Best Photos Of 2011

December 28th, 2011 by David Leland Hyde Leave a reply »

My Best Photos of 2011…

…And A Brief Summary Of How They Were Made

Curved Shadow On Cliffs At Drakes Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore, California, copyright 2011 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Last Light On Mount Hough, Arlington Ridge, Indian Valley, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2011 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

The Mayan Calendar signals not so much an ending, as many have misinterpreted, but a new beginning in 2012. The Mayan Calendar, besides merely dividing up and organizing time like any calendar, also measured the nature of time. Time periods were represented by architypal glyphs that described the nature of events likely to occur during that time cycle. According to the Mayan Calendar, the current time cycle has certain characteristics, as will future time cycles. Perhaps those who have been paying attention to events around the world have observed the nature of the transition between time cycles. The new beginning already under way in 2011 is characterized by upheaval of various industries brought on by the internet and transparency, development of green technologies, communications technologies and political regime changes.

The Mayans had two calendars. One for measuring in short time intervals such as 26 days, 20 days and 13 days. The 13 day cycle is the basis of this calendar. The Mayan’s second calendar measured longer time spans like 360 days, 7,200 days and

Granite, Pool, Maple Leaves At Indian Falls, Northern Sierra Nevada, California copyright 2011 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

144,000 days. This second calendar the Mayans called their “Long Count.” In 2012 the Mayan Calendar reaches the end of the current Long Count, which began in 3114 BCE, and begins a new Long Count. The year 2012, marks a transition from one world age to another. The smallest unit of time in the Mayan Calendar was 13 days. The next largest measurement was 20 days. The shorter calendar divided the year into 13 months of 20 days. In honor of the Mayan Calendars, the passing away of the old order and the transition to a new way of life on Earth, I have selected the best 13

Grain Processing Plant At Night, Great Central Valley, California, copyright 2011 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

photographs from 2011. Keeping time as the Mayans did, in 13s rather than 12s, as with the Gregorian Calendar, enhances creativity, connection with nature, grounding and expansion of thought to more awareness of the universe and the unity of all things. Whereas the number 12, used in the Gregorian Calendar and our daily time keeping system of clocks, encourages logic, systematization and conformity to the established order.

Clocks and factories developed in Europe at the same time in history. Factory

Thistle Heads And Pines, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2011 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

management encouraged town citizens to follow a system of time schedule regimentation. Large clocks in town centers were installed to regulate workers in large numbers. The daily schedule regulated by clocks with time measured in units of 12, brought higher productivity and profitability to the factories, while instilling a certain order in worker’s lives and dependence on the factory system. Today in this time of transition, the human race is reinventing time and the system and thereby changing our lifestyle from

Tent Camp, Night Mist, Occupy UC Davis, Davis, California, copyright 2011 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

servitude to freedom. In that spirit I present my Best Photos of 2011, as suggested by Jim M. Goldstein’s blog project.

All of these photographs except “Dancer Pose, Natarajasana, Black Oak, Mount Jura,” are single image capture with minimal post processing, if any. To read my photography philosophy and artist’s statement see the blog post, “My Favorite Photos of 2010.”

The first landscape photograph comes from Point Reyes National Seashore,

Old Cabin Porch, Feather River Canyon, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2011 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

California. I chose it as a tribute to my father, pioneer conservation photographer Philip Hyde, whose photographs originally helped create Point Reyes National Seashore. Point Reyes, on the coast of Marin County just north of the San Francisco Bay Area, is not an easy place to photograph because it is a low moor country of rolling grassland hills. The skies are often drab and the scenery rather subtle in its beauty. I have fond memories of backpacking with my parents on Drake’s Beach, renting bicycles in Olema and riding along the tree lined sleepy roads of

Dancer Pose, Natarajasana, Black Oak, Mount Jura, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2011 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

the Inverness Ridge area. Despite the challenges, Dad made some timeless photographs around Point Reyes, including one “quintessential Philip Hyde” that he titled simply, “Drake’s Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore.” Many masters of the West Coast tradition photographed Point Reyes including Ansel Adams, Brett Weston, Edward Weston, Eadweard Muybridge and others.

