Ansel Adams – attention to detail is everything


Ansel Adams

Born February 20, 1902
Known for Photography

Ansel Adams was one of the great photographers of the 20th century. Ansel Adams was born in San Francisco, and he began to take photographs in the High Sierra and Yosemite National Park, with which much of his name is permanently associated, he became a professional photographer in 1930.

Audiences that are familiar with his work are exposed to a methodical and deliberate conception of the wilderness, the national parks of the United States and his ultimate inspiration Yosemite.  No words, no phrases can adequately convey the experience of viewing an Ansel Adams photograph.

They must be seen.  And afterwards, few other photos are so absorbing, so entirely satisfying.

In his youth, Adams was trained as a musician.  This discipline expresses itself in his photography which at times projects the lyrical simplicity of a simple tune.  As well as it complexity and mathematical precision of it was applied to his photography.  He worked out a careful “zone system” of light readings, to be certain he achieved the perfect balance of tones – from through many grays to black – in his photographs.  He studied the films and print processes and the papers available to him and made demands on the manufacturers of these things to give photographers what they needed

Black and white

His photographs were all in black and white because that was what was available to him and what he learned.  His photographs are not only records of intense moments in nature, but Adams reverence for those moments, of his spiritual involvement with his subject.

Ansel Adams Clearing Winter Storm
Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite National Park

Possessed ‘Prevision’

The ability to capture the fleeting moment of light is the artistry of Ansel Adams.  Only at one moment of one day a year will the sun rake the cliff with just those tones and simultaneously spotlight those trees.  Adams was in possession of vasts amount of patience and self-discipline to be ready for these moments.  It was this gift that Adams was said to possess what was called a “prevision.”  I think though he perfected the ability of truly witnessing.

It was this gift that Adams was said to possess what was called a “prevision.”

Monolith the Face of Half Dome

Ansel Adams Face of Half Dome
Monolith, the Face of Half Dome

Moon and Half Dome

Monolith, the Face of Half Dome, is a classic Adams shot taken in Yosemite in 1927. The image is a powerful display of stone, sky and snow: richly detailed in the rock surface, dark and dense in the sky, pure white in the fronting snow. This dramatic range of tones, blended with an unwavering sense of composition, makes Adams a photographer admired by those passionate about the visual medium. There is no doubt that Ansel Adams was one of the great photographers of the twentieth century

Ansel Adams - Moon and Half Dome
Moon and Half Dome, YosemiteNational Park

Aspens Northern New Mexico

Ansel Adams Aspens Northern New Mexico
Aspens Northern New Mexico

Adams, “Aspens”, Northern New Mexico stands as a perfect example of his darkroom expertise.  Through skilful manipulation of the printing process, Adams transformed a common forest glade by placing half a dozen slim aspens in bold relief.

‘Moonrise, Henandez, New Mexico’

Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico 1941 is considered Ansel Adams finest works

Adams made about 1000 prints of ‘Moonrise’ during his lifetime.  He would not let anyone else print it and making ‘Moonrises’ took him away from his other work.  Adams took the photograph when he was on a commercial trip.  He wrote that he “knew it was special when he released the shutter, but I never anticipated what its reception would be over the decades.”

Ansel Adams - Georgia O'Keefe and Orville Cox
Georgia O’Keefe and Orville Cox – Through the Lens

In 1937 Ansel Adams went on month long caming trip with a small group of friends includng Orville Cox and Georgia O’Keefe.  The result among other things was the superb image of Cox and O’Keefe.

Rose and Driftwood

Ansel Adams Rose and Driftwood
Rose and Driftwood, San Francisco California

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