Dixie Fire Update on Philip Hyde Studio and Archive, Hyde Home and David Leland Hyde’s Safety

November 25th, 2021 by David Leland Hyde 4 comments »

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

The Dixie Fire, Philip Hyde Historical Wilderness Photography Archive and David Leland Hyde

The Hyde Home and Photography Studio Has Just Survived the Largest Single Incident Wildfire in Known California History

The Fire Threatened Three Times Over Three Months

Hand Line Below the House After Dixie Fire, Rough Rock, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, 2021 by David Leland Hyde. Many thanks to the Inyo Hotshots from Bishop, California for all the excellent work they did on my property. During “Round 1” they cut one hand line and more than 40 days later when Grizzly Ridge became the biggest threat during “Round 3,” the Alhambra Fire Department from Orange County cut another hand line closer to the house. (Click to View Large.)

The Dixie Fire dangerously threatened the Hyde family home, named Rough Rock in 1957, and the Philip Hyde Studio, here in Old Mormon Canyon near Genesee, on three separate occasions over three months of hell. Once the Dixie Fire approached after combining with the Fly Fire into a raging wind-driven firestorm. It came whipping up Mt. Hough and into the Montgomery Creek watershed where fire crews somehow held it at Mt. Hough Road about two miles from home where I could see the gigantic flames towering high above the trees.

The second time the Dixie Fire came to get me, it first made national news by blowing through the beloved town of Greenville like a tornado and on across Indian Head, Keddie Ridge, Keddie Point, North Arm, through the Moonlight Fire Scar, changed direction with the north and west winds, jumped the five lane fire line on Beardsley Grade, roared down the Hosselkus Creek drainage into Genesee and down Hinchman Ravine into Genesee Woods, spotted onto Mt. Jura north of me and backed down Mt. Jura, finally burning one third of my property, everything north of Genesee Road, stopping 100 feet from my front door.

The third time, during a north wind in August, Dixie Fire spotted miles south onto Grizzly Ridge and began to once more threaten American Valley neighborhoods including Chandler Road, East Quincy, Greenhorn Ranch and on out east toward Portola, Lake Davis and eventually US Highway 395. The fire in my neighborhood ranged back and forth across Grizzly Ridge for over two months with spot fires all over the mountain face. One time it spotted as close as half a mile up Indian Creek from my home. Hotshot crews somehow miraculously put that spot out before it spotted again, or took off like many of the other spot fires on the Dixie fire. The east side of the fire raced off and scorched most of Canyon Dam, skirted around Lake Almanor, Chester, Westwood and into Lassen Volcanic National Park and beyond all the way to Old Station. The fire burned through the Chips, Moonlight, Walker Fire and many other fire footprints and many homes in the Feather River Canyon including most in the towns of Storrie, Richbar, Twain and Belden, but firefighters saved the bar and restaurant.

Finally 100 Percent Contained After 104 Days

I wrote the first draft of this blog post on October 25, 2021, the day firefighters finally got the fire 100 percent contained, a long 104 days after it started July 13 way down at the bottom of the Feather River Canyon off Dixie Road in Butte County near where the Camp Fire started in 2018. Within one month of origin, the Dixie Fire became California’s largest single fire incident in history. Fire repair and cleanup crews are still working now in mid November. One of the last areas to be contained was Grizzly Ridge above my house. Just weeks before the end of October, the Incident Management Team finally colored the fire map containment lines black from Grizzly Ridge up to Grizzly Peak near the Devil’s Punchbowl, for the first time since the Grizzly Spot Fire started in mid August.

When I first heard of the Dixie Fire and that it had triggered evacuations at Bucks Lake, in the Bucks Lake Wilderness, at Storrie, Twain and Rock Creek down the Feather River Canyon and in Meadow Valley, a bedroom community of Quincy, I looked it up on Inciweb, as I had previous fires in our area like the Bear Fire or North Complex and others. Inciweb did not even list the Dixie Fire. Under Dixie Fire, Inciweb showed a wildfire called the Dixie Fire in Idaho, which started before the California Dixie Fire and burned almost untended for nearly as long in remote terrain, much as our fire did for the first week or more.

I have been writing about my experiences during the fire and learning about other people’s harrowing Dixie Fire stories. The fire started small and remained small for days and even weeks, burning in rugged, remote terrain. Some decisions made by fire management are questionable. I will make some future blog posts on these topics here on Landscape Photography Blogger, but my experiences, observations and the stories of others will most probably find their way into print in one form or another. For now, I have pasted below some of my more informative Facebook updates, a few of the most poignant comments and my replies.

Facebook Post July 22, 2021, 10:12 pm (Three duplicate posts)

Mandatory evacuations for Taylorsville, Crescent Mills, Greenville, parts of Quincy, Meadow Valley, Butterfly Valley and in Genesee we are on evacuation warning as a result of being in the path of the Dixie Fire and spot fires off of it.

My Comment Not sure why this keeps saying I am requesting help. I’m working to get packed and get the house and grounds ready to leave. That’s all. Everyone is doing their own around here. We neighbors are all in touch though.

My Replies to Friend’s Comments Being here is not particularly safe, but it is necessary and a longer story than most would expect as to why. Plus, a ton of work to do… Was behind on raking, clearing gutters, etc. Just trying to be less of a target if the fire does sweep through big.

As my neighbor’s son, a fire fighter for BLM in Utah, said recently, “They don’t really seem to have a plan on this fire.”

We just got back long distance and internet. Everyone who has lived here more than 20 years is still here. Things are a bit better, but the fires are still advancing more slowly. I do have a backup plan to leave. Thank you all for caring.

The area he describes in this video as steep and dangerous terrain with rolling stumps and falling dead trees, on the very tip of the farthest NE point of the fire, is 2-3 miles from my house. If they don’t hold it there, the next fire line will be beyond my home and about 30 other neighbors. [Video subsequently taken down showing the USFS Incident Commander doing a chalk talk about how dangerous containing the fire is in the steep terrain above my home.]

A Friend’s Comment The anxiety alone must be profound. Take good care, David.

My Reply Traumatic. Your empathy helps though.

A Friend’s Comment Do you have a place to go buddy? You can come to stay here for a bit if need be.

My Reply Thanks man. Really appreciate that. Probably will go to Reno, but not sure yet. May not leave at all. If I do, I will go at the very last minute, long after most have evacuated.

A Friend’s Comment Stay safe. Things are just things. Your Life is what is of value.

My Reply There’s a lot more at stake here at my home and in the Philip Hyde Studio than mere things. Still, your point stands.

Fire Damaged Trees on Hyde Property Above Genesee Road After Dixie Fire, Mormon Canyon, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, 2021 by David Leland Hyde. This burned during “Round 2,” when Dixie backed down Mt. Jura. It was close to the hottest part of the fire at Rough Rock. The tree trunks are blackened up 30-50 feet. There was one area nearby with no needles or leaves left on the trees, where the fire crowned, torched and scorched down to the bare base soil. However, most of the 5-6 acres that burned on Hyde land was fortunately a ground fire thanks to low wind, diligent fire fighters and decades of forest thinning on most of the gentler slopes north of Genesee Road. The steepest terrain was the least thinned and even though the fire moved downhill, these areas burned with the highest severity, including significant crowning and torching. (Click to View Large)

A Friend’s Comment Don’t wait too long. We went through packing up and leaving our place on Kelly Ridge during the Camp Fire and again last year during the Bear Fire which burned right down to the waters edge across lake Oroville from our house. Many people were stuck in traffic trying to escape the Camp Fire and road options up your way are not plentiful.

My Reply Thank you. We are not on Evacuation Order currently. My neighborhood is on Evacuation WARNING so far. Genesee Road was bumper to bumper traffic headed out toward Antelope Lake and beyond, but today there is very little traffic as Taylorsville, Crescent Mills and Greenville have already evacuated.

Friend’s Reply Good. I understand what you are saying but we were 160 miles from the house when the warning came out last year and it went mandatory before I could drive there. They would not let me back in to take prints off the walls. Just saying.

My Reply Terrible. I have a neighbor and friend in North Arm here who left home to get a few supplies and groceries… The evacuation went mandatory while he was gone. They would not let him back in to get anything out of his house. It burned and he lost ALL of his negatives, hard drives, prints, everything. A 40 year career all gone because of certain rules about mandatory evacuation that apparently cannot be changed even to save the photographs from a long career that included museum shows, permanent collections, major press, widespread acclaim, and so on. Seems very strange. I realize they cannot just let everyone run all over the place constantly and keep going back and forth or it would be chaos during mandatory evacuations, but there has to be some way to make exceptions. There needs to be better access and support for people who work from home and have their entire livelihoods at stake.

Friend’s Reply That is terrible. I think I might have run that roadblock.

My Reply It’s inconsistent. Sometimes they are really cool and lenient and other times they are very strict. It doesn’t always correlate to how threatening the fire is either.

My Later Comment We just got long distance and internet back. Everyone who has lived here more than 20 years is still here. Things are a bit better, but the fires are still advancing more slowly. I do have a backup plan to leave. Thank you all for caring.

Facebook Post July 26, 2021, 6:03 pm (Post of photograph of the fire)

The videos of the aftermath of the beautiful little village of Indian Falls really turn the stomach. I think it hits you harder when you know the place and the people well.

Facebook Post July 27, 2021, 10:34 pm

Email update just sent to family: Rained for 15 minutes today and 3 minutes yesterday. Cleared off slightly after rain. Saw sun for first time in 6 days. Smoke thinner overall. High today was still only 70 F. Low 62. A locally raised friend, who works for Cal Fire, said they have solid dozer line all around the fire on this NE side 2-3 miles from my house with hose laid and it’s looking good. No sight, glow or smell of flames. Highway Patrol and Sheriff’s Deputies patrolling our Road, one every 5-10 minutes, watching for spot fires to allow all engines to be on the fire. I am nearly done with raking and have soaked ground 200+ feet out with trees wet up 20+ feet all around the house. Need to repair a roof leak tomorrow. Then I can put sprinklers on top. Keep fingers crossed, prayers going up, rain dances rolling and whatever else you believe in, please keep it up. St. Francis is here and working.

My Reply to a Friend’s Comment So far so good. Terrible shame about the beautiful little village of Indian Falls though. I believe everyone survived, but 8 out of 31 homes, or something like that, were completely destroyed. It aint over yet. It is a very big fire and only 2.5 miles from Rough Rock and several hundred other residences, not to mention just a little further away from Crescent Mills, Greenville, Meadow Valley and even Quincy, our county seat. Quincy is fortunate to be upwind from the closest part of the blaze and have much better fire line in between.

My Reply to Another Comment Improving every day. Fire crews are here protecting homes. They emphasize they are doing contingency work. There is no immediate danger, but we are on the leading edge of one of the largest wildfires in California history. My house is 2 miles from the fire line and the fire behind it is still slopping over and not fully “contained.”

Facebook Post July 28, 2021, 11:10 am

Much cooler and crisp this morning. Even though a veil of smoke still hangs in the air, faint traces of blue sky can be seen for the first time in many days behind the emerging mountaintop lit by a faint sun. Sky blue never looked so beautiful before, but with the sun out, the fire heat can increase too. I am staying alert and continuing to work my preparation plan.

My Reply to a Friend’s Comment Whew. I’m sore, exhausted, bruised and filthy. I’m gonna shower and hit the hay.

