Ever Wonder about the History of Landscape Photography?

One of the pioneers of color landscape photography passed away a few years ago. He left behind so much to be remembered, Philip Hyde donated his life to the enviroment. His photographs helped protect Dinosaur Nat’l Monument, the Grand Canyon, the Redwoods, Pt. Reyes, Kings Canyon, the North Cascades, Canyonlands, the Wind Rivers, Big Sur and many other national parks and wilderness areas.

Cirios, Boulder, Baja California, Mexico by Philip Hyde
Cirios, Boulder, Baja California, Mexico by Philip Hyde

With so much left behind his son, David Hyde whose articles have been nationally sydicated, will begin a new blog journal with a launch date of January 15th, 2010 at 10:00am (that is right now). The blog will contain, Philip and Ardis Hyde’s travels, fine art landscape photography, enviromental campaigns, straight photography, photography collecting, green economics and more!

The image above is copyrighted and permitted for use here by David Hyde, please respect all copyright laws.

You can find it at PhilipHyde.com. Anyone thats find the history of landscape photography important or is interested in giving back to the enviroment will love the site and any art lovers as well, you have my word!

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20 Responses to “Ever Wonder about the History of Landscape Photography?”

  1. michaelgordon Says:

    Hi Steve:

    Want to be shocked? Compare Hyde’s “Drylands” photos to the current crop of Velvia-ized desert landscape photographs. Porter, too. Not many years have passed, and despite the drying climate, the desert sure got a lot more vibrant in photographs! 😉

  2. Steve Sieren Says:

    Michael, Carr Clifton’s desert portfolio is fine example of that velvia change. Looks like half of his images are done with out velvia and half with. Of course digital has taken it even further. Imagine it after a digital “El Nino” year. I guess Portor’s older work stuck with me because I didn’t even notice that he used Velvia. I really enjoy seeing the older photographs of the past with out the need for the intensity. The color black was used a lot more back then.

  3. Sharon Van Lieu Says:

    That looks great, Steve. Thanks so much for posting this.


  4. Richard Wong Says:

    Thanks for sharing this info, Steve. Glad to see Mr. Hyde’s work carried on in the digital age.

    Regarding, the comments about Velvia, Porter couldn’t have used Velvia because it came out the year that he passed away. I hear you though. One look at any of the nature photo galleries for southwestern stuff and the reds are bleeding off the print in every shot. I understand that a rare sunrise or sunset might do that but in diffused / reflective lighting situations like Antelope Canyon there is no way that vibrant of a color happens in nature.

  5. David Leland Hyde Says:

    Thank you Steve, for doing this writeup about my blog and Dad’s work. Great to see you surrounding yourself with such an interesting group of bright, quality-seeking creative photographers. My father would be happy to see what the internet can do in the right hands because he was pretty wary of the whole digital idea at first and with good reason. I have appreciated talking with you and your generosity. Best wishes, David

  6. David Leland Hyde Says:

    By the way, I just talked to Carr and he said he didn’t use Velvia either. I don’t know which of his desert images are more colorful or brighter than the others, at least in any global sense, but I do know that often Carr actually de-saturates his photographs more than what he saw or what the camera captured, to be sure his work remains subtle, as opposed to what is often seen today. Part of the problem with much landscape work today is the high ratio of sunsets and “golden hour” only images. The golden hours are great and do produce some of the best photographs, at times, but photographing during that time is also a rule that is best to break often. Otherwise, a photographer’s work all starts to look the same. Dad was known for photographing often in the middle of the day, at high noon, in any whether, whatever. He used to say sunsets are cliche.

  7. Steve Sieren Says:

    He didn’t use Velvia, what a shock. Like I mentioned, I would of guessed maybe half of it was done with Velvia, not a bad things just good color saturation and uncomparible to some of the oversaturated stuff we see in forums nowadays, yes even some of my own work has been oversaturated. I’ve been learning on the fly my whole life.

  8. David Leland Hyde Says:

    I will follow up with Carr Clifton to see what film he did use. In my opinion, even Carr may have used to get a bit carried away with saturation when he first started working with Photoshop years ago. However, he is in a backlash against it now because he has seen even some of his well-known contemporaries overdoing it, and of course denying it too. Everybody denies having turned up the saturation. This is precisely why your comments above are refreshing, Steve. You not afraid to admit your own shortcomings, and more than that are very real about who you are. I don’t think you need to worry about your photographs though. From what I’ve seen, they represent a unique voice. You have a solid, grounded sensibility of the quality you are looking for and the kind of junk you want to stay away from. You have much to teach and much more awareness than the usual new Millennium photographer. I think my father would have enjoyed meeting what he would call a “young photographer” like you. Anyone under 80, he called a kid near the end of his life.

