Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams is famous for his black and white landscape photography. He was born on Feb.02 1902 in San Francisco and died on April 22nd 1984 at the age of 82. He spent most of his formative years in the San Francisco area and developed a love for the American West. He ultimately dedicated the bulk of his adult years to expertly capturing western landscapes, mostly in black-and-white through his photography. He loved the outdoors especially Yosemite National Park, and most people considered him to be an enthusiastic naturalist and environmentalist.

An interesting fact about Adams’ life, involves the playing of the piano. Beginning at the age of 12 he taught himself how to play the piano and it quickly became a passion. Soon he was being privately tutored by a piano composer and continued to take piano lessons for many years. He was diligent in his practicing and continued to grow and improve as the years went on. By the time he was 24 he was became so proficient at playing the piano that he seriously considered becoming a professional.

However, a career as a pianist was not to be. He ended up pursuing photography instead, but the training and discipline of his years on the piano provided a unique and focused artistic perspective that he readily applied to his photography. His musical training also created a depth and polish to his many lectures and teachings he gave on photography to so many people throughout his lifetime.

Ansel Adams along with another highly regarded portrait photographer, Fred Archer, developed what is known as the Zone System. The Zone system is a way to determine proper exposure for a subject through the camera lens. The system also allows for the adjustment of the contrast of the final print. The result was incredible clarity and depth that characterized Ansel Adams’ photographs as uniquely his. Both Adams and Fred Archer did want they could pass along this knowledge to others. In fact, for many years Fred Archer ran and taught at his own photography school.

In the mid-1920s, Adams experimented with soft-focus, etching, and other techniques of the pictorial photographers. However, Adams steered clear of hand-coloring which was also popular at the time. Instead, 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.

This is where Adams really excelled and brought the art of photography to a new level. He knew how to use his photographic equipment to get best picture possible. He also knew how to develop the film in such a way that the captured image could be brought out to even greater effect with deeper tones and contrast. To this day there are few who can do what Adams did in photography.

Ansel Adams also took hundreds of color photographs when stable forms of color film became available in the mid 1930′s. His subjects were still landscapes and wilderness but in strikingly beautiful color. He is still (and will always be) known for his black-and-white pictures. Many of his original photos go for tens of thousands of dollars today. You can see many of his photographs in museums and many lucky owners have his work in their private collections.