluck Spread, Silas King (Back Turned), Julian King (Nick’s Youngest Sons), Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

love of each other and their film and TV actor representative turned sustainable logger, apple farmer and apple nursery and tree cultivator, as he faded into the confusion that took over his brain in his final years. When it was all over for Uncle Nick, nearly the entire Point Arena community and many from all over the Mendocino Coast down to San Francisco and even Los Angeles and beyond to his niece, Gwenn King, as far away as Wisconsin, all packed the Point Arena Movie Theater to celebrate and mourn the life of a

Nick’s Three Sons, Julian, Sam And Silas, Motion Blur, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

local innovator, artist, lover, horticulturist, gardener, farmer and family man, who charmed his way through life and into the hearts of those he turned his good looks and joyful, wise and impish smile upon.

Point Arena is the second farthest west point of land in California; the farthest west point lying not far north at Cape Mendocino. To reach Point Arena, you either drive up a curvy Highway One along the Sonoma Coast through

Charla & Clint King (Nick’s Brother) With Silas King, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Gualala from Jenner and Santa Rosa, over the mountain from Booneville and Ukiah or down the Pacific Ocean Mendocino Coast from the town of Mendocino. To read more about my trip up the Sonoma Coast to Point Arena, see the blog post, “Northern California Beaches: Misty Sonoma Coast.”

As a young actor in Hollywood, Uncle Nick not only was a regular on TV shows and had small roles in several films, but he also loved to watch films. Over the years I

Nicholas King’s Home At The Land, Giant California Coast Redwoods, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

remember watching movies with him at the Point Arena Theater and other theaters, but also on VHS or DVD at his house on The Land or at Rough Rock with my parents. How fitting that my cousins planned his memorial in the Point Arena theater, where all 230 seats were taken and many mourners were standing, on both the main floor and the mezzanine. The service consisted of a slide show of still photographs of Nicholas King with his first wife, Kate, his second wife Jewls and

Old Barn, Nick’s House, Redwoods, The Land, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

his children, friends and other family. After the slide show, many of Nick’s friends stood up to talk about him. Afterward people munched on the potluck feast laid out on the tables, while a music DJ played Nick’s favorite songs, relatives gathered outside to catch up with each other’s lives and inside there was even a little dancing. I had not seen my cousin Johanna and her husband Simo for nearly two decades as they had lived and raised three children in Europe. Nick’s brother

Johanna King Hoite, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Van King, Johanna’s father, was there with his wife Linh, neither of whom have I seen much for the last 10 years. Van’s other daughter, his eldest, architect Caitlin King Lempres Brostrom had published a book this last year called, “The Houses of William Wurster: Frames for Living.” Just as Julian King, Nick’s youngest son, began to lead the cleanup inside the theater, the Point Arena based poet, teacher, classroom entertainer, author, visual artist, sculptor and wild dancer Blake More appeared on the scene in her hippie trippy poetry painted, moon, star and seashell festooned biodiesel mercedes. She wore her funkadelic outfit just for Nick.

There were many other highlights, including a few stories from Nicholas’ good friend Julius Palocz. One of Julius’ stories illustrated Nick’s indomitable, undefeatable character. Apparently Nick and Julius and another friend or two had planned to put a new gutter on Nick’s house. It was a wooden gutter and quite heavy. They had three ladders, none of

Simo Hoite (Johanna’s-Husband), Gwenn King Tanvas (Clint’s-Daughter), Sam King, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

which reached high enough.

They climbed up on the ladders, lifted up the gutter and of course inevitably, the gutter fell and broke. Nick told those present not to worry. He said they would do this, fix that, nip that a bit, cut off that, bring in this and it would be better and stronger than ever. And it was. At one point one man, who had started an entire apple orchard from Nick’s apple trees, asked the crowd who had obtained an apple tree from Nick. About 85 percent of the crowd,

Nick’s Tool Shed, Garcia River Nursery, The Land, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

probably over 200 people, had trees from Nicholas King at the Garcia River Nursery. I had planned to talk, but they wrapped up the sharing portion before I stood up.

I had thought about what I would say if I had the opportunity. I reminisced about my uncle and all the good times we had with him as a group of cousins, as well as those I had with him alone. I had eight cousins in the first round and four more in the

Apple Trees, Garcia River Nursery, The Land, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

second marriage round. When the older cousins were coming of age, I remember the oldest sneaking off with Uncle Nick to hang out. They invited me into that group I believe once or twice, but mainly it was limited to those older than me. Uncle Nick was always the hippest uncle, the one that related the most to us kids, though we of course loved and enjoyed Van and Clint, the other two uncles and my mother, who my cousins called, “Antie Ardis.”

Nick’s Beehives, The Land, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

I remember visiting The Land as a boy, swimming in the Garcia River at the swimming hole, running half naked through the fields and riding with Uncle Nick on his bulldozer. I remember watching him mill Redwood logs with his portable mill, splitting Redwood rounds for firewood, smelling the muddy earth smell of the heavy chunks of freshly split Redwood. We fished for Steelhead in the Garcia River too. I remember helping him work in his apple tree nursery. He used to give me a mild, easy-going lecture on grafting fruit trees, or varieties of apple stock, or apple blossoms, or other diverse farming or gardening subjects. In later years I would visit in my van. I brought food and wine and we drank and told stories at night. Uncle Nick and I took long walks on The Land in the mornings, walking along the Garcia River. We sat in the sauna by the Garcia River in the afternoons like old Indians.

One time Uncle Nick came to visit me at my place in Pecos, New Mexico. We went out walking, as we always did, as a thunderstorm threatened. We decided to hike up onto a nearby mesa where there

Dancing In The Projector Light, In Background: Sam King, Julian King and Hugh Todd (Kate’s Second Husband), copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

was an ancient Native American Pueblo burial ground. The burial ground was hard to find. Many times I had been up on that mesa and never seen it. To track it down we had to wander around through the pinion and juniper forests, looking for just the right opening in the trees. Suddenly the sky opened up and we were drenched in a torrential downpour, trying to take shelter among the trees as lightening and sheets of rain deluged upon us. As we sought shelter among the trees, we suddenly could make out the

Local Poet, Blake More, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

low rock walls and shapes of stones that marked the burial ground. That particular hike to the burial ground, neither of us ever forgot. Somehow between the rain, the drenched red earth, huddling under the trees being surrounded by flashes of lightening and the mysterious sacred ground before us, we bonded like I never have with any other human being before or since, except perhaps my father and mother and a girlfriend here or there.

One Christmas just before my mother died, Uncle Nick came to visit us at Rough Rock in the Northeastern Sierra Nevada. While the snows whistled outside, we sat indoors near the fireplace, put together a 1000 piece puzzle and talked. It was a good Christmas. The last time he visited Rough Rock, he and I sat up late one night outside in front of the house watching a large fire burn out the stump of the Hyde family’s favorite oak tree. Our favorite shade oak tree had to be taken out because its roots were clogging the septic tank. Uncle Nick and I talked

Blake More’s Biodiesel Mercedes, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

about roots. We talked about family issues: control and anger, after all we are an American family. Yet American families can share great love too. There has always been love, camaraderie, fun and kindness in the family. In the early days, everyone knew how to keep up a good smile, even when someone in the group was mad at someone else under the surface and everyone knew it. There was always some issue or another, but there was also a bond and a joy in togetherness,

Van King, Ben King, Caitlin King Lempres Brostrom (Van’s Oldest Daughter), Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

especially among us cousins. We sat at a separate table from the adults, which was both the wisest and the dumbest arrangement possible. I remember one Thanksgiving dinner where we cousins had a contest at the kid’s table at my Grandmother’s house, to see who could make the wildest, messiest, mashed-potatoes-squeezed-between-teeth face. Nick’s daughter Sarah won.

Uncle Nick was often our inspiration, sometimes in a

Caitlin King Lempres Brostrom, Author Of “The Houses of William Wurster: Frames For Living,” Point Arena, California, copyright 2012, David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

rebellious way, but more often in a hip, fun way. He had a way of making anything interesting. His photography of people showed a deep sense of understanding. He also made some excellent historical documentary black and white photographs of Point Arena being nearly wiped out by a huge storm in the winter of 1983. A few of his friends and family brought together these images in a self-published book called, “The Great Disaster at Arena Cove.” Nicholas King’s legacy as an environmental activist in groups such as Friends of the Garcia River and Save Our Wild Salmon, as a farmer’s market seller, a community member and artistic thinker, lives on in his children and his nieces and nephews, all the next generation and their children too, in Point Arena and everywhere people knew him.

