New Release And Making of “Reflection Pool, Arches, Escalante Wilderness, Utah”

July 14th, 2011 by David Leland Hyde Leave a reply »

The Making of “Reflection Pool, Curved Sandbar, Forming Arches, Escalante River Side Canyon, Escalante Wilderness, now Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah, 1968″


New Release, “Reflection Pool, Arches, Escalante Wilderness, Utah.” Philip Hyde Archival Fine Art Digital Prints By Carr Clifton And David Leland Hyde Offered With Revised New Release Pricing:

The world’s best archival digital prints STARTING AT $99.00… for a limited time and number…

See revised New Release Pricing in the blog post, “New Release Pricing.”

Reflection Pool, Curved Sandbar, Forming Arches, Escalante River Side Canyon, Escalante Wilderness, now Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah, copyright 1968 by Philip Hyde. Never before printed or published. Intended for use in the book “Slickrock,” by Edward Abbey and Philip Hyde, but damaged before processing.

(See the image large: “Reflection Pool, Arches, Escalante Wilderness, Utah.”)

This photograph has never been printed before. It was partly damaged and unprintable in the film era. With new digital print restoring techniques, this one of a kind historical photograph is now available as an archival fine art digital print. A leading professional photo lab masterfully high resolution drum scanned Philip Hyde’s original 4X5 large format Ektachrome color transparency. This provided an 834 MB digital file far superior to any digital capture made today. From the drum scan, master landscape photographer, Photoshop expert and printer Carr Clifton carefully restored the image and crafted an exquisite print file.

The Photograph’s Historical Significance

The groundbreaking Sierra Club Books Exhibit Format Series popularized the coffee table photography book, set the standards for composition and technique for a generation of landscape photographers, brought color to landscape photography and helped to make many national parks and wilderness areas in the American West during the late 1950s, 1960s and the early 1970s. Ansel Adams, David Brower and Nancy Newhall invented the series, Eliot Porter was the best-selling book photographer, but according to an Outdoor Photographer article by Lewis Kemper in 1989, Philip Hyde was the go-to man for David Brower, series editor and Sierra Club Executive Director. More Philip Hyde’s photographs appeared in more books in the series than any other photographer. Right after Philip Hyde’s Navajo Wildlands: As Long As the Rivers Shall Run came out in 1967, Philip Hyde had already begun work on another Southwest book that became the classic Slickrock: The Canyon Country of Southeast Utah with Edward Abbey. Slickrock would be published to help build support for wilderness or national park protection of the Escalante River and for areas around Canyonlands National Park eventually added to the national park.

From Philip Hyde’s Solo Escalante Travel Log, Participating In A Sierra Club Back Country Backpack, Spring 1968: Written By Philip Hyde

May 1:  Utah: Escalante Wilderness: Gates Cabin camp to the camp below 25 Mile Canyon. The Escalante River Canyon narrowed, while the bends in the river lengthened and became tighter in the corners. We began today to traverse the upper part of what the wranglers call “The Narrows.” The canyon walls were intermittently higher and the big alcoves in the ends of the river bends began to resemble the characteristics of the lower Escalante River. There were more short side canyons. I went into one on the left, entering at right angles to the Escalante River. Suddenly it turned sharply at a large sand slope. The side canyon looked promising, with a narrow bottom, high walls, cottonwoods, box elders and a few Gambel’s Oaks.

About two miles up the side canyon ended abruptly. I crawled under a passage between two huge angular boulders and entered a chamber not unlike Cathedral in the Desert in Glen Canyon, Utah. This water hollowed canyon chamber was Cathedral in the Desert’s equal in quality but not in size. The vaulted roof was not as soaring and the dimensions of the chamber were much less than Cathedral in the Desert, but this canyon chamber had much the same feeling of remote solitude and secret beauty. There was likewise a plunge pool for reflections and a magnificent sandbar with a long, graceful curve. This pool was fed by a now dry set of chute like “chimneys” in the “roof,” rather than a waterfall as in Cathedral in the Desert. The two “chimneys,” side-by-side, one and then a double-barreled one next to it, are beautifully water-sculptured. These forms make me wish there were some way to ascend to the level of the “chimneys” to see the carved stream channel above.

