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See the photograph large: “Formations From Bryce Point, Bryce Canyon National Park.”
See the photograph large: “Formations From Bryce Point, Bryce Canyon National Park.”
(To view the photograph full screen Click Here.)
In June 1994, Ardis and Philip Hyde ventured to Europe by way of transatlantic flight to begin the first in a series of Swiss Hiking Trips. Ardis Hyde was 69 years old and Philip Hyde was 73. They flew from Sacramento to Chicago where they met the trip organizers Bill and Barbara Bickel and the 19 other participants of the Swiss Hiking Trip adventure. The group then embarked on an overnight flight to Zurich, Switzerland on a Boing 767 airplane.
Ardis and Philip Hyde sat next to the galley. They became acquainted with the flight attendant, named Janis, in charge of the kitchen. They loaned Janis their book about the Normandy Invasion. Ardis Hyde wrote in her travel log that the flight attendant, “gave us a bottle of wine and generally ‘bonded’ with us.” The Swiss Hiking Trip resulted in many such pleasant encounters and new friendships between the participants that lasted for some of them the rest of their lives.
The Swiss Hiking Trip concept simply brought various retired people together and provided them with an organized, yet leisurely itinerary whereby they could progress in various divisions and subdivisions of the group, hiking at their own pace between mountain inns and chalets in the high Swiss Alps. Philip Hyde brought along only his 35 mm camera on the first trip.
In Zurich, the group boarded a train to Kandersteg, Switzerland. In a little over three hours they arrived in Kandersteg under cloud wreathed peaks and walked to their hotel. The room was spacious with three windows and a balcony that “looked out at the range of peaks without any obstruction.” Ardis and Philip Hyde strolled through Kandersteg, bought topo maps and returned to the hotel for showers, dinner and an early bedtime.
The next day, the first of many days hiking, took them by the Kander River and Selden, Switzerland where they met back up with the group for “soup at a long table in the yard.” The highlights of the hike were an infinite variety of wildflowers all at peak and a stop at Waldhaus at the bottom end for apple strudel and hot chocolate. The next four days consisted of more hiking in the Kandersteg area and beyond, with frequent rides on steam and electric trains, aerial trams, cog trains, gondolas and cable cars. Seven members of the group took a side trip to Locarno, Italy. Ardis Hyde wrote in her travel log:
It was a verdant route traversing steep gorges with fast dropping streams below. In Locarno about lunch time we walked from the new train station down to Lake Maggiore and around the landscaped edge faced by continuous restaurants. We picked one, Al Pozz, and sat down for a good green salad and pizza. We hurried back for the return train and train change at Domodossla, Italy, headed for Brig, Switzerland. At Brig we changed to the cog train to Zermatt. While making 35 mm camera photographs Philip almost missed the cog train. The doors closed and the train began to move as he became aware. Cathy, one of our party inside the train, asked the conductor to let Philip on. The conductor stopped the train, opened the doors and Philip got on board.
The train progressed on up to Zermatt, which from the entry direction was not especially impressive. We could not see any high mountains in the surroundings right away. We checked into the Excelcior Hotel. In our room number 52, we crossed to the window and there was the Matterhorn in all its glory. We could see it while in bed too. The room windows also looked out over the town and down onto three old barns with slate roofs. We walked down four flights of stairs to the dining room for dinner. The Matterhorn was still out at sundown.
The Matterhorn was fully out all night. We watched the sunrise and the light and clouds change on the mountain. A beautiful cirrus streamer appeared as if it came out of the peak itself. Philip made a 35 mm photograph of the Matterhorn from the hotel window.
For the first time ever, Philip Hyde’s 35 mm photograph is now offered as an archival fine art digital print. In the film era, Philip Hyde did not consider his 35 mm images printable, but with digital print processing, high resolution drum scans of 35 mm film photographs can be blown up and printed up to 24X30 while retaining comparable print detail and quality to prints made from drum scans of 4X5 color transparencies. For a limited time, “Matterhorn With Cirrus Streamer, Zermatt, Swiss Alps, Switzerland, 1994” will be available at Special Introductory New Release Pricing.
(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.)
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.
(See the photograph full screen: Click Here.)
Revised January 17, 2010
Originally written 2005
From 58 Years In The Wilderness:
The Story of Ardis and Philip Hyde Traveling, Defending and Living in the Wilderness
Introduction First Draft
Two days of rain battered our white plastic rain fly. The 20-foot-square white tarp hung from ropes tied to trees on the two diagonal corners and to stakes in the ground on the remaining corners. Under the tarp our orange four-man tent billowed in gusts of wind.
I snuggled into my down sleeping bag in the tent and listened to the drone of rain. Just outside the front flap of the tent, though well under the rain fly, squatted Mom. She held a Sierra Club cup with a decaf coffee freshly poured from the small teapot on the grate down at the fire.