Many people celebrated his life in the Point Arena Theater that day, May 12, 2012. We took our time to think back and socialize as Nick’s friends and family all together one last time. Yet, after it was over, it felt good to move away from the crowd, to go back to The Land and sleep among the Redwoods, to awake with

Kim King (Ben King’s Wife) Watching Johanna’s, Caitlin’s And Her Own Children, The Next Generation, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

the dew and smell the sun on the apple blossoms, to drink in the cool morning air as it blew gently over the quiet meadows of The Land that was Nick’s home.

More on the Mendocino Coast, Mendocino and Fort Bragg to come in future blog posts…

Do you have an uncle or other relative with whom you have a special connection?

 

 

 

 

Charla, Clint, Simo, Vigo, Sam, Caitlin, Johanna And Others, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Julian King Throwing A Peace Sign, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Fields On The Land Near the Garcia River, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Swimming Hole, Garcia River, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Irises, Nick’s Garden, The Land, Point Arena, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Fog, Mist, Rocky Promontory, Pacific Ocean, Mendocino Coast, California, copyright 2012 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Tuolumne Meadows Parsons’ Lodge Caretakers Hugh Sakols And Mara Dale

March 20th, 2012

Photographer Hugh Sakols And His Wife Mara Dale Work As Summer Caretakers Of Parsons’ Lodge And The Historic McCauley Cabin In Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park…

Environmental Educators And Back Country Mountaineers Hugh Sakols and his wife Mara Dale, Each Summer Since 2008, Have Honored And Educated About Early Conservation Leaders, While Acting As Volunteer Docents, Leading Interpretive Walks, Caretaking The Sierra Club Parsons’ Memorial Lodge And Staying In The Rustic McCauley Cabin, Much As Ardis And Philip Hyde Did In The Summer Of 1949. On This Land, Next To Soda Springs In Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park, John Muir And Other Pioneer Conservationists First Conceived The Sierra Club.

"Lenticular Clouds and Lembert Dome," Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park, Sierra Nevada High Country, California, copyright 2010 by Hugh Sakols.

(View the photograph large: “Lenticular Clouds and Lembert Dome.”)

Hugh Sakols first started exploring Yosemite National Park on a backpacking trip when he was seventeen years old. He started seriously photographing the Park after working as a Yosemite Institute instructor teaching environmental education. He later assisted photography workshops taught by Michael Frye through the Ansel Adams Gallery. Today he continues to explore the Yosemite back country, whether in summer or winter. He now lives just outside Yosemite National Park in El Portal, California, where he teaches elementary school during the school year. Hugh Sakol’s photographs have been used by the National Park Service, Yosemite Conservancy, Yosemite Institute, and have appeared at the Yosemite Renaissance. He has converted almost entirely to digital photography, now using a Nikon D300, whereas before he often used a Bronica SQA medium format film camera and a Horseman VH-R large format View Camera.

Summer In Tuolumne Meadows By Hugh Sakols

Over the last four summers, starting in 2008, my wife Mara, and I have worked as National Park Service Volunteers. We are summer caretakers for Parsons’ Memorial Lodge and the historic McCauley Cabin in Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park. We are lucky enough pull this off and continue working at our “real jobs” as Educators in Yosemite National Park.

Just like the Southern Miwok people have done for thousands of years, Mara and I migrate upslope, where at 8600 ft the meadows are green, the temperatures are generally cool, and the views are striking.  Tuolumne Meadows is a glacially scoured sub alpine landscape that is the heart of Yosemite’s high country and part of what John Muir referred to as the Range of Light. To learn more about John Muir and the Sierra Nevada, see the blog post, “Philip Hyde’s Tribute To John Muir.”

It was here at Soda Springs that John Baptist Lembert, namesake of Lembert Dome, spent his summers on a 160 acre homestead where he raised Angora goats and became an expert on local butterflies. John Baptist Lembert’s only friends in the summer were sheepherders, many of whom were Basque. At this time Tuolumne Meadows was essentially a land grab. Reportedly, in the late 1860s there were thousands of grazing sheep that later John Muir described as “hooved locust.” After John Lembert’s death (he was murdered in El Portal), the McCauley brothers acquired the land where they grazed cattle and built a log cabin. The McCauley Cabin now is a park service residence, where Mara and I live come summer.

Honoring The Place Where Western Conservation Began

Hugh Sakols And Mara Dale In Front Of The Historical McCauley Cabin, Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park, Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2011 by Hugh Sakols. Self portrait.

While at the McCauley Cabin, Mara and I have some big shoes to fill.  It was here that the western conservation movement began. John Muir saw the commercialism that was taking over Yosemite Valley and dreaded what would happen to Tuolumne Meadows. In 1889 Robert Underwood Johnson convinced John Muir to write two articles for a popular East Coast magazine. In one article John Muir described the beauty of Yosemite, and in another article John Muir proposed the need for Yosemite’s preservation. Only a year later, Abraham Lincoln signed a bill to establish Yosemite as the country’s first national preserve. Soon after Yosemite became a national park.

In 1912, the Sierra Club bought the McCauley brother’s land in hopes that it would be saved from the building of hotels, stables and other improvements. The land around Soda Springs with Parsons’ Lodge and the McCauley Cabin on it, the Sierra Club eventually seeded to the National Park Service in 1973. During the Sierra Club’s ownership, this remarkably beautiful spot brought club members together for mountain adventures and a place to discuss the protection of wild lands, many of which are now national parks. The most famous early battle was probably over the damming of Hetch Hetchy Valley inside Yosemite National Park. Sierra Club leaders such as Edward Taylor Parsons, William E. Colby, and John Muir fought tooth and nail, but eventually lost the battle. Interestingly, the man Forest Service people call their first environmentalist, Gifford Pinchot, was in favor of damming Hetch Hetchy. Gifford Pinchot opposed John Muir in the ongoing public debate over building a dam in Hetch Hetchy Valley within Yosemite National Park around the turn of the century. In 1915 Parsons’ Lodge was built as a mountain headquarters and a place to reflect the work of forward thinking Sierra Club leaders.

A year after Parsons’ Lodge was built, Ansel Adams made his first trip to Yosemite National Park. After that he quickly became part of the Sierra Club where he first worked as a custodian at the LeConte Memorial and later served on the board of directors. The Sierra Club over time indoctrinated Ansel Adams to Yosemite’s High Country and the importance of preserving wilderness. This was the beginning of a close relationship between landscape photographers and conservationists.

Conservation, The Environmental Movement And Landscape Photography

Beginning in the late 1930s and 1940s, Ansel Adams and wilderness photographer Cedric Wright both contributed photographs to conservation campaigns. However, it wasn’t until 1951, when the Sierra Club sent photographer Philip Hyde on the first photography assignment ever for an environmental cause. The Sierra Club sent Philip Hyde, who had been a photography student of Ansel Adams in San Francisco, to Dinosaur National Monument to help prevent the building of two dams, again within the National Park System. The battle over Dinosaur, many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement because it combined the conservation ideals of John Muir and other turn of the century conservation leaders with the hard hitting tactics of David Brower and other environmentalists of the 1950s and 1960s. For more about David Brower see the blog post, “David Brower: Photographer And Environmentalist 1.” The Dinosaur battle redeemed the loss of Hetch Hetchy to the extent that it reversed the precedent set for such development within a national park. Read about the first photography assignment for an environmental cause in the blog post, “The Battle Over Dinosaur: Birth Of Modern Environmentalism 1.” Activists are still working to remove Hetch Hetchy Dam and restore Yosemite Valley’s sister valley to its original pristine state.

