Posts Tagged ‘Norman Clyde’

David Brower: Photographer And Environmentalist 1

January 15th, 2011

In Honor Of The One Year Anniversary Of The Launch Of Landscape Photography Blogger…

David Brower: Photographer, Filmmaker And

Father Of Modern Environmentalism Part One

Storm Over The Minarets, Yosemite Sierra High Trip, now the Ansel Adams Wilderness, High Sierra Nevada, California, 1950 by Philip Hyde. One of Philip Hyde's signature images that came from the 1950 Summer High Trip that started and ended in Tuolumne Meadows and explored the North side of Yosemite National Park and the Ritter Range in the Ansel Adams Wilderness.

(See the photograph full screen Click Here.)

David Brower, an excellent photographer and filmmaker in his own right, did more to help popularize and show the political power of landscape photography than any other single person in the 20th Century.

In light of this, in the year 2000 the North American Nature Photography Association at its national convention honored both Philip Hyde and David Brower with lifetime achievement awards. David Brower, as the first Executive Director of the Sierra Club and leader of its most ambitious conservation campaigns, was in large part responsible for helping to establish Philip Hyde as a leading landscape photographer, along with many others including Ansel Adams and Eliot Porter.

Life Magazine called David Brower the “Number one working conservationist.” The New York Times said he was, “The most effective conservation activist in the world…” The Los Angeles Times said he was, “…America’s most charismatic conservationist.” David Brower dropped out of U. C. Berkeley his sophomore year, yet he holds nine honorary degrees. David Brower changed the course of history and the way we view wilderness and the environment, yet today his accomplishments are not particularly well-known. Even though he was nominated three times for the Nobel Peace prize, he is seldom credited for his impact on activism world-wide. Why? Who was this enigmatic figure?

David Brower: High Sierra First Ascents Climber

Born in 1912 and raised in Berkeley, California, David Brower first started climbing boulders in the Sierra Nevada on a car trip to Lake Tahoe at age six. He went on to become a renowned mountaineer of the Sierra Nevada and far beyond. As a young man he was nearly killed by a loose rock while climbing in the Palisades area of the High Sierra. He met legendary mountaineer Norman Clyde, who gave him climbing lessons. Not surprisingly, it was a climber friend, Hervey Voge, who first introduced him to the Sierra Club in 1933.

In 1934, David Brower and Hervey Voge set out on a 10 week climbing trip in the high Sierra from Onion Valley to Tuolumne Meadows. They scaled 62 peaks and made 32 first ascents. In 1939 David Brower and a number of friends, some of whom also were Sierra Club leaders, climbed Shiprock. The previous 12 attempts to climb the volcanic column had failed.

David Brower Invites Philip Hyde To Photograph Sierra Club High Trip

David Brower led Sierra Club High Trips and managed the whole program from 1947 to 1954. Ardis and Philip Hyde met David Brower in Tuolumne Meadows in 1948 when he came through leading a Sierra Club trip. Ansel Adams later more officially introduced David Brower and Philip Hyde and David Brower asked Philip Hyde to join him for a Sierra Club High Trip in the Summer of 1950. That was the High Trip that Philip Hyde made his photograph of “Minarets From Tarn Above Lake Ediza, Sierra Nevada” that Ansel Adams said he liked better than his own. It was also the Summer of “Split Boulder Near Lake Ediza, Sierra Nevada” that saw major exhibitions including the famous San Francisco “Perceptions” show of Group f.64. Several other Philip Hyde signature photographs were born that summer, “Glacial Pavement, Lodgepole Pine, Sierra Nevada” “Storm Over The Minarets, Sierra Nevada” and a number of Tuolumne Meadows.

At the time David Brower was the editor of the University of California Press and had edited the Sierra Club Annual since 1946. The 1951 Sierra Club Annual gave Philip Hyde his first publishing credit with a signature of 12 of his black and white photographs of the High Sierra Nevada from the 1950 Summer High Trip.

The Sierra Club Sends Philip Hyde On The First Photography Assignment For An Environmental Cause

Richard Leonard and David Brower sent Philip Hyde to Dinosaur National Monument in 1951. In 1952 David Brower became the first Executive Director of the Sierra Club. Within one year he had convinced the reluctant Sierra Club Board to expand the scope of the Sierra Club from a California focused defender of the Sierra, to a national, or at least regional organization with battles and interests in Oregon, Washington, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and expanding to the East Coast. David Brower pushed for the first book produced for an environmental cause, This Is Dinosaur: Echo Park Country And It’s Magic Rivers.

This Is Dinosaur eventually landed on every desk in Congress and other Washington leaders with the goal of convincing them it was a place too beautiful to destroy. The two dams proposed in Dinosaur would flood 97 out of 106 river miles inside the national monument. David Brower and a growing coalition in the Sierra Club and outside made up of various environmental groups, developed to defend this invasion of the National Park System.