During our travel adventure in Point Reyes, I was fortunate to arrive with my companions at Drake’s Beach while the low sun angle brought on the evening magic hour. I photographed until Sundown. Before we visited Drake’s Beach, my party and I had walked out to the top of the stairway down to the Lighthouse, but the gate at the top of the stairway was already closed and locked for the evening. On the way out to the Lighthouse, I made the tenth photograph in this blog post, “Sand Fence Near Point Reyes Light House.” After some group photos, rock climbing and other fun around the Point Reyes Lighthouse, we drove down to Drakes Beach where I made the first photograph.

The second landscape photograph of the Sun hitting just the very top of Mt. Hough in the Northern Sierra Nevada did not result from careful planning, studying a photographer’s ephemeris or long

Japanese Maple In Upper Garden Against Forest And Sky, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2011 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

waiting for the right moment. I was driving home from Greenville one day and looked up and there it was. (View this photograph large: “Last Light On Mt. Hough, Arlington Ridge.”) Photographs like this are gifts from Nature, God or whatever you believe in or call it. The photograph comes through me and I merely receive it. I am the creator, yet not the creator.

“Granite, Pool, Maple Leaves” surprised me. That day at Indian Falls I thought I had made a number of excellent photographs, but none of them turned out to be all that great when I opened them in Photoshop. However, “Granite, Pool, Maple Leaves” grew on me and people I showed it to liked it. (View large:

Sand Fence Near Point Reyes Lighthouse, Point Reyes National Seashore, California, copyright 2011 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Granite, Pool, Maple Leaves At Indian Falls.”) The seventh and 12th photographs, “Old Cabin Porch, Feather River Canyon” and “Indian Creek Above Indian Falls” came from around the same area on a different day.

Rolling through Central Valley towns on California State Highway 113 on my way to Occupy UC Davis, I noticed these strangely shaped and colored shadows on this odd industrial farm building. I stopped and made, “Grain Processing Plant At Night, Great Central Valley.”

Arlington Ridge, Oak Knoll, Indian Valley, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2011 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

Once I arrived at UC Davis that evening about 10:00 pm, I found the main Quad and made photographs there and in front of the Financial Aid building until around 2:00 am, then got up later that morning at 7:00 and photographed most of the day. I share more about the experience of photographing Occupy UC Davis in my blog post, “Occupy Wall Street At UC Davis.” Both of the Occupy UC Davis photographs that made it into the top 13 group here, I made the first night I arrived within a few minutes of each other. Number 13 at the end of this blog post, “Tents, Fountain, Dutton Hall Financial Aid, Occupy UC Davis” was one of the last few I made at the Financial Aid Building before I wandered back out to the Main Quad. On my way out to the Main Quad a group of campus Policemen pulled up in two police cars and asked me if I was photographing for my own purposes or for the media. I said that I was a blogger but I didn’t know yet how the photographs were going to turn out. I made “Tent Camp, Night Mist, Occupy UC Davis” shortly after.

Last week, after playing ice hockey and making a series of action photos at a local pond ice hockey game, I noticed these thistle heads next to the pond backlit by the sun. The beauty of the golden illumination around the edges of each thistle head caught my eye, but I made quick exposures not thinking much of note would result. The moment I reviewed this photograph after

Indian Creek Above Indian Falls (Vertical), Northern Sierra Nevada, California, copyright 2011 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

pressing the shutter, I decided it was one of my best of the year.

The ‘nude in nature’ photograph of a friend is a tribute to Edward Weston and Kim Weston, who showed me excellent hospitality last year when I visited Edward Weston’s home where Kim Weston now lives on Wildcat Hill in Carmel Highlands, California. Kim Weston leads photo workshops on the spot where Edward Weston lived. Kim Weston is also known for his nudes in nature, as of course was his grandfather.