In the decades that followed the Dinosaur battle, Philip Hyde, worked with the Sierra Club, National Audubon, Wilderness Society and other environmental groups, contributing his photographs to more environmental campaigns than any other photographer of his time. David Brower, Sierra Club Executive Director and head of the publishing program, used Philip Hyde’s widely published photographs in Sierra Club Books to help save such places as the Grand Canyon, the California Redwoods, the North Cascades and many other national treasures. The Sierra Club Books Exhibit Format Series, not only popularized coffee table photography books and the modern environmental movement, but paved the way for photographers to be able make a living from such publications. Photographs from this time period helped spark the 1960s interest in getting back to nature and helped instigate a backpacking boom in the 1970s.

Philip Hyde’s first exposure to vast wilderness also occurred in Yosemite National Park in 1938. Philip Hyde at age 16, joined a Boy Scout backpacking trip from Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley. To read this history see the blog post, “Lake Tenaya And Yosemite National Park.” For some years afterward, Philip Hyde visited and backpacked in Yosemite National Park until World War II. After the War, Philip Hyde studied photography under Ansel Adams. For more on Ansel Adams’ innovative photography department, see the blog post, “Photography’s Golden Era 6.” During the summer 1949 break from photography school, Ansel Adams helped Ardis and Philip Hyde land the caretakers job at Parsons’ Lodge in Tuolumne Meadows. Ardis and Philip Hyde stayed in the rustic McCauley cabin while Ardis Hyde studied for her teaching credential and Philip Hyde gleefully photographed. Future blog posts will share more about the Hyde’s Summer in Tuolumne Meadows. That summer Philip Hyde met David Brower briefly in Tuolumne Meadows, as the Sierra Club leader brought a Yosemite High Trip through the Soda Springs area. Philip Hyde and David Brower were more formally introduced later by Ansel Adams, which led to David Brower inviting Philip Hyde to act as official Sierra Club photographer for the 1950 Summer High Trip, one year before the battle over Dinosaur National Monument began to take the national stage. Read about the Sierra High Trip in the blog post, “Cedric Wright And Philip Hyde On The 1950 Sierra High Trip.”

Tuolumne Meadows And Landscape Photography Today

"Golden Reflection, Gaylor Lake" Yosemite National Park, Sierra Nevada High Country, California, copyright 2008 by Hugh Sakols.

(See the photograph large click: “Golden Reflection, Gaylor Lake.”)

Understanding the history and traditions of Tuolumne Meadows has helped me to realize why I am so intrigued by landscape photography.  First I have always felt the need to venture into wilderness. Second, I hope my photography advocates the importance of wilderness preservation and the complexity of nature. And third, I want to uncover Yosemite National Park as a place I have spent years exploring and observing.

While at the McCauley Cabin, some of our tasks include taking care of Parsons Memorial Lodge and assisting presenters who come each summer.  Also, I lead weekly photography walks while my wife teaches Junior Rangers.  Together each Sunday we serve coffee in the campground where we are able to talk with a very diverse group of visitors. It is not uncommon to have gritty looking backpackers who are passing through on their way along the Pacific Crest Trail, a computer geek from the Silicon Valley, and a family looking for the falsely posted church service, all together around a single camp fire.The one thing we all have in common is our love for Tuolumne and of course, caffeine. It is during these informal programs that Mara and I try to instill the values of our predecessors. We remind the visitors of the challenges Yosemite National Park faces in finding a balance between preservation and access. Furthermore, we celebrate Yosemite’s timelessness by enjoying the rustic nature of places such as Tuolumne Meadows.

When I am scheduled in the Yosemite Guide, I lead a Monday morning photography walk for the general public.  During the walk I quickly go over the basics of composition, exposure, and quality of light.  Along the way I will pull out prints I have made that illustrate these concepts and show views from the trail that I have collected over the past summers. It is fun to pass them around and not worry about people handling them.  I’ve even dropped a few on the trail. I explain that for me the end product of an image is the print, and it is always fun to carry a few in a box to share with others.

Imparting Landscape Photography’s History And Significance To Yosemite National Park’s Visitors

Beyond the basics of photography, it is more important to help visitors understand what landscape photography represents today and how it co-evolved with the creation of national parks and organizations like the Sierra Club. Early photographs have documented changes in the landscape over time whether it be a sandstone tower that is now covered in water in Glen Canyon, a 1860s view of Yosemite Valley that shows a greater abundance of black oaks, or an 1870s view of thousands of sheep grazing in Tuolumne Meadows. Hopefully modern landscape photographs will someday represent our successes, failures and our human need to connect with nature.  I think understanding this tradition will help fellow photographers be more cognizant of their own impact in the park.

I also take the opportunity to discuss our increasing detachment from the natural world which could have alarming effects on the future of our natural heritage. Today our new generation of young people spend more and more of their free time glued to a monitor and show little interest in the out of doors. In fact many children do not know how to play outside unless they are playing organized sports.  Today most Yosemite visitors walk a quarter mile or less from the road. Increasingly I find visitors who don’t quite know what to do in a place like Tuolumne Meadows. For these visitors photography is a perfect way to have fun, become observant, and connect.

I am not sure how long we will continue to live in Tuolumne Meadows during our summers. At some point Mara and I want to have more time to explore areas of the park that take more than a long weekend to find.  However, having had this experience makes my photography all the more meaningful.

June 2, 2012 Exhibition At The Ansel Adams Gallery

Local artists including Hugh Sakols will show their work at the Ansel Adams Gallery on June 2nd.  All proceeds will go to Yosemite Park El Portal School.

What makes your photography more meaningful? Have you been to Yosemite or explored its back country? In what place or places do you enjoy getting off the beaten path?

Martin Litton: David Brower’s Conservation Conscience 2

October 7th, 2011

Martin Litton: Environmentalist, Conservationist, Sierra Club Director, Bush Pilot, River Guide, Hiker, Writer, Journalist, Visionary and Landscape Photographer

Continued from the blog post, “Martin Litton: David Brower’s Conservation Conscience 1.”

Chiaroscurro, Sun Through Fog, Avenue Of The Giants, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California, copyright 1964 by Philip Hyde. First published in "The Last Redwoods: Photographs And Story Of A Vanishing Scenic Resource," by Francois Leydet with photographs by Philip Hyde and Martin Litton, in the Sierra Club Exhibit Format Series.

See the photograph larger here: “Avenue Of The Giants, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California.”

After seeing Martin Litton’s feature articles in The Los Angeles Times protesting proposed dams in Dinosaur National Monument, David Brower recruited the young journalist to join the Sierra Club and continue the fight against dam building and other wilderness degradation in earnest.

Martin Litton and Philip Hyde made the landscape photographs of Dinosaur National Monument that became the Sierra Club book, This Is Dinosaur: Echo Park Country And Its Magic Rivers with introduction and chapter one by Pulitzer Prize novelist Wallace Stegner. The controversy over the dams in Dinosaur National Monument, along with the first quality images of the area brought home by Philip Hyde and eloquent arguments by Martin Litton in Sierra Club Board Meetings, prodded the Sierra Club Board of Directors to decide to expand the interests of the Sierra Club beyond California and the Sierra Nevada.

The battle over Dinosaur not only made the Sierra Club a national organization, but also brought the cause of conservation national recognition. A number of conservation groups including the Wilderness Society and others formed a coalition of organizations opposing the Dinosaur National Monument dams. The conservation ideals exemplified by visionaries such as Henry David Thoreau, Aldo Leopold, and John Muir, were combined with new lobbying efforts, grassroots on location campaigning, full-page ads in national newspapers and other methods that became modern environmentalism.

The Dam Builders Reach For The Grand Canyon

“Post-War industrialists in league with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation found their high water mark when they reached for the Grand Canyon,” Philip Hyde explained in a 2004 interview. “World wide citizen action prevented Big Dam Foolishness from getting a foothold in the Grand Canyon. Dam builder’s influence declined from then on.” Today, there is a world-wide movement to remove dams on major rivers, but in the 1950s and 1960s, conservation groups did not yet have much power. David Brower, leader of the new environmental movement and Executive Director of the Sierra Club, and Martin Litton hatched a plan to stop the Grand Canyon dams. They organized a river trip down the Colorado River through Grand Canyon National Park. The river trip participants included the who’s who of the day in landscape photography, geology, ecology and other sciences and disciplines. Martin Litton acted as lead boatman, Francois Leydet joined the trip as a writer, Eliot Porter and Philip Hyde as photographers, David Brower as filmmaker, to mention only a few. Their creative efforts and scientific observations became the Sierra Club Books Exhibit Format Series book, Time And The River Flowing: Grand Canyon. The book went out to every member of Congress and with other written material circled the globe and caused a worldwide outpouring of support for saving the Grand Canyon.

