The Art Of Vision: Outdoor Photographer Magazine Article By David Leland Hyde

February 24th, 2014 by David Leland Hyde Leave a reply »

The Art Of Vision

Learn to connect with the landscape like the great masters Ansel Adams, Minor White, Philip Hyde and others

By David Leland Hyde, Photography By Philip Hyde And David Leland Hyde

Original Proposed Article Title: Minor White, Philip Hyde and His Schoolmates on The Art Of Seeing

Expanded and revised from the blog post, “Imogen Cunningham, Minor White And Their Students On The Art Of Seeing.”

My four page feature article in this month’s print issue of Outdoor Photographer magazine, delineating how to more effectively harness the creative mind, bond with the natural world and make more sensitive imagery, has stirred up significant buzz and even a touch of controversy. See the examples below. For more on my writing background see, “About David Leland Hyde.”

You can find the March print issue of Outdoor Photographer magazine on newsstands and in bookstores online and off, or wherever else you get magazines now. For a sneak preview of my article, you can read the online version on the Outdoor Photographer magazine website under the category “Locations,” or just go to, “The Art Of Vision: Learn to Connect with the Landscape Like the Great Masters Ansel Adams, Minor White, Philip Hyde and Others.”

A very big thank you to all those who have commented on Twitter, sent me e-mail and otherwise showed signs of enjoying the article. Here is some of the feedback, including some by today’s who’s who in nature and landscape photography:

Indeed a wonderful article. Deep and inspirational. I am so glad that Outdoor Photographer published it, most of all for them, since articles like these raise publications of photography to another level. Well done.  – Rafael Rojas

I really enjoyed this article – if only all photography writing was as good.  – Tim Parkin

In my own photography journey I noticed an incredible improvement in both my images, and my happiness, when I started doing my twilight photography. Those images required me to commit to a single composition for the entire evening, and as a result I spent a lot more time looking, observing, and fine-tuning. I got into that “zone.” Eventually I started taking that approach more for many of my images. Slowing down like that is harder in the digital world, but David makes a very compelling case for it, and hopefully it will inspire some photographers to try it out.  — Floris van Breugel

In this current world of quick, fast and overly saturated photography, David shows us how to slow down and “smell the roses” to make meaningful images through the historical approaches of masters like his father, Minor White and Ansel Adams.  – Joseph Kayne

Great article. I would like to see more of these photography-as-art pieces.  – Chuck Kimmerle

One of the best articles that Outdoor Photographer has run in a long time. Like Floris and Chuck, I too would rather read articles that educate and inspire like David’s rather than another “Best Winter Hotspots” or “DOF De-Mystified.” The qualities that made Galen Rowell’s OP columns so interesting to read back in the day are the same qualities found in David’s article. I think it’s fine to have sensationalist headlines on the cover to sell magazines but inside the magazine should be filled with substantive content.  – Richard Wong

A superb article touching on many important points. I’d love to see more like it in print.  – Guy Tal

It was a great article (mandatory reading)… Hopefully David’s article will set the magazine on a more educational path. (Ten Secrets/Ten Top Spots has run its course.) Good stuff.  – Michael Gordon

Really great article David. Congratulations. It makes me want to go out and take photographs – to feel that ‘in the moment’ feeling. And your Dad’s photograph of “White Domes, Valley of Fire” is just especially sublime. The kind of photograph I can contemplate for a very long time.  – Eric Fredine

Excellent! Very refreshing to see an article about being in the moment, instead of “getting the shot.”  — Lori Kincaid

Must read. Wonderful Piece. If you haven’t already you should read this article by David Leland Hyde.  — Rob Tiley

Great article on mindfulness when making photos. I found myself slowing down just from the rhythm of the words.  — Nancy E. Presser

REALLY great piece! Terrific history lesson, too.  — Robin Black

One of the best articles in Outdoor Photographer magazine in a while.  — QT Luong

Loved hearing about David’s experiences with his father in this month’s isssue of Outdoor Photographer.  — Russ Bishop