  9. Steve Sieren Says:

    Thank you so much David, I’m glad to hear what you Dad’s thought would of been. It’s always best to be honest and it’s ok to change your views since every artist develops over time. I hope you do keep us posted on what Car was using, it would be great to know.

  10. David Leland Hyde Says:

    Hi Steve, Even though it is all just conjecture, and we can never know for sure, I do enjoy imagining, “What would Dad do, or say?” Doesn’t mean that what he did or said was the end-all, be-all, nor would he want anyone to think that, just a nice little game for a son who misses his father. Next month it will already be four years since he’s been gone. NEWSFLASH, holy horse, I just talked to Carr Clifton and he said that we must have had a mis-communication because he did use Fuji Velvia film in his Desert Portfolio. What he said was that he didn’t switch from Ektachrome to Velvia like everyone else. He said that he had started using Fuji film long before just about anyone else in the United States. He used the percursors to Velvia, RDP and RFP that he said scratched easily and did not have good blacks, but were colorful. He got other photographers into using Fuji film, but he said that many of them saw how wonderful the increased color was and began to look for ever more colorful ways of photographing the desert, such as capturing the early morning orange light on the orange and red rocks and so on. With the advent of Photoshop, many photographers took it too far. He said there’s a fine line and that he now often de-saturates images, when they are naturally too colorful. its a strange world now.

  11. Did Velvia Film Change Landscape Photography? » Landscape Photography Blogger Says:

    […] early 2010, in the comments on Steve Sieren’s blog post, “Ever Wonder About The History Of Landscape Photography?” large format landscape photographer Michael Gordon commented about how Fuji Velvia Film had […]

  12. mizzy Says:

    the ever present topic of saturation… HEAVY topic. This was a great read. Thanks. Radar watching and saturation…. what a nice friday afternoon.
    I was fortunate enough to use Velvia for about 2 years and i seem to love it so. It’s an old memory for me.
    It’s hard to dive into conversations and opinions about the past… about whats right and wrong… the whole concept of it seems to stand in the way of self exploration and self discovery. It’s a fine line between being told something and figuring it out for yourself. I struggle with this concept myself…. not wanting to be told whats right and wrong for the fear that it stops me from learning something crucial myself… it’s for this reason I tend to be very selective with what I read these days regarding Landscape Photography……after all i do have thoughts of influence can be a scary thing …. uggg, even scarier……. i hardly know anything, but, one thing for sure… this adventure of being a photographer is a wonderful trip indeed…. i’m so looking forward to the years ahead. The images yet captured and the memories waiting me out there. I wonder how much our eyes vary from human to human when it comes to color intensity and saturation? Something can truly be said about falling on your face. It hurts and you don’t want to do it again. The idea that Galen would have pulled back on saturation in 2003ish because every one else kinda did seems like quite a conclusion. I like to think, just maybe, he would have added more. I’m a dreamer.
    Really great read. Thanks steve. Great to read other peoples thoughts regarding Velvia.

  13. Steve Sieren Says:

    Mizzy, thank you for coming back for a look at this 2 year old blog post. I’ve been away traveling and leading workshops at this time year. Also got some very bad news right in the middle of my Zion workshop, my sister passed away from cancer of the esophagus so pardon me for getting back to you on your … .. comments.

    The topic is not saturation, it’s an introduction Phil Hyde’s work but everyone just wants to talk about saturation. Just to get it clear, are you using Velvia now? You stated that you love it now.

    I know many photographers that haven’t been photographing very long… don’t even care about the past or know much… . about it besides a few things about Ansel Adams and Galen Rowel.

    There are no rights and no wrongs. Does everything need to be real? No, it does not.

    If there was a lack of self discovery for me then my audience would be able to guess what is coming next from me and I know that no one could ever guess what I’ll be doing next. What I share is always a surprise and the same with where I go. I may teach in popular settings but I spend the time looking for places that haven’t been shot and I know the majority of photographers are not doing that. You don’t need to worry about the struggle because it’s the same with many photographers out there.

    You subscribed to this blog in your selective readings… . so thank you for that and you certainly do have thoughts of your own and it may be in the way you see the color red… ?

    Did it bother you when I asked you if your photo of the red aspens were real?

