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Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams

Overview
Ansel Easton Adams was an American photographer and environmentalist
Environmentalist
An environmentalist broadly supports the goals of the environmental movement, "a political and ethical movement that seeks to improve and protect the quality of the natural environment through changes to environmentally harmful human activities"...

, best known for his black-and-white
Black-and-white
Black-and-white, often abbreviated B/W or B&W, is a term referring to a number of monochrome forms in visual arts.Black-and-white as a description is also something of a misnomer, for in addition to black and white, most of these media included varying shades of gray...

 photographs of the American West, especially in Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is a United States National Park spanning eastern portions of Tuolumne, Mariposa and Madera counties in east central California, United States. The park covers an area of and reaches across the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain chain...

.

With Fred Archer
Fred R. Archer
Fred R. Archer , was an American photographer who collaborated with Ansel Adams to create the Zone System. He was a portrait photographer, specializing early in his career in portraits of Hollywood movie stars. He was associated with the artistic trend in photography known as pictorialism...

, Adams developed the Zone System
Zone system
The Zone System is a photographic technique for determining optimal film exposure and development, formulated by Ansel Adams and Fred Archer. Adams described how the Zone System was developed: "I take this opportunity to restate that the Zone System is not an invention of mine; it is a codification...

 as a way to determine proper exposure and adjust the contrast of the final print. The resulting clarity and depth characterized his photographs and the work of those to whom he taught the system.
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Quotations

I eagerly await new concepts and processes. I believe that the electronic image will be the next major advance. Such systems will have their own inherent and inescapable structural characteristics, and the artist and functional practitioner will again strive to comprehend and control them.

The Negative (1981)

For me the future of the image is going to be in electronic form ... You will see perfectly beautiful images on an electronic screen. And I'd say that would be very handsome. They would be almost as close as the best reproductions.

Interview with Paul Hill (1975)

A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense, and is, thereby, a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety.

Ansel Adams: America exhibition in the Bellagio Hotel, Las Vegas

No matter how sophisticated you may be, a large granite mountain cannot be denied — it speaks in silence to the very core of your being.

Exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D.C.

There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.

The Essence of Photography (2008), Calumet Photographic
Encyclopedia
Ansel Easton Adams was an American photographer and environmentalist
Environmentalist
An environmentalist broadly supports the goals of the environmental movement, "a political and ethical movement that seeks to improve and protect the quality of the natural environment through changes to environmentally harmful human activities"...

, best known for his black-and-white
Black-and-white
Black-and-white, often abbreviated B/W or B&W, is a term referring to a number of monochrome forms in visual arts.Black-and-white as a description is also something of a misnomer, for in addition to black and white, most of these media included varying shades of gray...

 photographs of the American West, especially in Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is a United States National Park spanning eastern portions of Tuolumne, Mariposa and Madera counties in east central California, United States. The park covers an area of and reaches across the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain chain...

.

With Fred Archer
Fred R. Archer
Fred R. Archer , was an American photographer who collaborated with Ansel Adams to create the Zone System. He was a portrait photographer, specializing early in his career in portraits of Hollywood movie stars. He was associated with the artistic trend in photography known as pictorialism...

, Adams developed the Zone System
Zone system
The Zone System is a photographic technique for determining optimal film exposure and development, formulated by Ansel Adams and Fred Archer. Adams described how the Zone System was developed: "I take this opportunity to restate that the Zone System is not an invention of mine; it is a codification...

 as a way to determine proper exposure and adjust the contrast of the final print. The resulting clarity and depth characterized his photographs and the work of those to whom he taught the system. Adams primarily used large-format
Large format
Large format refers to any imaging format of 4×5 inches or larger. Large format is larger than "medium format", the 6×6 cm or 6×9 cm size of Hasselblad, Rollei, Kowa, Pentax etc cameras , and much larger than the 24×36 mm frame of 35 mm format.The main advantage...

 cameras despite their size, weight, setup time, and film cost, because their high resolution
Image resolution
Image resolution is an umbrella term that describes the detail an image holds. The term applies to raster digital images, film images, and other types of images. Higher resolution means more image detail....

 helped ensure sharpness in his images.

Adams founded the Group f/64
Group f/64
Group f/64 was a group of seven 20th century San Francisco photographers who shared a common photographic style characterized by sharp-focused and carefully framed images seen through a particularly Western viewpoint...

 along with fellow photographers Willard Van Dyke
Willard Van Dyke
Willard Van Dyke was an American filmmaker and photographer who believed that photography could have a major influence on the world....

 and Edward Weston
Edward Weston
Edward Henry Weston was a 20th century American photographer. He has been called "one of the most innovative and influential American photographers…" and "one of the masters of 20th century photography." Over the course of his forty-year career Weston photographed an increasingly expansive set of...

. Adams's photographs are reproduced on calendars, posters, and in books, making his photographs widely distributed.

Childhood


Adams was born in the Western Addition of San Francisco, California
Western Addition, San Francisco, California
The Western Addition is a neighborhood in San Francisco, California, United States.-Location:The Western Addition is sandwiched between Van Ness Avenue, Golden Gate Park, the Upper and Lower Haight neighborhoods, and Pacific Heights....

, to distinctly upper-class parents Charles Hitchcock Adams
Charles Hitchcock Adams
Charles Hitchcock Adams was an amateur American astronomer, and father of photographer Ansel Adams....

 and Olive Bray Adams. He was an only child and was named after his uncle Ansel Easton. His mother's family came from Baltimore and his maternal grandfather had a successful freight-hauling business, but squandered his wealth in failed mining and real estate ventures in Nevada. The Adams family came from New England, having migrated from the north of Ireland in the early 18th century. His grandfather founded and built a prosperous lumber business, which his father later ran, though his father's natural talents lay more with sciences than with business. Later in life, Adams would condemn that very same industry for cutting down many of the great redwood forests.

In 1903, his family moved two miles west to a new home near the Seacliff
Sea Cliff, San Francisco
Sea Cliff is a neighborhood located in northwestern San Francisco, California. It is known for its large houses and ocean views.-Location:...

 neighborhood, just south of the Presidio Army Base
Presidio of San Francisco
The Presidio of San Francisco is a park on the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula in San Francisco, California, within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area...

. The home had a "splendid view" of the Golden Gate
Golden Gate
The Golden Gate is the North American strait connecting San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean. Since 1937 it has been spanned by the Golden Gate Bridge...

 and the Marin Headlands
Marin Headlands
The Marin Headlands is a hilly area at the southernmost end of Marin County, California, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. The Headlands are located just north of San Francisco, immediately across the Golden Gate Bridge. The entire area is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area...

. San Francisco was devastated by the April 18, 1906 San Francisco earthquake
1906 San Francisco earthquake
The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 was a major earthquake that struck San Francisco, California, and the coast of Northern California at 5:12 a.m. on Wednesday, April 18, 1906. The most widely accepted estimate for the magnitude of the earthquake is a moment magnitude of 7.9; however, other...