Also on Martin Litton’s list of conservation successes was the making of Redwood National Park. The centerpiece of the redwoods campaign, the Sierra Club Books Exhibit Format Series book The Last Redwoods: Photographs And Story Of A Vanishing Scenic Resource with text by Francois Leydet and photographs again by Philip Hyde and Martin Litton, helped the Sierra Club establish its argument for a Redwood National Park between the California state parks along Redwood Creek where the largest redwoods remained rather than a Redwood National Park proposed by Save The Redwoods League that merely combined existing state parks. Read more on the Redwoods campaign and the making of The Last Redwoods with Martin Litton and Philip Hyde in future blog posts.

Martin Litton was the 185th known person to float down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon in 1955 and founded the company Grand Canyon Dories in 1971. He ran commercial river trips using small oar-powered wooden boats originally used for fishing in Oregon and known as drift boats, but adapted by Martin Litton for use in whitewater and renamed Grand Canyon Dories. Martin Litton wrote the introduction to a number of noted books on the Grand Canyon and other environmentally sensitive wilderness areas and national parks, as well as working as managing editor for Sunset Magazine. During his work for Sunset Magazine, Martin Litton used various made up names in print for his photo credits because Sunset Magazine did not want him to actively participate in controversial environmental campaigns.

At Age 94 Martin Litton Is Still Fighting For Redwoods

Though history has not given Martin Litton as much credit as others, at the present age of 94 he continues to work on various environmental campaigns and fly his Cessna 195. He even rowed a Dory through the Grand Canyon at age 90. Martin Litton held a seat on the Sierra Club Board of Directors from 1964 to 1973. He helped found the American Land Conservancy and served on its executive committee for 10 years. In 2005 he ran as a write-in candidate for the Sierra Club Board of Directors, but he did not win the election. His current focus is preventing the logging of Giant Sequoia Redwood Trees in Sequoia National Monument. See an excerpt from the recent film on Martin Litton. He still speaks regularly on conservation, often with outrage at the logging of the Giant Sequoia Trees:

The mission of the Forest Service is to get rid of all the nation’s forests so they can start over. Under the guise of removing hazardous trees, they are taking out all the dead trees that are serving as homes for woodpeckers and owls. Their credo is to remove trees that are dead, dying, or in danger of dying. That’s every tree in the world… I feel sorry for my grandchildren. The only true optimist is a pessimist. You have to realize how bad things are before you can improve them.

Stay tuned for excerpts from my fiery interview of Martin Litton in the next blog post in this series, “Martin Litton: David Brower’s Conservation Conscience 3.” Also in future blog posts read more stories of Philip Hyde and Martin Litton working or traveling together: a river trip up the Klamath River, down the Colorado river, flying over the California Coastal Redwoods, through Grand Canyon National Park.

Martin Litton: David Brower’s Conservation Conscience 1

June 6th, 2011

Martin Litton, “Father of Redwood National Park,” “Grand Old Man of the Colorado River” and David Brower’s “Conservation Conscience.”

Martin Litton, Palo Alto, California, September 2009, Wikipedia. Martin Litton was 93 years old and still speaking on behalf of the Sequoia Redwoods.

The environmental organization, Save America’s Forests, on its website referred to Martin Litton as the “Father of Redwood National Park.” The Los Angeles Times called Martin Litton, “The Grand Old Man of the Colorado River.” The Sierra Club’s first Executive Director, David Brower called Martin Litton his “conservation conscience.” In the groundbreaking Sierra Club Books Exhibit Format Series, Martin Litton used several different names for his photograph credits because as Senior Editor of Sunset Magazine, Sunset did not want him involved in controversial conservation campaigns. Regardless of what he’s referred to as, Martin Litton has proved to be what Voice of the Environment called him, “The great American conservationist of the 20th century.”

In addition to being an environmental activist and conservationist, Sierra Club Board member, bush pilot, river guide, hiker, writer, journalist and landscape photographer, Martin Litton today at age 94 has held leadership titles with many environmental groups including Save America’s Forests, Lighthawk, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, and Glen Canyon Institute.

Shortly after the Sierra Club Board made David Brower the first Executive Director in 1952, David Brower saw articles Martin Litton wrote in the Los Angeles Times about proposed dams in Dinosaur National Monument. David Brower invited Martin Litton to join the Sierra Club and thus a powerful alliance began. To learn more about David Brower see the blog post, “David Brower: Photographer and Environmentalist 1.”

David Brower wrote in his 1982 introduction to Martin Litton’s University of California, Berkeley, Bancroft Library Oral History: “Some people get the kudos and others, out of inequity, don’t. Martin Litton is due most of those addressed to me in error: More years than I will ever admit, he has been my conservation conscience.” In the same introduction, David Brower added:

If you look over the illustrations in the battle to save Dinosaur National Monument, you will find Charles Eggert’s color films, “This Is Dinosaur” and “Wilderness River Trail,” Philip Hyde’s beautiful work in black and white, and Martin Litton’s 16mm color, 4X5 color, and black and white photographs from cameras he happened to be carrying in battery, along with an eye and ear that missed nothing. That was the beginning, but only the beginning. The proper photo history of Martin Litton , with accompanying legends, could occupy many volumes… If there was a piece of American environment that had problems, Martin found out about it, wrote about it, photographed it from the surface or, with a hand on the stick, from the air. Sometimes he could use his own name. At other times, he was Clyde Thomas or Homer Gasquez. So you have to go through numberless publications and add all three names up to appreciate the aggregate retrospective of Martin Litton.

One year the Sierra Club directors, having voted for Grand Canyon dams and a year later reversed themselves, were ready to re-reverse. Martin’s knowledge and eloquence stopped them. They were ready to go for the wrong Redwood National Park. It was Martin who knew where the best Redwoods were, who had the creativity to propose a comprehensive Redwood National Park that would have been a monument to conservation genius. We didn’t get it because organizational jealousies within the conservation movement—one of the major threats to environment—got in the way. It was Martin who knew where the gentle wilderness was on the Kern Plateau—wilderness that should have been added to Sequoia National Park. “Old-boy” conservation trades got in the way. It was Martin, alas, who happened to be in Bagdad when the Sierra Club directors voted, without seeing it, to accept Diablo Canyon as an alternate site for the reactor proposed to be built at Nipomo Dunes. Had he been in San Francisco instead, a different history would have been written… When the Sierra Club Board was discussing what to do at Mineral King with respect to Walt Disney’s proposed ski development, and when I myself had wobbled and was about to go along, it was Martin who got me to reverse myself right there on the spot, in front of everybody.

More on Martin Litton, David Brower and Martin Litton’s travels and projects with Philip Hyde in the next and other future blog posts in this series, “Martin Litton: David Brower’s Conservation Conscience 2.”

November 2010 Digital Print Contest

November 6th, 2010

Philip Hyde Authorized 11X14 Archival Digital Print Of Your Choice Awarded To The Winner ($450 Value)

Alder And Redwoods In The Fog, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California, 1962 by Philip Hyde. Widely exhibited and published including as the promotional photograph for a Documentary on the Redwoods that won the Adademy Award.

(To see the photograph full screen Click Here.)

As announced at the Colorado Environmental Film Festival, I will be giving away an 11X14 Philip Hyde photographer authorized special edition numbered archival fine art digital print of your choice from the images available as archival digital prints on PhilipHyde.com, a $450 value.

As a side note remember that Philip Hyde’s Mountain Landscapes exhibition at Camera Obscura Gallery in Denver is still up for another week, as is the Golden Decade Exhibition in the San Francisco Bay Area at Smith Andersen North Gallery.

