Re­mem­ber­ing Ansel Adams

NPhoto - - Over To You | Letters -

Thank you so much for your ex­cel­lent fea­ture on shoot­ing land­scapes in the Oc­to­ber is­sue. I en­joyed the blend of mod­ern dig­i­tal cam­eras and tech­niques and the pi­o­neer­ing work of Ansel Adams. I went to see Ansel talk once: as well as show­ing some of his amaz­ing pho­tos he spoke of his Zone Sys­tem, which you ex­plained with re­gard to his­tograms and dig­i­tal im­ages.

Your im­ages were good ex­am­ples of what can be achieved, and re­minded me of see­ing Ansel’s pho­tos pro­jected onto a theatre screen – ex­pertly ex­posed and de­vel­oped, mas­ter­fully com­posed. Al­though I saw a range of im­ages when I worked in the in­dus­try, I have never seen any­thing to com­pare to these. Ansel also showed im­ages from a su­perb lim­ited edi­tion book, each im­age in each vol­ume hand-printed on pho­to­graphic pa­per. He ap­plied this ded­i­ca­tion and work to all his pho­to­graphs, a theme ex­plored in your text.

I took a great deal away from see­ing Ansel Adams, but one of his last re­marks made the big­gest im­pres­sion. Show­ing one of his clas­sic black-and-white im­ages he said that “any­one can take a pic­ture like this if they get up at 4am and drive into the desert”. I be­lieve he was say­ing that if you ap­ply your­self and re­ally work at pho­tog­ra­phy, you can take spec­tac­u­lar im­ages. You made a sim­i­lar point in your fea­ture when you said that peo­ple of­ten see some­thing beau­ti­ful, such as Half Dome in Yosemite, and “snap” it with­out thought – and then won­der why the re­sult is dis­ap­point­ing.

Bob Black, Lon­don, UK

We’re glad you en­joyed the ar­ti­cle Bob, and you’re ab­so­lutely right, of course; the rea­son Adams’ im­ages con­tinue to in­spire half a cen­tury af­ter they were taken is tes­ta­ment to his ap­pli­ca­tion and hard work. There re­ally are no short cuts!

Our ar­ti­cle on Ansel Adams and the mas­ters of landscape brought back fond mem­o­ries for Bob

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