. Uninjured in the initial shaking, the four-year-old Ansel Adams was tossed face-first into a garden wall during an aftershock
Aftershock
An aftershock is a smaller earthquake that occurs after a previous large earthquake, in the same area of the main shock. If an aftershock is larger than the main shock, the aftershock is redesignated as the main shock and the original main shock is redesignated as a foreshock...

 three hours later, breaking his nose. Among his earliest memories was watching the smoke from the ensuing fire that destroyed much of the city a few miles to the east. Although a doctor recommended that his nose be re-set once he reached maturity, this was never done; as a result, Adams's nose remained crooked for his entire life.

Adams was a hyperactive child and prone to frequent sickness and hypochondria
Hypochondria
Hypochondriasis or hypochondria refers to excessive preoccupation or worry about having a serious illness. This debilitating condition is the result of an inaccurate perception of the body’s condition despite the absence of an actual medication condition...

. He had few friends, but his family home and surroundings on the heights facing the Golden Gate provided ample childhood activities. Although he had no patience for games or sports, the curious child took to nature at an early age, collecting bugs and exploring Lobos Creek
Lobos Creek
Lobos Creek is a stream in Presidio of San Francisco in San Francisco, California.-Overview:It runs from runoff in the Presidio and Seacliff areas and underground seepage from springs that form Mountain Lake to the Pacific Ocean marking the division between Baker Beach and China Beach...

 all the way to Baker Beach
Baker Beach
Baker Beach is a public beach on the peninsula of San Francisco, California, U.S.. The beach lies on the shore of the Pacific Ocean to the northwest of the city...

 and the sea cliffs leading to Lands End
Lands End, San Francisco
Lands End is a park in San Francisco within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It is a rocky and windswept shoreline at the mouth of the Golden Gate, situated between the Sutro District and Lincoln Park and abutting Fort Miley Military Reservation. A memorial to the USS San Francisco...

, "San Francisco's wildest and rockiest coast, a place strewn with shipwrecks and rife with landslides."

His father bought a three-inch telescope and they enthusiastically shared the hobby of amateur astronomy
Amateur astronomy
Amateur astronomy, also called backyard astronomy and stargazing, is a hobby whose participants enjoy watching the night sky , and the plethora of objects found in it, mainly with portable telescopes and binoculars...

, visiting the Lick Observatory
Lick Observatory
The Lick Observatory is an astronomical observatory, owned and operated by the University of California. It is situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, in the Diablo Range just east of San Jose, California, USA...

 on Mount Hamilton
Mount Hamilton (California)
Mount Hamilton is a mountain in California's Diablo Range, in Santa Clara County, California. Mount Hamilton, at is the tallest mountain overlooking Silicon Valley, and is the site of Lick Observatory, the first permanently occupied mountain-top observatory. The various summits along its...

 together. His father went on to serve as the paid secretary-treasurer of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
Astronomical Society of the Pacific
The Astronomical Society of the Pacific is a scientific and educational organization, founded in San Francisco on February 7, 1889. Its name derives from its origins on the Pacific Coast, but today it has members all over the country and the world...

 from 1925 to 1950.

After the death of his grandfather and the aftermath of the Panic of 1907
Panic of 1907
The Panic of 1907, also known as the 1907 Bankers' Panic, was a financial crisis that occurred in the United States when the New York Stock Exchange fell almost 50% from its peak the previous year. Panic occurred, as this was during a time of economic recession, and there were numerous runs on...

, his father's business suffered great financial losses. By 1912, the family's standard of living had dropped sharply. After young Ansel was dismissed from several private schools for his restlessness and inattentiveness, his father decided to pull him out of school in 1915, at the age of 12. Adams was then educated by private tutors, his Aunt Mary, and by his father. His Aunt Mary was a follower of Robert G. Ingersoll
Robert G. Ingersoll
Robert Green "Bob" Ingersoll was a Civil War veteran, American political leader, and orator during the Golden Age of Freethought, noted for his broad range of culture and his defense of agnosticism. He was nicknamed "The Great Agnostic."-Life and career:Robert Ingersoll was born in Dresden, New York...

, a 19th century agnostic, abolitionist and women's suffrage
Women's suffrage
Women's suffrage or woman suffrage is the right of women to vote and to run for office. The expression is also used for the economic and political reform movement aimed at extending these rights to women and without any restrictions or qualifications such as property ownership, payment of tax, or...

 advocate. As a result of his Aunt's influence, Ingersoll's teachings were important to Ansel's upbringing. During the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915, his father insisted that, as part of his education, Adams spend part of each day studying the exhibits. After a while, Adams resumed and then completed his formal education by attending the Mrs. Kate M. Wilkins Private School, until he graduated from eighth grade on June 8, 1917. In his later years, he displayed his diploma in the guest bathroom of his home.

His father raised him to follow the ideas of Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American essayist, lecturer, and poet, who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century...

: 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


He taught himself piano at age twelve. Music became the main focus of his later youth. Possessing an eidetic memory
Eidetic memory
Eidetic , commonly referred to as photographic memory, is a medical term, popularly defined as the ability to recall images, sounds, or objects in memory with extreme precision and in abundant volume. The word eidetic, referring to extraordinarily detailed and vivid recall not limited to, but...

, Adams quickly learned to read music and play the piano. Soon he was taking lessons, and the ardent pursuit of music became his substitute for formal schooling. One of his childhood tutors was composer Henry Cowell
Henry Cowell
Henry Cowell was an American composer, music theorist, pianist, teacher, publisher, and impresario. His contribution to the world of music was summed up by Virgil Thomson, writing in the early 1950s:...

. For the next dozen years the piano was Adams's 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
Eastman Kodak
Eastman Kodak Company is a multinational imaging and photographic equipment, materials and services company headquarted in Rochester, New York, United States. It was founded by George Eastman in 1892....

 Brownie box camera
Brownie (camera)
Brownie is the name of a long-running and extremely popular series of simple and inexpensive cameras made by Eastman Kodak. The Brownie popularized low-cost photography and introduced the concept of the snapshot. The first Brownie, introduced in February, 1900, was a very basic cardboard 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
Darkroom
A darkroom is a room that can be made completely dark to allow the processing of light sensitive photographic materials, including photographic film and photographic paper. Darkrooms have been created and used since the inception of photography in the early 19th century...

 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. With retired geologist and amateur ornithologist
Ornithology
Ornithology is a branch of zoology that concerns the study of birds. Several aspects of ornithology differ from related disciplines, due partly to the high visibility and the aesthetic appeal of birds...

 Francis Holman, who he called "Uncle Frank," 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.
While in Yosemite, he had frequent contact with the Best family, owners of Best's Studio, who allowed him to practice on their old square piano
Square piano
The square piano is a piano that has horizontal strings arranged diagonally across the rectangular case above the hammers and with the keyboard set in the long side. It is variously attributed to Silbermann and Frederici and was improved by Petzold and Babcock...

