his love for control, Adams disliked color since it lacked the element he had mastered in black and white.
selection of Ansel Adams most renown and appreciated images, in formats sold by The Ansel Adams Gallery. click Here
Adams was born in the Western Addition of San Francisco, California, to distinctly upper-class parents Charles Hitchcock Adams and Olive Bray Adams. An only child, named after his uncle Ansel Easton. His mother's family from Baltimore, where his maternal grandfather had a freight-hauling business lost his wealth investing in failed mining and real estate ventures. The Adams family came from New England, having migrated from Ireland early 18th century.
Photographs by : Ansel Adams
His father raised him to follow the ideas of Ralph Waldo Emerson: to live a modest, moral life guided by a social responsibility to man and to nature. Adams had a warm, loving and supportive relationship with his father, but had a distant relationship with his mother, who did not approve of his interest in photography.
Youth Adams became interested in piano at age 12. Music became the main focus of his later youth. His father sent him to piano teacher Marie Butler, who focused on perfectionism and accuracy. After four years of studying under her guidance, Adams moved on to other teachers, one being composer Henry Cowell. For the next twelve years, the piano was Adams' primary occupation and, by 1920, his intended profession. Although he ultimately gave up music for photography, the piano brought substance, discipline and structure to his frustrating and erratic youth. Moreover, the careful training and exacting craft required of a musician profoundly informed his visual artistry, as well as his influential writings and teachings on photography.
Adams first visited Yosemite National Park in 1916 with his family. He wrote of his first view of the valley: "the splendor of Yosemite burst upon us and it was glorious... One wonder after another descended upon us... There was light everywhere... A new era began for me." His father gave him his first camera, a Kodak Brownie box camera, during that stay and he took his first photographs with his "usual hyperactive enthusiasm". He returned to Yosemite on his own the following year with better cameras and a tripod. In the winter, he learned basic darkroom technique working part-time for a San Francisco photo finisher.Adams avidly read photography magazines, attended camera club meetings, and went to photography and art exhibits. He explored the High Sierra, in summer and winter, developing the stamina and skill needed to photograph at high elevation and under difficult weather conditions.
Ansel Adams married Virginia Best in Best's Studio in Yosemite Valley. Virginia inherited the studio from her artist father on his death in 1935, and the Adams continued to operate the studio until 1971. The studio, now known as the Ansel Adams Gallery, remains in the hands of the Adams family.
At age 17, Adams joined the Sierra Club, a group dedicated to protecting the wild places of the earth, and was hired as the summer caretaker of the Sierra Club visitor center in Yosemite Valley, the LeConte Memorial Lodge from 1920 to 1924.He remained a member throughout his lifetime and served as a director, as did his wife. He was first elected to the Sierra Club's board of directors in 1934, and served on the board for 37 years, until 1971.Adams participated in the club's annual High Trips, and was later responsible for several first ascents in the Sierra Nevada.
During his twenties, most of his friends came from musical connections, particularly violinist and amateur photographer Cedric Wright, who became his best friend He decided that the purpose of his photography, was to reveal that beauty to others and to inspire them to the same calling.
In summer, Adams would enjoy a life of hiking, camping, and photographing, and the rest of the year he worked to improve his piano playing.
His first photographs were published in 1921 and Best's Studio began selling his Yosemite prints the following year. His early photos already showed careful composition and sensitivity to tonal balance.
Mid-1920s, Adams experimented with soft-focus, etching, Bromoil Process, and other techniques of the pictorial photographers, but eventually rejected pictorialism for a more realistic approach which relied more heavily on sharp focus, heightened contrast, exposure, and darkroom craftsmanship.
Photography career 1920s In 1927, Adams produced his first portfolio, Parmelian Prints of the High Sierras, in his new style, which included his famous image Monolith, the Face of Half Dome, taken with his Korona view camera using glass plates and a dark red filter (to heighten the tonal contrasts).
With the sponsorship and promotion of Albert Bender, an arts-connected businessman, Adams's first portfolio was a success (earning nearly $3,900) and soon he received commercial assignments to photograph the wealthy patrons who bought his portfolio. Adams also came to understand how important it was that his carefully crafted photos were reproduced to best effect.
Adams's work matured and he became more established. In the course of his 60-year career, the 1930s were a particularly productive and experimental time. Adams expanded his works, focusing on detailed close-ups as well as large forms from mountains to factories. Adams's first book, was published with text by writer Mary Hunter Austin.
Through a friend with Washington connections, Adams was able to put on his first solo museum exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution in 1931, featuring 60 prints taken in the High Sierra. He received an excellent review from the Washington Post,
In 1932, Adams had a group show at the M. H. de Young Museum with Imogen Cunningham and Edward Weston and they soon formed Group f/64, which espoused "pure or straight photography" over pictorialism (f/64 being a small aperture setting gives great depth of field). The group's manifesto stated that "Pure photography is defined as possessing no qualities of technique, composition or idea, derivative of any other art form.
Following Stieglitz's example, in 1933 Adams opened his own art and photography gallery in San Francisco. Adams also began to publish essays in photography magazines and wrote his first instructional book Making a Photograph in 1935.
In the 1930s, Adams began to deploy his photographs in the cause of wilderness preservation. He created a limited-edition book in 1938, Sierra Nevada: The John Muir Trail, as part of the Sierra Club's efforts to secure the designation of Sequoia and Kings Canyon as national parks. This book and his testimony before Congress played a vital role in the success of the effort, and Congress designated the area as a National Park in 1940.