Photograph, Film And Contest

The photograph above, “Alder And Redwoods In The Fog, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California, 1962,” was the promotional photograph for a documentary film produced in the mid-1960s about the Redwoods that won the “Oscar” or “Academy Award” from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. My father, landscape photographer Philip Hyde, in taped interviews I did of him mentioned the film and that it had won the Academy Award. Also, Michael McCloskey, Executive Director of the Sierra Club after David Brower, wrote about the Academy Award winning film briefly in his book, In the Thick of It: My Life in the Sierra Club. Michael McCloskey is still around and active working in conservation. He was famous for stabilizing the Sierra Club after its civil war, for being a legal advisor to the Sierra Club and earlier for helping to organize and systematize the grassroots conservation efforts in Oregon and Washington. I asked him recently if he could remember the name of the film and he did not know for sure. It may have the same title as the book of my father’s photographs, The Last Redwoods, it may not. I have already checked with the Sierra Club and they don’t know. However, somebody who knows films or knows how to research films in Hollywood may be able to win fairly easily. There may even be a book or a website that lists the Academy Awards.

The Game And The Rules

The rules of the contest are simple. The archival fine art digital print can be won by correctly identifying which year the film came out between 1962 and 1968, the proper full name of the film and whether it won the Academy Award or was merely nominated, as well as some descriptive information, how long it is, summary, etc, about the film including where and how it can be viewed or purchased. Also, here’s the most challenging part, you must prove, either with an image, link to an image, a third-party witness or in some other documented way that it is indeed the film that “Alder And Redwoods In The Fog, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California, 1962,” was the promotional photograph for. The first person to get this information to me wins. I will keep the contest open until the end of November. Winning merely requires a bit of digging in the right places. I could probably find it myself, but I have too many other facts to verify and research. Besides, I thought this would be a fun way for someone to participate in finding out. Good luck and don’t hesitate to comment here or write me if you have questions about the contest.

Straight Photography And Abstraction

November 1st, 2010

Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, Edward Weston, Philip Hyde, Straight Photography, Documentary and Abstraction

Reflections, San Juan River, Utah by Philip Hyde. This medium format 6X7 photograph exhibits aspects of abstract photography but is not entirely abstract. The shoreline sandbars, grasses and rocks help clarify what is depicted, while the cliff face is only abstract in that it is upside-down. It can be readily identified as a reflection. Philip Hyde on numerous occasions photographed up-side-down reflections, in some cases without any visual orientation of nearby right-side-up objects. He was the first landscape photographer to photograph an upside-down reflection without any nearby clues.

Some contemporary photographers believe that straight photography is documentary and limited to showing “reality” exactly as it might be seen on an ordinary day as you or I walk by it. A few photographers even try to “brand” themselves natural or straight photographers by sticking to realism and realistic portrayals of their subject. See photographer Guy Tal’s rant against this tendency, “No Lesser An Art.” The realism-only interpretation of straight photography is narrow and defeats the original purpose as envisioned by straight photography’s pioneers such as Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand and Edward Weston.

The objective of the photography of Paul Strand for example was not to appear “real” or to depict “reality.” Conversely, Paul Strand’s photography, without any manipulation, showed ordinary objects in a way that caused them to transcend reality.

The website, Ted’s Photographics, describes the work of Paul Strand:

Paul Strand fused together the two seemingly contradictory approaches of documentary and abstraction. For years he only produced contact prints, his pictures were pure, direct and devoid of trickery. His work represented the final break with the traditional concepts of photographic subject matter.

Paul Strand was both the “Father of Abstract Photography” and the “Father of Straight Photography.” Recently photographer Paul Grecian wrote a thought-provoking blog post, “Abstract? It’s All Abstract…” He said that all photographs are abstract because they are different than the objects they depict. While this may be true, a comment by Marty Golin argued that the reverse is also true, that photography is all “reality.” An interesting discussion developed.

Pool In Scorpion Gulch, Escalante Wilderness, now the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah, 1970 by Philip Hyde. First published in "Slickrock: The Canyon Country of Southeast Utah" by Edward Abbey and Philip Hyde. Scott Nichols of Scott Nichols Gallery in San Francisco has been a good advisor from time to time, helping me select images of Dad's to make into archival digital prints. He voted against this one. Paraphrasing, he said for an abstraction it was not abstract enough. He said that collectors wouldn't get it and wouldn't buy it. What do you think? I don't necessarily disagree with his conclusions, but this photograph is one of my own personal favorites, even if it won't sell. Fans of "Slickrock" probably like it. I did not respond at the time but I might have said something about Dad doing with this photograph partly what Paul Strand did. This is an example of the cross-over between documentary and abstract photography. Whether people 'get it' or not, it is a documentary recording of what was there, with a touch of abstraction.

Today some photography intentionally, some unintentionally, is going toward Pictorialism, often taking on aspects of the worst of that genre, sometimes exhibiting the best it offered. In some instances creative expression beyond and after the point of capture can be quite freeing. Extraordinary new types of work are developing. Straight photography has held back some photographers, they feel. With the advent of Photoshop and image alteration, combination, stitching, shifts in focus, and many other special effects or manipulations of color, the creative juices are flowing again. To read more on advanced Photoshop techniques see the blog post, “Monday Blog Blog: Photoshop For Pros.” On the other hand, some photographers today take subject matter that could potentially be transcendent and render it ordinary or even cliché through photographer-imposed affectations and stylization.

Alfred Stieglitz devoted the last issue ever published of his magazine Camera Work to Paul Strand. In Camera Work, Alfred Stieglitz described what constitutes an important contribution to photography:

In the history of photography there are but few photographers who, from the point of view of expression, have really done work of any importance. And by importance we mean work that has some relatively lasting quality, that element which gives all art its real significance….Paul Strand has added something to what has gone before. The work is brutally direct. Devoid of all flim-flam; devoid of trickery and of any “ism”; devoid of any attempt to mystify an ignorant public, including the photographers themselves.

In Creative Photography: Aesthetic Trends 1839-1960, Helmut Gernsheim wrote:

Paul Strand brought a new vision to photography, discovering in the most ordinary objects significant forms full of aesthetic appeal. Nearly all of his pictures broke new ground both in subject matter and in its presentation…. “Abstract Pattern Made by Bowls” and other experiments in abstraction were the result of Strand’s seeing at “Gallery 291” the work of Picasso, Braque, Brancusi and others. [Modernist Abstract Impressionists.]

Paul Strand himself explained this process:

I was trying to apply their then strange abstract principles to photography in order to understand them. Once understanding what the aesthetic elements of a picture were, I tried to bring this knowledge to objective reality in the “White Fence”, the “Viaduct” and other New York photographs…. Subject matter all around me seemed inexhaustible….Yet what makes these photographs is their objectivity. This objectivity is of the very essence of photography, its contribution and at the same time its limitation. The photographer’s problem is to see clearly the limitations and at the same time the potential qualities of his medium, for it is precisely here that honesty no less than intensity of vision is the pre-requisite of a living expression. The fullest realization of this is accomplished without tricks of process or manipulation, through the use of straight photographic methods.

Alders Reflected, Andrew Molera State Park, Big Sur Coast, California, 2009 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90. This photograph was made in honor of a well-known vintage black and white photograph by Philip Hyde made on the far Northern California Coast in the Redwoods also called "Alders Reflected." Philip Hyde's "Alders Reflected" does not show any trees or other objects right-side-up, but frames only the up-side-down reflections of alders with a slight wind movement of the water that causes the reflections to break up into diamond-shaped bits of water surface in places. Philip Hyde's "Alders Reflected" has not yet come into the digital era and may not. We may make modern darkroom silver prints of it instead.

Abstraction, more than a technique is the result of selecting a composition that removes the objects in the frame from their context as found in “reality” and changes their nature in the photograph. Another one of the great abstract photographers was Brett Weston. Read more about Brett Weston’s influence in the blog post, “The Hidden Brett Weston.” Webster’s Third International Dictionary Unabridged defines abstract as, “Expressing a property, quality, attribute, or relation viewed apart from the other characteristics inherent in or constituting an object; of a fine art: presenting or possessing schematic or generalized form frequently suggested by and having obscure resemblance to natural appearances through an ordering of pictorial or sculptural elements.” Thus, photographing a field of corn and defocusing the image does not make the photograph abstract, it merely makes it fuzzy. Photographing a corn leaf in such a way that it takes on separate characteristics from those typically associated with corn, is abstract photography.

Do you agree or disagree? What do you feel makes a photograph abstract? Are you drawn more to straight photography, Pictorialism or something in-between?