. In 1928, 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
Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is the oldest, largest, and most influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892, in San Francisco, California, by the conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president...

, a group dedicated to preserving the natural world's wonders and resources, and he was hired as the summer caretaker of the Sierra Club visitor center in Yosemite Valley, the LeConte Memorial Lodge
LeConte Memorial Lodge
The LeConte Memorial Lodge is a structure in Yosemite National Park in California, United States. LeConte is spelled variously as Le Conte or as Leconte. The lodge was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987.-History:...

 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
High Trips
The High Trips were large wilderness excursions organized and led by the Sierra Club beginning in 1901. Club secretary William Colby initiated the High Trips, which usually traveled to the High Sierra, and led them from 1901 to 1929. Colby wrote, "It was from John Muir, President of the Club,...

, and was later responsible for several first ascent
First ascent
In climbing, a first ascent is the first successful, documented attainment of the top of a mountain, or the first to follow a particular climbing route...

s in the Sierra Nevada.

During 1919, he contracted the Spanish Flu during the 1918 flu pandemic. Adams fell seriously ill but recovered after several months to resume his outdoor life.

During his twenties, most of his friends came from musical connections, particularly violinist and amateur photographer Cedric Wright
Cedric Wright
George Cedric Wright was an American violinist and wilderness photographer of the High Sierra. He was Ansel Adams's mentor and best friend for decades.-Family:...

, who became his best friend as well as his philosophical and cultural mentor. Their shared philosophy came from Edward Carpenter
Edward Carpenter
Edward Carpenter was an English socialist poet, socialist philosopher, anthologist, and early gay activist....

's Towards Democracy, a literary work which espoused the pursuit of beauty in life and art. Carpenter was an English socialist philosopher and gay activist. For several years, Adams carried a pocket edition with him while at Yosemite. It soon became his personal philosophy as well, as Adams later stated, "I believe in beauty. I believe in stones and water, air and soil, people and their future and their fate." He decided that the purpose of his art from now on, whether photography or music, 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, expanding his piano technique and musical expression. He also gave piano lessons for extra income, finally affording a grand piano suitable to his musical ambitions. An early student was mountaineer and fellow Sierra Club leader Jules Eichorn
Jules Eichorn
Jules Eichorn was a California mountaineer, environmentalist and music teacher.- Early years :Jules Marquard Eichorn was born in San Francisco on February 7, 1912 to Hilmar and Frieda Eichorn, who were immigrants from Germany...

.

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. In letters and cards to family, he expressed his daring to climb to the best view points and brave the worst elements. At this point, however, Adams was still planning a career in music, even though his small hands, easily bruised by bravura playing, limited his repertoire to practiced works which benefited from his strengths of fine touch and excellent musicality. It took seven more years for Adams to finally concede that at best he might become a concert pianist of limited range, an accompanist, or a piano teacher.

In the mid-1920s, Adams experimented with soft-focus, etching, Bromoil Process
Bromoil Process
The Bromoil Process was an early photographic process that was very popular with the Pictorialists during the first half of the twentieth century...

, and other techniques of the pictorial
Pictorialism
‎Pictorialism is the name given to a photographic movement in vogue from around 1885 following the widespread introduction of the dry-plate process. It reached its height in the early years of the 20th century, and declined rapidly after 1914 after the widespread emergence of Modernism...

 photographers, such as Photo-Secession
Photo-Secession
The Photo-Secession was an early 20th century movement that promoted photography as a fine art in general and photographic pictorialism in particular. A group of photographers, led by Alfred Stieglitz and F...

 leader Alfred Stieglitz
Alfred Stieglitz
Alfred Stieglitz was an American photographer and modern art promoter who was instrumental over his fifty-year career in making photography an accepted art form...

 who strove to put photography on an equal artistic plane with painting by trying to mimic it. However, Adams steered clear of hand-coloring which was also popular at the time. Adams used a variety of lenses to get different effects, but eventually rejected pictorialism for a more realistic approach which relied more heavily on sharp focus, heightened contrast, precise exposure, and darkroom craftsmanship.

Career


In 1927, Adams produced his first portfolio, Parmelian Prints of the High Sierras
Parmelian Prints of the High Sierras
Parmelian Prints of the High Sierras is a portfolio of 18 silver gelatin photographic prints made by Ansel Adams in 1927. It was the first publication of a portfolio of his prints, produced not long after he decided to become a professional photographer, and has since been called "a landmark work...

, 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). On that excursion, he had only one plate left and he "visualized" the effect of the blackened sky before risking the last shot. As he stated, "I had been able to realize a desired image: not the way the subject appeared in reality but how it felt to me and how it must appear in the finished print". As he wrote confidently in April 1927, "My photographs have now reached a stage when they are worthy of the world's critical examination. I have suddenly come upon a new style which I believe will place my work equal to anything of its kind."

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. At Bender's invitation, he joined the prestigious Roxburghe Club, an association devoted to fine printing and high standards in book arts. He learned much about printing techniques, inks, design, and layout which he later applied to other projects. Unfortunately, at that time most of his darkroom work was still being done in the basement of his parents' home, and he was somewhat limited by barely adequate equipment.

After a cooling off period with Virginia Best during 1925–26, during which he had short-lasting relationships with various women, many of them students of colleague Cedric Wright, he married Virginia in 1928. The newlyweds moved in with his parents to save expenses. His marriage also marked the end of his serious attempt at a musical career, as well as her ambitions to be a classical singer.
Between 1929 and 1942, 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. In 1930 Taos Pueblo
Taos Pueblo (book)
Taos Pueblo is a book by Ansel Adams and Mary Hunter Austin. Originally published in 1930, it is the first book of Adams' photographs. A seminal work in his career, it marks the beginning of a transition from his earlier pictorialist style to his signature sharp-focused images of the Western...

, Adams's first book, was published with text by writer Mary Hunter Austin
Mary Hunter Austin
Mary Hunter Austin was an American writer. One of the early nature writers of the American Southwest, her classic The Land of Little Rain describes the fauna, flora and people – as well as evoking the mysticism and spirituality – of the region between the High Sierra and the Mojave Desert of...

. In New Mexico, he was introduced to notables from Stieglitz's circle, including painter Georgia O'Keeffe
Georgia O'Keeffe
Georgia Totto O'Keeffe was an American artist.Born near Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, O'Keeffe first came to the attention of the New York art community in 1916, several decades before women had gained access to art training in America’s colleges and universities, and before any of its women artists...

, artist John Marin
John Marin
John Marin was an early American modernist artist. He is known for his abstract landscapes and watercolors.-Biography:...

, and photographer Paul Strand
Paul Strand
Paul Strand was an American photographer and filmmaker who, along with fellow modernist photographers like Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Weston, helped establish photography as an art form in the 20th century...

