Nancy Oliver Hayden

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December 15, 2004
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Tahoe viewed in black and white

Photography has always been a part of Jim Hildinger's life. The works and writings of Ansel Adams provided him with the inspiration and technical information necessary for his continued artistic growth, and in the National Geographic Magazine he has been called the Ansel Adams of Lake Tahoe.

During the past 20 years he has become well known in the Tahoe area for his large black-and-white images, which are produced with both medium -and large-format cameras. Vistas of scenic beauty are a favorite challenge for him, but he also enjoys using his skills and equipment to produce architectural essays.

With "Tahoe in Black & White," Hildinger has created a collection of classic, breathtaking black-and-white images of lakes, mountains, rocks, trees, trails and historical architecture in the Lake Tahoe Basin. He has included a few words about each photograph, often without revealing where the subject is located in the interest of protecting the spot from vandalism.

"It would seem that a successful photograph should stand by itself without the need for accompanying text. To fellow photographers, who fully understand the medium, that is likely to be true to the degree of their experience," Hildinger said.

"In this book, however, I would suggest that the viewer should first study a particular image; second, make some judgment about it; and lastly, read what I have said about it. If the two conclusions don't match, so much the better for the entertainment value of the exercise."

Hildinger is a lifelong resident of the Lake Tahoe Basin. He received his master's degree in music education with a minor in the natural sciences from Los Angeles State College. In 1958 he was employed as a music teacher by the Lake Tahoe Unified School District, retiring in 1987.

During the summer he is busy with a family resort. In the winter he sails his Catalina 27 on Lake Tahoe, carries his 40 pounds of cameras around the mountains of the Tahoe area, and enjoys the luxury of deciding what to do with his time. The environmental philosophy of the artist is easy to determine from his frequent statement that "the best possible thing you could do for Lake Tahoe is go away and leave it alone; the environment cannot compromise - it can only react." In his next breath, however, he can remind you of Frank Lloyd Wright as he dreams of a future where, with proper planning, many more people could conceivably enjoy the natural splendors of the Tahoe area without additional environmental impact.

Hildinger's prints hang in homes and offices from New York to Hawaii and his one-man shows have appeared in Reno and Incline Village in Nevada and at South Lake Tahoe and Los Gatos in California. His images have appeared in magazines and journals too numerous to mention.

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Dec 16, 2004 09:18PM Published Dec 15, 2004 12:00AM Copyright 2004 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.