Colorado Environmental Film Festival

October 20th, 2010

2nd Annual

Environmental Photography Exhibition

6:00 pm, November 5, 2010

At The 5th Annual

Colorado Environmental Film Festival

American Mountaineering Center

710 10th Street, Suite 101, Golden, Colorado

David Leland Hyde Will Kick Off The Environmental Photography Exhibition With A One Hour Talk Called:

Philip Hyde And The First Environmental Photography

6:00 pm, Friday November 5, Foss Auditorium

After photography school under Ansel Adams, Philip Hyde
made the majority of photographs for the first book ever
published for an environmental cause “This Is Dinosaur” edited
by Wallace Stegner. Philip Hyde’s son David will share stories
from his father’s 58 years in activist landscape photography and
the role of his work in the preservation of National Treasures
Such As The Grand Canyon, The California Redwoods,
The North Cascades, Dinosaur National Monument and Others.

One of the few environmental film festivals in the nation, the Colorado Environmental Film Festival’s mission is “to inspire, educate and motivate audiences,” says the Colorado Environmental Film Festival’s media materials. “We hope to provide an experience for our audiences that goes beyond just passive film viewing: we aim to inspire our audiences into awareness and action.”

The Colorado Environmental Film Festival arranges for open discussions related to the films, either with filmmakers or with experts on the film’s topic. The Colorado Environmental Film Festival shows national and international films and highlights the work of local filmmakers. Also, mentoring and a filmmaking forum on Saturday, November 6, cultivate interest in environmental film making.

Colorado Environmental Film Festival Front Building. The Colorado Mountain Club is generously hosting the Colorado Environmental Film Festival at the American Mountaineering Center in Golden, Colorado, November 4-6, 2010.

This fifth year, the Colorado Environmental Film Festival will show 45 films over three days from November 4-6. The films are from six countries and 16 states and range from two minutes to just under two hours. Five of the productions are from Colorado. “This year there are more international films,” said Shawna Crocker, director and founder of the Colorado Environmental Film Festival and environmental educator for the Colorado State Forest Service. Shawna Crocker explained that she and a few colleagues started the Colorado Environmental Film Festival when she came back from attending an environmental film festival in Washington D.C. and realized that such an event in Colorado could help broaden the reach of local environmental education.

The Films

The Colorado Environmental Film Festival will start on Thursday, November 4 at 6:00 pm mountain time with a Kick Off Celebration followed at 7:00 pm by the showing of this year’s featured film, Play Again:

Play Again investigates the consequences of a childhood removed from nature and asks “What are we missing when we’re behind screens?” At a time when children spend more time in the virtual world than the natural world, Play Again unplugs a group of media
savvy teens and takes them on their first wilderness adventure, documenting the wonder that comes from time spent in nature and inspiring action for a sustainable future.

The producer of Play Again will attend the Kick Off Celebration and lead discussion after the screening. Other prominent feature films over the weekend include Forever Wild: Celebrating America’s Wilderness hosted by Robert Redford and featuring the poetry of Terry Tempest Williams; Burning in the Sun about the first solar panel builder in Mali, Africa; Facing the Storm: The Story of the American Bison; Local Warming a music teacher sets out to prove one person can do something about global warming; Eating Alaska is about a vegetarian who moved to Alaska and after searching for the “right” thing to eat began to eat meat; Milking the Rhino examines the deepening conflict between humans and animals in an ever shrinking world; Hands On Farms chronicles a visit to 10 certified organic farms; The Elephant in the Living Room dissects the controversial world of exotic animal ownership; Butterflies and Bulldozers looks inside the fight to protect San Bruno Mountain, the last piece of wild San Francisco; and many others. Of particular note is an award-wining 10-minute documentary called Senekerim Dohanian: Uncle Sam’s Ace Insect Hunter written and produced by the 12-year-old great nephew of Robert Coulter about his pioneering of biological pest control.

Environmental Photography Exhibition

On Friday, November 5, as part of the Colorado Environmental Film Festival, the second annual Environmental Photography Exhibition started by photographer and filmmaker Kent Gunnufson will begin. The still photography exhibition this year is juried by master photographer Al Weber, who is known as a teacher, mentor and advocate for photographers. Last year Hal Gould from Camera Obscura Gallery juried the still photography exhibition. Al Weber’s career spans six decades and includes aerial photography, architectural work and landscape photography. He was a trustee of the Friends of Photography, taught at the Ansel Adams Workshops in Yosemite since their beginning and founded The Rendezvous, an annual gathering and portfolio sharing of photographers from all over the Western U.S. Al Weber was a long-time friend of Philip Hyde, who among other names in photography attended The Rendezvous a number of years.

“More than anything else I appreciate honesty in a photograph, and a print made with skill, care and passion,” Al Weber said.

Kent Gunnufson said, “We are honored this year to have Al Weber jury the photography show. The Colorado Environmental Film Festival is one of the few places people can find out what is really going on in the environment. The media doesn’t cover it. Most other film festivals don’t have many environmental films and they have become more of a marketing tool. All of our staff are volunteers including myself. I do it every year because when I am out photographing I have seen over time how things have degenerated. This film festival helps give people solutions and gives them options of things they can do beyond passively watching films.”

Tickets for the Colorado Environmental Film Festival are good for one two-hour session of two to three films and can be purchased in quantity for discounts. The tickets go for $5.00 for one, $15.00 for five tickets, $25.00 for 10 tickets, $40 for 20 tickets and $60 for an all-inclusive Festival Pass that includes the V.I.P. Opening Kick Off Celebration at 6:00 pm Thursday, November 4. Tickets can be purchased ahead of time at the Denver, Lakewood and Boulder R.E.I. stores and at the American Mountaineering Center Theater one hour before the Kickoff.

While people are in town for the Colorado Environmental Film Festival, Philip Hyde’s Mountain Landscapes Exhibition is showing right at the Camera Obscura Gallery in Denver, a rare appearance in Colorado. Philip Hyde has not exhibited in Colorado since the 1980s at an exhibition also in Golden. His only other showings in Colorado were in the 1970s at CU Boulder in a group show and at Camera Obscura in the 1960s.

Is Landscape Photography Thriving Or Dying?

October 7th, 2010

Leaf Drop, Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Santa Cruz Mountains, California, 2009 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

It is a typical modern conceit to demand the maximum dimension and maximum power in any aspect of the world—whether men or mountains. The American mode of appreciation is dominantly theatrical—often oblivious of the subtle beauty in quiet, simple things.

—Ansel Adams

A landscape photography master’s commentary on our culture and our art…

Recently a comment on Guy Tal’s blog post, “Non-traditional Answers Part II, Pricing and Editioning” caused me to stop and think about the direction of landscape photography today. Is it degenerating or flourishing or both? In the comment by Mary Kay, first she quoted Guy Tal then followed with her comment:

“I want my work to promote an appreciation for the places and subjects I photograph, and I want it to further the acceptance of nature photography as a form of visual art.”

I’m keeping this among many other treasured words from you. Being such a novice in nature photography I’ve been blissfully ignorant about the opinion our “enlightened scholars” here in Greece hold about landscape photography. Until recently that is. I’ve been meaning to make a summary of most of those opinions and send them to you just to give you “food for journal” and I will at some point do it if you don’t mind. Just let me tell you that this kind of photography is not just ignored but heavily scorned and laughed at. And if someone dares to refer to it as “art” he becomes a target for heavy irony.

Has American landscape photography fallen so far that it is now the object of derision in other countries? On one hand it could be argued that in many ways landscape photography never gained the respect it deserves, but it could also be said that it did have a golden era in the mid 20th Century and has gone downhill since. Some people say it is better now than ever. For more on the controversy over the current era’s merits see the blog post, “Photography’s Golden Era 2” and comments on the blog post “Photography’s Golden Era 1.” Today I see a large quantity of what I would call in a judgmental moment, “derivative schlock,” but I also feel that the best images are getting better and better. For more on making images today that are unique see the blog posts, “Moving Past The Repertoire by Greg Russell” and “Make Your Own Tripod Tracks.” It is difficult in some ways to stack my father’s sometimes documentary, natural, straight photographs against photographs made now of natural wonders, wildlife, unusual weather, dramatic lighting, raging wild colors and other combinations, often highly enhanced in Photoshop. For more on the effects of Photoshop and the techniques of Photoshop see the blog post, “Monday Blog Blog: Photoshop For Pros.” For more on the history of “over-saturation” in landscape photography see the blog post, “Did Velvia Film Change Landscape Photography?” Sometimes I wonder if people will even notice Dad’s quiet, subtlety under the deafening din of the bright, powerful landscape photographs made today. For some reassurance on that score I just read an excellent re-post on Jim M. Goldstein’s Blog called, “The Subtlety of Greatness and Today’s Loss of Appreciation” that refutes the claim made somewhere else that the old masters’ landscape photography is not as good as even today’s amateurs’ work.