, all of whom created famous works during their stays in the Southwest. Adams's talkative, high-spirited nature combined with his excellent piano playing made him a hit within his enlarging circle of elite artist friends. Strand especially proved influential, sharing secrets of his technique with Adams, and finally convincing Adams to pursue photography with all his talent and energy. One of Strand's suggestions which Adams immediately adopted was to use glossy paper rather than matte to intensify tonal values.

Through a friend with Washington connections, most likely Francis P. Farquhar
Francis P. Farquhar
Francis Peloubet Farquhar graduated from Harvard and came to San Francisco to set up in practice as a Certified Public Accountant...

, Adams was able to put on his first solo museum exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution
Smithsonian Institution
The Smithsonian Institution is an educational and research institute and associated museum complex, administered and funded by the government of the United States and by funds from its endowment, contributions, and profits from its retail operations, concessions, licensing activities, and magazines...

 in 1931, featuring 60 prints taken in the High Sierra. He received an excellent review from the Washington Post, "His photographs are like portraits of the giant peaks, which seem to be inhabited by mythical gods." Despite his success, Adams felt he was not yet up to the standards of Strand. He decided to broaden his subject matter to include still life and close-up photos, and to achieve higher quality by "visualizing" each image before taking it. He emphasized the use of small apertures and long exposures in natural light, which created sharp details with a wide range of focus, as demonstrated in Rose and Driftwood (1933), one of his finest still-life photographs.

In 1932, Adams had a group show at the M. H. de Young Museum with Imogen Cunningham
Imogen Cunningham
Imogen Cunningham was an American photographer known for her photography of botanicals, nudes and industry.-Life and career:...

 and Edward Weston
Edward Weston
Edward Henry Weston was a 20th century American photographer. He has been called "one of the most innovative and influential American photographers…" and "one of the masters of 20th century photography." Over the course of his forty-year career Weston photographed an increasingly expansive set of...

 and they soon formed Group f/64
Group f/64
Group f/64 was a group of seven 20th century San Francisco photographers who shared a common photographic style characterized by sharp-focused and carefully framed images seen through a particularly Western viewpoint...

, which espoused "pure or straight photography" over pictorialism
Pictorialism
‎Pictorialism is the name given to a photographic movement in vogue from around 1885 following the widespread introduction of the dry-plate process. It reached its height in the early years of the 20th century, and declined rapidly after 1914 after the widespread emergence of Modernism...

 ( being a very small aperture
Aperture
In optics, an aperture is a hole or an opening through which light travels. More specifically, the aperture of an optical system is the opening that determines the cone angle of a bundle of rays that come to a focus in the image plane. The aperture determines how collimated the admitted rays are,...

 setting that gives great depth of field
Depth of field
In optics, particularly as it relates to film and photography, depth of field is the distance between the nearest and farthest objects in a scene that appear acceptably sharp in an image...

). 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." In reality, "pure photography" did borrow from some of the established principles of painting, especially compositional balance and perspective, and some manipulation of subject and effect. By these standards, not only were "soft focus" lenses prohibited but Adams's earlier photo Monolith, which used a strong red filter to create a black sky, would have been considered unacceptable.

Following Stieglitz's example, in 1933 Adams opened his own art and photography gallery in San Francisco which eventually became the Danysh Gallery after Adams's commitments grew too burdensome. Adams also began to publish essays in photography magazines and wrote his first instructional book Making a Photograph in 1935. During the summers, he often participated in Sierra Club outings, as a paid photographer for the group, and the rest of the year a core group of the Club members socialized regularly in San Francisco. During 1933, his first child Michael was born, followed by Anne two years later.

During the 1930s, many photographers including Dorothea Lange
Dorothea Lange
Dorothea Lange was an influential American documentary photographer and photojournalist, best known for her Depression-era work for the Farm Security Administration...

 and Walker Evans
Walker Evans
Walker Evans was an American photographer best known for his work for the Farm Security Administration documenting the effects of the Great Depression. Much of Evans's work from the FSA period uses the large-format, 8x10-inch camera...

 believed they had a social obligation to reveal the harsh times of the Depression through their art. Mostly resistant to the "art for life's sake" movement, Adams did begin in the 1930s to deploy his photographs in the cause of wilderness preservation. In part, he was inspired by the increasing desecration of Yosemite Valley by commercial development, including a pool hall, bowling alley, golf course, shops, and automobile traffic. 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
Sequoia National Park
Sequoia National Park is a national park in the southern Sierra Nevada east of Visalia, California, in the United States. It was established on September 25, 1890. The park spans . Encompassing a vertical relief of nearly , the park contains among its natural resources the highest point in the...

 and Kings Canyon
Kings Canyon National Park
Kings Canyon National Park is a National Park in the southern Sierra Nevada, east of Fresno, California. The park was established in 1940 and covers...

 as national parks. This book and his testimony before Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 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. After courting Stieglitz for three years, 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. During the balance of the 1930s, Adams took on many commercial assignments to supplement the income from the struggling Best's Studio. Until the 1970s, Adams was financially dependent on commercial projects. Some of his clients included Kodak, Fortune magazine, Pacific Gas and Electric, AT&T, and the American Trust Company. In 1939, he was named an editor of U.S. Camera, the most popular photography magazine at that time.

In 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. With his wife, Adams completed a children's book and the very successful Illustrated Guide to Yosemite Valley during 1940 and 1941. He also taught photography by giving workshops in Detroit
Detroit, Michigan
Detroit is the major city among the primary cultural, financial, and transportation centers in the Metro Detroit area, a region of 5.2 million people. As the seat of Wayne County, the city of Detroit is the largest city in the U.S. state of Michigan and serves as a major port on the Detroit River...

 and his pupils included future photographer Todd Webb
Todd Webb
Todd Webb was an American photographer notable for documenting everyday life and architecture in cities such as New York, Paris as well as from the American west. His photography has been compared with Harry Callahan, Berenice Abbott, Walker Evans, and the French photographer Eugène Atget...

. Adams also began his first serious stint of teaching in 1941 at the Art Center School of Los Angeles, which included the training of military photographers. In 1943, Adams had a camera platform mounted on his station wagon, to afford him a better vantage point over the immediate foreground and a better angle for expansive backgrounds. Most of his landscapes from that time forward were made from the roof of his car rather than from summits reached by rugged hiking, as in his earlier days.

On a trip in New Mexico weeks before the attack on Pearl Harbor 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
Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico
Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico is a photograph by Ansel Adams, taken late in the afternoon on November 1, 1941, from a shoulder of U.S. Route 84....