A Friend’s Comment You are a better man/person than I, I would probably be hitting the bottle! Yes do rest up and pat yourself on the back for a job well done.

My Reply I might do that later if I have any energy left. There is a long way to go on this. Not time to celebrate yet, or even drown ourselves in our woes. No rest for the wicked. I’m still working, still raking, up on the roof working on a major leak so I can, or the fire fighters can put a lot of water on my roof without me taking a big shower inside.

A Friend’s Comment How do they alert you when it is so close?

My Reply No cell service here at the house. We do alerts around here the old fashioned way – community networking by phone right now mainly, email or internet when available. Or, like this afternoon, an engine crew pulled up and put a fire hose around my house and said it was mainly precautionary just in case. The fire has been at more or less the same acreage for 2-3 days and has good line around it. They are just afraid parts of it could kick up again because there are still tons of hot fuels inside the perimeter. They continue to take extra care because this is the largest wildfire in Calif. history and we are on the leading edge.

A Friend’s Comment How’s it going David?

My Reply Exhausted from raking and moving sprinklers. Sigh.

Facebook Post July 30, 2021, 3:49 pm

Yesterday evening’s dry lightning caused 1,800 acres of new spot fires around Indian Valley overnight and this morning. Hottest part of entire Dixie Fire is bordering Indian Valley on Mt. Hough and parts of Arlington Road. Flames along road, but they have saved the tree canopy. Fire is moving mainly on the ground from the ridge top down.

A Friend’s Comment I heard just now of a new fire by Greenville.

My Reply Yes, I heard that too. Besides dry lightning yesterday evening, we have high NE winds now, blowing the opposite way of the fire, forcing it back into it’s own footprint. Crazy weather, most of it probably caused by the fire itself. (I will need to verify to be sure, but I believe that new fire was near Round Valley Lake. This was also the day the Evans Fire started on the flank of Mt. Evans above North Arm. When the Evans Fire combined with the Dixie Fire about a week later, it became a fire tornado that destroyed more than a handful of homes on Diamond Mountain Road and North Arm Road. This same day a number of other devastating fires started around Northern California. Meanwhile, there were areas of slight rain over the Dixie Fire and winds calmed. It rained for 15 minutes here at Rough Rock.)

Facebook Post August 2, 2021 8:56 am

It’s still a bit smokey in the afternoon, but this morning we have blue skies over the fire.

A Friend’s Comment Do you have to evacuate?

My Reply We’ve been in and out of Mandatory Evacuation status twice so far. Skies are getting bluer all the time, but the main fire still has smoke plumes and hot spots. Greenville has been on Mandatory evacuation all along, but we went to a Warning day before yesterday. (We found out later that Greenville was also downgraded to an Evacuation Warning that day, only to go back to Mandatory late the next day when the wind took off again. Most of the town burned two days later in the afternoon of August 4. Many people ironically had brought belongings back when they returned after the first Mandatory Evac was lifted, only to have to leave quickly without them on the second Mandatory notice.)

Facebook Post August 5, 2021, 12:39 pm

The fire kicked up a great deal yesterday with 40 MPH SW winds. Reports are Greenville is nearly all burned. Crescent Mills is under immediate threat and Taylorsville is back on Mandatory Evacuation. I am in Quincy for prescriptions, groceries and internet. Headed back home with my neighbor now.

A Friend’s Comment We came back and left again. Smoke was horrific.

My Reply It is. Really, really bad. Worst I’ve ever seen. Tuesday and Wednesday were the worst yet on this fire. A Friend’s Comment I heard about Greenville on the news at noon and crossed fingers and toes then started praying for you and your neighbors. My Reply Thanks and blessings. Friend’s Reply It just brought tears to my eyes to see your response in real time. How are you and where are you, did your home fare well?

My Reply All is well so far. Tensions are rising again locally as the fire backs toward Taylorsville.

A Friend’s Comment David…be safe! I’m monitoring on the aerial the Olsen Barn! The firefighters put a line around it too. Sigh. We don’t need anymore loss this fire season!

My Reply Great news. Our group leader may have more info too. I hear he is doing a lot on North Valley Road near Greenville to help neighbors.

Looking South Across Greenville from Main Street After Dixie Fire, Indian Valley, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, 2021 by David Leland Hyde. (Click to View Large)

A Friend’s Comment Be safe David there is no way this monster can be fought with a garden hose…Greenville is leveled.

My Reply Totally agree. The fight is in the preparation. That said, I’m not going to stand up against a firestorm. Whether I run or fight will all depend on the shape the fire is in if it approaches. I have already heard enough stories from friends and firefighters who tried to save homes. Our local TFD guys said they’ve already seen sights way worse than anything else in 40 and 50 year careers on fires.

Friend’s Reply And the wind can come up big at any moment. Best just to leave. My Reply Depends on your background and how much is at stake. A Friend’s Comment This gets harder to believe all the time. Or am I dreaming? Well David, you´re more important than a building, so keep your distance.

My Reply As you probably know, it aint just the building. There’s a little matter of world-renowned historically significant original film, which of course is just a “thing” too, in the big scheme.

A Friend’s Comment Heard about Greenville – how close are you to it? My Reply Greenville was on the other side of Indian Valley, 12 miles away. I went to Kindergarten and 7-9th grades there and have many deep ties and close friends. The fire is closer than that now. Friend’s Reply Is situation close to you any better? keep hearing Dixie still only around 30% contained but not sure which direction it is spreading.

My Reply It seems to keep spreading in all directions, more or less, backing against the wind, as well as going with the changing wind, which has been from the SW most of the time, but also from SE, NE, NW and North for a few days recently. The weather reports are all over the map, plus the fire is making its own weather as well. Yesterday evening there was a very strange hot NW wind passing through my property, clearly straight off the fire.

Facebook Post August 13, 2021, 12:36 pm

Finally made it back to civilization in Quincy. Been without power, phones, internet and even without a vehicle for two days, but I am fast on a bicycle, haha, not so haha. Just got my Minivan back. The tragedy just gets worse. More homes and land of friends, and friends of friends, burning. More heartbreak. Surreal. There are a few bright spots of people whose homes miraculously were spared too. Heard the town of Westwood in Northern California was severely threatened last night, but due to great fire defense, still stands. The wind has been more or less calm with a few heavy gusts in Indian Valley the last two days. The fire is backing down toward Taylorsville, burning slower in the Moonlight Fire footprint. Heard some of the past burns often have brush 10-15 feet tall, which makes them faster, but not as intense as forest. Taylorsville, Genesee, Crescent Mills all now on Warning, downgraded from Mandatory Evacuation.

A Friend’s Comment Thank you for the update!

My Reply Thank you for feeding me text updates when I had only a few other sources. Luckily we have a strong community in Genesee too. You rock. Always helping people.

Friend’s Reply I only wish I could do more.

My Reply No doubt. Everything is so spread out and disconnected. Amazing how the fire crews avoid chaos and still are as effective as expected in the face of 100-200 foot flames.

A Friend’s Comment That has to be so terribly stressful seeing that which you know and loved burn. Sorry for all of your friends too. Glad you are safe. We have been wondering how you are and we have been watching the fire. Stay safe David.

My Reply Thank you so much. Appreciate your support. It is very strange when things that have been the same for 100 or more years suddenly disappear.

A Friend’s Comment Thanks for the update!

My Reply Your aunt and uncle have been key to my staying informed and getting back and forth to Quincy and back a few important times lately. They have been keeping their neighbor’s gardens and pets in Genesee Woods watered too. They are more and more like your grandma every day looking after everyone.

A Friend’s Comment Glad to see your update. Been wondering how you were doing. Continued good luck to you!

My Reply Thanks. The situation is getting tense again as the fire backs toward T’ville. Aaaarrrrggg.

Friend’s Reply I have checked maps several times – and thinking of your area always brings back fond memories of a long ago visit there to see your dad – 1986 I think! Hoping the best for you.

My Reply Mom and Dad were great hosts and gave quite a tour of the studio and gardens and Mom made great meals. Great you’ve seen the place. Hope you can come visit again when this all settles down if and when I am still here.

Friend’s Reply Would love to do that and trust you will still be there!

Burned Slope Below devastated Town of Indian Falls After Dixie Fire, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, 2021 by David Leland Hyde. (Click to View Large)

Another Friend’s Comment I’m glAd you are ok!

My Reply Thank you. For the time-being. Dark days for many others. Staying strong though. Taylorsville is a town full of survivalist preppers, lol, to say the least.

Another Friend’s Comment Yeah. It’s awful.

My Reply You know better than I do. You lost a lot more in that other infamous homewrecking fire.

Another Friend’s Comment That was then, this is now. All of Genesee valley on mandatory evacuation alert with imminent threat. My sister in-law’s house in Greenville was burnt to a crisp last week, along with several other family and friend’s houses. Hope you, David Leland Hyde , and everyone around there is ok.

A Friend’s Reply So sorry for your sister & neighbors.

My Reply Very sorry to hear this sad news. My heart goes out to your sister-in-law. I too have had many good friends lose everything, or almost everything. Terrible.

Facebook Post September 14, 2021, 8:46 am

Events of the last month sure prove the adage not to believe everything you see on the news or in social media. Amazing how a few added phrases taken out of context can spin the meaning, severity and intent of a situation… and there are generally a large number of people lurking around to make snap judgements about an event they know nothing about too.

This last post refers to a legal situation that arose at my home during the fire. I cannot comment here or discuss the event due to possible future action. However, I can say that the matter has been fully resolved for now, unless I pursue the privacy and civil rights issues. I will follow-up in future blog posts about various Bill of Rights, evacuation and disaster laws, forest management, fire management, climate and California wildfires, personal Dixie Fire stories and other controversies that came to a head during the Dixie Fire.

Friend’s Recent Twitter Comment An absolutely emotional roller coaster. Hoping it gets better going forward.

My Reply It was a wild time. I think I have trauma. However, I am very fortunate and grateful it turned out as well as it did. Very fortunate indeed. So many others lost so much more.

Ardis Hyde’s Garden 2: Pecos Paradise

March 9th, 2021 by David Leland Hyde 2 comments »

Ardis Hyde’s Garden Two

Feature Blog Post

My Garden Paradise in Pecos, New Mexico

The End of My World and a New Home North of Santa Fe

(See also, “Ardis Hyde’s Garden 1: Digging Stumps, Beginner’s Luck and Mom’s Green Thumb.”)

Wheelbarrow, Adobe Wall, Fall, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2009 by David Leland Hyde. (Click to see large.)

In 1992, I left Los Angeles in the midst of the Rodney King Riots. Fires and looting had surrounded my home, devastated my neighborhood in West L.A. and left me thinking it was the end of civilization, as we knew it. Perhaps it was the beginning of the end. Time will tell.

It was certainly the end of my world. My business was falling apart because I was spending more time meditating in the lush gardens outside my apartment in the backyard of an old Crescent Heights mansion. That garden, besides its beauty, was quiet and a peaceful sanctuary away from the gritty, gray and violent city weighing on my psyche every day.

I moved to the desert in Cuyamungue north of Santa Fe between the Pojoaque and Tesuque Indian Reservations. My home was a basement apartment below the house of the Martinez family. The family had lived on that land for over 400 years, like many of the direct descendants from the Spaniards who had originally settled Northern New Mexico. I could walk out my own entrance and look up at the giant old cottonwoods along the arroyo that had stood there for centuries just like the family. In back of the house, relatives of my landlord had cornfields, squash and Green and Red Chile* Peppers, the staples of their culture, partly adopted from the Native Americans. *Note that in New Mexico Chile is the spelling, not Chili.

