Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ansel Adams

This is typical Ansel Adams black and white photography. Stunning work.

Update: It seems to be the negatives found in the garage were not taken by Ansel Adams and the art expert who appraised them allegedly has no experience in art appraisal. Here is an article about Ansel the man and photographer.

Ansel Adams was a famous nature photographer whose specialty was black and white photography using what is known as large format film. In film photography you have small 35mm, medium format and large format film. Digital photography has passed 35 mm in quality in many ways, in my opinion. Medium and large format film is still superior in quality to digital photography with what is commercially available, in my opinion.

Ansel Adams was born on February 20, 1902; he was raised in San Francisco, California. Ansel Easton Adams was the only child of parents, Charles Hitchcock and Olive Adams of New England. Ansel Adams' father Charles was a businessman, whose companies were to include an insurance agency as well as a chemical plant. Ansel Adams took a keen interest in music and musical instruments at an early age. He was able to teach himself how to play the piano, and he always seemed to enjoy being around and in tune with as well as surrounding himself with nature as far away from the city as possible. This interest was to be a guide in his nature pictures. Ansel Adams as a child attended both public and private schools, hopefully gaining the best of both worlds.

Ansel’s father gave him his first lessons in mathematics and the French language. French was considered a romantic and international language at the time of Ansel. France was very influential in the impressionist expression of the musical art and painting era.

In 1915 when Ansel Adams was 13 years old, his father bought him a ticket for the Panama Pacific World’s fair. Ansel took a great deal of interest in the Armory Show art gallery exhibition. This art exhibition contained modern art that had been first presented in New York City. There was a music concert that took a hold on the young Ansel's interest.

Ansel was able to take his very first photograph in 1916 at age 19, when he and his parents went on a trip to what is now Yosemite National Park. He took his first pictures with a Kodak Box Brownie camera. I actually remember seeing these Kodak Brownie camera’s when I was a child as most everyone had one in their closet. Kodak was responsible for making photography available for the masses and affordable for the public and the average Joe.

His early pictures and images were of the Yosemite National park, and its splendor of nature, but Ansel’s major interest was of the High Sierra Mountains. Ansel returned to Yosemite National Park every summer and took pictures of nature, which included mountains and the forest. While Ansel was there in Yosemite National Park in 1919, he joined the Sierra Club. The purpose of the Sierra club was to explore and protect the wilderness areas of the Sierra Nevada. Ansel was to become an official contract photographer for the Sierra club. I understand that he was on the board of directors of the Sierra Club for a time.

Young Ansel actually and eventually worked in Yosemite National park for four summers as the caretaker of the Sierra club's headquarters. While spending his time there in the park, Ansel became an expert mountaineer and a rugged conservationist. Ansel also gained a lot of experience in the changing and shifting conditions as a landscape photographer of the park. During this time of the young Ansel or around the year of 1920, photography was just a casual hobby for Ansel Adams. In the year 1920 Ansel decided he was going to make music his vocation and profession.

His ambition in life was his plan on how to become a concert pianist. Ansel was able to give piano lessons and professional piano concerts until the year 1927. Ansel then decided to change his path in life and start his career into photography.

This was to be a life changing decision for Ansel and for the world to enjoy his life-long work. That same year the publication of his first printed book of photographs was entitled Parmelian Prints of the High Sierras, was put out for sale.

Ansel was able to procure and got financial support for his first photography book from an art patron named Albert Bender. In the year 1930 Ansel published a limited edition portfolio of some of his photographs of Taos Pueblo. Mary Austin who was a writer, novelist and essayist wrote the text for this book.

The early pictures of Ansel Adam were in a photography style known as soft-focus, or fashionable pictorial, as this was very popular at the time. These kinds of pictures imitated the effects of Impressionistic paintings popular in France, in which the image you were trying to view was hazy or rather it looked like and as if you were looking at it through a mist. This effect made it look more like it was a painting, rather than a sharp photographic image.

In 1932 Ansel was instrumental and helped start a photographer’s group with other well known photographers of the twentieth century, to rebel against the soft-focus photography technique when taking pictures that was in vogue at the time. The group was called Group f/64. Their name was taken thus symbolizing the small lens opening of the camera. What Ansel wanted were sharp details in his pictures that focused through the smallest aperture in the camera lens, which was f/64. Group f/64 was a small informal photography group that lasted for just two years. This group had a large effect as it made a big difference in the direction that American photography would travel in.

In photography the aperture or shutter opening is often called the f/ stop or f-stop and the larger the number then the smaller is the opening of the shutter. The larger the opening of the shutter will reflect a smaller number for the f-stop. A 2.8 f-stop lens is considered a very fast lens and it has a fairly large opening in the shutter to let in a lot of light in a very short period of time. This type of lenses is used for sports photography and it captures moving subjects quite well.

With a 2.8 lens being used for sports the subject will be in focus and the background will be a blur or what is called soft focus. These are considered professional lenses and they cost a considerable sum of money. Consumer lenses are generally 3.5 and above for the lens opening with the f-stop. Although they let in a certain amount of light they are not considered as fast as sports lenses. These consumer lenses have more of what is called depth of field or rather the subject and the background will be more in focus. Ansel Adams founded a group called the F/64 photography group and their concern was to enjoy photography and have the entire photograph in focus.