. The photograph's fame was probably enhanced by Adams's description in his later books of how it was made: the light on the crosses in the foreground was rapidly fading, and he could not find his exposure meter; however, he remembered the luminance
Luminance
Luminance is a photometric measure of the luminous intensity per unit area of light travelling in a given direction. It describes the amount of light that passes through or is emitted from a particular area, and falls within a given solid angle. The SI unit for luminance is candela per square...

 of the Moon, and used it to calculate the proper exposure. Adams's earlier account was less dramatic, stating simply that the photograph was made after sunset, with exposure determined using his Weston Master meter.
However the exposure was actually determined, the foreground was underexposed, the highlights in the clouds were quite dense, and the negative proved difficult to print.
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
Edward Steichen
Edward J. Steichen was an American photographer, painter, and art gallery and museum curator. He was the most frequently featured photographer in Alfred Stieglitz' groundbreaking magazine Camera Work during its run from 1903 to 1917. Steichen also contributed the logo design and a custom typeface...

. This gave Moonrise an audience before its first formal exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art
Museum of Modern Art
The Museum of Modern Art is an art museum in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, on 53rd Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. It has been important in developing and collecting modernist art, and is often identified as the most influential museum of modern art in the world...

 in 1944.
Over nearly 40 years, Adams re-interpreted the image, his most popular by far, using the latest darkroom equipment at his disposal, making over 1,300 unique prints, most in 16″ by 20″ format. Many of the prints were made in the 1970s, finally giving Adams financial independence from commercial projects. The total value of these original prints exceeds $25,000,000; the highest price paid for a single print reached $609,600 at Sotheby's New York auction in 2006.

In September 1941, Adams contracted with the Department of the Interior to make photographs of National Parks, Indian reservations, and other locations for use as mural-sized prints for decoration of the Department's new building. Part of his understanding with the Department was that he might also make photographs for his own use, using his own film and processing. Although Adams kept meticulous records of his travel and expenses,he was less disciplined about recording the dates of his images, and neglected to note the date of Moonrise, so it was not clear whether it belonged to Adams or to the U.S. Government. But the position of the Moon allowed the image to eventually be dated from astronomical calculations, and it was determined that Moonrise was made on November 1, 1941, a day for which he had not billed the Department, so the image belonged to Adams. The same was not true for many of his other negatives, including The Tetons and the Snake River, which, having been made for the Mural Project, became the property of the U.S. Government.

When Edward Steichen
Edward Steichen
Edward J. Steichen was an American photographer, painter, and art gallery and museum curator. He was the most frequently featured photographer in Alfred Stieglitz' groundbreaking magazine Camera Work during its run from 1903 to 1917. Steichen also contributed the logo design and a custom typeface...

 formed his Naval Aviation Photographic Unit
Naval Aviation Photographic Unit
The Naval Aviation Photographic Unit was a group of military photographers in the United States Navy during the Second World War, under the command of Edward Steichen.-History:...

 in early 1942, he wanted Adams to be a member, to build and direct a state-of-the-art darkroom and laboratory in Washington, D.C. In approximately 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
Japanese American internment
Japanese-American internment was the relocation and internment by the United States government in 1942 of approximately 110,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese who lived along the Pacific coast of the United States to camps called "War Relocation Camps," in the wake of Imperial Japan's attack on...

 that occurred after the Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor, known to Hawaiians as Puuloa, is a lagoon harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, west of Honolulu. Much of the harbor and surrounding lands is a United States Navy deep-water naval base. It is also the headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Fleet...

 attack. He requested permission to visit the Manzanar War Relocation Center in the Owens Valley
Owens Valley
Owens Valley is the arid valley of the Owens River in eastern California in the United States, to the east of the Sierra Nevada and west of the White Mountains and Inyo Mountains on the west edge of the Great Basin section...

, at the foot of Mount Williamson
Mount Williamson
Mount Williamson, at , is the second highest mountain in both the Sierra Nevada range and the state of California. It is the sixth highest peak in the contiguous United States.- Geography :...

. The resulting photo-essay first appeared in a Museum of Modern Art
Museum of Modern Art
The Museum of Modern Art is an art museum in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, on 53rd Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. It has been important in developing and collecting modernist art, and is often identified as the most influential museum of modern art in the world...

 exhibit, and later was published as Born Free and Equal: The Story of Loyal Japanese-Americans
Born Free and Equal
Born Free and Equal: The Story of Loyal Japanese-Americans is a book by Ansel Adams containing photographs from his 1943–4 visit to the internment camp then named Manzanar War Relocation Center in Owens Valley, Inyo County, California. The book was published in 1944 by U.S...

. He also contributed to the war effort by doing many photographic assignments for the military, including making prints of secret Japanese installations in the Aleutians. Adams was the recipient of three Guggenheim
Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation is a nonprofit corporation founded in 1937 by philanthropist Solomon R. Guggenheim and artist Hilla von Rebay. The first museum established by the foundation was the "Museum of Non-Objective Art", which was housed in rented space on Park Avenue in New York....

 fellowships during his career, the first in 1946 to photograph every National Park. This series of photographs produced memorable images of "Old Faithful Geyser", Grand Teton
Grand Teton
Grand Teton is the highest mountain in Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park, and a classic destination in American mountaineering.- Geography :...

, and Mount McKinley
Mount McKinley
Mount McKinley or Denali in Alaska, United States is the highest mountain peak in North America and the United States, with a summit elevation of above sea level. It is the centerpiece of Denali National Park and Preserve.- Geology and features :Mount McKinley is a granitic pluton...

.

In 1945, Adams was asked to form the first fine art photography department at the California School of Fine Arts
San Francisco Art Institute
San Francisco Art Institute is a school of higher education in contemporary art with the main campus in the Russian Hill district of San Francisco, California. Its graduate center is in the Dogpatch neighborhood. The private, non-profit institution is accredited by WASC and is a member of the...

 (CSFA). Adams invited Dorothea Lange
Dorothea Lange
Dorothea Lange was an influential American documentary photographer and photojournalist, best known for her Depression-era work for the Farm Security Administration...

, Imogen Cunningham
Imogen Cunningham
Imogen Cunningham was an American photographer known for her photography of botanicals, nudes and industry.-Life and career:...

 and Edward Weston
Edward Weston
Edward Henry Weston was a 20th century American photographer. He has been called "one of the most innovative and influential American photographers…" and "one of the masters of 20th century photography." Over the course of his forty-year career Weston photographed an increasingly expansive set of...

 to be guest lecturers and Minor White
Minor White
Minor Martin White was an American photographer born in Minneapolis, Minnesota.White earned a degree in botany with a minor in English from the University of Minnesota in 1933. His first creative efforts were in poetry, as he took five years thereafter to complete a sequence of 100 sonnets while...

 to be lead instructor. The photography department produced numerous notable photographers including Philip Hyde
Philip Hyde (photographer)
Philip Hyde was a pioneer landscape photographer and conservationist. He attended Ansel Adams' photography program at the California School of Fine Arts, now the San Francisco Art Institute, beginning with the Summer Session in 1946 and enrolling in the full-time professional photography training,...

, Benjamen Chinn
Benjamen Chinn
-Benjamen Chinn:Benjamen Chinn was an American photographer known especially for his black and white images of Chinatown, San Francisco and of Paris, France in the late 1940s and early 1950s.-Biography:...