I took long walks in the desert, wrote a lot in my journal and drove back and forth to work. Living in the country again was like coming home for me. I talked to my parents a lot on the phone and they were very happy I had gotten out of L.A., the rat race and the money oriented life I had been living. I lived in Cuyamungue for over a year, but decided I needed to move into town to be closer to the two waiter jobs I had taken to try to pay off some of my debt and stay afloat after my California business collapsed. Living in town was a great time socially, but I longed for another place in the country with solitude, the night stars overhead and perhaps even with a place I could grow a garden.

A Bottomland Paradise Between Glorieta and Pecos Near the Anasazi

Eventually, by late 1994, I found the ideal place. It was a single wide 1953 mobile home out of town to the east between the small villages of Glorieta and Pecos. It had a large yard and a shop added on in the back. There were a number of friendly neighbors who lived in much newer mobile homes and stick houses nearby. This spot was also right next to wild lands and as I found out later, less than a mile from an ancient Native American burial ground that the locals said was from the days of the Ancestral Puebloans, or Anasazi. This was certainly not far-fetched because there were other well-known Anasazi sites in the area.

Less than 10 miles away, the largest documented sites lie within the Pecos National Historic Park. The park, located between the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and Glorieta Mesa, not far from Glorieta Pass, contains the remains of ancient pithouses dating to 800 A.D., a large Ancestral Puebloan ruin circa 1300 A.D., and remnants of a Spanish Franciscan mission church from 1600 A.D. The rich culture of Pecos National Historic Park started with Pre-Anasazi nomad hunter-gatherers and Paleoindians who roamed the Pecos Valley and traded with the Plains Indians going back as far as 11,500 B.C. The first settlements and planting of corn, beans and squash began in 3500 B.C. After the Spanish conquered the pueblos in the 1600s, lost control of the region in the first American Revolution called the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, they forcefully retook the pueblos and increased in power as the pueblos declined throughout the 1700s. The region became part of Mexico in 1821 when the Mexicans won independence from Spain. The legendary Santa Fe Trail opened that same year, passing right through what is today the Pecos National Historic Park. The Santa Fe Trail brought an influx of settlers and eventually led to New Mexico being established as a US Territory during the Mexican-American War in 1846.

Surrounded by Ancient Farmland and Depictions of Kokopelli

Just three miles to the other side of my new place toward Santa Fe, in 1862, the Civil War Battle of Glorieta Pass, also called the “Gettysburg of the West,” left thousands of bodies and artifacts buried as well. The many historical conflicts made for a colorful backdrop and counterpoint to the agrarian legacy of the place. By the time I arrived on the scene, a peaceful, quiet way of life had won out, but the woods and meadows were full of hidden secrets and spiritual disturbances. From the first night I slept in my new home, I had wild, vivid dreams of people and events completely foreign to my own life. Nonetheless, I always slept very soundly and always felt safe and very happy in my tiny paradise next to Glorieta Creek.

The original builder of the shop in the back had been a metal worker. He left me a number of welded metal surprises hidden either in the grass, behind other junk or under the mobile home floor, which I discovered over time around the place. He had apparently been into Kokopelli, as the owners after him who at first rented and then sold me the place, told me that the various representations of the magic flute player I found had been there when they arrived.

Back when the farming Ancient Puebloan natives began to build structures above ground, about 1,000 years ago, they also developed a layered system of deities that helped protect them and ensure prosperous harvests. The living descendents of the Anasazi, who live along the Rio Grande River between Albuquerque and Taos and in the Hopi Villages in Arizona, to this day make offerings and pay homage to various Kachina spirits. Kokopelli, known as the hunchback flute player, is the most well-known Kachina. Kokopelli is a fertility god, who plays his flute to bring rain, fertilize crops and make sure the women of the tribe bear new babies. Kokopelli is ubiquitous on the contemporary Southwest tourist scene in fine art, kitsch art and in trinkets and souvenirs.

I often listened to Native American flute music. I noticed Kokopelli showed up often in my life, ever since I had moved to New Mexico. My new landlords, if my memory is correct, said the hunchbacked deity influenced them. They conceived three children while living in the mobile home.

Rent-to-Own Paradise, a Visit From the Rain Gods and Soulmate Dreams

They offered me the old mobile home rent-to-own. I started out making payments, but eventually bought it outright. Having a shop again, like my home here in California where I grew up, made me very happy. Some of the best days of my life I spent there in Pecos.

One time when my favorite uncle, Nick King, came to visit, we explored the Anasazi burial ground for the first time. For more about my uncle go to, “Actor, Photographer, Apple Farmer and 1960’s Activist Nicholas King.” We could see where the graves were, but not long after we arrived on the burial site, what little blue sky we could see turned to clouds and got darker. Within 15 minutes of arriving where we could see the graves, the clouds opened up and deluged us with rain. Soaking wet, but laughing and running back through the woods, we retreated into my kitchen to dry off and sip hot chocolate. Right after we got home, the sun came back out and the air was warm and fresh in my garden.

My girlfriend and I used to stay toasty warm at night in the back bedroom with many blankets and the upright propane heater. However, despite the cozy visits from her, she and I were on the way out when I moved out there. As soon as we broke up, another beautiful lady came into my life. We were having a blast and it was going really well when one of my best platonic friends called me and said she had a dream about us being together. She had awakened feeling she needed to call me and suggest we try romance. I explained that I was dating someone else, but that we could get together and talk. We had both been in love with each other since we met, but had never gotten together because the whole time we had known each other, one or the other of us had been in a relationship with someone else. We used to go out to eat at our mutually favorite Italian Restaurant in Santa Fe and talk for hours. When we got together to discuss it, I was done for. I agreed to get out of the other situation and to give love a shot with her. I told her I already loved her. She said, “Ditto,” referring to the film Ghost that we had watched together and talked about how we were like the characters in the film. We soon after got engaged and came very close to marrying. However, the positive vibe went out of the love affair as soon as I moved away from Pecos. The relationship disintegrated shortly after I sold the place in 1996. I have never married. That was the one time I was engaged.

Here is a prose poem I wrote about her:

The Magic Sky of New Mexico

There was once this exquisite and beautiful young goddess in my life who brightened up everything she touched, who amazed me with her every word. She was like lightning striking the mountaintops, like hard rain on a steel roof, like early morning sunshine on dew fresh grass.

We held hands for a few instants and kissed under a Southwest moon, then suddenly the tides of fate and calamity swept us onward, far away from each other and as distant as the stars. Stars that sometimes look like you can still touch them, they are so close, yet bewildering and out of reach forever.

A Painter of Kivas Who Grew Giant Sunflowers and Fed a Community

Michael Kaczor, my neighbor a few miles to the east, closer to the town center of Pecos, had a gigantic garden. He was a painter. He sketched and painted the pueblos, particularly their meeting houses, kivas, pots and Kokopelli. His extra-large yard full of plants of all kinds, edible and ornamental, generated more garden produce than I had ever seen. Sunflowers 15 feet tall surrounded his yard. He had tons of zucchini, many of them oversize and a few up to two feet long. His strawberry plants bore berries as big as nectarines.

Kaczor himself said that he fed a lot of people out of that garden. He gave food to neighbors, relatives and friends in Pecos and Glorieta, not to mention areas closer to Santa Fe and beyond. He gave away hundreds of pounds of vegetables like peas, corn, lettuce, turnips, yellow squash, zucchini, carrots, potatoes onions and lots of spices like cilantro, oregano, mint, sage, rosemary and dill. Just the community building value alone made me want to plant my own plot, but more than anything, I am drawn to gardening naturally. I feel like all is right in the world when I am doing it.

Besides a natural attraction, I like gardening because I get into better shape through the exercise involved in cultivating soil, building compost, planting, watering, weeding and scavenging and buying plants, pots and other supplies. When I have a garden my digestion is better and my energy levels are higher due to eating more vegetables. With produce getting ripe regularly, I get more creative in planning healthy meals. Just being in the garden, whether working or just sitting, I feel at peace. Needless to say, it was easy for Kaczor to talk me into planting my own plot. Most of these values I discovered or remembered after doing more of my own gardening as an adult, but the sense of them began in childhood. The main difference now was that there were no trees or stumps to remove and the soil needed no manure or any other supplement. My bottomland soil was as fertile as any possible and at least six feet deep, judging by one section of the bank along the creek. The exercise was more uplifting and enjoyable and less like hard work. The setting was ideal and the tasks flowed easily. In the late afternoon in the magic light, being in the garden breathing fresh air and observing the details of insects, plants and the sweet smell of flowers and pungent earth, the world seemed perfect and the work of tilling and cultivating a garden felt almost effortless.

Sunshine, Good Advice, Rich Soil and a Charmed Beginning

Other major factors improved the odds for success as well. We had an abundance of sunshine at that latitude in “The Land of Enchantment,” New Mexico’s official nickname. The Southwest sun provided a long growing season without too much summer heat due to the 6,500’ elevation.

Kaczor taught me a number of other key gardening secrets and tricks that I will go into in posts to come in this series. One major secret that may seem minor at first, Michael gave me when I asked if he knew anyone that had a Rototiller. He said he did not use a Rototiller. He suggested I do like him and in the fall collect a lot of plain brown corrugated cardboard with no lettering or other ink on it. In the winter you then put this cardboard down on the ground, smoothing it out all across the leveled rows in the whole area you plan to plant the following spring. If you want, you can even leave carrots, onions and other root crops under the cardboard. They will keep growing and stay fresh and ready to eat all winter. In the spring you can pull back the cardboard and you will not need to add as many beneficial bugs either. You will have earthworms and organic activity under the cardboard. You may get a few earwigs, sow bugs or potato bugs that you can easily squish or deport, but there will also be lots of earthworms and other beneficial insects.

Speaking of insects, Kaczor also showed me the best natural organic pest control for any garden: just plant Marigolds around the whole circumference of your plot. This will keep most destructive garden pests out most of the time. There are exceptions I learned later and will share in future posts. Meanwhile, when I pulled back the cardboard, sure enough. The ground was soft and fertile. I planted carrots, onions, garlic and radishes in mid-April. During the last week of April, I planted broccoli and spinach. The first week of May I put in beans, summer squash, zucchini, corn, pumpkins, spinach, cucumbers and a few other items I don’t remember. Everything took off fast and dank, as the teenagers say today. The sunflowers I planted in a long row all along my mobile home grew like mad and soon were higher than the roof. It was an epic summer on so many levels. The mountains and deserts called to be hiked and written about, while the garden always grounded my adventures. The greenery and abundance pulled people in to sit and enjoy my little piece of paradise. I was truly blessed.

What I learned that summer about that garden in that centuries old farming place and about gardening in general, due to beginner’s luck, circumstances, location, hard work, good advice, and a little good medicine, has put me in good stead, good homestead that is, for the rest of my life. I planted where the natives had planted, lived where they lived, thrived where they thrived and even I felt at times lightly communicated in my mind with their dead and worshipped their gods. I like to think Kokopelli had an eye on my garden. I certainly had an eye out to learn about him and other such gods of the Southwest who had a tendency to appear and disappear easily and fly like most of the Kachinas.

Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 22

February 9th, 2021 by David Leland Hyde No comments »

Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log: June 14-September 14, 1971 by Ardis Hyde

(Ardis, David and Philip Hyde in Their Camper. Continued from the blog post, “Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 21.”)

Part 22: Denali National Park, Alaska. Mt. Denali, Wonder Lake Campground. Cottage called “Permafrost.” (Formerly Mt. McKinley, Wonder Lake Campground.)

Mt. Denali From Wonder Lake, Alaska Range, Denali National Park, Alaska, 1971 by Philip Hyde. Digital image from high resolution Tango drum scan of the original Kodak large format 4X5 color transparency. Remastered by Carr Clifton. (Click to see large.)

Wednesday, July 21, 1971: Clear and sunny. Mt. Denali on full display. We woke up suddenly at 6:45 am when we realized the mountain was out. We rolled up the shades and there it was all snowy and white before us. We got going immediately out the road we came in on. Philip took some pictures and we all had breakfast. By 9:30 am we were at Camp Denali. We left the camper at the road and walked up to inquire about lodging and camping and to look around. Noted wildlife artist Bill Berry was there and we visited with him. We made arrangements with manager Wally Cole to stay two nights in their cottage, “Permafrost.”

Philip made some photographs at the “Nugget Pond.” We ate lunch in our camper, which Philip brought up the hill opposite our cabin next to the woodshed. After resting a while we walked out to a low ridge beyond the camp. Philip made 35 mm and 2 ¼ Hasselblad images of lichen and flowers. Much fewer flowers in the area at that time as the season had passed. The terrain on the hilltops was drier than what we have seen up until now. We came back to the cottage before dinner. Philip worked on arranging film in the camper. David played with his cars outside. I walked up to the lodge to look at books before dinner. There was a call for dinner and we all walked over to cottage, “Potlatch.”

The Franklin Stove glowed and the warmth felt good. The rain started before dinner. Philip and David had come up the hill in it. It tapered off during dinner. Over our meal, we got acquainted with Romany Wood, daughter of Ginny Wood, co-founder of the Alaska Conservation Society in 1960. We left right after dinner to put David to bed. We returned to the lodge to read and visit with guests for a while before going off to bed in “Permafrost.” David slept on the top bunk, Philip under him and I took the trundle cot. All very cozy.

(Continued in the next blog post in the series, “Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 23.”)

Genesee Valley Ranch Agreement Brings Major Publishing Credits

December 28th, 2020 by David Leland Hyde 2 comments »

Forbes Magazine, Food & Wine and Others Publish David Leland Hyde Photographs With Articles About the Genesee Valley Ranch

Ranch Manager Connecting With Wagyu Cows, Winter, Genesee Valley Ranch, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California by David Leland Hyde. A print of this photograph appeared in the exhibition, “Agriculture West and Midwest” at the Plumas County Museum. It has also been the most widely used photograph in articles and other PR efforts on behalf of the ranch. Special thanks to Ranch Manager Michele Haskins and to the Palmaz Family. (Click 3X to See Large.)

Living in the Lost Sierra Northern California paradise that I do, I am fortunate to be surrounded by forests and mountain valleys where agriculture operates on a small scale. Here ranchers raise cattle and other livestock nearly all grass fed, the meat produced is “all natural” by default, and ranchers and farmers use zero to far fewer pesticides and other poisons, GMO or growth hormones such as rBGH and rbST.

This does not mean mountain valley living and agriculture are idyllic by any means, as many of the benefits mentioned above make the business more challenging in many ways, especially on small ranches in remote areas. In addition, profitable enterprises here not only have all the challenges found elsewhere, but must deal with the difficulties of cold, snowy winters, long and distant supply chains, sometimes unreliable food supplies, rugged terrain, inclement weather and far away veterinarian services.

Agrarian entrepreneurs in the mountains must innovate or die. As a result, here in Northeastern California, farms and ranches have developed and combined different approaches than used anywhere else in the world. For example: many of our producers are involved in a combination of farm-to-table and more traditional distribution models.

Many Plumas and Sierra County ranchers winter their cattle at lower elevations, often in the San Joaquin Valley or Sacramento Valley. This requires unusual partnerships and lease arrangements.

Surprisingly, with more people getting out of agriculture than into it, the Palmaz Family, known for the Palmaz Heart Stent, invented by Julio Palmaz, and Palmaz Vineyards in Napa, among other enterprises, in 2016 purchased Genesee Valley Ranch, just a few miles up the road from my home. The Genesee Valley Ranch was first homesteaded as the Hosselkus Ranch. The Hosselkus Ranch was historically significant to the area during the California Gold Rush as a stage stop and way station for travelers across the Sierra to the Central Valley and the rest of the California Gold Country. It was a cattle ranch predominantly, but also raised other livestock such as goats and hogs. The ranch changed hands a number of times after the original Hosselkus family owned it. Charles Clay and his family owned the ranch for most of the second half of the 20th Century, with Paul Neff purchasing it in 1992. It has been leased to cattle grazing off and on, but not run as a cattle ranch since the 1800s.

Cousins of the Napa Palmaz Family have been in ranching in South America since the 1940s. Julio Palmaz’ son Christian Gastón Palmaz said as a family they had always seen ranching as a healthy happy way to live. Christian remembers his time on ranches as a boy as some of his fondest memories. As a family they wanted a place to get away to and wanted to get back into ranching, but to do it differently than most commercial spreads and more like other small operations in the High Sierra. More importantly, Palmaz Vineyards had become known for sustainable and ecologically friendly practices at the Winery in Napa. The family wanted to continue that tradition by raising organic grass-fed and grass-finished beef, followed by potential diversification into other organic livestock and crops. In researching cattle breeds, they ran across Japanese Wagyu, a.k.a. Kobe Beef Cattle. One main advantage to Wagyu cows is that they are hearty and do well in cold and snow. This means the Genesee Valley Ranch does not have to send cows out to winter elsewhere. Wagyu is just catching on in the US. So far it is more popular in the Rocky Mountain States and in the Midwest. As of yet there are still few purveyors on the West Coast.

Besides the Wagyu Beef, Genesee Valley Ranch Manager, Michele Haskins, has a five-year rollout plan for a community gardens and a diversity of farm animals and other “natural” interdependencies and intercropping that will help fend off disease and other pests naturally. The Genesee Store, right on the ranch property, has now been completely converted into a full-service fine dining restaurant, with a state of the art kitchen, bathrooms, ADA access and other amenities. The Genesee Store serves Genesee Valley Ranch Grass Fed Beef, the main ingredient of many items on the menu. Ranch plans also include renovating the barns, creamery, stables and other outbuildings. Eventually they hope to make cheese at the Genesee Valley Ranch to be sold at the Palmaz Vineyards in Napa.

Genesee Valley Ranch is evolving to be just as high tech as the winery, which hosts the world’s first sustainable high tech wine cave with zero water waste. GVR uses aerial infrared technology to monitor pastures to move the cattle around thereby evenly grazing the native grasses and naturally keeping pests such as Star Thistle at bay. Meanwhile, the ranch hires local experts, cowhands and restaurant staff. Despite this focus on helping the local economy, directly benefiting local workers and letting local emergency EMTs and EVAC Helicopters land and take off at the GVR helipad in emergencies, a small handful of people in Genesee opposed the Palmaz use of their helicopter to travel to and from the ranch and to do their infrared pasture mapping. This minor dust up has all been resolved now. If you want to read more about it, you can do that elsewhere. I wrote a defense of the family myself in the local paper and in Plumas News. By far, the majority of people in Plumas County and in Genesee itself support the Palmaz Family and their cattle ranching outfit.

After I professed my support of the ranch and the family’s organic approach, the family invited me out to the big ranch house for more than one meal. Christian Palmaz and I went to lunch at Young’s Market in Taylorsville and other local hangouts as well. At one of our fun meet ups, I showed Christian my raw files that I had just photographed of the ranch. He was impressed. He also read and shared with the rest of his family one of my articles about my father Philip Hyde and his conservation photography that helped make many of the national parks of the West. Julio Palmaz sent me a photograph of himself reading Drylands: The Deserts of North America by Philip Hyde. How fun and cool is that? Meanwhile, when Christian saw my raw files and read my article about Dad, he said he wanted me to photograph for the ranch. He also wanted to acquire a license to use my previous landscape photographs of the area. I have been photographing Genesee since 2009. I was more than happy to have my images put to use for a good cause. Little did I know what a win it would be for my career, as well as for the ranch. The Palmaz marketing staff put my photographs up on the Genesee Store, Club Brasas Food and Wine Society and Genesee Valley Ranch websites. They also often use my images in other outreach and in articles in the mainstream press.

Genesee Valley Ranch has now been written up in a good number of national magazines and my photographs have been the main visual compliment to the articles. Forbes Magazine did a beautiful feature you can read online called, “How Tech Developed for a Vineyard Is Helping This Grass-Fed Cattle Ranch Grow,” by Bridget Shirvell. Two of my photographs appear in the piece, one as the header image. Foodie magazine favorite Food & Wine did an article headed with my photograph of the ranch manager connecting to the Wagyu cows (see above). Food & Wine appropriately titled the feature, “The Cattle at This Zen California Ranch Basically Run the Joint: Genesee Valley Ranch Takes Every Possible Step to be Extremely Respectful of Their Cows,” by Kristy Mucci. Southbay Magazine’s feature article, “Raising the Steaks” cannot be found online, but write-ups about it appear on the Palmaz Vineyards Blog, Genesee Valley Ranch Blog, Club Brasas Blog and on Moontide Media online. The luxury lifestyle magazine, Iconic Life, recently ran an article titled, “A Choice Cut: The Best of American Wagyu Beef,” by Laura Baddish. Iconic Life used five of my photographs of Genesee Valley and the Genesee Store. Golden State magazine also used four of my photographs in their article, “In the Hills That Sparked the Gold Rush, Genesee Valley Ranch Is Raising a Special Breed of Cattle.”

At the Genesee Store, when it opens inside again after the Covid-19 pandemic settles down, you can also view my landscape photographs of the ranch on slow rotation on a giant closed circuit TV while you enjoy their choice prime cuts of organic beef and other delicious natural and organic fare in sight of the mountains and green pastures where the Wagyu roam. Stop in some time at 7201 Genesee Road and have a bite or currently get a meal to go. You will be very glad you did. Call the store for hours and reservations at 530-280-0300. During the pandemic you can get curbside takeout and take and bake as well by calling or visiting Geneseestore.com.

Lessons in Composition From “Monet: The Early Years” and “Monet: The Late Years” at De Young Legion of Honor, San Francisco Art Museums

December 3rd, 2020 by David Leland Hyde No comments »

Art Show Review: Lessons in Composition

From “Monet: The Early Years” and “Monet: The Late Years”

De Young Legion of Honor, San Francisco Art Museums

Are You Rehashing Reductive Rules?

Indian Rhubarb and Reflections, Spanish Creek, Fall, Northern Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, 2017 by David Leland Hyde. (Click 3X to enlarge.) A few people have said this photograph looks like a Monet painting. I do not make photographs to look like paintings intentionally, but if one does, so be it. I like abstract subjects and photograph them whenever possible. Paul Strand’s straight negatives were not altered in any way, but many of them were abstract and their subjects unrecognizable, though they were straight out of the camera.

