New Portfolio Added: Old Mexico And Baja California

June 9th, 2011 by David Leland Hyde Leave a reply »

New Portfolio: Old Mexico and Baja California In Color

Ardis And Philip Hyde’s Old Mexico And Baja California Travels And A New Portfolio Of Philip Hyde’s Photographs Added To

Comala Church Interior, Comala, State of Colima, Mexico, copyright 1995 by Philip Hyde. This medium format photograph is a raw high resolution scan file, not yet post-processed for printing.

(See the photograph full screen Click Here.)

Ardis, David and Philip Hyde traveled to Baja California, Mexico with trip leader and photographer Terrence Moore and assistant leader Tom Pew in 1973. The purpose of the journey was to seek out the wildest places on the Baja peninsula that could be reached by four wheel drive vehicle. The year 1973 will always be significant to Baja California wilderness history because that year the Mexican Government completed all pavement sections of the main road from Tijuana and Mexicali on the California, United States border to the end of the 800-mile Baja peninsula at Cabo San Lucas and Cabo Falso. In 1973, Cabo San Lucas was still mainly wild, while today it is a tourist mecca and resort destination. See Philip Hyde’s well-known black and white photograph of Cabo Falso compared with the beaches at Cabo Falso and Cabo San Lucas today.

Outdoor Photographer Terrence Moore had been an expert for decades on Baja California, Mexico. Terrence Moore knew the roads, the missions, the towns, the beaches or playas, the Mexican people and the Spanish language. Tom Pew was also a long-time Baja California explorer, long time Southwestern US explorer and the publisher of American West Magazine when it was about all aspects of the Southwest, particularly the arts of the Southwest, as opposed to after 1989 when he sold American West Magazine and it became solely a cowboy Western magazine.

The 1973 Baja California Camping Trip Began A Wilderness Love Affair

The 1973 four-wheel-drive wilderness camping trip down Baja California began in Yuma, Arizona where Ardis, David and Philip Hyde met trip leader and photographer Terrence Moore, as well as assistant leader and publisher Tom Pew and the rest of the participants in the group. They all set out in the Hydes’ Toyota Land Cruiser Wagon and two Chevrolet Blazers down the Gulf of California coast from Mexicali to San Felipe to Puertocitos, Bahia San Luis Gonzaga, Calamujue, San Borja Mission, Bahia de los Angeles, Bahia de la Giganta, San Javier Mission, Punta Conejo, La Paz, Cabo Pulmo and finally to Cabo San Lucas. On the return up Baja California, back to the US, the Hydes traveled without the group back to La Paz and then on to Commandu, Bahia Concepcion, Rancho Rosarito, Rancho Jaraguay, El Rosario, San Ysidro, Baja and finally to San Diego, California, USA. For more about the 1973 Baja California trip stay tuned for future blog posts.

The 1973 wilderness camping trip began Ardis and Philip Hyde’s love affair with Baja California, as well as their love affair with Mexico. The Hydes returned to Baja California in  1981, 1984, 1988, and in 1995 with Jack Dykinga and Susan and Tom Bean when Ardis Hyde was nearly 70 years old and Philip Hyde was almost 74.

Travels To Mainland Old Mexico

In 1980, Ardis and Philip Hyde visited mainland Mexico. They traveled by air from Sacramento, California to Guadalajara, Mexico, rented a car and drove to Patzcuaro Michoacan, Mexico and Colima. Near Colima they re-discovered Rancho El Balcon, where Ardis Hyde’s Grandparents and her father’s family lived for nearly a decade in the early 1900s. Ardis and Philip Hyde attended an Audubon seminar at Cobano, visited Cuyatlan Lagoon, Manzanillo and Volcan de Colima before flying back to the US. More on this trip in future blog posts.

As part of Philip Hyde’s desert project that later became the book Drylands: The Deserts of North America, Ardis and Philip Hyde made a field trip to the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts through Arizona and into Baja California, Mexico at San Luis and through the Pinacate Volcano Field and the Cerro Colorado Volcanic Crater area in Pinacate Biosphere Reserve, Mexico and the Elegante Volcano field in Pinacate Natonal Park, Mexico, Puerto Penasco, Playa Encanto, Cabeza Prieta, Granite Range, Ligerta RV Park, Microonda Basura, Kino Bay, Hermosilo, Nogales, Chihuahua, Paquime, PIrineos, Cuatro Cienegas, Pozo Churince, Canon Huasteco, Gomez Palacio, Posada del Rio, Villa Humada, Samalayuca Sand Dunes and up to El Paso, Texas. The Hydes also returned to the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts in 1989. In 1990, Ardis and Philip Hyde traveled to Mexico City and the City of Oaxaca, Oaxaca, Mexico. See the blog post, “Mexico City And Oaxaca Travel Log.”