Great Read! David’s opening photo, of tall grasses lit by the sun next to a stream, is exquisite. The kind of image that instantly brings peace to the viewer.  — Bret Edge

I haven’t subscribed to Outdoor Photographer for many years and more articles like this would make it more tempting to read more often. For the past year I have been trying to slow down and not force the issue, letting the images reveal themselves rather than actively hunting. Freeman Patterson’s Photography and the Art of Seeing was the first photography book I ever bought and it may be time to pull it off of the shelf for another reading. Thanks for the reminder.  – David Chauvin

Fantastic read! Congratulations!! Hope you and Outdoor Photographer do more of these types of articles.  – Colleen Miniuk-Sperry

About time there’s more than just the latest equipment review and how it will make you like Ansel Adams. If someone wants to create a great photograph, the process begins with clarity of vision and ends with well-crafted execution of the image. The equipment is just the tools of the trade and worthless without the vision and craft. Edward Weston didn’t have great equipment, but brought to fruition through great vision and exquisite craft. Ansel had the best equipment and a great vision. Philip Hyde likewise. Many of today’s “photographers” have the best equipment and tools the world has yet imagined. However most lack a clear vision and many of those are clueless as to the craft. Instead, they rely upon the crutch of technology and gimmicks contained in their iPhones and plug-ins on their editing software. Still others offer excuses for their lack of vision and craft and reliance upon funky effects. No matter how eloquently you explain the image, “I worked so hard…” underneath it all, a polished turd smells the same. Your article is a good start to get the ball rolling to a higher plane. Keep it going…  — Larry Angier

What a refreshing article!  First I have to say how happy I am to see such a wonderful piece of writing. It is long overdue. David Leland Hyde gives us a glimpse into the true meaning of the photographic vision. Learning how to see, not just with our eyes and camera, but with our soul. Getting in tune with the environment we’re in while out in the field, taking our time, and planning. In this day and time we see so much about gear and equipment, and so little about photographic  substance. I hope that there will be more articles like this in the future.  — Rachel Cohen

Absolutely loved the piece in Outdoor Photographer. It’s rare to see something of useful value in the rags these days. Great insight into the minds of very gifted photographers. You gave some very good information on creativity, lacking in most magazines recently. — Ed Cooley

Excellent article! I think David hit a rich vein of subject matter both personally and for the photography community. The ideas in the article need to be shared and become a bigger part of the discussion in photography (and life in general). The pixel peepers, the camera companies, the low hanging fruit photo tours, etc, have all hogged the mike for too long. Sing it out brother David! It will be interesting to see the reaction you get from the article. The quiet approach and the process of slowing down the feverish mental activity scare many. There’s no hiding from the truth in such a state. It’s a lot easier to be go go go because then there’s no time for the big questions. I enjoyed reading about White’s blank mind and the receptive place of readiness in the creation of a photograph. The very first book on photography I read was Freeman Patterson’s Photography and the Art of Seeing. I pull it off the bookshelf and read it every so often because I need to be reminded of one of the first ideas Patterson shares in the book – letting go of self is an essential precondition of real seeing. I’m not a big fan of pre-planning images because I feel too much organization and control results in self as an obstruction in the creative process. It’s my experience that my images which are too pre-conceived, while they may achieve a good technical level, lack soul. I don’t achieve a feeling of transcendence in their creation and viewers don’t respond in a very strong emotional way either. I totally agree with Stan Zrnich – “the process is about getting out of my own way and quieting the ego.” Too much desire to control maybe doesn’t result so much in the Art of Seeing as the Art of Ego.  – Peter Carroll

Please write me in the Contact Form above, by e-mail or comment here and let me know your reactions, ideas, critiques or any other response you have to the article…

 

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12 comments

  1. pj says:

    Cool… I have to agree with many of the others — I read it online, and it was like a breath of fresh air to read an article that was actually about photography and not the latest ‘must have’ gear. Good work David. Hope to see a lot more.

