Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams was born on Feb. 20, 1902, in San Francisco, Calif. However, he didn”t always plan on being a photographer. Ansel Adams originally studied music in the hopes of becoming a concert pianist. However, after seeing photographer Paul Strand”s negatives, Adams” love affair with photography began.

While Ansel Adams” body of work is vast, he is best known for his black-and-white photos of nature and landscapes.

Ansel Adams and the Sierra Club

When he was 17, Ansel Adams joined the Sierra Club, a group that is dedicated to the preservation of the Earth”s natural wonders and resources. During this time, Ansel Adams enjoyed mountaineering and participated in many of the club”s annual expeditions, which helped cultivate his love of nature.

Ansel Adams was known as an environmentalist and many of his photographs highlight the beauty of national parks. His work on behalf of the Sierra Club helped to gain national park status for Sequoia and Kings Canyon.

Ansel Adams was not only a lifetime member of the Sierra Club but also one of its leaders.

“Photography is more than a medium for factual communication of ideas. It is a creative art.”Ansel Adams

Photographic Techniques: The Zone System and Visualization

Ansel Adams is remembered in the world of photography for more than just his photos. In addition, he is credited with helping to create the zone system, a photography development technique that gives photographers greater control over their finished photos by allowing them to translate light into varying densities on negative and paper.

Developed with Fred Archer in 1941, the zone system technique offers photographers a systematic method for defining the relationship between what they see and how those results are produced in print. While the zone system was originally developed for print photography, its principles can be applied to digital photography as well.

Ansel Adams also pioneered visualization, in which photographers base their finished prints on the measured light values in the photographed scene. As he saw it, the finished product must be visualized before it can be executed. Ansel Adams believed that this vision must be embedded within the context of life on earth.

Ansel Adams: Career Highlights

Along with the development of the above-mentioned photographic techniques, Ansel Adams” work is highly regarded in the photography world. In the 1930s, for example, he created a limited edition photography book titled Sierra Nevada: The John Muir Trail to benefit the Sierra Club.

In 1932, Adams displayed more than 80 photographs in three galleries at the M. H. de Young Museum in San Francisco. Soon after this one-man show, he joined fellow photographers Imogen Cunningham and Edward Weston to create f/64, an artistic movement that favored unaltered photography over the growing trend toward pictorialism.

During World War II, in reaction to the unfair internment of Japanese-Americans, Ansel Adams created a photo essay. First appearing in an exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art, the photo essay was later turned into a book called Born Free and Equal: The Story of Loyal Japanese-Americans.

During his lifetime, Adams was decorated as an artist and humanitarian. In addition to receiving a commission to commemorate the University of California”s centennial, Adams also received three Guggenheim fellowships and was named a fellow of the Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1966. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter awarded Adams the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor awarded to a civilian.

Ansel Adams: Popular Works

Ansel Adams was well known for his black-and-white

photographs of California”s Yosemite Valley. This work has been described as elegant, magnificent and technically flawless. Notable photographs include:

  • Aspens, New Mexico (1958)
  • Ice on Ellery Lake, Sierra Nevada (1941)
  • Monolith, The Face of the Half Dome (1927)
  • Rose and Driftwood (1932).

Ansel Adams: Death

Ansel Adams passed away on April 22, 1984, from heart failure aggravated by cancer, leaving behind his wife Virginia, two children and five grandchildren. Since his death, the Inyo National Forest has been renamed the Ansel Adams Wilderness (1984) and an 11,760-foot peak in Sierra Nevada has been named Mount Ansel Adams (1985).

Adams” entire body of work is archived at the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona, Tucson.