The New Portfolio And Future New Releases

The photographs in the “Old Mexico And Baja California Color Portfolio” on represent a cross-section of the places Ardis and Philip Hyde visited in Mexico and Baja California. The portfolio as you see it is just beginning and currently incomplete with many of the images remaining in raw high resolution drum scan form, not yet post-processed for archival fine art digital printing. Also, only 12 photographs out of 18 to 20 are now available for viewing even in raw form. Many more Mexico and Baja California photographs will be drum scanned, post-processed and made available as archival fine art digital prints. Please stay tuned.



  1. Rick says:

    Very nice work- it has a more “modern” feel than I expected, being, what, 35+ years old.

  2. Thank you, Rick, for your participation and for sharing your impressions of Dad’s work. I believe you are using the term “modern” to mean contemporary or current, rather than as it is sometimes used in referring to art made around the modernist art era in the first third of the 20th Century, or modernist photography which was a bit later, say roughly from 1932 to the mid-1950s. What you say is true, Dad’s landscape photography does have a contemporary feel. Many would call his South of the Border images in particular post-modern. So I am in agreement, merely pointing out differences in terminology. Many photographers, historians, writers and other photography experts familiar with my father’s work, some having traced it since its participation in the ground-breaking and widely influential Sierra Club Exhibit Format Series in the 1950s and 1960s, have suggested that Dad’s style influenced a whole generation of landscape photographers. This would imply that rather than Dad’s work looking like the landscape photography of today, it is really the other way around. The landscape photography of today looks like Dad’s photography. As a matter of observation, if you look at Dad’s landscape photography from the 1950s through the 1980s and beyond, you will see that his techniques and methods of composition and use of light coincide with what you can read in forums today all over the internet that offer 15 easy tips for landscape photography. In other words, I am certainly not by any means the only person saying that Dad invented many of the techniques that everybody is teaching today and taking credit for having discovered. All of that said, many of Dad’s Baja Caliifornia and Mexico photographs are more post-modern and contemporary than his earlier Exhibit Format Series images, which Hal Gould of Camera Obscura said were the quintessential example of Modernism. As far as the age of the photographs shown in the “Old Mexico And Baja California Color Portfolio,” only one of the images currently on display, #6, “Cordon Cactus Detail, Baja California, Mexico” was made in 1973, or 38 years ago. The majority of the others are much newer and the largest number made in any year were those Dad photographed in 1995, only 15 years ago. This may account for them looking contemporary, because they are.

  3. pj says:

    It’s always interesting to read about you and your parents travels. I look forward to seeing more about Baja California, as well as your dad’s visual take on the country.

  4. Hi PJ, thank you for reading and viewing the portfolio.

  5. Sharon says:

    This is another beautiful portfolio of your father’s, David. I especially liked the men waiting for a train which was made later in his life and the cactus close up. The volcano and sunset clouds were quite beautiful and poignant.


  6. I appreciate your input, Sharon. There will be more great Baja and Mexico photographs to come.

  7. These photographs, dear David, they are heavenly!
    Best wishes,

  8. Thank you for looking Peter. I agree.

  9. Steve Sieren says:

    I’m really looking forward to reading this later today David, just got back from a trip down to the Gulf of California.

  10. Thanks, Steve. Look forward to reading your reaction here and to hearing more about your Baja trip. I wish I had your level of commitment to getting out as often as you do.

  11. Greg Russell says:

    These are all gorgeous images, David. Very different from what I’m used to seeing of your Dad’s work. Of course, I’ve just re-immersed myself in his Glen Canyon portfolios, so I’ve got that on the brain.

    Living in southern CA, I’ve always wanted to take a trip to Baja…still need to do it!


  12. Hi Greg, I appreciate your perspective and the way you study my father’s photographs and the photographs of other landscape masters. I suppose the work of all photographers varies, but since Dad spent the majority of each year for over 60 years outdoors photographing, probably his style changed and evolved more than others in it for less time.

  13. Steve Sieren says:

    It’s great to hear that your still having new work created from the archives, David. I look forward to watching the Baja portfolio grow. Don’t see the boojum tree in there portfolio? I’ve been going down there for the last 4 years and love it down there. Very much of Baja is still very primitive. I hope I get the chance to see some of the places you’re sharing.

  14. Many thanks for stopping back, Steve. I am still developing new photographs from the archives, for the most part against the prevailing wisdom that suggests everything be “limited.” Why would any artist want his work “limited?” Why wouldn’t any landscape photographer in his or her right mind want to have as large a body of work out in the world as possible? Galleries are in business to raise prices and make money, but that isn’t the main reason I represent my father’s photography. If I was interested primarily in making money, I would have taken a different approach long ago and would probably not even be in landscape photography at all. Photographers have been having these debates with photography galleries for as long as both have been around. I know Dad would have liked to see more of his photographs produced that he worked so hard to make. The loss of his eyesight cheated him, ending his printing and photographing life early. Otherwise, he would have printed more himself. The Boojum Tree photograph you refer to for which Dad used the Mexican name, “Cirio Tree And Boulder, Baja California, Mexico,” is in the “58 Years In The Wilderness Signature Image Portfolio.” I made a decision a while back not to include photographs in more than one portfolio. That way more total images are seen by the public.

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