  2. I always appreciate your feedback too, PJ. Thank you for the compliments. As for “a lot more…” I’m willing if Outdoor Photographer is. It’s just a matter of developing a good article idea. I have an over-full plate right now, including gearing up for some submissions to other print media markets, but as soon as I can I will circle back around to OP with new suggestions, or maybe they will have a new one for me. Editor Christopher Robinson came to me with the idea of basing the current article on my blog post mentioned above, “The Art of Seeing.”

  3. I read your article in Outdoor Photographer last week with great interest. You did a great job of writing it. Congratulations on seeing it in print in a major publication. It’s about time you were recognized for your contribution to the craft of photography.

  4. Hi William, I am grateful for your comment and the compliments. It’s about time, after more than a decade, that I got busy writing for major publications again, though I am happy to see my photographs in print too.

  5. I enjoyed your article also. I stopped subscribing to OP a few years ago simply because too many articles were about gear and repetitive. As I’ve moved on with my photography it’s the image, my presence as an observer and what it has to offer the viewer that mean something to me. Thanks!

  6. Thank you, Monte. Well said. I generally haven’t read Outdoor Photographer much for a while, but I’ve also not read lots of magazines I like because I’ve been reading more books lately, though I don’t have as much time as I would like for that either. I perhaps read too much online, but I am finding good sources of quality information that I generally don’t get anywhere else.

  7. Jim says:

    Hello David,

    Now hold on. You just wrote a photography article that was actually about photography, which is a novelty these days. I don’t think you mentioned Photoshop once! You write about taking time to see, think about and connect with the subject, but my new Nikanon 1DX4s with 250,000 megapixels (and no lowpass filter for uber sharp images), 864 AF points, 86fps and expandable ISO up to 4,685,724 (although I never go above 100 because I’m a purist and want my photos as noise free as possible) does all my thinking for me. It’s so awesome that I don’t even have to remove the lens cap to get amazing images. And how am I supposed to slow down and put myself in a quiet state when I have to upload 5,000 images to Facebook and Google+ today so I can garner a few million followers who will feed my ego and tell me I’m the best photographer ever? I even belong to a circle called “2000 Most Ass-Kickin’-est Photographers Ever EVER”, as curated by some guy I’ve never heard of. But if he says so, it must surely be.

    Okay, joking aside, I think you get the point on my view of what photography in general has become today. It’s true that photography means different things to different people, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading your article because it was about the art and the craft rather than the technology, mechanics and sensationalism. My photography education is steeply based in Ansel Adams’ books and I love reading your stories about your dad and the other masters who were active when fine art photography was still a relatively new frontier. I feel like it was indeed, a more quiet time, when a photographer was interested in creating a well thought out and meaningful work of art rather than a trophy to be posted online to see how many “likes” it can get. I certainly hope to see more of your work in print.

  8. Thank you, Jim, for your wise words. I suppose if I thought about it I might have known, but was surprised to find that a photography article about photography would be considered a novelty until I started getting e-mails and comments about my Outdoor Photographer feature. I like and use Photoshop, but it is a bit strange that photography now is often more about Photoshop than about photography. Many like to use the phrase, “post-processing” to make it sound as though it is still part of the photographic process. They cite Ansel Adams’ darkroom manipulation and on and on. What really happened is that some people at Adobe invented a program to edit photographs and other graphic artwork and suddenly the art is more about the program(s) than using a camera, or using your mind while using a camera. I had no idea I would hit such a chord just writing about one method. Outdoor Photographer, and other magazines for that matter, are perhaps less about the art and craft of photography than when Philip Hyde and Galen Rowell were common between those covers. There must be some way to introduce gear and other products that help drive the bottom line without hitting people over the head and while keeping the main focus on the development of the photographer rather than the development of shortcuts, quick fixes, tricks and effects. Jim, at least there are some photographers who still believe in photography. I have no problem with even the heavy use of Photoshop, Lightroom or other post-processing programs, if they are applied with taste and good aesthetics. I’ll go ‘out on a limb’ and say that even over-saturation has its artful place now and then, but not as a standard setting. Today, often the heavy use of post-processing takes the place of photographic craft, rather than being an adjunct to it. The same is true of gear, toys, iconic locations and other crutches. No amount of fluff, hype or secret trails to the magic photo spot where everyone transforms into a genius photographer, will change the medium as long as there are enough who know and can recognize the real thing.

