This is the story of Herbert Wendell Gleason a clergyman turned photographer who has been unjustly relegated to the margins of history. Gleason abandoned a career as a Congregational minister in midlife and went on to become one of the most distinguished landscape photographers of his age. He took many photographs of Yosemite Zion and other parks for the National Park Service and also worked up a large number of slide presentations on botanical and environmental subjects which he presented to civic and environmental groups throughout the country. But at the core of Gleason's achievement lies a series of photographs he took over a period of nearly forty years that document the places Henry David Thoreau visited and referred to in his voluminous writings. Selections drawn from this body of work commonly referred to as Gleason's Thoreau Country images were published in several editions coupled with pertinent texts from Thoreau's work. In recent times critics have begun to consider Gleason's work to be as important as that of his contemporaries Mathew Brady Lewis Hine and Jacob August Riis.
Schwie follows Gleason's evolution from orthodox religious practice to a more modern approach to spirituality and describes his photographic experiments in an era when dry plate technology was a new thing. Gleason's adventures in the Sierras with John Muir and his long association with Stephen Mather the head of the National Park Service also figure prominently in the narrative. But the spirit of Henry David Thoreau is often near at hand and the book is generously seasoned with quotes from Thoreau's journals and books and with photos Gleason took during numerous excursions to Thoreau Country.
Author Dale Schwie merged a career in professional photography with his long-time interest in Henry David Thoreau in writing Taking Sides with the Sun. Schwie's experience in producing audio-visual sales and training programs for corporations and health care organizations has also given him added insight into Gleason's career delivering illustrated lectures on Thoreau the national parks and other similar subjects. Dale has served on the board of directors of the Thoreau Society and is the author of the article "Herbert W. Gleason: A Photographer's Journey to Thoreau's World."