In 1935, Adams created many new photos of the Sierra and one of his most famous photographs, Clearing Winter Storm, captured the entire valley just as a winter storm relented, leaving a fresh coat of snow. Adams gathered his recent work and had a solo show at the Stieglitz gallery "An American Place" in New York in 1936. The exhibition proved successful with both the critics and the buying public, and earned Adams strong praise from the revered Stieglitz
1940, Ansel put together A Pageant of Photography, the most important and largest photography show in the West to date, attended by millions of visitors.
On a trip in New Mexico in 1941, Adams shot a scene of the Moon rising above a modest village with snow-covered mountains in the background, under a dominating black sky. The photograph is one of his most famous and is named Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico. The initial publication of Moonrise was in U.S. Camera 1943 annual, after being selected by the "photo judge" for U.S. Camera, Edward Steichen. This gave Moonrise an audience before its first formal exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1944.
The total value of these original prints exceeds $25,000,000; the highest price paid for a single print of Moonrise reached $609,600 at Sotheby's New York auction in 2006.
Adams joined the Naval Aviation Photographic Unit in in Washington, D.C. February 1942, Steichen asked Adams to join.Adams agreed, with two conditions: He wanted to be commissioned as an officer, and he also told Steichen he would not be available until July 1. Steichen, who wanted the team assembled as quickly as possible, passed Adams by, and had his other photographers ready to go by early April.
Adams was distressed by the Japanese American Internment that occurred after the Pearl Harbor attack. He requested permission to visit the Manzanar War Relocation Center in the Owens Valley, at the foot of Mount Williamson. The resulting photo-essay first appeared in a Museum of Modern Art exhibit, and later was published as Born Free and Equal: The Story of Loyal Japanese-Americans.
In 1945, Adams was asked to form the first fine art photography department at the San Francisco Art Institute. Adams invited Dorothea Lange, Imogen Cunningham and Edward Weston to be guest lecturers and Minor White to be lead instructor.
Adams contributor to Arizona Highways, a photo-rich travel magazine. His article on Mission San Xavier del Bac, with text by longtime friend Nancy Newhall, was enlarged into a book published in 1954. This was the first of many collaborations with her. In June 1955, Adams began his annual workshops, teaching thousands of students until 1981,
Adams published his fourth portfolio, What Majestic Word, in 1963, and dedicated it to the memory of his Sierra Club friend Russell Varian, the title was taken from the poem "Sand Dunes," by John Varian, Russell's father, the fifteen photographs were accompanied by the writings of both John and Russell Varian. Russell's widow, Dorothy, wrote the preface.
In March 1963, Ansel Adams and Nancy Newhall accepted a commission from Clark Kerr, the president of the University of California, to produce a series of photographs of the University's campuses to commemorate its centennial celebration. The collection, titled Fiat Lux after the University's motto, was published in 1967 and now resides in the Museum of Photography at the University of California, Riverside.
In 1974, Adams had a major retrospective exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Much of his time during the 1970s was spent curating and reprinting negatives from his vault, in part to satisfy the great demand of art museums which had finally created departments of photography. President Jimmy Carter commissioned him to make the first official portrait of a president made by a photograph.
That year he also cofounded the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona, which handles some of his estate matters.
Adams did not work with colour and not exclusively in black and white.
There are two main reasons, according to an expert source, why Adams preferred black and white. The first was that he felt color could be distracting, and could therefore divert an artist’s attention away from achieving his full potential when taking a photograph. Adams actually claimed that he could get “a far greater sense of ‘color’ through a well-planned and executed black-and-white image than [he had] ever achieved with color photography”.
The second reason was that Adams was a “master of control”. He wrote many books about technique, and he developed, along with Fred Archer, the Zone System — a process which helped determine the optimal exposure and development time for a given photograph. Because of his love for control, Adams disliked color since it lacked this element that he had mastered with black and white.
Adams's black-and-white photographs of the West which became the foremost record of what many of the National Parks were like before tourism, and his persistent advocacy helped expand the National Park system.
The Tetons and the Snake River (1942) Adams co-founded Group f/64 with other masters like Edward Weston, Willard Van Dyke, and Imogen Cunningham. With Fred Archer, he pioneered the Zone System, a technique for translating perceived light into specific densities on negatives and paper, giving photographers better control over finished photographs. He taught these and other techniques to thousands of amateur photographers through his publications and his workshops.
In 1966 he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1980 Jimmy Carter awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.
Adams's photograph The Tetons and the Snake River was one of the 115 images recorded on the Voyager Golden Record aboard the Voyager spacecraft. These images were selected to convey information about humans, plants and animals, and geological features of the Earth to a possible alien civilization.
His legacy includes helping to elevate photography to an art comparable with painting and music, and equally capable of expressing emotion and beauty. He told his students, "It is easy to take a photograph, but it is harder to make a masterpiece in photography than in any other art medium."
Art critic John Szarkowski wrote "Ansel Adams attuned himself more precisely than any photographer before him to a visual understanding of the specific quality of the light that fell on a specific place at a specific moment. For Adams the natural landscape is not a fixed and solid sculpture but an insubstantial image.
September 1983, Adams was confined to his bed for four weeks after leg surgery to remove a tumor. Adams died on April 22, 1984, in the ICU at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula California, at the age of 82.
Publishing rights for most of Adams's photographs are now handled by the trustees of The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust. An archive of Ansel Adams's work is located at the Center for Creative Photography (CCP) at the University of Arizona in Tucson.
CLEARING WINTER STORM, YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK' which sold at Sotheby's New York in 2010 for $722,500, the highest price ever paid for an original Ansel Adams photograph.
John Szarkowski states in the introduction to Ansel Adams: Classic Images (1985, p. 5), "The love that Americans poured out for the work and person of Ansel Adams during his old age, and that they have continued to express with undiminished enthusiasm since his death, is an extraordinary phenomenon, perhaps even unparalleled in our country's response to a visual artist."