, Charles Wong, Bill Heick
William Heick
William Heick is a San Francisco based photographer and filmmaker. He is best known for his ethnographic photographs and documentary films of North American Indian cultures. W.R. Heick served as producer-director and chief cinematographer for the of the University of California, Berkeley on their...

, Ira Latour, Cameron McCauley, Gerald Ratto and many others.

In 1952 Adams was one of the founders of the magazine Aperture
Aperture (magazine)
Aperture is a quarterly photography magazine and a book publisher based in New York, New York. The magazine is published by Aperture Foundation, a non-profit organization devoted to fine art photography.-Magazine:...

, which was intended as a serious journal of photography showcasing its best practitioners and newest innovations. He was also a contributor to Arizona Highways, a photo-rich travel magazine which continues today. His article on Mission San Xavier del Bac
Mission San Xavier del Bac
Mission San Xavier del Bac is a historic Spanish Catholic mission located about 10 miles south of downtown Tucson, Arizona, on the Tohono O'odham San Xavier Indian Reservation...

, with text by longtime friend Nancy Newhall
Nancy Newhall
Nancy Wynne Newhall was an American photography critic. She is best known for writing the text to accompany photographs by Ansel Adams and Edward Weston, but was also a widely published writer on photography, conservation, and American culture.Newhall was born Nancy Wynne in Lynn, Massachusetts,...

, 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.

By the 1950s, Adams came to believe that he was on the down side of his creative life. He continued with commercial assignments for another twenty years and became a consultant on a monthly retainer for Polaroid Corporation
Polaroid Corporation
Polaroid Corporation is an American-based international consumer electronics and eyewear company, originally founded in 1937 by Edwin H. Land. It is most famous for its instant film cameras, which reached the market in 1948, and continued to be the company's flagship product line until the February...

, founded by good friend Edwin Land. He made thousands of photographs with Polaroid products, El Capitan, Winter, Sunrise (1968) being the one he considered his most memorable. In the final twenty years of his life, the Hasselblad
Hasselblad
Victor Hasselblad AB is a Swedish manufacturer of medium-format cameras and photographic equipment based in Gothenburg, Sweden.The company is best known for the medium-format cameras it has produced since World War II....

 was his camera of choice, with Moon and Half Dome (1960) being his favorite photo made with that brand of camera.

Adams published his fourth portfolio, What Majestic Word, in 1963, and dedicated it to the memory of his Sierra Club friend Russell Varian, who was a co-inventor of the klystron
Klystron
A klystron is a specialized linear-beam vacuum tube . Klystrons are used as amplifiers at microwave and radio frequencies to produce both low-power reference signals for superheterodyne radar receivers and to produce high-power carrier waves for communications and the driving force for modern...

 and who had died in 1959. The title was taken from the poem "Sand Dunes," by John Varian, Russell's father, and the fifteen photographs were accompanied by the writings of both John and Russell Varian. Russell's widow, Dorothy, wrote the preface, and explained that the photographs were selected to serve as interpretations of the character of Russell Varian.

In the 1960s, a few mainstream art galleries (without a photographic emphasis) which originally would have considered photos unworthy of exhibit alongside fine paintings decided to show Adams's images—notably the Kenmore Gallery in Philadelphia. In March 1963, Ansel Adams and Nancy Newhall accepted a commission from Clark Kerr
Clark Kerr
Clark Kerr was an American professor of economics and academic administrator. He was the first chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley and twelfth president of the University of California.- Early years :...

, the President of the University of California
University of California
The University of California is a public university system in the U.S. state of California. Under the California Master Plan for Higher Education, the University of California is a part of the state's three-tier public higher education system, which also includes the California State University...

, 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
University of California, Riverside
The University of California, Riverside, commonly known as UCR or UC Riverside, is a public research university and one of the ten general campuses of the University of California system. UCR is consistently ranked as one of the most ethnically and economically diverse universities in the United...

.

In 1974, Adams had a major retrospective exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a renowned art museum in New York City. Its permanent collection contains more than two million works, divided into nineteen curatorial departments. The main building, located on the eastern edge of Central Park along Manhattan's Museum Mile, is one of the...

. Much of his time during the 1970s was spent curating and re-printing negatives from his vault, in part to satisfy the great demand of art museums which had finally created departments of photography and desired his iconic works. He also devoted his considerable writing skills and prestige to the cause of environmentalism, focusing particularly on the Big Sur
Big Sur
Big Sur is a sparsely populated region of the Central Coast of California where the Santa Lucia Mountains rise abruptly from the Pacific Ocean. The name "Big Sur" is derived from the original Spanish-language "el sur grande", meaning "the big south", or from "el país grande del sur", "the big...

 coastline of California and the protection of Yosemite from over-use. President Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

 commissioned Adams to make the first official portrait of a president made by a photograph.

Contributions and influence


Romantic landscape artists Albert Bierstadt
Albert Bierstadt
Albert Bierstadt was a German-American painter best known for his lavish, sweeping landscapes of the American West. In obtaining the subject matter for these works, Bierstadt joined several journeys of the Westward Expansion...

 and Thomas Moran
Thomas Moran
Thomas Moran from Bolton, England was an American painter and printmaker of the Hudson River School in New York whose work often featured the Rocky Mountains. Moran and his family took residence in New York where he obtained work as an artist...

 portrayed the Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is a steep-sided canyon carved by the Colorado River in the United States in the state of Arizona. It is largely contained within the Grand Canyon National Park, the 15th national park in the United States...

 and Yosemite at the end of their reign, and were subsequently displaced by daredevil photographers Carleton Watkins, Eadweard Muybridge
Eadweard Muybridge
Eadweard J. Muybridge was an English photographer who spent much of his life in the United States. He is known for his pioneering work on animal locomotion which used multiple cameras to capture motion, and his zoopraxiscope, a device for projecting motion pictures that pre-dated the flexible...

, and George Fiske. But it was 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. He skillfully used his works to promote many of the goals of the Sierra Club and of the nascent environmental movement, but always insisted that, as far as his photographs were concerned, "beauty comes first". His stirring images are still very popular in calendars, posters, and books.

Realistic about development and the subsequent loss of habitat, Adams advocated for balanced growth, but was pained by the ravages of "progress". He stated, "We all know the tragedy of the dustbowls, the cruel unforgivable erosions of the soil, the depletion of fish or game, and the shrinking of the noble forests. And we know that such catastrophes shrivel the spirit of the people… The wilderness is pushed back, man is everywhere. Solitude, so vital to the individual man, is almost nowhere."

Adams co-founded Group f/64
Group f/64
Group f/64 was a group of seven 20th century San Francisco photographers who shared a common photographic style characterized by sharp-focused and carefully framed images seen through a particularly Western viewpoint...

 with other masters like Edward Weston
Edward Weston
Edward Henry Weston was a 20th century American photographer. He has been called "one of the most innovative and influential American photographers…" and "one of the masters of 20th century photography." Over the course of his forty-year career Weston photographed an increasingly expansive set of...

