Ansel Adams via Yosemite

September 13, 2008

Last night after Vespers several of us were gabbing about the Law’s recent trip to Yosemite. Now, I can never think of Yosemite without thinking about Ansel Adams and when I start flipping through AA’s work I can’t help but reflect on the influence he had on me in my early teens.

My very first “exposure” to Adams’ work -sorry- was via an article written about him I found in an issue of my Father’s Popular Photography Magazine. Up until that time I had only a fleeting interest in photography and mostly paged through my Father’s magazines looking for pictures of pretty, scantily clothed models. Hey, I was 13! Don’t worry I’ll confess it.

When I came upon the article about the then barely known work of Ansel Adams, I can honestly say the process of “taking a picture” would never seem the same to me again. I knew enough about cameras and photography in general to know that the images printed there where not visually accurate to the I scenes as they appeared on the focusing screen of his 8×10 view camera; No shadows could look that black; No naturally sunlit blue skies could appear as dark as night. I knew there was not a camera nor film made that could reproduce the dynamic tonal ranges and richness he captured. Yet there something so real, so genuine about every photo. I almost felt as if I were looking through his eyes at what he had seen in his mind at the moment of capture. And, in fact, I was. I didn’t know photography could do that.

It was this affect on me that drew me into the art. For me it had been about taking great shots of the family on vacation or a girlfriend. So I’m forever grateful to AA for his vision, through books, speaking but most of all though his work.

Here’s a few of my favorite quotes by the man himself.

“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”

“Photography is more than a medium for factual communication of ideas (events, places or things). It is a creative art.”

“When I’m ready to make a photograph, I think I quite obviously see in my minds eye something that is not literally there in the true meaning of the word. I’m interested in something which is built up from within, rather than just extracted from without.”

“We must remember that a photograph can hold just as much as we put into it, and no one has ever approached the full possibilities of the medium.”

“No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit.”

“Photography, as a powerful medium of expression and communications, offers an infinite variety of perception, interpretation and execution.”

“The negative is the equivalent of the composer’s score, and the print the performance.”

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