    A twankly mess, Somewhere deep in the Sierras, Ca

    I saw the photo and was very curious about it since I have not seen reds that way ever in the Sierra. You said it was and maybe sort of adjusted the image in a way you saw it but in fact it was very real. When I first saw the image on the Modern Hiker Blog, I linked to it asking anyone if they had ever scene anything like it in the Sierra. I’m sure you found this to be upsetting so rather then turn this into a pissing match lets just talk about it in a civil way and not be childish.

    Influences… . I do like the photographers that have made a few differences that will always be part of history. I doubt any of these photographers would accuse me of imitating them. I always put my own twist on things in the way I see before the image even goes into photoshop.

    Since you are curious about color and how it’s perceived you may want to find out if it’s even possible for humans to remember color? The answer may shock you…. is there a fine line between how we imagined color saturation and color vomit? How do we fix a color we ruined? Do we need to start all over again now, tomorrow or years later? Who is falling on their face?

    No where in this blog post or comments does anyone mention Galen. In 2003 he had already passed away so his staff did the over saturating of images.

    Great commenting!

  14. David Leland Hyde Says:

    @ Mizzy

    When I first read your comment, I thought it might possibly be a personal attack on Carr Clifton, me, and Landscape Photography Blogger. After all, my blog is about conversations and opinions regarding the past, I do write about Galen Rowell and about saturation and landscape photography. I do have strong opinions and I retain the right to express them without others putting me down. I thought that you had read my blog post called, “Did Velvia Film Change Landscape Photography?” http://landscapephotographyblogger.com/photography-history/did-velvia-film-change-landscape-photography/ and that this post, which I notice you did not comment on directly, is where your references came from that you made above to Galen Rowell and Carr’s musings about what Galen might have done with the saturation of his images if he had lived. However, when I contacted Steve, he explained that perhaps your subtle attack may have been on him.

    Steve described an exchange where he had brought attention to one of your photographs that contained a large stand of aspen trees in the Sierra Nevada that all had red leaves. Apparently there were quite a few other photographers who have been photographing or living in the Sierra for many years and had never seen that many aspen trees with that many red leaves in one place. Granted we have all seen a good amount of red aspen leaves in the Colorado Rockies, but never so many in the Sierra. I am not yet on Facebook, so I don’t have access to the discussion, but Steve posted a link to the image on Flickr in his above comment. This year the reports I received on the aspen groves in the Sierra said that they had turned directly from green to brown and skipped even yellow. I did see some yellow aspens and many that were brown, but none that were red this year.

    Whether or not you added the red and to what degree is not the issue as far as I’m concerned. I believe in creativity, art, and pushing the boundaries of what photography can be. I too am experimenting with all sorts of unusual ways of making photographs that are anything but straight photography. The aspect of altering photographs that I disagree with is when the photographer hides the alteration and acts as though his photograph was not post-processed or was minimally post-processed. If you are doing this or not, I don’t know. I wasn’t part of the commentary. I merely want to make clear where I stand on the issue. I am not against “over-saturation” per se. I believe any major changes to images ought rightly to be disclosed and not hidden, especially since a trained eye can tell the difference anyway. Also, I move in other realms besides the online communities that often are most interested in the latest fads, whatever they may be. Master photographer Jack Dykinga said that the altering of photographs and ramping up the saturation is just a phase in photography that will pass. The top photography dealers are shocked and dismayed by much of the imagery they see online today, as are staff members at the major museums. Talking to some of them, I wonder if any of the art establishment will ever recognize the over-the-top work of today. After listening to both sides, I tend to agree with Mr. Dykinga.
    You may recall, the interior decorating of the 1970s, if you are old enough. Some of it even today still seems cool enough for what it was, however, when you have a couch that is orange, the coffee table is red, the chairs are blue and there is purple carpeting on the ceiling, someone has gone a bit too far. We look back now on some of the interiors from the 1970s and say, “Oh my, did they really think that was cool then? That is super ugly.” So it is with time. Much of what seems very groovy and trendy now, may be a passing flash in the pan, but it is the photography that is timeless, that has other qualities to share beyond the mere shock value of color that will endure. This is not to put down or make “wrong” or “tell what to do” those who over-saturate their photographs or who took LSD in the 1960s or even the 1980s and want to relive the experience through their photography, it is all about taste, subtlety and knowing when a good thing becomes too much.

  15. David Leland Hyde Says:

    By the way, here’s another place that Mizzy Pacheco’s image of the red aspens appeared: http://www.modernhiker.com/2011/09/27/fall-colors-in-california/

    Worth noticing are the yellow aspen leaves peaking out in the far background and the way the light from the sky looks on the upturned “red” aspen leaves in the foreground.