, Willard Van Dyke
Willard Van Dyke
Willard Van Dyke was an American filmmaker and photographer who believed that photography could have a major influence on the world....

, and Imogen Cunningham
Imogen Cunningham
Imogen Cunningham was an American photographer known for her photography of botanicals, nudes and industry.-Life and career:...

. With Fred Archer
Fred R. Archer
Fred R. Archer , was an American photographer who collaborated with Ansel Adams to create the Zone System. He was a portrait photographer, specializing early in his career in portraits of Hollywood movie stars. He was associated with the artistic trend in photography known as pictorialism...

, he pioneered the Zone System
Zone system
The Zone System is a photographic technique for determining optimal film exposure and development, formulated by Ansel Adams and Fred Archer. Adams described how the Zone System was developed: "I take this opportunity to restate that the Zone System is not an invention of mine; it is a codification...

, a technique for translating perceived light into specific densities on negatives and paper, giving photographers better control over finished photographs. Adams also advocated the idea of visualization (which he often called "previsualization", though he later acknowledged that term to be a redundancy) whereby the final image is "seen" in the mind's eye before taking the photo, toward the goal of achieving all together the aesthetic, intellectual, spiritual, and mechanical effects desired. He taught these and other techniques to thousands of amateur photographers through his publications and his workshops. His many books about photography, including the Morgan & Morgan Basic Photo Series (The Camera, The Negative, The Print, Natural Light Photography, and Artificial Light Photography) have become classics in the field.

He was elected in 1966 a fellow
Fellow
A fellow in the broadest sense is someone who is an equal or a comrade. The term fellow is also used to describe a person, particularly by those in the upper social classes. It is most often used in an academic context: a fellow is often part of an elite group of learned people who are awarded...

 of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is an independent policy research center that conducts multidisciplinary studies of complex and emerging problems. The Academy’s elected members are leaders in the academic disciplines, the arts, business, and public affairs.James Bowdoin, John Adams, and...

. In 1980 Jimmy Carter awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom
Presidential Medal of Freedom
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is an award bestowed by the President of the United States and is—along with thecomparable Congressional Gold Medal bestowed by an act of U.S. Congress—the highest civilian award in the United States...

, the nation's highest civilian honor.

Adams's photograph The Tetons and the Snake River has the distinction of being one of the 115 images recorded on the Voyager Golden Record
Voyager Golden Record
The Voyager Golden Records are phonograph records which were included aboard both Voyager spacecraft, which were launched in 1977. They contain sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth, and are intended for any intelligent extraterrestrial life form, or for...

 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. These photographs eloquently mirror his favorite saying, a Gaelic mantra, which states "I know that I am one with beauty and that my comrades are one. Let our souls be mountains, Let our spirits be stars, Let our hearts be worlds."

His lasting legacy includes helping to elevate photography to an art comparable with painting and music, and equally capable of expressing emotion and beauty. As he reminded 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."

"Ansel Adams", wrote John Szarkowski
John Szarkowski
John Szarkowski was a photographer, curator, historian, and critic. From 1962 to 1991 Szarkowski was the Director of Photography at New York's Museum of Modern Art.-Early life and career:...

 (New York Museum of Modern Art), "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, as transient as the light that continually redefines it. This sensibility to the specificity of light was the motive that forced Adams to develop his legendary photographic technique."

Death


In September 1983, Adams was confined to his bed for four weeks after leg surgery to remove a tumor
Tumor
A tumor or tumour is commonly used as a synonym for a neoplasm that appears enlarged in size. Tumor is not synonymous with cancer...

. Adams died on April 22, 1984, in the ICU at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula
Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula
Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula was founded in 1934 and is located at 23625 Holman Highway in Monterey, California. The hospital has 205 acute care beds and 28 skilled-nursing beds...

 in Monterey, California
Monterey, California
The City of Monterey in Monterey County is located on Monterey Bay along the Pacific coast in Central California. Monterey lies at an elevation of 26 feet above sea level. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 27,810. Monterey is of historical importance because it was the capital of...

 at the age of 82 from a heart attack. He was survived by his wife, two children, (Michael, born August 1933, and Anne, born 1935) and five grandchildren.

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
Center for Creative Photography
The Center for Creative Photography , established in 1975 and located on the University of Arizona campus, is a research facility and archival repository containing the full archives of over sixty of the most famous American photographers including those of Edward Weston, Harry Callahan and Garry...

 (CCP) at the University of Arizona
University of Arizona
The University of Arizona is a land-grant and space-grant public institution of higher education and research located in Tucson, Arizona, United States. The University of Arizona was the first university in the state of Arizona, founded in 1885...

 in Tucson
Tucson, Arizona
Tucson is a city in and the county seat of Pima County, Arizona, United States. The city is located 118 miles southeast of Phoenix and 60 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border. The 2010 United States Census puts the city's population at 520,116 with a metropolitan area population at 1,020,200...

.

John Szarkowski
John Szarkowski
John Szarkowski was a photographer, curator, historian, and critic. From 1962 to 1991 Szarkowski was the Director of Photography at New York's Museum of Modern Art.-Early life and career:...

 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."

Awards


Ansel Adams received a number of awards during his lifetime and posthumously, and there have been a few awards named for him.

Adams received a Doctor of Arts from both Harvard
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

 and Yale
Yale University
Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...

 universities. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1966. He was awarded the Conservation Service Award by the Department of Interior in 1968, a Presidential Medal of Freedom
Presidential Medal of Freedom
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is an award bestowed by the President of the United States and is—along with thecomparable Congressional Gold Medal bestowed by an act of U.S. Congress—the highest civilian award in the United States...

 in 1980, the Sierra Club John Muir Award
Sierra Club John Muir Award
The Sierra Club John Muir Award is awarded annually by the Sierra Club. It is the club's highest award. According to the Sierra Club, "it honors a distinguished record of leadership in national conservation causes, such as continuing John Muir's work of preservation and establishment of parks and...

 in 1963, and was inducted into the California Hall of Fame
California Hall of Fame
Conceived by First Lady Maria Shriver, the California Hall of Fame was established at The California Museum for History, Women and the Arts to honor individuals and families who embody California’s innovative spirit and have made their mark on history...

 by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger is an Austrian-American former professional bodybuilder, actor, businessman, investor, and politician. Schwarzenegger served as the 38th Governor of California from 2003 until 2011....

 and First Lady Maria Shriver
Maria Shriver
Maria Owings Shriver is an American journalist and author of six best-selling books. She has received a Peabody Award, and was co-anchor for NBC's Emmy-winning coverage of the 1988 Summer Olympics. As executive producer of The Alzheimer's Project, Shriver earned two Emmy Awards and an Academy of...

 in 2007.

