Ansel Adams

Do you know who Ansel Adams is?  I knew that he was a famous photographer from the United States, but I will shamefully admit that I did not know much more than that until very recently.  This past weekend I went in to London to the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich for an Ansel Adams exhibit titled “Photography from the mountains to the sea”, and it didn’t disappoint.

Adams is probably our most celebrated photographer, for good reason.  He is most famous for the breathtaking black and white images of nature, but he contributed much more to the field of photography than some stunning landscape shots.  He was really the first to promote photography as a fine art medium, one that was good enough to rival anything a painter or musician could produce.  He also pioneered principles and techniques that aspiring photographers in the digital world can only think about.  I was very impressed reading the titles and anecdotes contained in the picture captions.  If you are interested in photography and in London, its worth the money.

Anyway, I have selected a few of my favorites from the exhibit for your viewing pleasure.  I like this one below because the detail is as good on the mountain as the water below.  Adams co-started the f/64 movement which allowed for such amazing depth of field shots.  I also love reflection pictures.ansel-adams

This one below is another example of either lighting or development tricks to really highlight the little trees up front and those behind.


The title of this one is “Winter Storm Clearing” and it captures just what you would imagine it to.  This was taken at Yosemite National Park, a favorite spot for Adams.  Again, look how sharp this picture is.089-yosemite-valley-clearing-winterstorm-1942

I find it difficult to really appreciate the beauty of this picture on a computer screen.  Either that or I didn’t look very hard for the best representation.  Anyway, this was one of my favorites because it spurred discussion with the friend I went with.  We couldn’t decide on the scale of this picture.  How big is the step of stone that you see?  It also reminded me of taking pictures near Ithaca Falls in the summer.1097-3363-fern_spring__dusk__yosemite_valley__about_1961_photograph_by_ansel_adams

I spotted this last photograph from across the room and knew instantly that it was my favorite from everything I had seen that day.  It combines all the elements of Adams photography that impress me the most.  It is a picture of nature and composed well.  The lighting and natural shadows are in balance.  He makes use of the reflection on water and the combination of all of these makes for something that looks more like art than photography.  I might even try to buy a reproduction for my wall.ansel adams_treesAlthough I will never take anything of this quality, I left the exhibit with a much greater appreciation for Ansel Adams and the inspiration to take more pictures.  Happy 111th birthday.

One thought on “Ansel Adams”

  1. I love Ansel Adams. Before I even really thought of photography as a hobby I have admired his work, now I consider him a mentor that I will never be as good as. Not only was he a master of composition, but he was a master of light and the darkroom. If you are ever near Yosemite Valley, make the trip into the valley to see the Ansel Adams museum!

    Josh and I have been to Yosemite many times and one trip we took with the sole purpose of taking photos! It was amazing! One of my favorite pictures is taken from Inspiration Point looking back out at the valley at Half Dome, El Capitan, and Horsetail Falls. I didn’t realize how close my picture was to Ansel’s original shot. It is one of my most proud moments as a photographer.

    Thank you for sharing the great work of (in my opinion) one of the greatest photographers ever to walk the earth! I hope that he has inspired you too!

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