How does Ansel Adam’s assertion above apply today to the nature of landscape photographs being made? Are Americans able to learn a new way of being through landscape photography, either through making images or appreciating them? Are Europeans, Australians or Indonesians different?

Does the statement above relate to the nature of images we see in the stock photography market? Galleries? The media?

Does what Ansel Adams said have relevance to the way you select your own photographs?

Please share your thoughts…

What Is An Environmentalist? What Is A Conservationist?

March 19th, 2010

“Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.” –Albert Einstein

Foliage Illuminated, Big Basin Redwoods State Park, California, 2009 by David Leland Hyde. Camera Raw. Photoshop used only for resizing. Nikon D90, hand held.

Without letting our minds complicate or judge these words, here’s a simple definition: an environmentalist is anyone who likes to breathe, drinks water and does not want either one polluted. A Conservationist cares about maintaining the quality of wilderness, the same way everyone else cares about the quality of air and water.

The two words are sometimes used interchangeably, though conservation was the earlier version of environmentalism, with particular emphasis on land preservation. Conservation, as practiced by Henry David Thoreau and John Muir, transformed into modern environmentalism, between 1955 and 1975, when political lobbying, advertising, letter writing, grass roots organizing, book publishing and other modern methods evolved, and when activism broadened from wilderness protection into other issues such as, you guessed it, water and air pollution. Lest you doubt that the meanings are truly this simple, check a good dictionary.

Besides the obvious and logically strong argument that if we don’t protect wilderness, it will continue to disappear, why is it wise for an outdoor enthusiast, landscape photographer or anyone to care about the natural places he or she enjoys? Is there a deeper reason than just wanting to look at beautiful scenes? In future blog posts I will quote Wallace Stegner, Ansel Adams, Philip Hyde, Katie Lee, Henry David Thoreau, Edward Abbey, Rachel Carson, Anne Dillard, John Muir, David Brower, Aldo Leopold, Howard Zahniser and others on why wilderness is important. These people have some ideas. For more on Henry David Thoreau see the blog post, “Ralph Waldo Emerson On Henry David Thoreau.” For more on Edward Abbey read the blog post, “Who Was Edward Abbey?

In the meantime, let us grapple with the idea of ‘environmentalism’ and the ‘environment.’ Is it wise at this time in history, to care about the environment, particularly if you consider yourself an outdoors person, naturalist, nature photographer, or as Ansel Adams called himself and his colleagues, “a photographer of the natural scene”?

If the world is going to end anyway eventually, what does it matter if we keep it from ending sooner? If mankind’s time on this green globe is only one very small fraction of an instant compared to how long the rest of it has been around, and is likely to continue, who are we to think we can destroy or save the natural world? Why not forget about environmentalism and use everything up and trash the planet? After all, isn’t the Gross Domestic Product or GDP more important? Making a profit is what counts, right? If GDP grows a few percent, that is good for everybody, if it drops a few percent, we are all in big trouble, right?

We could also remember that at some time in our childhood, our mothers taught us to pick up after ourselves, share with others, not hoard all the toys, if you spill something, clean it up or ask mom to help you clean it up, do not just leave it, pack back inside everything you take out, and let everyone have a turn. If we just applied sandbox etiquette to the world, we might get along better and live longer.

Was the concept of the environment, as separate from Mankind and the man-made world, the idea of environmentalists? If you are an environmentalist, does it follow that you care about the ‘environment’ and not about people? Those damn environmentalists! They are the cause of our society’s woes, particularly the woes of capitalists just trying to make a living. Are environmentalists against capitalism? Heck, when you get right down to it, are environmentalists un-American? Are environmentalists terrorists? What is an “eco-terrorist”? Is he or she an ecologist-turned-bad?

I thought the term terrorist referred to someone who kills people. Do “eco-terrorists” kill people? Or do they just cause inconvenience for resource-exploiting and habitat-destroying industry? By the way, is the habitat being destroyed only that of small endangered species, or is it yours and mine?

Let’s see, Webster’s says, “Terrorism: the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coersion.” OK, then what is terror? Webster’s tells us it is,”To frighten. To cause anxiety or worry.” Under these definitions, the news media are terrorists, as are doctors, nurses, especially hospitals, ads for drugs, commercials, law enforcement, a few but certainly not all museum curators, stock brokers, bankers, credit card companies, insurance companies, airport personnel, lawyers, how could I forget lawyers, power-hungry-instant politicians who support big polluters and other big business, librarians, archivists, sometimes relatives and sometimes even neighbors. The world is full of terrorists and there is a lot to be afraid of…? Are environmentalists the worst of all? That’s what some would have you think. Are they really?

Now let’s check Webster’s again, “Eco-terrorist: sabotage intended to hinder activities that are considered damaging to the environment.” Sign me up. How do I join? OK, wait, what is the definition of ‘environment,’ “Environment: the circumstances, objects, or conditions by which one is surrounded. The complex of physical, chemical, and biotic factors (as climate, soil, and living things) that act upon an organism or an ecological community and ultimately determine its form and survival.”

OK, so let me get this straight, an eco-terrorist is not interested in hurting other people, he or she is more interested in making sure that other people are not hurtful. An Eco-terrorist sabotages activities that damage the factors that determine his or her survival. I can live with that. Fair enough. And an environmentalist works on the positive side of it, an environmentalist is interested in preserving the factors that determine his or her survival. Just wanted to clear up these various meanings, so people didn’t throw around terms that they think are insulting, but are truly complimentary.

What do you think? Are you an environmentalist? If not, why?

58 Years In The Wilderness Intro 2

January 18th, 2010

Drake's Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore, California, 1972, by Philip Hyde. From the Reprint of "Island In Time: Point Reyes Peninsula." (Out of Print)

(See the photograph full screen: Click Here.)

(CONTINUED FROM BLOG POST, “58 Years In The Wilderness Intro 1“)

Why did the pair spend one third of their lives pursuing this unusual brand of adventure?

As the 1950s became the 1960s, groups like the Sierra Club, the Wilderness Society, the Izaak Walton League, the National Audubon Society and the National Wildlife Federation brought public attention to protecting and enjoying nature. Howard Zahniser of the Wilderness Society authored the Wilderness Act legally defining wilderness. In 1962, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring came out in protest of chemical spraying and exposed corporate environmental negligence. The same year, Sierra Club Books released In Wildness Is The Preservation of the World with color photographs by Eliot Porter with quotes from Henry David Thoreau and Island in time: The Point Reyes Peninsula by Harold Gilliam with photographs by Philip Hyde. These were the first two widely distributed books with large color fine art landscape photographs sharing the beauty of nature. While Eliot Porter’s book was all color, Philip Hyde mixed beautiful vintage black and white photographs with large color plates. Dad was recognized as a master of both mediums, though as color caught on, Porter’s book sold more copies. A handful of photographers, through the Sierra Club and its leader David Brower, brought wilderness right to the United States Congress and Senate and into living rooms across the country. The Sierra Club had reinvented the large picture book as the Exhibit Format Series. These high-quality coffee table volumes represented, as never before, the wild places the Sierra Club wanted to protect.