I spent about two hours in the canyon mini cathedral and left reluctantly. I was elated to find this chamber where it is well out of reach of “Lake” Powell’s high water inundations. I continued back to the Escalante River, then down canyon, crossing the river innumerable times. The canyon was narrowing dramatically and the walls became higher and more impressive. I walked past some sharp bends in the canyon with great sandstone columns and overhangs. Down past the “winking eyes,” two rounded out holes high in the wall of the left bank. Past 25 Mile Canyon. I started into the mouth of 25 Mile Canyon, sauntered in about one hundred feet or so, reflected on the hour and decided to head for camp instead.

I was the last man in and Sierra Club campers were having their soup beneath the deep red cliff, perhaps 35 feet high that was catching the last rays of the sun. I ate and then made my bed among the limbs of a medium-sized cottonwood—a leafy bower with sandy floor and more privacy than usual. In my sleeping bag looking up at the sky, I saw it was cloudy again, with broken clouds blowing overhead, their moisture too diminished by the time they reached us to dump any rain, though it looked threatening at times all day. My tarp was ready to be rigged but no drops came and I slept.



  1. pj says:

    Always interesting to read your father’s own words. He could bring his experiences to life for others through both words and photographs. Relatively few are equally fluent with both.

    Beautiful photograph. The wonders of digital restoration are truly amazing.

  2. Thank you, PJ. Yes, there were only a few master photographers who could also write.

  3. Topher says:

    Amazing stuff. And so ahead of his time as far as the coolness factor of that area. Not really saved until Clinton’s 2nd term.

  4. Hi Topher, thank you for visiting. Good point about the popularity of the American desert Southwest canyon country, Colorado Plateau, Plateau Province, Southern Utah, or however you want to designate it. My father was there in those canyons way before it became cool, long before Moab became a destination. He was one of the early birds that got many of the worms and helped make sure there would be worms for all generations to come through the protection, creation or enlargement of many of the national parks of the region including Canyonlands National Park, Arches National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, Bryce National Park and many other wildernesses. I am guessing you are referring to Bill Clinton having signed Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument into law his last day in office, which infuriated the off-road vehicle users, miners and other anti-wilderness, anti-national park land exploiters. There was an Escalante National Park proposed before World War II that would have saved the entire Escalante region including Glen Canyon, but with the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Congress’ attention refocused toward preparations for war. To learn more on this directly from my father’s explanation originally published in “The Living Wilderness” see the blog post, “Glen Canyon Lament 2”

  5. Greg Russell says:

    This really is a fantastic image, David. I love the colors and the sweeping, all encompassing feel of the land. This image really screams “Escalante!”

    This journal entry is also really nice. I like it a lot. PJ is right about your father’s writing.

  6. Hi Greg, I appreciate your comments about Dad’s photograph and travel log. They both remind me of our family travels in the Escalante Wilderness and of how my father would become so elevated and swept away with love of that country. I first backpacked into Coyote Gulch in the Escalante Wilderness in 1970 at age five. I was very fortunate as a boy to have great examples of romantic love in my parents and of agape love of nature. I am blessed to have experienced such love from an early age.

  7. Richard Wong says:

    Love that image, David. Glad you were able to salvage this.

  8. Happy you stopped in Richard. The restoration was expensive and time consuming, but this photograph was just too gorgeous to pass up when I saw it in the files.

  9. Sharon says:

    Hi David, the last paragraph your dad wrote here is so beautiful, it gave me a heart twinge…sleeping in the cottonwood tree waiting for the rain. Marvelous writing to go with a beautiful shot.


  10. Hi Sharon, thank you for your comment. I appreciate that you were moved by my father’s writing, as it was often and indeed on the heart level.

  11. Like so many of you I feel safe and comforted when Im in a canyon and the way the walls of the Paria sweep overhead sheltering the hiker only adds to the effect. describes a friends reaction to Navajo Sandstone 1 ..I have licked sandstone so many times just gotten on hands and knees and passed my lips right over the surface either the smooth on narrow canyon walls or the sandy-rough up on top.

  12. Instead of a tree hugger, you are a rock licker. Sick but cute, business daily, thanks.

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