Everything you have learned about composition is wrong. Most “tips” in workshops and on photoblogs are either purposely or by default overly simplistic, unnecessary and even melodramatic as presented by some teachers today. Many of the “secrets” like “never split the frame with a vertical” or “with the horizon,” “use leading lines to draw the viewer’s eye into the image” and so on, are reductive and often broken by the masters of painting, photography and other visual arts.

Today a painter or photographer starting out may turn to books or more often magazines or blogs to learn craft and technique. Contemporary art publications, online schools and forums, especially in landscape photography, teach composition as a series of logical, “left-brain” methods and techniques. They discuss the merits and limitations of the rule of thirds and drop nuggets of wisdom about foreground interest, emphasizing the subject, eliminating non-essential distractions, sweeping the edges of the frame, simplifying the image, filling the frame, finding background contrast and on and on. Some blogs have devoted large portions of content to discussions on how well participants have applied these techniques to various example photographs. Others get into dissecting and analyzing “composition conundrums faced by landscape photographers,” as one popular blog post said.

All of these serve a purpose and act as a starting point, providing some value in the early stages of learning photography. Beyond that however, if you pack all of this stuff, rattling around in your mind, out into the field and consciously attempt to apply it while making images, it will be like hauling a backpack full of rocks. It will provide little in the way of nourishment or comfort, will slow you down and more often than not result in dead, unimaginative photographs.

Many teachers today, besides presenting formulaic material, follow each other around to the same locations that have been on the landscape photography bucket list for generations. Fifty to seventy years ago, many of these scenes were fresh, but today most landscape photographers are missing one of the obviously lesser known fundamentals of seeing: great art is not necessarily about the subject. The pervasive mentality is that to make a name in landscape photography you must pursue certain views and certain types of scenes. This often sends new camera owners on a far-flung tour, with little thought other than, “I can do it too, or maybe even better if I am lucky to have dramatic light or weather.” Some photographers get hooked on travel and years later are still jet setting all over the world, when they could just as easily find great photographs closer to home, use less petroleum and develop a deeper connection to the culture and land. No wonder most of what we see online and across the industry is starting to look the same.

Throughout the history of art, examples abound of the greatest works breaking the rules of composition, while at the same time maintaining a sense of equilibrium and balance or dynamic off-balance that grabs the viewer’s attention and holds it. Which brings us to the next logical question: How did the masters learn to make successful art without enslaving themselves to rote techniques and guidelines? There are probably as many possible answers as artists, though there are also common patterns among renowned artists.

Straight Photography, Pictorialism and Photography as an Art

Abstraction, Porch Shadow, 1915 by Paul Strand. Paul Strand’s negatives were straight, not post-processed in any way, but many were abstract and their subjects unrecognizable. (Click Twice to See Large)

Like today, in the early 20th Century, until about 1930, clichés proliferated. Technique and gimmick-heavy Pictorialism ruled the day because many thought making photographs look otherworldly, unreal or like paintings was the best way to get photography recognized as an art. It did not work then and is still questionable now. What did more than anything else to establish photography as a fine art was the crisp, fresh, precision craft only possible with a camera, as made by Paul Strand, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange and many of their students and kindred spirits such as my father Philip Hyde, William Garnett, Brett Weston, Imogen Cunningham, Minor White, Dick Arentz, Al Weber, Dave Bohne and those still living from the same lineage such as John Sexton, Bob Kolbrenner, Jack Dykinga, Charles Cramer, Carr Clifton and a few others.

During the heyday of straight photography, galleries, museums, auction houses and the art establishment had the most interest in photography. Today, the exposure of landscape photography is expanding in certain types of magazines and in tourist galleries in some of the world’s most popular destinations, but the art establishment has left behind contemporary landscapes, especially in color. Galleries, museums and other fine art venues look down on the genre with disdain. This does not have to be.

Attempting to attain dynamic balance in your work through following someone else’s tips, will mainly bring derivative results, whereas through ongoing immersion in a variety of genres and by studying the masters in many disciplines, you can develop an innate sense of what works and what does not. There are no shortcuts to mastery in art and no short list of 10 secrets will take you where in-depth study can. When Ansel Adams founded the world’s first college level photography program to teach creative photography as a profession at the California School of Fine Arts, now the San Francisco Arts Institute, he and lead instructor Minor White and the other organizers required students to take a well-rounded set of electives from many of the other art departments at the school including music, ceramics, sculpture and others.

My father applied to the program and at first his application was misplaced and delayed a year. In response, another mentor and guest lecturer at CSFA, Edward Weston, suggested that since Dad had the G.I. Bill paying his tuition anyway, he might as well take some elective art classes at UC Berkeley while he was waiting to start photography school. Dad signed up for Interior Design, painting and calligraphy. His professor for calligraphy turned out to be the eminent Japanese painter Chiura Obata, who had recently been released from the World War II Japanese concentration camp at Manzanar on the East Side of the Sierra. Learning from Obata turned out to be an unforgettable experience that deeply influenced the way Dad saw any given subject. Through the example and influence of his mentors, both at UC Berkeley and CSFA, Dad became a student of a wide range of types of art. He often explained to his students in turn that Ansel Adams and Minor White hardly talked about composition, at least not in terms of quantified rules, but in the context of the relationships, forms and arrangements found in many forms of art and photography.

Before Impressionism Became Impressionism

The great Impressionist Claude Monet broke more of the rules of composition more often than almost anyone else, while producing a completely new kind of art that still soothes, calms and delights the world. During his early career, when he struggled to keep his family from starving, Monet had already begun to make the innovations that would shake up the art establishment.

Monet enjoyed early success when the Paris Salón accepted his first submission, but many rejections followed. He had to rely on his parents and others to survive, while despite his clear mastery of technique, critics labeled him and the group of painters he associated with revolutionaries and troublemakers. In time he would reinvent how textures were applied, develop new brush styles, specialize in portraying the effects of light like no other painter before him and play a central role in the development of Impressionism.

Monet’s departures from tradition were vividly evident in two contemporary exhibitions of his paintings that toured before the Coronavirus Covid-19 Pandemic began. “Monet: The Early Years” and “Monet: The Late Years,” curated by George T.M. Shackelford of the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas and originated there in partnership with San Francisco’s Fine Arts Museums. Both shows toured nationally and made a stop in San Francisco at the De Young Legion of Honor Museum.

Fountain and Sunburst, de Young Legion of Honor, San Francisco, California, 2017 by David Leland Hyde. (Click Twice to See Large)

My friend Ronald Schmidt and I saw “Monet: The Early Years” at the Legion of Honor. Mr. Schmidt was my 8th Grade English teacher, but moved to San Francisco years ago and became a member of many of the best museums. He invited me to see both Monet shows, but because unfortunately I never made it to see “Monet: The Late Years,” I will refer to online and book reproductions of the paintings. These paintings from Monet’s later career will also be the most accessible in some ways, though they also most dramatically break the mold of art before Monet. Having pored over picture books as a boy and become partial to the Impressionists, I was enthused to see “Monet: The Early Years,” because while both shows promised to include paintings I had not seen before, the first exhibition would tell the story of how the French master got started, long before he became one of the founders of the movement that became Impressionism.

The Legion of Honor Museum: American Home of Great European Art

Driving far up through the San Francisco neighborhoods intertwined with trees made for a dramatic build-up to seeing the show and the museum. After negotiating the curvy road through the dark woods, we emerged to see the California Palace of the Legion of Honor Museum gleaming a blinding white in the afternoon sun atop the highest point in San Francisco’s Lincoln Park. From the Legion of Honor grounds we looked out over sweeping views of The City, the Marin Headlands across San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. Arriving at the parking lot, we stepped out of the car and stared at the light patterns on the water of the aquamarine pool while illuminated spray from the fountain danced in the late sunlight and immediately changed our Monet frame of mind into a visceral real-world experience. During a long, surreal moment, I felt almost as if time had collapsed and I merged with the world of the Impressionists. Perhaps it seems a bit presumptuous to say that on some level I almost felt as though I was channeling Monet when I suddenly reached back into the car, grabbed my camera and made a burst of images. I also followed the light across the road to photograph the museum entrance draped in dramatic and shapely shadows. The tall gate and partially shaded courtyard contrasted with brightly lit people walking in and out with illuminated halos. Moving into the courtyard I captured a few couples in various poses and caught details of columns and shadows, but once inside the building there were only cool, stark white walls until we reached the entrance to the Monet Exhibit on the main floor.

Front Gate From Front Door, De Young Legion of Honor, San Francisco, California, 2017 by David Leland Hyde. (Click 3X to enlarge.)

The Legion of Honor is a smaller replica of the Louvre Museum in Paris. The grounds, courtyard and interior of the Legion of Honor are permanent home to over 70 Rodin statues. As you walk up toward the front gate, you enter another world far away from the bustle of the surrounding city. Architect George Applegarth’s massive columns support a colonnade that surrounds the courtyard. Just inside the front gate, you are greeted by one of the original casts of Rodin’s “The Thinker.” Behind this powerful statue rises a low glass pyramid, reminiscent of I.M. Pei’s installation at the Louvre. See also Greatest Hits of European Art on the Hills of San Francisco. Once inside the museum, you find yourself in a large central space with galleries extending in all four directions. The Legion of Honor is the perfect setting for two exhibitions of one of Europe’s most celebrated Impressionists.

At the entrance of “Monet: The Early Years,” my friend Ron and I were greeted initially by a large wall text. The first painting could be seen beyond the wall text. The text ran from ceiling down to the floor, all in white block letters on a white background:

INTRODUCTION

Before his success, before there was even the term “Impressionism,” Claude Monet labored to define his style and promote himself as an artist. Two forces drove him: his will to be a painter and his desire to become critically and commercially successful. During his early career, Monet struggled to provide food and shelter for himself and his family while creating innovations that would turn the art world upside down.

Just past this text wall, one of Monet’s most ambitious early paintings, “Luncheon on the Grass,” dominated another large wall straight ahead. The label identified it as, “Claude Monet, ‘Luncheon on the Grass, Central Panel’, 1865–66. Oil on canvas, 97 X 85 inches. Musée d’Orsay, Paris” It was too large to contain in a photograph, but I had already tucked my camera away anyway, so as not to be distracted from viewing the paintings while inside the show. The picnic scene splashed across the whole wall and looked almost as though you could walk into it, with bright figures as large and vivid as life sitting in front of a dark, primeval forest. The figure of Monet’s first wife, Camille, who appears more than any other character in Monet’s early paintings, in “Luncheon on the Grass” gestures toward the viewer with an empty plate, as if to invite us to sit down and join the group enjoying their wine and refreshments.

Monet Effortlessly Broke the Rules of Composition and Worked Hard to Capture the Light and Mood

Luncheon on the Grass, 1865-1866, Claude Monet. (Click 3X to enlarge.)

The first three or four paintings were innovations in breaking the rules of composition, as it turns out so also were most of the works in the exhibition. More panels told the stories of Monet’s early painting life. Camille and the other figures in the various paintings were revealed not by detail, but by Monet’s stunning observation of detail and light, as well as a stark precision of emotion and feeling. Even though Monet’s painting style left out many details, the mood and time of day in the scenes gleamed in whites and other suggested, subtle textures. Because the shapes, colors and subjects stood out well and captured the eye, the arrangements of the figures and other subjects could be random, unusual and striking.