It was April 1970 and we were backpacking in Coyote Gulch in the Escalante Wilderness, Utah in an area that later became inaccessible as the waters of “Lake” Powell drowned the mouth of Coyote Gulch. My dad, Philip Hyde, a freelance landscape photographer, often worked with the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations such as the Wilderness Society and National Audubon. He found out about this spectacular red-walled canyon full of arches, overhangs and green seeps slipping over hidden ledges, because the area was part of a proposed wilderness and more than once put forward as a potential National Park. By 1970 Dad’s photographs had already appeared in dozens of books and before the United States Congress, Senate and many other state and local political leaders on behalf of wild lands all over the Western U.S. His photographs were applied to more environmental campaigns than those of any other photographer of his time.
The wind picked up and the rain fly pelted the tent roof, keeping me from dozing off and getting my daily nap I usually had in the afternoon at age five.
“Where’s Daddy-O?” I asked, up on an elbow to see Mom.
“He’s getting firewood.”
“In the rain?”
“He must have had to go farther than expected and decided to hole up under an overhang or something,” Mom said.
“Hmm. I hope he’s all right.”
“Now David, your father is a very capable man. Do you want more hot chocolate?”
“Yeah,” I sat up, pulled my Sierra Club cup out and held it up to her.
“Say please,” she responded.
“Please,” I said.
She carried my cup down to the fire in the rain, balanced it on a rock, lifted the larger kettle from the campfire with pliers, tilted it and poured into my cup spilling only slightly. She delivered the hot chocolate to me, safely squatting and dry still just inside the tent and without shoes.
“Let that cool again now,” she said.
“OK,” I said, balancing the cup to the side and scrunching back down into my bag. “It seems pretty dark.”
“There is plenty of light left,” she said.
The wind and rain blended into a rising roar. I was back down into my bag but up on my elbows. I shivered though I was a mummy in down. I sipped tiny scalding tastes of hot chocolate. The light from the campfire flashed and flickered dimly on the tent ceiling. The shadows deepened. Every few seconds I heard the splitting of limbs or the thunk of twigs on the tarp. The fresh smell of masses of water pounding sand and sandstone was punctuated with bursts of lightning followed by deafening cracks in the sky.
Just then Dad appeared with a large arm-full of wood.
“You sure are soaking wet,” Mom said. “Why don’t you come in and take off those wet clothes?”
“I need to get a few more armloads of wood,” he said. He began to jog off into the rain but she stopped him.
“There’s hot chocolate here,”
“Ummm,” he said kissing her quickly on the lips and running. “Thank you love, I’ll have some in just a minute.”
I snuggled deeper. Mom poked the fire. The rain fell even harder. It seemed the raindrops were bunching together in torrents and falling like waterfalls on the flap bucking in the wind.
Mom never doubted Dad’s capabilities. She added her talents to the collaboration perfected and imperfected by time and exposure to a spectrum of weather conditions. Dad fixed flat tires, dead batteries and broken equipment with patience, ingenuity and often little resources. Mom planned and prepared. She managed the food and supplies. She supported emotionally, physically and spiritually. She kept the daily trip logs, read the guidebooks and for fun studied plants, animals and especially birds.
Preparing for excursions, Dad studied the geology of the area he would scour for picture possibilities. In the field he knew the weather. On his studio wall he kept a chart of more than 20 types of clouds. He could often accurately predict the weather by looking at the sky or indicators like the barometer and thermometer. He kept a constant vigil for the light and atmospheric conditions favorable to photography.
From their marriage on June 29, 1947, until Dad began to lose his eyesight in 1999, he spent an average of 99 days a year in the field. Mom accompanied him more than half the time. They traveled mainly between April and October in the Western United States camping, backpacking, driving, riding horses, mules, trains, planes and boats to access wilderness for almost one third of every year of his working life. Summers were not the best months for photographs, but that was mainly when he traveled, so that Mom could go along in her time off from teaching kindergarten.
The summer of 1955 was typical of Dad’s early career. After buying a 1954 Chevrolet Pickup in March from Brett Weston, a contemporary photographer, Mom and Dad spent 12 days in April in the California Redwoods, across the state, 300 miles west of their home in the mountains of Northeastern California. Then Dad turned around and journeyed alone 600 miles south of home, May 3-14 to photograph Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park. Continuously for the next three months Mom and Dad backpacked, camped, river rafted and drove thousands of miles through Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon. This included three river trips: 13 days on the Colorado River through little known Glen Canyon, 26 days on the Yampa River in Utah and Wyoming inside Dinosaur National Park, and five days on the Ladore River, also in Dinosaur. By August 16, after three weeks in Wyoming in Yellowstone National Park and Grand Tetons National Park on a Sierra Club Pack Trip, Mom got a ride home with participants, but Dad continued on to Glacier National Park, Montana for 10 days and Olympic National Park, Washington for two more weeks. Dad did not see home until September 10.
Why did the pair spend one third of their lives pursuing this unusual brand of adventure? (Rhetoric question. Part of the text.)
(CONTINUED IN BLOG POST, “58 Years In The Wilderness Intro 2“)