My mother, Ardis King Hyde, descended from four generations of farmers in California’s Great Central Valley. She excelled in the art of gardening and farming, as did all of her three brothers. She studied and planted ornamental shrubs and trees, flowers and vegetables. She planted a number of Japanese Maples that put on a brilliant display every Fall color season without fail, even on a lesser Fall color year like this one, where most of the other trees leaves turned quickly from green to brown in a matter of less than

Tents, Fountain, Dutton Hall Financial Aid, Occupy UC Davis, Davis, California, copyright 2011 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

a week without stopping at yellow, orange or red in between. I have made many photographs of Mom’s Japanese Maples, especially in the Fall the last several years. This year’s photograph, “Japanese Maple In Upper Garden Against Forest And Sky” in my opinion is the best.

Unlike this winter, which so far has proved to be mainly dry and cold, last winter proved heavier than many with snow after snow hitting the Northern Sierra Nevada. During the many weeks when not much else could be accomplished outdoors, I went out photographing often. “Arlington Ridge, Oak Knoll, Indian Valley” was one of the gift fruits of these labors of love. Thank you for sharing in this love. To view more of my photographs see the blog post, “David Leland Hyde Archival Prints Prelaunch” or my portfolio on the Philip Hyde website.



  1. And, thank you for sharing your words and images over the past year. I’ve learned from you through those words and images. Following your blog has also introduced me to fellow bloggers who are photographers and writers, people I need in my life.

    If at all possible we need to schedule a meeting, talk shop and give each other a handshake.

  2. pj says:

    Good stuff David. It’s interesting to see how you have been honing your own vision over the past year. Your father’s influence is there, but your own work isn’t imitative. I really enjoyed seeing these.

    I don’t usually like to pick favorites, but the Granite, Pool, Maple Leaves is superb.

  3. Nice work, David! I really enjoy seeing your work here as well as your dad’s…. All are good, but I really like the Last Light and Thistle Head shots! Good stuff, and thanks for sharing.

  4. Definitely, Monte. We need to connect the next time I’m in Colorado. I feel rewarded and enlightened by your photoblog and the fellow bloggers you have introduced me to through your photoblog.

    Hi PJ, thank you for the compliments and insight. People seem to really like “Granite, Pool, Maple Leaves.” It’s one of my favorites too.

    Derrick, I appreciate hearing from you and hearing your favorites. I hope others will share which they like best too.

  5. Sharon says:

    Hi David, I wish you a happy new year! Looks like you had a good year shooting but it is so hard to tell from the tiny photos. Do you have these up anywhere larger?

    Best wishes,


  6. Hi Sharon, thank you for the comment. I was just getting around to putting in links to those that have larger versions up on in the last portfolio. The last portfolio on the Philip Hyde website contains my photographs. The images in the David Leland Hyde portfolio are also those we are printing: .

  7. Sharon is right, maybe to tiny to make a good impression.
    On the first sight i think that all these images could have some better contrast and the high and low lights could be more in balance.
    It will surely benefit the result.
    Try Photoshop, image, adjustments and then levels and see wahts happen.

  8. Hi Marinus, I appreciate your intent to help. I agree with you. I am familiar with the Photoshop actions you mention, though the tiff files look exactly the way I like them and have the issues you write about well in hand. The problem I’m having is putting them online. Maybe I try to make my files too small, even for the small dimensions I am using. I have a hard time getting them to look right online, to look at all like my print files. I have been using an action called, “Save for Web and Devices” in Photoshop and that seems to be what literally changes the tones of the colors, washes out the saturation and contrast and leaves them looking grainy, which the tiff files are not. Guy Tal suggested to be sure to convert to sRGB, but that box is always checked in the save dialog window, so that isn’t the problem. Also, I am working on images on a poorly calibrated MacBook Pro monitor. I am not sure this monitor can get any better, or maybe it is operator error. I have re-calibrated it a few times, but there may be things I don’t know. Maybe one of my friends who is a Photoshop expert will make a helpful comment. Or maybe you know what I’m doing wrong… Anyway, bless it, those jpegs wouldn’t do the tiff print files justice unfortunately, even if they were larger. There’s a number of books on printing your own images that I need to buy and read that have chapters on calibrating your monitor and other image preparation concerns. Also, if I just had time to learn and apply all the resources in my highly popular blog post, “Monday Blog Blog: Photoshop For Pros,” in which I compiled the learning resources recommended to me by various professional photographers: What I actually need is a quick fix that doesn’t involve buying any expensive equipment…any ideas would be greatly appreciated…