In ‘Luncheon on the Grass,’ it is almost as though Monet shifted the frame up and to the left. Part of this shifting and imbalance of the whole composition was exacerbated by the fact that this was only the central panel of the painting, the others having mildewed in Monet’s landlord’s basement while being held as collateral for rent, but the composition would have been skewed anyway. We see only part of the dress and arm of one lady on the left, while large areas of white space and extra forest greenery open up on the right. The picnic blanket is cut off at the bottom, but yet the open, less defined forest soars far above the heads of the figures at the top.

Beach at Trouville, 1870, Claude Monet. (Click 3X to enlarge.)

“The Beach at Trouville” cuts off interesting right side features such as the stairways and buildings in favor of showing more of the open beach, ocean and the expanse of sky, which is the largest feature of the piece. In the painting, ‘Hyde Park,’ Monet slices off a quarter of his right side tree, while including significant open space to the right of the vista. If anything, rather than creating dynamic balance and following the rules of composition, in much of his early work, Monet purposely built his images out of symmetry, but not out of balance or equilibrium. His interest seems to be in disrupting our sensibilities, not in working with them.

Monet, perhaps better than any other artist ever, mastered the portrayal of mood in settings and people. Besides choosing lighter or darker tones, his ability to see and capture the effects of light on objects and scenes and his use of great expanses of sky, though often detrimental to perfect composition, enabled him to visually show the feeling of any given place. In this sense, form, subject and the arrangement of objects within the frame, were subordinate to and less important than the emotions he wanted to elicit. Examples abound in his early and late work.

Hyde Park, 1871, Claude Monet. (Click 3X to enlarge.)

In the paintings exhibited in “Monet: The Early Years,” for example, we can compare the somber hues in “Hyde Park” to the bright, white dominated, yet also colorful scene in “The Beach at Trouville.”

Monet also used composition to indicate what was important in a painting. For example, in “The Cradle” the baby and cradle occupied the center and were depicted in bright, colorful and white tones, while Camille sitting at the baby’s side was only a little over halfway in the frame and outlined in dark olives, grays and blacks.

The Green Wave, 1866, Claude Monet. (Click 3X to enlarge.)

In “The Green Wave,” the top third of the mast and sails of the sailboat are out of the frame. Very little space is allowed for a large sailing ship in the distance and another boat also sailing on the same Green Wave. On the other hand, a large, open space of the ocean in the foreground dominates the painting. The sailboats are not the subject of the piece, the ocean and the wave are. Cutting off the top of the sailboat and devoting over one third of the entire painting to the nearly unvaried green wave also make the creations of man small in the face of nature, another theme of the painting. “La Grenouillére,” on the surface is a painting of the lively swimming hole on the Seine in Paris. The exhibition text explained the painting:

La Grenouillére, 1869, Claude Monet. (Click 3X to enlarge.)

“Monet’s “La Grenouillére,” portraying a popular bathing spot on the Seine, carefully captured in color brushstrokes the effects of light, rendering a feeling of pleasure. The men and women sit leisurely at the café, converse under the central tree, partake in swimming, and prepare for a boat ride out on the sun-drenched water. Yet the true subject of this painting is perhaps the river itself. While the activity of the figures is evoked through quick, energetic dashes of the brush, Monet lavished attention on the water, its multiple colors, its reflections, and its depths.”

Monet continued to break with convention in his later work, but not to the extent he did as a young master, until the last 10 years of his life. Robert Taylor described “Monet: The Early Years” in the San Jose Mercury News as a “stunning, exuberant show of nearly 60 paintings, a revelation for art lovers who think they’ve already seen everything Monet has to offer… They haven’t seen the radical Monet, the experimental Monet, the artist whose bold, dramatic paintings are in high contrast to the placid, familiar garden settings.” Read more, “Monet, The Early Years Sheds Surprising Light on Painter.”

Shakelford, the curator of the show said, “He was taking what Gustave Courbet had done with realism and pushing it forward. He was using bigger brushstrokes. His seascapes are pretty daring, pretty tough-minded.” Yet Shakelford said as viewers move through the exhibition, “we bring people around to the Monet they expected: lovely, lighter, optimistic.”

Over and over in Monet’s early paintings he not only placed objects and people in the very center of the picture, a supposed composition “no-no,” but he also gave them extra emphasis with line and color, which further accentuated their central prominence in the work. The “imperfect” compositions serve another function as well. Because nature was most often his primary subject, imbalance within the frame helped to convey the imperfections in nature, while also showing how perfect nature is anyway, even in its imperfection, just like Monet’s paintings.

Every painting in “Monet: The Early Years” broke at least one of the rules mentioned here. Some of Monet’s creations broke all of the rules. Monet’s work and that of many of the other impressionists, cubists, modernists and postmodernists are good resources for studying why compositions that break the rules often have more impact than those that conform.

Japanese Bridge, 1899, Claude Monet. (Click 3X to enlarge.)

A good number of Monet’s later paintings are also two-thirds or three-quarters sky, or one other element, perhaps a hay field, or a beach. He often split the horizon, placed objects directly in the center or ignored other popular aesthetic preferences. What is going on here? Perhaps if your subject matter and the light on it are depicted well enough, you don’t need the “rules of composition.” That is, if you show other attributes of genius in your work, a dissonance of composition or other departures from standard practice may be possible or even desirable.

Monet Takes Abstraction Further

“Monet: The Late Years,” turned out to be laden with departures as well. The San Francisco Weekly described the show as, “An exhibit of Claude Monet’s final 13 years that included paintings of water lilies that were never publicly viewed during the Impressionist master’s lifetime.” Read more, “The Color of Monet: Get Ready for De Young’s Blockbuster Show.” Monet’s last major metamorphosis came about late in life while he painted his own estate in Giverney, France. With the help of hired gardeners, Monet kept his gardens and water features in idyllic condition. At the same time, his own eyesight began to fade. These factors combined to manifest as greater and greater abstraction in his paintings. He was mourning the death of his second wife, Alice, in 1911 and his son, Jean, in 1914. Cataracts threatened to eliminate his sight completely, just as some of the battles of World War I backed the French army almost up to his doorstep. His paintings became more and more of an escape into an unreal world. The SFist said, “Things get downright psychadelic by the 1920s, when Monet was blind in one eye and had only 10 percent sight left in the other,” in the review, “6 Things to Know Before Going to the deYoung’s ‘Monet: The Late Years’ Exhibit.”

Japanese Bridge, 1899, Claude Monet. (Click 3X to enlarge.)

Shakelford, the curator, argued that Monet’s late paintings were nothing less than the beginnings of Modern Art. Abstract artists such as Wassily Kandinsky and Ellsworth Kelly cited Monet as an inspiration. Kelly said that Monet’s late work changed him when he saw two of the paintings in Switzerland. Indeed, Monet’s “The Japanese Bridge,” one of his most abstract late paintings came as a loan from Switzerland’s Kunstmuseum Basel.

Many of his later paintings, though abstract, remained attractive to collectors because of their pleasing colors, but paintings from Monet’s last decade, made as his eyesight faded, were even more subtle and less striking. They were so subtle, there was no market for them. It took until many years later, after Impressionism took the world by storm, in most cases long after the painters themselves were gone, for some of the more obscure paintings by Monet and the others to be recognized as great and valued with the rest of the Impressionist canon. Unusual compositions in Monet’s early work did not turn off the art establishment nearly as much as the breaking of other conventions in art.

Japanese Bridge, 1918, Claude Monet. (Click 3X to enlarge.)

We could deconstruct Monet paintings until the cows come home to eat haystacks, but regardless of the explanations, what he did in his creations worked, even if in some cases, his paintings did not please the sensibilities of the time, they brought a new awareness and eventually changed how people viewed art and how people made art. Rather than characterizing composition as merely another technique, or attainment through a series of formulas, Monet remade it. Likewise in photography, Edward Weston advised aspiring photographers that composition is merely the strongest way of seeing. Adams, Weston and the other members of Group f.64 reinvented photography by eliminating rules, not by adding to them. We don’t learn to be great artists by studying formulas or memorizing techniques, but through deep observation of our subjects, perhaps by seeing them as deeply as Monet did with failing eyesight, or as profoundly as Edward Weston did. Weston said, “To photograph a rock make it look like a rock, but be more than a rock.” We learn from how great artists before us depicted the subjects we wish to depict, even if this means, seeing beyond what is being depicted. This is perhaps why dying people wish to view Monet paintings one last time before they go. There is more in them than we readily see, perhaps a glimpse of the light beyond that Monet himself could see better near the end. We take ideas from great art and try them in our own work and ultimately in our lives. One idea works, another is a flop today, but next month, next year, or someday, perhaps an idea works in a new situation.

Japanese Bridge, 1924, Claude Monet. (Click 3X to enlarge.)

Artists whose photography or paintings endure give us a transcendent experience. Walking through “Monet: The Early Years,” my friend Ron and I discussed feeling exhilarated and awakened by the spirit of Monet’s paintings and the force of his creativity. Being in the presence of his artwork, we experienced his psyche and took a bit of it home. I can say without doubt that Monet’s paintings changed me, just as they did Ellsworth Kelly. Seeing any great artist’s creations gathered and isolated to bring out their full impact gives us a metaphysical and tangible experience, a momentary sense of another’s life. We left refreshed and re-energized, determined and full of insight. We were enriched by our exposure to excellence and by seeking it over the rehash of mundane technique.

Ardis Hyde’s Garden 1: Digging Stumps, Beginner’s Luck and Mom’s Green Thumb

November 5th, 2020 by David Leland Hyde 2 comments »

Ardis Hyde’s Garden One

Feature Blog Post

Gardening Background From the Sierra Nevada to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and Back

What Ardis Hyde Left Behind

Fall Color, Japanese Maples and Other Ornamental Trees, Ardis Hyde’s Garden, 2017 by David Leland Hyde. (To view large click image.)

My mother, Ardis Hyde, was a self-trained naturalist, botanist, kindergarten teacher, neighborhood garden buying club organizer, Audubon birder, food preserver, cook and green thumb gardening enthusiast, teacher and networker.

She not only grew a bountiful vegetable garden every year, she and my father, pioneer conservation Photographer Philip Hyde, left to me here surrounding our home called Rough Rock, an ornamental tree and shrub garden including Forsythia, Butterfly Bushes, Lilac, Snowball and many others. Her a 120-foot-long rock-wall-edged raised bed flower garden still blooms every year from February to October. I also inherited her three plum trees, an apple orchard with four apple trees, a raspberry patch, parsley, sage, lavender, chives, rhubarb, Indian Rhubarb, oregano, a few volunteer strawberry plants, concord grapes, green grapes, a mountain stream fed lawn, and a garden shed full of garden tools, pots, peat moss, hummus, and other supplies. Now almost two decades after her passing, her Clematis bush still blooms bright white in the fall, followed by a dazzling array of fall leaf color displayed by Japanese Maples, Big Leaf Maples, several types of dogwood, aspens and of course the native California Black Oaks.

Growing Up Digging Out Stumps and Hauling Manure

When I was a boy starting at about age 11, one of my main jobs in her garden was to dig out stumps the old fashioned way by hand using a pick, shovel, mattock, various sizes of hoes, crowbars and often one or two Come-Alongs at the end just for good measure. Read more about various influence that got me started in gardening: Living the Good Life 5: Agricultural Influences.