Photographs first helped preserve wilderness in 1864, moving President Abraham Lincoln to establish Yosemite as the world’s first scenic land preserve. Yet in the 1950s and 1960s the use of the camera to defend wilderness reached its zenith. More preserves, wildernesses, National Parks and Monuments formed out of campaigns by environmental groups than ever as America’s leaders and people saw natural landscapes through a “new” medium. During the heyday of the Sierra Club publishing program, Club membership grew exponentially. The first book in the series, This Is The American Earth featured primarily the work of Ansel Adams though other well-known western photographers such as Eliot Porter, Philip Hyde, Edward Weston, Pirkle Jones, Minor White and Cedric Wright had one or two photographs. Ansel Adams, Eliot Porter and Philip Hyde became the primary illustrators of the series. Dad’s photographs in particular, appeared in eight out of the sixteen books published in the sequence. Several volumes in the series became bestsellers and this combined with Washington DC lobbying, brought the Sierra Club into national prominence.

After marrying in June 1947, Dad and Mom joined the Sierra Club later that year while Dad started photography school. The Club had just over 900 members, but within the next two decades the ranks swelled to over one million. Other conservation organizations like the Wilderness Society also grew exponentially and many new organizations formed.

Photography itself had undergone a transformation as well. Soft focus pictorialism dominated the first third of the 1900s. Few photographers successfully bucked the trend toward printing on canvas and other art papers, soft focus and special effects that made photographs resemble paintings, until Alfred Stieglitz published a magazine called Camera Work in which he began to encourage what he called “straight photography.” Photographers in the Western United States increasingly made photographs of landscapes without people. Only a few pioneers had captured landscapes previously, they were not common. In 1932 photographers Willard Van Dyke, Imogen Cunningham, Edward Weston, Henry Swift, Sonya Noskowiak, John Paul Edwards and Ansel Adams formed Group f.64 in San Francisco. Named after f.64, the smallest lens setting enabling the most detail in a photograph, the group composed a manifesto limiting “members and invitational names to those workers who are striving to define photography as an art form by simple and direct presentation through purely photographic methods… Pure photography is defined as possessing no qualities of technique, composition or idea, derivative of any other art form.”

In the mid 1940s, Group f.64 member Ansel Adams founded a fine art Photography Department, the first ever of its kind, at the California School of Fine Arts, now the San Francisco Arts Institute. When Ansel Adams first started the department, students of painting, sculpture and other disciplines erupted into a school-wide protest against photography being part of a fine art school. In those days, photography was not considered an art form, let alone a fine art. Yet Ansel Adams persisted with encouragement and support from San Francisco art patron Albert Bender and other California art movers, as well as fellow photographers such as Paul Strand in the Midwest, whose work appeared in Camera Work, and from Alfred Stieglitz himself. Group f.64 members Edward Weston and Imogen Cunningham helped teach at the California School of Fine Arts. Besides Philip Hyde, the program turned out such notable photographers as Pirkle Jones, Ruth-Marion Baruch, Charles Wong, Bill Heick, Cameron Macaulay, Benjamen Chinn, Don Whyte, Rose Mandel, Bob Hollingsworth, Stan Zrnich, Pat Harris Noyes, David Johnson, Ira Latour, Gerald Ratto, John Upton, Walter Stoy,  and others.

With three years of photography school and a certificate of completion, Dad built on what became known as the west coast tradition and went on to influence a generation of nature photographers with his simple, understated forms and subtle desert and mountain landscapes.

“Dear Phil,” Minor White, lead instructor at CSFA, wrote in a letter to Dad in 1950, “Your pictures are as clean as Ansel’s, with a slant of your own seeing. You are starting your career as few of my students have done. In a way I envy your present mastery of the medium…”

By 1971, Ansel Adams wrote that Philip Hyde was “one of the very best photographers of the natural scene in America.” Ansel Adams said he liked Dad’s photograph, “The Minarets from Tarn Above Lake Ediza,” better than his own photograph of the Minarets in the Ansel Adams Wilderness. In 1999, American Photo Magazine named Dad’s “Cathedral in the Desert, Glen Canyon” one of the top 100 photographs of the 20th Century. Dad’s work appeared in more than 75 books, 130 newspapers, 100 exhibitions and over 60 magazines including Audubon, Wilderness, Life, National Geographic, Aperture, Newsweek, Time and Reader’s Digest. He has received many awards including one for lifetime achievement from the North American Nature Photography Association in 1996 and the Albert Bender Award in 1956. The principal artist in over a dozen books, he also wrote magazine articles and an autobiographical essay to accompany his photographs and the writings he selected of John Muir’s in The Range of Light (1992). Dad wrote the text for Drylands: The Deserts of North America (1987), which won three literary awards. Beginning in the 1970s he taught photographic workshops for more than 30 years for organizations such as the Museum of Northern Arizona, John Sexton Workshops, Ansel Adams Gallery Workshops in Yosemite and many other schools of photography.

Dad and Mom stand as examples of how to tread lightly on the earth and find satisfaction in a simple self-sufficient lifestyle. Early in Dad’s career he made a decision to live in the mountains of Northeastern California far away from the photography marketplace. By living in such a remote place, he also gave up the opportunity to be more involved in the Sierra Club and other organizations. With fewer book signings, gallery openings and connections he sacrificed greater financial success to live close to nature.

Mom worked by his side from the beginning. While he attended the California School of Fine Art she worked as the receptionist at the school. Later she became known as an excellent kindergarten teacher and was renowned in the mountain valleys of Plumas County for her knowledge of birds, plants, organic gardening and natural cuisine long before it became popular. Dad thought he would go on working and making photographs his entire life, but in the summer of 1999 he began to lose his eyesight, and within a year he was completely blind.

(See the photograph full screen: Click Here.)

Virginia Creeper, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, 1977, by Philip Hyde. Made more magazine covers than any other Philip Hyde photograph. Example of Straight Photography and colorful enough without amping up the saturation.

Yet Dad proved there is more to vision than eyes and more to seeing than vision. He was one of the first to visualize a civilization in harmony with all life rather than exploiting the Earth as a commodity. In his photography training, as in any good art training, he learned to see deeply. Photography is the art of seeing patterns, forms, relationships that the untrained eye would not see. One day in 1987 he slowed his gait as he passed through our yard at home. He stared at the Virginia Creeper Vines against the weathered gray cedar siding of the house he built. Besides autumn reds, yellows and oranges contrasting with unturned green leaves, some of the leaves reflected blue from the sky. Most eyes do not notice the blue because we automatically edit it to green, the expected color for leaves without the reflected sheen. He ran inside and gathered his wooden Reis tripod and 4X5 Baby Deardorf view camera and set up on our front lawn for one of his most widely-published and exhibited photographs.

By late 2001, his 58-year photography career ended suddenly as his sight fully faded to black and he could no longer make photographs or even print them in his darkroom. Mom acted as his guide, business manager and constant companion. She tried to do the work of two people, keeping up with the photography business and finances as well as maintaining the grounds, house and kitchen. Then the second devastation arrived, Mom died suddenly in March 2002.When she passed on, I moved back to the mountain home where I was born, from my place across the country in upstate New York. We cried, reminisced and cried some more. Sometimes we screamed into the lonely woods, at the sky, at the stars, but the night absorbed it all. In time we began to talk on tape about the many wilderness miles we walked together. Dad described his adventures with Mom seeking the “Good Life” while helping to protect such places as Dinosaur National Monument, The Grand Canyon, The California Redwoods, and many other seashores and wilderness areas of the American West.

Until his death in 2006, I read him the environmental news almost daily. He relied on dreams for glimpses of the natural world he spent a lifetime defending. We sought to make sense of the loss of my mother; the loss of Dad’s eyesight and the state of environmental decline and violence the world is in today. Dad sometimes wondered why he worked so hard. Unfortunately environmental battles are never won, they are merely postponed. The dam site is still there, the mineral resources are still in the ground, the trees are still uncut, the road plans may some day yet destroy the pristine meadow. The beaches are always ripe for new hotels and condominiums. Nonetheless Dad saw clearly two possible visions for the future. In one we continue to poison our home until we destroy ourselves. In the other we learn to live in harmony with life and sustain ourselves on this planet perpetually. In the chapters that follow, I retrace the wanderings of Ardis and Philip and sometimes me tagging along, throughout the wilds on an odyssey through remote terrain from Alaska to Switzerland to Mexico to Southern Utah, my dad’s favorite state besides his home in the mountains of Northern California. All with the purpose of offering a glimpse of how one family lived and did what they could to make a difference and inspire others to do the same, to bring about the future with the most possibilities.