  9. pj says:

    I’m no expert David, and I don’t use photoshop so don’t know the settings and such. I use GIMP, and make two versions of those I may use for printing. I make one big high res tif for printing purposes, and I make another copy, scale it for posting, and save it as a low res jpeg for web use. This also makes for a faster loading image. More work initially, but well worth the effort in my humble opinion.

  10. Hi PJ, thank you for the comment and follow-up. Someone will probably know a Photoshop solution, if there is one, but it may be a combination of factors that have nothing to do with Photoshop. It probably has more to do with monitor calibration and other settings.

  11. Dear David,
    thank you for sharing interesting content and immaculate photography through your blog in 2010! I think that the new Philip Hyde video was a wonderful round-up at the end of the year and I look forward to follow this blog in 2012 as well.

    I very much enjoyed looking at your personal favorite photographs from 2010! Great work, and, if I was to pick my favorite of yours it would be Curved Shadow On Cliffs At Drakes Beach; not only does the beautiful, golden reflected light emphasize a majestic (a word not often thought of when looking at coastal scenery) coastal cliff, but, I also love how the shadow really adds weight, depth and some kind of mystic mood to the photograph.

    I wish you a Wonderful 2012 and may you, your loved ones, and all of us have good health, peace and happiness in the future. I also wish, that each and every one of us are able to show more compassion to the people we meet on our path, towards all living beings (no matter how large, no matter how tiny) and that we will try our best to appreciate, protect and enjoy the nature of our common Earth.

    Best Wishes
    Seung Kye

  12. Greg Russell says:

    Beautiful set of images, David…what I note about the set is the diversity: landscapes, culture, nudes, etc. I think that’s an admirable trait in a photographer, and is something I hope to get a little better at in 2012…

    Best wishes for a happy and healthy new year!


  13. Steve Sieren says:

    Hi David, Happy New Year! I wish you the best in 2012.

    You have a great set of images here and I like the variety. If I had to pick a favorite it would be the back lit thistle.

    For processing I would just start with basic photoshop elements software. You may find it for between $50 – $100. It’s best to start simple with a 30 or so page book so you have the basic essentials learned when you are done.

  14. Hello Seung Kye, thank you for your kind praise. I am honored you take time to look at my experiments.

    In reply to Greg, today has found me well and happy. I wish you the same and all those reading this too. Happy New Year.

    Hi Steve, that’s right about Photoshop Elements. That’s what I had for three or four years before I obtained the full version of Photoshop. Nonetheless, I certainly didn’t learn everything written in my Teach Yourself Visually Photoshop Elements book.

  15. Hi David,

    When you mention that you see the tiff files in the correct colors than this mean that your monitor calibration working fine.
    I realy think that something goes wrong with converting the files.
    First, do you convert the Tiff files before you edit them in Photoshop or are you taken the Tiff file to Photoshop and then edit it.
    Try this way; Before going to Photoshop, copy the Tiff into Jpeg and than import and edit this one in Photoshop.
    Then be sure that when you import the Jpeg image in Photoshop that beneath the image stated that this one is in sRGB ( the little triangle with the menu, choose> show> document profile.

    When you save the file for web, the two images next to each other in the compare screen must then already have the same color and contrast.If there’s a different in color than theres already something wrong with importing.
    You have nothing else to buy, just be absolutely certain that the imported file is sRGB, i realy think thats the problem with the wrong colors.


  16. Hi David,

    You have my mail adress so if you are not gonna find the right solution please send me a file in Tiff (please reduce the file size then to app 1000 px) so that i could do a test for you to see whats happen there.
    I would like to help you with this problem you see its frustrating that when you have great images, and show it to other peolpe via your site these images are not conform the original.
    That means that all the work you have done in the field, and on the computer is in vain.