My other garden job was to go to various ranches nearby in Indian Valley or American Valley and clean out horse stalls, or piles of old manure, hay, sand or dirt and shovel and pitchfork them into our old ‘52 Chevy pickup that Dad originally bought from Brett Weston. Read more about Mom and Dad’s road trips and adventures in our old Chevy truck before it was old in this blog series starting with Covered Wagon Journal 1.

When I was about 10, Mom helped me organize and plant my own little garden about seven feet square. I am still looking through Mom’s Home Logs to try to find her description of us making that garden together. I will update this post or write another in this series when I find it.

Beginner’s Luck in New Mexico With Help From Mom, a Good Neighbor and Kokopelli

After my own first garden, I continued to help Mom with her gardening, but never grew another plot myself until almost two decades later. In 1995 not far from my place near Pecos, New Mexico, my friend and neighbor Michael Kaczor, an expert gardener, had an impressive extra large yard full of plants of all kinds and more quality produce than I had ever seen. He had sunflowers 15 feet tall, zucchini two feet long and strawberry plants with berries nearly as big as apples. After watching him cultivate hundreds of pounds of produce a year, with his encouragement, I decided to try to raise my own harvest.

We had an abundance of sunshine at that latitude in “The Land of Enchantment.” With the Southwest sun as a given, many times Michael emphasized that soil was the most important factor in gardening success. One day he stopped by my place and after walking around my yard for about three minutes he said, “You have even better soil than I did before I started.” I was lucky to live about 100 feet from a small stream in a meadow. “You are right in the bottomland,” he exclaimed. “You really need to grow a garden here and see what happens.”

He taught me a number of other key gardening secrets and tricks that I will go into in posts to come in this series as I share more about that garden and why it was an example of massive beginner’s luck, mainly due to circumstances, location, hard work, good advice, a little luck and the good medicine brought to me by living where the natives had lived and thrived. Not to mention that there was an ancient, unmarked Native American, possibly even Anasazi burial grounds several hundred yards away and the previous owner’s metal sculpture of the mythic humpbacked flute player fertility deity Kokopelli left on site.

From Butterflies to an Interview With Mom and a Caretaker’s Garden For My Father and Me in 2003

During that time I also consulted my mother often about various details of gardening. One time I was visiting my parents back home at Rough Rock in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of far Northeastern California and I got an idea to write an article about butterfly gardening, which was one of my mother’s specialties. She agreed to sit down with me and do an interview on tape about how to attract butterflies with various flowering plants. It turned out to be a delightful audio track of us discussing her favorite subject, but we wandered around over so many diverse subjects, I did not get enough about butterflies to write an article. She passed on only about six months later. I probably could have read up on butterfly gardening enough to at least write a short piece, but it all suddenly felt very personal and raw. Even though the article was a loss, the interview was one of my gains of a lifetime. It still inspires me as a delightful keepsake that I play from time to time to remember her by. Looking back, I wish I had made a whole cabinet full of tapes of her. Read more about how my parents were part of the 1950s Back to the Land Movement: Living the Good Life 2: From City to Mountain Paradise.

Between my mother’s talents and skills and those from New Mexico, I longed to get back into horticulture again myself. However, it was not until 2003, when I moved back home to Rough Rock in the Northern Sierra Nevada Mountains to be the primary caregiver and cook for my father, that I had a chance to resurrect Ardis Hyde’s Garden. It took a lot of time and work, which took me away from the critical task of watching over my 80 plus year old Dad, who had lost his eyesight to Macular Degeneration not long before. He was pretty down after losing the two loves of his life: photography and mom. He kept saying he was ready to die and wanted to wander out into the woods to do so like the Native Americans used to do. However, he did manage to stick around for four years, which were the most challenging, yet rewarding years of my life. Raising a garden at the same time was difficult, but I’m glad I did it at least that one year because it was not until 17 years later, this spring in 2020 that I replanted the raised beds I had built in 2003. In upcoming blog posts in this series, I will share my latest gardening adventures with the idea of helping people learn and remember with me, not just about gardening, but also about putting food by, storing, preserving and rebuilding the rest of my parents’ system for food independence, health resilience, self-reliance and harmony with nature. For more on self-reliance, see the blog article, Living The Good Life 3: The Change of Seasons, Self-Reliance, Money and Freedom. The kind of skills largely forgotten or overlooked in our contemporary culture. Knowledge that we and the planet are in great need of now for survival and long-term abundance. For more on how to survive the next 20 years: Art, Earth and Ethics 1 – The Abuse of Nature and Our Future.

Golden Decade Students of Ansel Adams Vintage Prints Exhibited at Bolinas Museum

February 22nd, 2020 by David Leland Hyde No comments »

Golden Decade Students of Ansel Adams Show Vintage Contact Prints for the First Time Ever at the Bolinas Museum

January 25 – March 22, 2020

Apologies for the short notice, but this show is well worth going to if you are going anywhere. At least there will not be a crowd. Use your own judgment and be safe.

Sunken Wrecked Car Body, Tidal Pool, Sausalito, Marin County, California, 1948 by Philip Hyde. This photograph is in the Bolinas Museum show. (Click to enlarge.)

All of Ansel Adams’ students at the California School of Fine Arts, now the San Francisco Art Institute, learned to make darkroom silver prints and to fine tune their print enlargements by first printing 5X7 and 4X5 contact prints. Ansel Adams also produced contact prints, as did returning guest luminaries Edward Weston, Dorothea Lange, and Imogen Cunningham, as well as lead instructor Minor White and others.

Early students in the photography program, the first of it’s kind to teach creative photography as a profession, included my father Philip Hyde, Pirkle Jones, Ruth-Marion Baruch, Gerald Ratto, David Johnson, Bill Heick, Benjamen Chinn, Cameron Macauley, Stan Zrnich, Charles Wong, Ira Latour, and others. Not all of these mentioned are featured in the Bolinas Museum show, but a number of the student’s vintage contact prints in the exhibition have never been shown before. This is largely due to a knowledgeable curator, Jennifer O’Keeffe, who now teaches history of photography at San Francisco Art Institute, presumably in the same department Adams founded.

Contact prints are the closest representation of what the photographer sees, pointed out O’Keefe to the San Francisco Chronicle Datebook. Dad used to say a contact print is the positive image of the original negative with no enlargement. Datebook, SF Gate, rarely writes about art shows, unless the artist is internationally known, historically significant or creates something else unusual. Of all the students at the California School of Fine Arts from the first decade, that is, what is now called the Golden Decade, only about 10 are still living. They are all over 90. There are six still doing well and living in the Bay Area. Philip Hyde passed on in 2006 at age 84. He was born in San Francisco and lived in other Bay Area cities with his family as a boy and on his own including San Rafael, Berkeley, Daily City and elsewhere in Northern California before living out his years in the Northern Sierra Nevada Mountains in a wilderness home he built.

Hyde teamed up with many other Bay Area conservationists including David Brower, Ken Brower, Ansel Adams, Martin Litton, Dave Bohn, Tris Coffin and photographers Edward Weston, Brett Weston, Cole Weston, Wynn Bullock, William Garnett, Richard Norgaard, Ed Cooper and others to produce the Exhibit Format Series for Sierra Club Books. The Sierra Club Books Exhibit Format Series spearheaded many of the campaigns that made our Western national parks. One Bay Area Landmark close to Bolinas on the Marin County Coast is Point Reyes National Seashore. Philip Hyde’s book, Island in Time: The Point Reyes Peninsula with text by Harold Gilliam, landed on the desk of every member of Congress and other Washington leaders, while sales of the second edition raised the funds necessary to buy up the remaining ranches on Point Reyes to keep them out of the hands of developers.

Philip Hyde, in the process of working on wilderness campaigns all over the West often supported local conservation organizations like Friends of the Three Sisters Wilderness in Eugene, Oregon, The Seattle Mountaineers and others, not to mention many national organizations as well, including the Wilderness Society, National Audubon, the Izaak Walton League and many others.

To support grassroots mobilization efforts, Philip Hyde sent his early silver prints, sometimes for display, sometimes as press prints. Over more than 60 years of full-time photography for conservation, he made hundreds of thousands of silver prints total, but this broke down to only about six or less of each image. During photography school, he made two to four contact prints of each photograph he printed. From those he got a sense of what he wanted to emphasize in each photograph when he dodged, burned and worked up larger prints. He usually made 8X10s next, then 10X13s, 11X14s, 16X20s, 20X24s and 40X50s. Fewer and fewer images made the cut to print at the larger and largest sizes. Hyde also had a 10½ foot X 14 foot sink. He made 10X14 foot darkroom silver prints in it for the Oakland Museum Natural Sciences Wing, one of the earliest exhibitions of it’s kind with giant murals behind the displays. The Oakland Museum only this last decade finally replaced these displays.

Philip Hyde has always been known for bringing an artist’s training and sensibilities to documentary photography. Some of his early black and white photographs show the influence of his mentors Edward Weston and Ansel Adams, but as Hyde’s career developed, he became a mentor himself through his books and teaching workshops. Philip Hyde led the first Ansel Adams Color Workshop and many others. His work became a model: lifestyle, methods and images. Many Americans today do not necessarily know Philip Hyde’s name, but they have usually seen his iconic Western landscapes. Hyde’s classic views, which in some cases he either photographed first or popularized the most through his large format nature books, have become bucket list photograph locations for social media adventurers and part of the lexicon for landscape photography.

Many of Hyde’s classmates have attained similar levels of recognition. A number of the names above participated in the famous Family of Man exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Pirkle Jones, Gerald Ratto, David Johnson, Ira Latour, Bill Heick and others have all had nationally acclaimed shows in major museums and galleries, have published books and been written about by the most eminent magazines and newspapers. After the self-published version of the book, The Golden Decade: Photography at the California School of Fine Arts came out in 2010 numerous prominent museums and galleries exhibited the Golden Decade photographers. The shows were popular and well attended. For example, at the Golden Decade Exhibition at Smith Andersen North over 500 people showed up for the opening. More recently after Steidl published the book, there were more gallery and museum shows, as well as book signings with the photographers and editors Ken Ball and Victoria Whyte-Ball, daughter of Don Whyte. See Bolinas Museum Golden Decade Show for more details.

Bolinas Museum

48 Wharf Road
Post Office Box 450
Bolinas, California 94924

415-868-0330

Main Gallery:

THE GOLDEN DECADE: Photography at the California School of Fine Arts, 1945-1955

January 25 – March 22, 2020

Museum Hours:
Friday 1 – 5 PM
Saturday 12 – 5 PM
Sunday 12 – 5 PM

Office Hours:
Tuesday – Friday 9 AM – 5 PM

Drylands: The Deserts of North America 4

February 12th, 2020 by David Leland Hyde 2 comments »

Excerpts From The Text And Photographs of Drylands: The Deserts of North America by Philip Hyde, Part Four

Continued from the blog post, “Drylands: The Deserts Of North America 3.”

 

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

Drylands: The Deserts of North America with photographs and text by Philip Hyde came out of nearly 60 years of exploring and defending western North American wilderness with special emphasis on the five deserts of the continent. Yolla Bolly Press, which also packaged Mountain Light by Galen Rowell and other well-known landscape photography titles, recently donated its archive to Stanford University, where Drylands can be visited. Drylands is now out of print, but can be found at various online booksellers including here at the Amazon used booksellers.