An f-stop with a very high number has a very small opening in the shutter. This would be very much like a pinhole camera and would have a great deal of depth of field, in other words everything would be in focus in the picture. Suppose you had someone that was about 10 feet from you and you were taking their picture and in the background is a large forest and behind that are mountains and in the sky you have varying shades of blue and beautiful white clouds. You would use what is called landscape mode on your camera and it would have a very high f-stop to be sure that everything in the picture was in focus. This is the photography technique that Ansel Adams was interested in and promoting with his new photography group.

When using this type of technique for photography it is recommended that you use a tripod for the smaller opening of the shutter means that you have to leave it open for a longer period of time and it is subject to blur from shaking. Therefore a tripod will help you eliminate this problem. A sports lenses being used for a different purpose does not have this problem and a tripod is not needed nor is it necessary. I often use the landscape mode of the camera when I am taking wedding pictures on the beach so that the ocean in the background is in focus along with the clouds in the sky. This is the style of photography that the great nature photographer Mr. Ansel Adams was interested in and used in his famous style of photography.

Ansel Adams used what is called large format film for his photography you can make very large pictures from these negatives and there is a great deal of sharpness in the film and when you make prints you have a lot to work with. Digital photography is nowhere near the high level of quality that you have with large format film. Large format film is often used for the pictures that you see on billboards by the side of the highways. Medium format film is used to take pictures of models wearing beautiful clothes and a photograph products and digital cameras are nowhere near the quality of that of film. So Ansel Adams was using a very precise high quality medium to capture his artistic vision. Large format film is very expensive then and is very expensive now, but it captures the quality that Ansel Adams was looking for when he was taking pictures of nature in black and white.

Most traditional fine art photographers love to shoot in black and white because they feel that black and white is more expressive than color film. Even if you are not interested in doing this type of photography, black and white can be a lot of fun to experiment with and it will teach you things related to composition as well as contrast. Shooting in black and white eliminates the distraction of unwanted colors or unexpected colors in the picture scene. When using black and white color is eliminated and the important thing to worry about is framing and composition of the scene and the contrast between light and dark.

Special filters are available that can lighten some tones and darkened other tones which can manipulate contrast while you are shooting with your camera. You can also experiment with contrast by printing on different types of paper used for printing your pictures. Black and white film records light in various shades of gray and it can be used with all available light sources. Glossy paper is very good for bringing out the vivid colors of color photography. Matte paper is very good for printing pictures in black and white.

In the year 1928 Ansel Adams was an official photographer for the Sierra Club and he was working at Jasper national Park which is in Canada, there he did some beautiful work. This was the year before the Great Depression and was the end of the roaring 20s in America. About three years into the Great Depression in the year 1932 Ansel opened his gallery for photography and it was very short-lived. Ansel taught photography and gave lectures to earn money while his gallery was open. Ansel was able to work in advertising and he wrote articles on photography for different magazines. Two of the magazines that Ansel wrote for were called camera craft and photographers on photography. Ansel published his first manual on photography techniques and camera equipment in the year 1935.

Outside of his own photography gallery Ansel's work was featured in an exhibition in the year 1936 for the very first time. Ansel owes a debt of gratitude to a Mr. Alfred Steiglitz, Alfred was known as a master photographer as well as being a discoverer of genius. This gallery was located in New York City and Ansel was on his way to becoming famous and recognized for his vision and talent. In the year 1940 Ansel was able to direct what was called a pageant of photography. The very next year Ansel taught classes at the art center school in Los Angeles, California. Ansel was also appointed by the Department of the Interior with headquarters in Washington DC to be a photo muralist for the US government.

Ansel was given an assignment to take large landscape pictures of national parks and monuments all over America. Ansel was fortunate enough to be able to lecture at colleges all along the West Coast as well is at the Museum of modern Art. In the year 1949 the Polaroid Corporation gave Ansell an appointment as a consultant of photography.

Ansel Adams was to become the director of the Sierra Club from 1936 to the year 1970. In 1968 he was the recipient of the Conservation Service award of the Interior Department. In 1969 he was awarded for his photography the Progress Medal of the Photographic Society of America. Ansel published many portfolios and wrote many books which some include Sierra Nevada: The John Muir Trial, Illustrated Guide to Yosemite Valley, Michael and Annie in the Yosemite Valley, Yosemite and the High Sierra, My Camera in Yosemite Valley, Camera and Lens, The Negative, The Print, Natural Light Photography, Born Free and Equal, Death Valley, and Mission San Xavier del Bac, are just a few of his portfolios and books.

Thai dancing in South Florida


Kold_Kadavr_flatliner said...

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Jennifer said...

He is master of Photography. I like this photography.

aisha said...

Very nice pictures

I'd love to see these close up

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Balu S. K. Thomas said...

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a touch of ghostly enviornment...

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