  9. Jim says:

    Hi David,

    What a powerful response! (I’m going to keep the “secret trails to the magic photo spot…” for future use!)

    I’ve been published by Outdoor Photographer a few times and last year they did a six page article on my work. I believe they, as well as other magazines, simply reflect what the majority of people want to read, similar to how the horrible reality shows on television continue to get ratings and therefore reproduce uncontrollably until there’s nothing left worth watching. From experience I can say that when I’m at a location with other photographers the conversation is overwhelmingly biased towards gear rather than the subject and how the light will define it, or how it feels to be there. “What lens is that?” is the call of the Wild Photographer.

    I suspect that the reason is that equipment is a finite, substantiatable and quantifiable subject matter. We can look at build quality, materials used, review MTF charts and sample images and submit the equipment to all manner of mechanical tests in order to decide whether or not a piece of gear is “good” or not. Then it’s just a matter of deciding which “team” you want to join and arguing about how your camera gear is better than everyone else’s. (Canon v. Nikon, anyone?)

    The making of a “good” photograph is much harder to define as it defies camera manufacturer or whether it was shot on film or digital. Many people again get caught up in the technical aspects; how much noise is in the blue channel, is it tack sharp front to back and whether or not they can enlarge the image to the size of a Las Vegas casino without losing too much quality. Defining what gives an image “heart”, elicits emotion and subject connection from the viewer is a much more difficult, and therefore usually bypassed, conversation.

    As I said before, photography is different things to different people. Some want to make pretty pictures; some want to make “art”; some want to make a buck. I’m not saying what is right or wrong; I just know what’s right for me.

  10. Jim, I appreciate you returning to share more of your good insight. You remind me of a story someone told me of how they had been talked down to out in the wild because of the “level” of their equipment. Wow. ‘None of their business,’ I say. If I heard one of these discussions go over the top, I might be tempted to say something like, “Shut the %!@$# up about gear. I came out here for the experience, not for a gear ego boost or competition. It’s not really even about the photos. It’s about the wilderness, as in peace and quiet.” That said, or imagined, as far as photography goes, your comment also brings to mind another discussion I had with a gallery owner about digital versus silver gelatin black and white prints, dye transfer or Cibachrome color prints. I said that the prints Carr Clifton and I are making from tango drum scans of my father’s 4×5 transparencies and negatives, or any other archival digital prints made from tango drum scans of large format original film, by any top notch photographer, if processed by a Photoshop expert, are the best photographic prints ever made in the history of the medium. The gallerist stopped, looked me dead in the eye and said, “The best technically, you mean.” People who understand art know that it is irrelevant that you show all the detail in your highlights or shadows, or even from front to back. That is not what makes it art, or not. That is one of the problems with too much Photoshop, manipulating every last inch, or even every pixel of an image, the perspective of the “photographer” gets distorted because the emphasis is on the wrong concerns to produce the best art. This is not always the case, but more often than not. There are some superb exceptions: extremely talented artists who spend 10-15 Photoshop hours on every image and make masterpieces. I’ve seen that too.

  11. Mark says:

    Hi David! A big congratulations on article! I let my OP subscription lapse awhile back and wasn’t aware your post would be published. Imagine my surprise when someone told me I got a shout out in OP. :-) But c’mon – top blogger? ha! As with your posts here, you bring a very human side to the photographers we often only know by their big names and their photographs. You bring insight into how they were as people through your Dad’s and your own writings and at the same time give a great history lesson like no one else can.

  12. Mark, one of the aspects of why I keep coming back to your blog is the human and down to earth way you present your work and techniques. You live up to the Midwesterners reputation for being kind and approachable. You know, I thought, that you are ranked as one of the top nature photobloggers by blog search engine Technorati. I was wondering when you were going to notice I had mentioned your blog in the first paragraph of my article. I didn’t realize you missed the big discussion in a few places, or that you didn’t see it on Twitter, or read it in OP directly. Anyway, glad you did see it now. You deserve the shout out no doubt.

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