    Best regards,

    The Netherlands

  17. Mark says:

    Hi David,
    Happy New Year to you. I enjoyed this look back over your year, and your philosophy in picking the number of images. I can only hope that we finally realize that all nature is connected in take that into account in our future actions going forward.

    I particularly liked your commentary on “Last Light On Mount Hough.” It is so true that so many moments are simply offered to us, and are decision points where we free our mind enough to see them, or simply pass them by.

    I also wish for larger versions of the images, as I can tell most of them are begging to be viewed for their great details.

    As far as your export of the images, I can tell you that Save for Web can do very screwy things with saturation and contrast . It has to do with the color space in editing of the image, and conversion to sRGB for web viewing. It is also known to strip metadata from files if you aren’t careful of all the settings. I used to miss some of the settings, so for those reasons, I just don’t use it.

    I typically convert (Edit>Convert to Profile) my images to sRGB and resize as part of a Photoshop action. I then sharpen and adjust saturation if the image needs it. I use Save As and select JPEG and check the Embed Profile box.

    I wish you all the best for 2012 and look forward to reading your blog throughout the year.

  18. Steve Sieren says:

    Glad to know you’re beyond Elements. Still, it’s easier learn a little day by day or take a short class too. I think most community colleges have them but you probably don’t have one close by.

  19. Hi Marinus, Thank you for returning. I need to refine what I said. I know my laptop Macbook Pro screen is off in color calibration because I have seen it next to more than one well-calibrated monitor. My tiff files even on my laptop look more like they are supposed to look than the jpegs obtained by using “Save For Web and Devices.” The jpegs are too washed out and lacking contrast, especially toward the high end, on any computer, but on my computer they actually look a bit better than on others because my screen shows all images a bit dark, too saturated and with other color inaccuracies. This does not mean that there are no other problems though. The conversion from tiff to jpeg using “Save For Web and Devices” in Photoshop, remains a problem. Your advice to save a jpeg first and make post processing changes on it, makes sense, I’ve never tried that. The only drawback to that is that I prefer to have a master tiff file that I can make print files from and create all other files from.

    I also want to clarify that the only work in the field and in post processing that might be in vain would be in regard to my own images. With my father’s great historical landscape photographs, I have people to help me who have been working with Photoshop and archival digital printing for nearly as long as the technology has existed.

    Thank you, Mark. Your comments about “Save For Web and Devices” have cleared the matter up for me once and for all and coincide with my recent experience with different approaches. I will use “Save As,” not “Save For Web and Devices” from now on. I can play with the sizing settings from there and follow your suggestions regarding the other settings and the sRGB.

    Hi Steve, thank you also for returning. I took a community college Photoshop Elements class in Boulder three or four years ago, but it was very basic, not geared to photographers and mainly just an introduction to what each tool did. At that point in my development, I felt it was still well worth taking. If I get a chance again and need to after going through what I already have on hand to learn from, we are in agreement, taking a class is certainly a worthwhile way to learn. I have on hand also several courses, books and e-books, plus Carr Clifton’s favorite, all of which I mention as resources in my blog post, “Monday Blog Blog: Photoshop For Pros,” mentioned and linked to in my comment above.

  20. latoga says:

    Great set of photos David. I really like the Drakes Beach photo. In the future keep in mind the relation of the shadow to the other lines in the image, it would have been interesting to see another version of this with the shadow curve touching the edge of the cliff.

    I appreciate your thoughts on the Mayan calendar. I feel we are in the middle of a time of change and those that embrace and adapt will be the most successful and happy.

    Hope your 2012 is off to a great start, keep your eyes open for other Gifts from Nature!