David Brower and the coalition of environmental groups behind him took the position that as long as Glen Canyon Dam would be built anyway, building the dam higher would result in a reservoir that would hold enough extra water to exceed the capacity of both of the proposed Dinosaur National Monument dams. A higher Glen Canyon Dam would thus render the Dinosaur dams unnecessary. David Brower proved in Congressional testimony, using 9th Grade math not only that the higher Glen Canyon Dam would store more water, but that it would also evaporate less additional water. At the time time few people outside of the locals had ever seen Glen Canyon.

David Brower, Ansel Adams And Nancy Newhall Launch Conservation Photography History

In 1960, David Brower, Ansel Adams and Nancy Newhall made a significant contribution to photography of the natural scene or landscape photography as it is now called. They re-invented and popularized the large coffee table photography book. This Is The American Earth with text by Nancy Newhall and photographs by Ansel Adams and some of his friends including Philip Hyde, was a song to nature writ large. America embraced This Is The American Earth and others in the Sierra Club Books Exhibit Format Series.

Another major advance came to photography in 1962, also brought to you by David Brower. He introduced color to landscape photography through Philip Hyde and Eliot Porter and the Sierra Club Books Exhibit Format Series in 1962, the same year Rachel Carson published Silent Spring. Eliot Porter illustrated the gorgeous and artistic In Wildness Is The Preservation Of The Earth with quotes by Henry David Thoreau. Philip Hyde illustrated Island In Time: Point Reyes Peninsula, more of a rushed documentary project to help make Point Reyes National Seashore.

Photographers And Other Creatives Sent To Save The Grand Canyon

By 1964, again making a historical advance for photography, David Brower organized a river trip down the Colorado River through Grand Canyon National Park. With Martin Litton as river guide, filmmaker and photographer, photographer Eliot Porter, photographer Philip Hyde, writer Francois Leydet and a number of other Sierra Club board members and artists of various types, the trip promised to be creative. Martin Litton brought the group to the proposed dam sites in the Grand Canyon, to Vasey’s Paradise, to Redwall Cavern, through hair raising and often capsize causing rapids for the purpose of making a book that would be called Time and The River Flowing: Grand Canyon. The book that would be part of the campaign to stop the Grand Canyon from being dammed. David Brower remarked at the time:

The dams the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation plans to build in Marble Gorge and Bridge Canyon, within the Grand Canyon proper, would destroy not only the living river but also the unique life forms that through the ages have come to depend upon the river’s life. The major part of the canyon walls would still be there, but the pulsing heart of the place would be stopped. A chain of destructive forces would be begun in what by law was set apart as part of the National Park System, to be preserved unimpaired for all America’s future.

And needlessly. Looked at hard, these dams are nothing more than hydroelectric power devices to produce electricity and dollars from its sale to pay for projects that ought to be financed by less costly means. The dams would make no water available that is not available already. Indeed they would waste enough to supply a major city and impair the quality of the too little that is left: water already too saline is made more so by evaporation, to the peril of downstream users, especially of neighbors in Mexico. All this on a river that already has more dams than it has water to fill them.

Philip Hyde and David Brower also worked together on many other campaigns with the help of many other environmental activists. Philip Hyde made photographs for David Brower led campaigns for the Oregon and Washington Cascade Mountains, Kings Canyon, Redwood National Park, the Wind River Range, Navajo Tribal Parks, Alaska and many other smaller skirmishes. To read about one of Ardis and Philip Hyde’s travel adventures on behalf of David Brower and the Sierra Club see the blog post, “The Making Of ‘Rainbow Bridge From The Upstream Side.'” Future Blog Posts will share more stories and other points of interest of David Brower’s life and work in conservation…

The river trip through Glen Canyon on the Colorado River proved to be one of the most historically significant events that David Brower and Philip Hyde experienced together twice, once in 1962 and once in 1964 after the gates of Glen Canyon Dam closed and “Lake” Powell began to fill. To read Philip Hyde’s tribute to Glen Canyon see the blog post, “Glen Canyon Lament By Philip Hyde 1.”


For Earth’s Sake: The Life and Times of David Brower by David Brower

Work in Progress by David Brower

Wikipedia article on David Brower

Wildness Within Website

The History of the Sierra Club 1892-1970 by Michael Cohen

Sierra Club: 100 Years of Protecting Nature by Tom Turner

(Continued In Another Blog Post…)

New Releases Time & Prints Running Out

November 17th, 2010

All 2010 New Release Specials Will Increase To Regular Prices On January 1, 2011…

Below see also the story of the making of “Pioneer Basin, Fourth Recess, John Muir Wilderness, Sierra Nevada High Country, California, 1970″…

Base Of Havasu Falls, Havasupai Indian Reservation, Arizona, 1968 by Philip Hyde. In 2010, we printed this image for the first time since the late 1960s. It took over a dozen hours of restoration work taking red-orange splotches out of the water all over the raw tango drum scan. The damage is caused by ongoing degradation of the early Kodak Ektachrome E-3 film that can only be halted or nearly halted by a very expensive particular method of deep freezing.