The Minarets Wilderness in the Inyo National Forest
Inyo National Forest
Inyo National Forest is a federally administered forest in the United States. The forest covers parts of the eastern Sierra Nevada of California, and the White Mountains of California and Nevada. It contains two wilderness areas: the John Muir Wilderness and the Ansel Adams Wilderness...

 and a 11760 feet (3,584.4 m) peak therein were renamed the Ansel Adams Wilderness
Ansel Adams Wilderness
The Ansel Adams Wilderness is a wilderness area in the Sierra Nevada of California, USA. The wilderness is part of the Sierra and Inyo National Forests. The wilderness spans...

 and Mount Ansel Adams
Mount Ansel Adams
Mount Ansel Adams is a peak in the Sierra Nevada of California. The mountain is on the boundary between Yosemite National Park and the Ansel Adams Wilderness and is at the head of the Lyell Fork of the Merced River, northeast of Foerster Peak and west-southwest of Electra Peak...

 respectively in 1985.

The Sierra Club
Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is the oldest, largest, and most influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892, in San Francisco, California, by the conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president...

's Ansel Adams Award for Conservation Photography was established in 1971, and the Ansel Adams Award for Conservation
Ansel Adams Award (The Wilderness Society)
The Ansel Adams Award is an annual award given by The Wilderness Society of the United States. Named by American photographer and environmentalist Ansel Adams, the award is given to a current or former federal official who has been a fervent advocate of conservation....

 was established in 1980 by The Wilderness Society
The Wilderness Society (United States)
The Wilderness Society is an American organization that is dedicated to protecting America's wilderness. It was formed in 1935 and currently has over 300,000 members and supporters.-Founding:The society was incorporated on January 21, 1935...

.

Notable photographs

  • Monolith, The Face of Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, 1927.
  • Rose and Driftwood, San Francisco, California, 1932.
  • Georgia O'Keeffe and Orville Cox, Canyon de Chelly National Monument, 1937.
  • Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite National Park, 1940.
  • Moon and Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California, 1960.
  • Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico
    Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico
    Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico is a photograph by Ansel Adams, taken late in the afternoon on November 1, 1941, from a shoulder of U.S. Route 84....

    , 1941.
  • Winter Sunrise, Sierra Nevada, from Lone Pine, California, 1944.
  • Aspens, Northern New Mexico, 1958.
  • El Capitan, Winter Sunrise, 1968

Photographic books


  • Sierra Nevada the John Muir Trail, 1938 (reprinted 2006 as ISBN 0-8212-5717-X).
  • Born Free and Equal, 1944. ISBN 1-893343-05-7.
  • Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada, text from writings of John Muir, 1948.
  • The Land of Little Rain, text by Mary Austin, 1950.
  • This is the American Earth, with Nancy Newhall, 1960 (Sierra Club Books
    Sierra Club Books
    Sierra Club Books is the publishing division of the Sierra Club, founded in 1960 by then Sierra Club President David Brower. Volumes intended for club members had been published prior to 1960. In addition, books under their name had been published before 1960, but done through already established...

    . (reprinted by Bulfinch, ISBN 0-8212-2182-5)
  • These We Inherit: The Parklands of America, with Nancy Newhall
    Nancy Newhall
    Nancy Wynne Newhall was an American photography critic. She is best known for writing the text to accompany photographs by Ansel Adams and Edward Weston, but was also a widely published writer on photography, conservation, and American culture.Newhall was born Nancy Wynne in Lynn, Massachusetts,...

    , 1962.
  • The Eloquent Light (unfinished biography of Adams by Nancy Newhall), 1963.
  • "Yosemite Valley" 1967 (45 plates in B&W edited by Nancy Newhall, published by 5 Associates, Redwood City, California.
  • Ansel Adams, 1972. ISBN 0-8212-0721-0.
  • Polaroid Land Photography, 1978. ISBN 0-8212-0729-6.
  • Ansel Adams: Classic Images, 1986. ISBN 0-8212-1629-5.
  • Our Current National Parks, 1992.
  • Ansel Adams: In Color, 1993. ISBN 0-8212-1980-4.
  • Photographs of the Southwest, 1994. ISBN 0-8212-0699-0.
  • The National Park Photographs, 1995. ISBN 0-89660-056-4.
  • Yosemite, 1995. ISBN 0-8212-2196-5.
  • California, 1997. ISBN 0-8212-2369-0.
  • America's Wilderness, 1997. ISBN 1-56138-744-4.
  • Ansel Adams at 100, 2001. ISBN 0-8212-2515-4.
  • Born Free and Equal
    Born Free and Equal
    Born Free and Equal: The Story of Loyal Japanese-Americans is a book by Ansel Adams containing photographs from his 1943–4 visit to the internment camp then named Manzanar War Relocation Center in Owens Valley, Inyo County, California. The book was published in 1944 by U.S...

    , 2002. ISBN 1-893343-05-7.
  • Ansel Adams: The National Park Service Photographs, 2005. ISBN 978-0-89660-056-0.
  • Ansel Adams: The Spirit of Wild Places, 2005. ISBN 1-59764-069-7.
  • Ansel Adams: 400 Photographs, 2007. ISBN 978-0-316-11772-2.

Technical books

  • Making a Photograph, 1935.
  • Camera and Lens: The Creative Approach, 1948. ISBN 0-8212-0716-4
  • The Negative: Exposure and Development, 1949. ISBN 0-8212-0717-2
  • The Print: Contact Printing and Enlarging, 1950. ISBN 0-8212-0718-0
  • Natural Light Photography, 1952. ISBN 0-8212-0719-9
  • Artificial Light Photography, 1956. ISBN 0-8212-0720-2
  • Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs, 1983. ISBN 0-8212-1750-X
  • The Camera, 1995. ISBN 0-8212-2184-1
  • The Negative, 1995. ISBN 0-8212-2186-8
  • The Print, 1995. ISBN 0-8212-2187-6

See also

  • Charles Hitchcock Adams
    Charles Hitchcock Adams
    Charles Hitchcock Adams was an amateur American astronomer, and father of photographer Ansel Adams....

    , Ansel Adams's father, an amateur astronomer
  • Allied Arts Guild
    Allied Arts Guild
    Allied Arts Guild, located in Menlo Park, California, stands on part of what was once a vast 35,250 acre  land grant dating back to the late 18th century. A king of Spain, probably Charles IV, ceded the property to Don Jose Arguello, commander of the Presidio of San Francisco...

    , in Menlo Park, California, where Adams took commercial photographs of artists' work
  • Zone System
    Zone system
    The Zone System is a photographic technique for determining optimal film exposure and development, formulated by Ansel Adams and Fred Archer. Adams described how the Zone System was developed: "I take this opportunity to restate that the Zone System is not an invention of mine; it is a codification...

    , a unique approach to film exposure and development invented by Ansel Adams and Fred Archer in 1939–1940
  • Nature photography
    Nature photography
    Nature photography refers to a wide range of photography taken outdoors and devoted to displaying natural elements such as landscapes, wildlife, plants, and close-ups of natural scenes and textures...


External links