  21. Hi Latoga (Greg), thanks for the comment. I’m glad you like “Curved Shadow, Drake’s Beach.” That’s an interesting suggestion about the shadow, particularly because I enjoy discussions about composition. I have been listening to such discussions for going on 50 years now. I’ve been told a number of times that even though technically my photographs are lacking at times, composition is one of my strong points, but of course each image is unique. I struggled with Drake’s Beach, especially this angle. As a product of my grappling with the subject, I did make over a dozen exposures similar to the one shown here. There are several where the shadow edge touches the cliff edge, but to get that angle I sacrificed including much of Drake’s Bay. Besides, in my opinion the curve of the shadow is more interesting in this version. I like that this version shows the distinct and classical white cliffs in the background, as an identifying feature of Drake’s Bay and thereby is vaguely reminiscent of my father’s most well-known photograph of Point Reyes. The idea of photographing an iconic location and doing something with slight elements of the greats who came before, yet at the same time making a unique landscape photograph, might tie into the previous discussion on the blog post by Greg Russell called, “Moving Beyond The Repertoire” and my post on his blog called, “Make Your Own Tripod Tracks.” Artists have been tipping their hat to the masters before them this way throughout the history of art. Whether I was successful or not is up to those viewing it. You are spot on about what a difference it makes how we each address the changes to come as signaled by the Mayan Calendar.

  22. Greg Boyer says:

    Hi David,
    A good year for your photography. Here is wishing you another great year, I agree that this is a new beginning and not anywhere near the end. I look forward to more of your writing and sharing your fathers work with us and will watch with great interest your own work.
    I’ve been working with PS since ’92 and still learn something new almost everyday. is a great resource, I’ve been using it for years.
    Best wishes for 2012.

  23. Connie t says:

    Maybe they could not foresee needing a calendar further than that so they said “This will do”. They were making it out of rock. The guy that chisseled the rock said “Let’s stop there, it is enough. Let them chissel the rock if they need more years.”

  24. Hi Greg, I appreciate your empathetic comment. To know that someone like you who has been doing it for so long is still learning, makes me feel better about the Photoshop goofs I made on these images when I first posted them. I hope they are a bit better now, though I still hold that they are not doing the prints justice.

    Hi Connie, thank you for your ideas on the Mayan Calendar, though I am not sure if they add up in my opinion. I am certainly not an expert on the Mayan Calendar, but I do know that the Mayans chiseled much more than calendars out of solid rock. They build a gigantic empire of some of the most impressive structures surviving on Planet Earth today. I don’t think they cut the calendar short because they were tired of chiseling. Also, their calendar and its length are based on very precise mathematical calculations based on ratios found in nature. I also know that one aspect of beginning to properly understanding the Mayan Calendar is to keep in mind that it is not linear, it is circular or cyclic. The Mayan Calendar does not have an END. That is the whole point. It is a cycle that starts over again and again. I like that you question traditional thoughts on the Mayan Calendar, and the misinformation broadcast all over for the sake of drama.

  25. Dan Baumbach says:

    It’s nice seeing images of Point Reyes. I wish I could see them larger. I always wondered how to photograph Drakes Beach. You’ve done an excellent job. I usually headed north to Pierce Point and McClures and Kehoe.

    Drakes Beach and Granite Pool are probably my favorites but I really want to see them larger.

  26. Thank you, Dan, for your compliments on the photos. I’m starting to get the drift from yours and others comments that I need to post my photographs larger. I’m taking it as a compliment that people want to see my photos better. I’ll definitely work on making them larger in the future. My reasons for making them small are several, but silly really. I just need to take care of some concerns that will enable posting my images larger. In the meantime, please note that there are a number of the photographs above that I have placed links within the post to see larger. Also, without migrating to another blog theme, I need to look into setting up the possibility of clicking on any given image and viewing the larger version. I have been running hot for a long time without taking any time out from wearing too many hats. What I’m saying is that I keep this blog and a lot of other concerns going, keep writing and digging good content out of Dad’s files, but there are many of the more technical and operational aspects of the blog that I would like to improve if it was a higher priority than some of the other projects I’m working on. I’m just one guy. Sooner or later it will all come together, besides maybe I will get a chance to hire more people at some point and really be able to accelerate progress. For now, I have to be satisfied with eating the elephant one bite at a time as I can. I have four or five forks grabbing bites at once, held by each hand and each foot.

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