The previous blog article in this series, “Drylands: The Deserts Of North America 2,” tells the story of the making of the book. The first blog post, “Drylands: The Deserts Of North America 1,” contained the beginning of the first chapter of the text of Drylands itself, while “Drylands: The Deserts Of North America 3,” continued the text up to the beginning of this post.

 

For the purposes of this book, the larger desert area of the North American continent is divided into five major regions, the general locations and boundaries of which are described below in the order in which they appear in the book.

The Painted Desert Occupies the drier, southerly portions of what geologists refer to as the Plateau Province, the region from the western edge of the Rocky Mountains to the eastern edge of the Great Basin, extending from southern Wyoming to northern Arizona, and including portions of southwestern Colorado and northwestern New Mexico. It is characterized by plateaus and deep canyons made up primarily of sedimentary rocks lying horizontally. The flora and fauna of the Painted Desert are most like those of the Great Basin Desert, and, in fact, some biologists believe the Painted Desert should be considered only a southeastern extension of the Great Basin. However, the Painted Desert cannot be considered hydrologically a part of the Great Basin. One of the major river systems of the West, the Colorado, drains nearly all of the Painted Desert area to the sea. Nor is there much similarity between the landforms of the Painted Desert and those of the Great Basin. With this book’s emphasis on the individual characteristics of each area of desert and the focus on the landscape in each, it is important to make those distinctions.

For the same reasons, I am including as parts of the Painted Desert two areas often left out of it or sometimes included in the Great Basin: Dinosaur National Monument and Grand Canyon National Park, both of which have, for our purposes, closer affinities to the Painted Desert.

The Great Basin Desert is the northernmost and largest of the areas in the North American desert. A large part of it is contiguous with the Great Basin, which, as its name implies, is a region closed hydrologically, that is, with no exterior drainage to the sea. The Great Basin Desert occupies most of Nevada; the western part of Utah to the Wasatch Front; small parts of Wyoming, Idaho and Oregon; and several small border areas of eastern California. Because of its northern location, it has great extremes of climate. The large family of cactuses found in most deserts is nearly absent. It is sometimes called the Sagebrush Desert. The characteristic terrain of the Great Basin Desert consists largely of mountain “islands” surrounded by large valleys without exterior drainage. Many of these basins contain extensive dry-lake bottoms, or playas, and a few hold remnant lakes that are descendants of once vast lakes of the Pleistocene period.

The Mojave Desert adjoins the western side of the Great Basin Desert to the south. It occupies east-central and much of southern California and extends through southern Nevada as far as Utah. The high desert in the northern part of this region gives way in the south to drier, lower, more open country. The Mojave is enclosed on the west and south by mountains, and on the east shades into the Painted Desert along part of the latter’s western boundary. Geologists draw its northern boundary along the Garlock Fault, which runs across most of the Mojave in a general west-to-east direction. For our purposes, however, Edmund Jaeger’s boundary, well north of Death Valley, is more suitable. Like the Great Basin Desert, the Mojave is part of what geologists refer to as the Basin and Range Province. Its terrain is made up of closed basins without exterior drainage.

The Sonoran Desert is perhaps most notable for its variety of xerophilic (adopted to sparse moisture) plants. Flatter, drier, and lower in elevation than its northern desert neighbors, it is named for, and covers much of, the Mexican state of Sonora. It also includes southwestern Arizona, extreme southern California, and nearly all of the Baja California peninsula.

The Chihuahuan Desert is named for the Mexican state of Chihuahua, and nearly three-quarters of it lies in Mexico. It includes a third of Chihuahua, parts of the states of Coahuila, Durango, a bit of Nuevo León, and a small area in Zacatecas. It also extends across the international boundary into westernmost Texas and southern New Mexico. The Chihuahuan Desert is the driest and most open of ther North American deserts, though like the others it includes many mountain ranges. It lies on a great intermountain plateau between Mexico’s two major mountain ranges, the Sierra Madre Occidental and the Sierra Madre Oriental. Except for the area drained by the Rio Grande and its major tributary, the Río Conchos, the large basins of the Chihuahuan are without drainage.

Continued in the blog post, “Drylands: The Deserts of North America 5.”

Do you prefer the desert, mountains, plains, forest or seashore? What is your favorite desert?

Top 20 Photographs of 2019 – Year-End-Retrospective

December 27th, 2019 by David Leland Hyde 10 comments »

Top 20 Photographs of 2019

Year-End-Retrospective

This year I focused more on marketing and PR than making new photographs, which is starting to pay off some. Solid publishing credits through my licensing agreement with Genesee Valley Ranch and the Genesee Store included several images of mine appearing in an article for Forbes Magazine and others in a feature for Food and Wine Magazine.

In the decade from 2010 to 2019, I made the most photographs in 2015, the fewest photographs in 2010 and the second fewest in 2019. In my opinion and according to others as well, in 2019 I still made as many portfolio quality images. My goal is to continue this trend of decreasing the quantity and amount of time invested, while maintaining quality. Besides publicity, press relations, print sales and other marketing, I am focusing more energy on longer writing projects. I also need to develop and place more major museum exhibitions of the work of my father, pioneer conservation photographer Philip Hyde.

I ventured out to photograph only twice in early 2019 during the winter. One of the rare photo sessions was during a storm clearing when the power went out at home in the wilderness of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Spring found me out a few more times, looking for green pastures, snow-capped peaks and traditionally grass-fed, hay-supplemented cows raised on year-around zestful mountain valley living and small ranches. The cattle in our neck of the woods in the Lost Sierra tend to fatten up after the leaner, colder days end. I made a set of images in June for possible real estate marketing of the Hanley-Openshaw Ranch off of Deadfall Lane in Indian Valley near my home in the upper Indian Creek watershed, part of the Feather River Region, also known as the Lost Sierra at the farthest eastern edge of the California Gold Country. For some time I had wanted to regain access to this beautiful piece of ranch or farmland with spectacular views of Grizzly Ridge and Grizzly Peak from its spring green pastures along Indian Creek.

I have been going to the annual Taylorsville Silver Buckle Rodeo off and on my whole life and have attended a few other rodeos. However, I never photographed a rodeo until 2017. The Taylorsville Silver Buckle Rodeo only allowed one photographer for many years, but an opportunity opened up that allowed a number of us to bring in our cameras for the action in 2019. Rodeo Queen Emma Kingdon asked me to capture her two ceremonial rides in the rodeo. Quick note to animal activists: in my experience, ranchers, cowboys, cowgirls and other cattlemen care for their animals very well, much better than anyone without the same close ties to the land and to making a living from it.

After the rodeo, I walked down to “the river,” the local nickname for Indian Creek. People of all ages, especially teenagers, after the rodeo customarily ride horses bareback into the shallow water on a quiet stretch of the creek that extends about half a mile upstream from the Taylorsville Bridge. There I met a lady who was building a website for her neuroscience-based therapy business. We agreed on a trade for photographs for her online platform. It was a fun fashion-style photo shoot, but the images were perhaps a bit too contrasty for web branding purposes, though I feel they may be good samples for a potential future fashion portfolio.

Other photo excursions took me back to Sierra Valley several times to track down a number of the historic ranches I could not get to in other visits. Sierra Valley is the largest mountain valley over 5,000 feet in elevation in the world. I also revisited Greenhorn Creek near Quincy, California for the first time since 2012. One of the highlights of my lighter year in photography was capturing the Middle Fork of the Feather River for the first time.

My photographs below are all single-exposure, single-image capture with no bracketing, no HDR and no blends. I use Photoshop CC as my digital darkroom to develop and print my photographs with similar aesthetics to traditional film photographers. I do dramatically change some images, most of which are readily recognizable as altered from “reality.” I do the usual dodging and burning, also known as lightening and darkening. I control contrast, as well as shadow and highlight intensity, vibrance and saturation, making subtle shifts that bring out the natural attributes inherent in the scene. I only remove or move objects within the frame if they are small distractions with only a small effect on the overall integrity of the photograph. For many decades photographs have been considered one of the truest ways of re-creating a “real-life” scene. I chose not to risk breaking the public’s trust and expectation that photographs represent “reality.” However, I do enjoy approaching that line and playing with it. I also am starting to make art that goes on traditional photography. Stay tuned. 🙂

Blog Project Posts From Years Past:

Best Photographs of 2018

Best Photographs of 2017

Favorite Photographs of 2016

My Favorite Photographs of 2015

Best Photographs of 2014

Best Photographs of 2013

My 12 “Greatest Hits” of 2012

Best Photos of 2011

My Favorite Photos of 2010

Grizzly Peak From Stampfli Lane, Indian Valley, Winter, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California by David Leland Hyde. (Click Image Twice to See Large)

Sunlight Through Clouds, Mt. Hough, Wagyu Cattle, Genesee Valley, Spring, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California by David Leland Hyde.

Indian Creek and Grizzly Peak at Hanley-Openshaw Ranch, Indian Valley, Spring, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California by David Leland Hyde.

Four Cows and Indian Head, Indian Valley, Winter, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California by David Leland Hyde.

Barbed Wire Fence, Three Posts and Reflections Detail, Snowmelt Fields, Sierra Valley, Winter, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California by David Leland Hyde.

Chet, Angela and Cattle Herd in Pouring Rain, Hanley-Openshaw Ranch, Indian Valley, Spring, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California by David Leland Hyde.

“Wrangler,” July 4 Taylorsville Silver Buckle Rodeo, Taylorsville, California by David Leland Hyde.

Daniella With Flag Shawl, July 4 Taylorsville Silver Buckle Rodeo, Taylorsville, California by David Leland Hyde.

Two Generations Feeding Cows, South Side T. Dotta Ranch, Sierra Valley, Winter, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California by David Leland Hyde.

Bronco Bucking off Cowboy Blur, July 4 Taylorsville Silver Buckle Rodeo, Taylorsville, California by David Leland Hyde.

Sunset, Hay Harvest, Deadfall Lane, Indian Head in Distance, Indian Valley, Summer, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California by David Leland Hyde.

Two Main Barns From the South, Van Vleck VV Bar Ranch, Fall, Sierra Valley, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California by David Leland Hyde.

Sierra Wave Cloud Over Hosselkus Creek, Genesee Valley and Kettle Rock, Spring, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California by David Leland Hyde.

Fly Fisherman at Riffle on Middle Fork, Feather River, Fall, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California by David Leland Hyde.

Grasses, Shadows, Cliff Reflections, Middle Fork, Feather River, Fall, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California by David Leland Hyde.

Yellow Indian Rhubarb and Mossy Boulders, Greenhorn Creek, Fall, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California by David Leland Hyde.

Frozen Stream, C.C. Guidici East Barn, Hyde Van, Sierra Valley, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California by David Leland Hyde.

Old Wagons, Main Barn, Granary, Dellera M. Guidici Ranch, Beckwourth Peak Across Sierra Valley, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California by David Leland Hyde.

Grace and Beef Steer, Plumas-Sierra Junior Livestock Auction, Plumas County Fair, Quincy, California by David Leland Hyde.

Rodeo Queen Emma Kingdon Prepping Tack, July 4 Taylorsville Silver Buckle Rodeo, Taylorsville, California by David Leland Hyde.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Climate Change A Hoax?

October 22nd, 2019 by David Leland Hyde 10 comments »

Climate Change Hoax Cartoon by Joel Pett from USA Today and Royce Fullerton’s Blog.

Click Here for the original USA Today posting or see Royce Fullerton’s Blog.

(Originally posted on Landscape Photography Reader March 25, 2010.)