Ansel Adams – Updated

Ansel AdamsI’ve been investigating a few links on Ansel Adams today.

Did you know he was an accomplished musician, and a trained concert pianist in real life? I guess ‘accomplished photographer’ was just his day job.

His son had this wonderful excerpt to say: “The great American artist’s darkroom techniques—through dodging and burning—allowed him to see the image in his mind’s eye as a final print. “That’s the drama, the expertise of what he could accomplish that no one else was able to do,” said Michael Adams, Ansel’s son who is a retired physician of Carmel, California. His father, he added, would have embraced today’s easily manipulated photo techniques: “I think that he would have loved digital.””

In other words, he used primitive photoshop techniques in the darkroom. (If primitive could be applied to last century, of course…)

He was hired by the National Park Service, which still has his photos, now online.

One of his most famous photos, Moon and Half Dome, was the subject of a study called Dating Moon and Half Dome. You guessed it they pin pointed the exact time the photo was taken.

His wife inherited her father’s art gallery, and in turn the Adams children inherited it, the Kids Store is a great place for all things Ansel Adams.

The Government Archives of Ansel Adam’s work for the National Park Service is another repository of photos.

He undertook, privately, a photo study of Manzanar, the government relocation camp for the Japanese during WWII.

Great looking book he wrote, Examples: Making Photographs, details the making of various photographs. A quote:

“One time when Ansel was shooting in the Sierra Nevada with some friends, he came away from his camera and walked into the scene. He grabbed hold of a tree limb, ripped it off the tree, and tossed it aside. When his more environmentally concerned friends made an uproar, he simply stated that it did not belong in the picture.”

Another informed site: Wilderness Net

“Perhaps one of the reasons Adams felt so strongly connected to the great wilderness was because of how it greatly improved his health. Somewhat sickly and slightly manic about germs and disease prior to living in Yosemite, Adams began to feel stronger, mentally and physically, the longer he spent there. He developed the stamina to haul his camera equipment with him through the back country treks that were becoming commonplace for him. His mental stability improved and he practiced the great discipline he had learned as a young piano player, waiting hours for the right light to shoot a certain scene. The wilderness had taken hold of Adams, sending him on trips into untamed regions. He photographed the wilderness using the techniques of the time and also the ideals of ancient art. The ‘wildness’ of these pure, unadulterated areas is what fed such inspiration to Adams.

… He told his father in a letter he felt photography would be only a hobby for him, but the summers in the Sierras proved to move him in a way music could not. He lamented his ability in music, realizing that to become a true master he would need years more experience. His indecision between his two loves led him to delay his marriage to Virginia, who was patient and forgiving throughout.


From a lucky man who spent aDay with Ansel Adams, Larry Kessel.

The Detroit Museum of Art, has a spread.

Tori at atTori Digital Photography has some beautiful photos up; looks like an interesting site.

Then, Temple University’s Ansel Adams page, has some more thoughts and works.

And finally, the Meaning of the Name Ansel:
Ansel a-nsel, an-sel as a boy’s name is pronounced AN-sul. It is of Old French origin, and the meaning of Ansel is “follower of a nobleman”. Also variant of Anselm (Old German) “God’s helmet”. Use is likely to refer to photographer Ansel Adams, who photographed the American wilderness so eloquently.

Pre-visualization before exposure, finishing the print for art mounting, accomplished pianist… no wonder generations are learning from this guy.

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Fr. Kenneth Allen