There is still time for Holiday shopping. However, the photographer authorized archival fine art digital prints by Carr Clifton and David Leland Hyde are also running out. Only two archival digital prints are left at the New Release Price of each of these photographs:

“Base Of Havasu Falls, Havasupai Indian Reservation, Arizona, 1968”

(See at left and full screen Click Here.)

“Pioneer Basin, Fourth Recess, John Muir Wilderness, California, 1970”

(See below and full screen Click Here.)

Four new releases for 2010 were lowered to special sale pricing on June 28, 2010, effective through the end of the year. For details, figures and number of prints available through the special see the blog post, “New Releases Now At Special Introductory Pricing.” After the New Releases go up to regular prices after five of each image sell or January 1, 2011, which ever comes first, the New Releases will go up every time 10 prints sell just like all of the other Special Edition archival fine art digital prints. For more on archival digital prints go to About Archival Digital Prints or go to and About Archival Digital Prints under the INFO tab.

The Story Behind “Pioneer Basin, Fourth Recess, John Muir Wilderness”

This photograph was never printed or published before 2010. My father Philip Hyde made the photograph on August 15, 1970 on his 49th birthday with a Hasselblad 2 1/4″ camera. The Pioneer Basin High Sierra Pack Trip started on Sunday, August 9, my mother Ardis Hyde’s 45th birthday, just two weeks before my fifth birthday. My father earned his place on the trip by making photographs for the Sierra Club. Mom paid for her trip by working on the kitchen crew. In my mother’s words:

Pioneer Basin, Fourth Recess, John Muir Wilderness, Sierra Nevada High Country, California, 1970 by Philip Hyde. Never published or printed until 2010.

The Commissary woke up before 6:00 am. We served breakfast and then moved gear and cars over to the Pack Station where we left them. Philip got a ride to Mosquito Flat Campground while David and I waited for our horses. They put David on a child’s saddle with stirrups that his feet reached to and fit in. David’s horse was named “Friday”and mine was “Pugusee” meaning fish in Paiute…. We were 11 guest riders led into the high country by a cowgirl at each end of the string… We passed Philip on foot well up the climb to Morgan Pass. Flowers appeared everywhere along the path until we reached timberline. The Pass was at 12,643 feet elevation and well above any trees. On the way up we looked down into Little Lakes Valley, a long string of lakes, and up the head of that valley to Bear Creek Spire. Flanking the East wall of the glacial valley rose Mt. Morgan and Morgan Pass… Our route seemed to be skirting a contour around Mt. Starr and over Mono Pass. It was like a high altitude desert. Below the granite peaks the soil consisted of all course granite sand with no flowers visible except one small hidden garden of columbine among some boulders…. Scarcely any snow on the pass…steep decent to Golden Creek and into timber again. When we arrived at Pioneer Basin base camp, Philip had already made it before us, as we had stopped for lunch and on several other occasions. Mountaineer Norman Clyde, age 85, had arrived in camp also ahead of the pack train with other hiking guests and the staff to set up…

The travel log described the base camp, day hikes, day packs to satellite campsites, all among mountain meadows, streams, granite boulders and walls, wildflowers, waterfalls, me playing with sticks and rocks, in the streams and tarns and with the other children on the trip. On Saturday, August 15, Dad’s birthday, we had stayed in base camp with about eight other travelers. My mother continued:

After a leisurely breakfast and late start we decided to walk around the East side of Pioneer Basin. Philip took his Hasselblad only and planned to photograph until the late afternoon and then start back. Philip’s first pictures were flowers at a stream’s edge in a meadow where David picked a dead fish carcass out of the stream and cherished it a long while before throwing it back in. It didn’t seem to smell at first but his hands did. He said he would not do that again. We climbed a little and came to a beautiful little tarn with trees, reflections and a grassy edge. Everywhere wafted the scent of Lupin and housewort growing together. After Philip made a photograph with distant mountains in the background, David undressed except for his shirt and played in the water. Clouds began to obscure the sun and a breeze made it cool. David and Philip played a game of throwing rocks in the water. David would throw a rock in and then Philip would quickly without being seen echo David’s rock. David loved it of course and kept it going. We ate an early lunch and Philip left to climb to another larger lake above. David and I napped as the sun came back out and it got much warmer. Nice views with lakes or tarns in foreground and peaks heading the Recesses beyond. Philip said he heard and then saw quail above. I think that is what I saw at our little lunch lake too.

Dad made the photograph from the lower small tarn with the Lupin and housewort blooming,  and with the reflections and small trees. The stories behind the other Special Releases in blog posts to come…