  16. mizzy Says:

    Wow, oh dear, David.. so sorry if it came off like that at all. I wouldn’t attack a flee if it bit me. Ok, maybe if it bit.
    Truly sorry to hear about your sister steve.
    I think my post was somehow in the wrong place… and i notice that a section looks like it was cut…as though a cup/copy/pasted screwed up a bit… oops… but your right, i was indeed having thoughts on an article i read about velvia… my bad.
    It was a great article and stirred up some of my own thoughts about it… i tingled some of the sensations in my brain as to why i like the look of velvia so much…. i believe it’s a memory, put in place at a time when I was soaking up information…. … that article informed me of things I quite frankly didn’t know about velvia and was interested in. Over all it was a great read without a single negative. I highly appreciated it.
    I don’t shoot film anymore… haven’t shot a roll for over 10 years.
    I hope this clarifies my feelings:
    I addressed in my post that i have a tuff time reading the rules of photography… that’s all. Rules rules rules. If i could burn the Photography and musical book of rules I would. In a blaze of glory. If you think about that idea, rule burning, it’s a risky proposition… bordering on stupidity. Though i imagine some wars have been won on stupidity. And considering stupidity as well as genius runs rampant thru the universe, I imagine even a few stars and moon paths were born from that very splendid notion. Maybe even the one we sleep under. Funny how it all works.
    Yeh steve, it bothered me. I guess you could say I spend so much of my life working on my craft and my art.. music as well……. that Yes, I’m highly sensitive to the topic of “Naturalism in Landscape Photography”. Gee, could you tell 🙂 My sincere apologies if any of this frustration leaked out into the digital nether and found it’s way to you… i don’t move downstream very well…. i’m an uphill swimmer… perhaps because I was bullied in kindergarten.. who knows. Thank the heavens for art. Some-days it’s best I just sit in the woods and watch the sun move around to the harmony of insect hum and chirping creatures… it’s what gives me the most joy in my young artistic learning life. Opinions and rules haunt me… always have… the intention of my post was only to share my own insecurities and inner struggle regarding that thought. I happily leave those important topics of the day to the ready and well deserving movers, shakers and teachers of this earth. Perhaps someday I’ll even tame this struggling beast in me and later speak in quiet whispers of what I’ve learned along the way… for someone to listen… when they too might be ready to hear it…. If they’re ever even interested at all.
    Worth noticing… I love your work steve… it speaks to me. I’m happy to read anything you have to say regarding the process of photographing the earth. Your craft and dedication to your art is obvious, well received, admired and appreciated in my home.
    Also worth noticing, david, so sorry that you would even get the notion that I attacked any of the things you mentioned. That is my bad as well for not explaining myself a little better.
    Thank you both for your thoughts… it’s been an interesting Monday.
    At least the Pats won last night.

  17. Steve Sieren Says:

    Mizzy, Everyone knows there are no rules in photography and it’s hard to imply that anyone in this thread is following any perception of rules, maybe guidelines but it’s not like there is an exact line with a definite or identifiable crossing point. I can’t say I know a photographer out there that picks up a camera and instantly feels a limiting emotion. As soon a hand touches a camera the furthest thought of rules come to mind. A bit part of why photography has become so much more popular in the last half decade, creativity is unleashed once someone picks up a camera.

    I’m sure you were not able to see the thread on Facebook, but I merely asked if it was something anyone had ever seen. Because I hadn’t come across a grove that way you had it displayed. The photo was posted in a popular blog so it was a topic of conversation for a day or so. I never said anything negative about it myself and mentioned it’s up to the artist if they want express themselves and take a few artistic liberties. Nothing wrong with that! It is not my fault that a few photographers decided to analyze it and give their own opinions. If I could have them say things a little more subtle as it may be done in person if they were speaking face to face with you it may have been a more soothing way of doing it. In your defense I remained nuetral and stated there is nothing wrong with artistic expression.

  18. mizzy Says:

    thanks steve, i appreciate your views… I look forward to seeing your ongoing work in the many years to come.

  19. Steve Sieren Says:

    Mizzy, thank you. Look forward to seeing your work in the future as well.

  20. David Leland Hyde Says:


    OK, my mistake then Mizzy. Perhaps I went a little overboard above. Please don’t take any of it personally. I am just putting up a good argument/defense. You, me, everyone has a right to express their own opinion and creativity, in my opinion. Also, I admire how you handled this Steve. Best to you both. David

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