Ansel Adams

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Ansel Easton Adams was an American photographer and environmentalist, renowned for his stellar black-and-white landscape photographs of the American West with a special focus on Yosemite National Park that still hold sway through calendars, posters, and books. Working along with Fred Archer, Ansel Adams developed “the Zone System”, in a bid to help craft ways to identify proper exposure and adjust the contrast of the final print.

Ansel Adams was credited with making use of large-format cameras owing to their high resolution, all of which enabled him to ensure sharpness in his images. He also founded the photography Group f/64, along with Willard Van Dyke and Edward Weston. Ansel Adams’ photography remains etched in the memory of most of the world as being the foremost record of the National Parks in the USA before the tourism wave hit the USA, and became a pivot point for his advocacy to build on the systems of National Parks in the US. A pioneering scion for the erstwhile environmental protection movement, he was a connoisseur of beauty in nature through his imagery and portrayal.

At a time when the world as still not exposed to the kind of destruction we see today, Ansel Adams was almost prophetic in his call for sustainable development and balanced growth, and made sure that his photography spoke that language. In his words,

“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.” (Source: Adams, Ansel (1985). Ansel Adams, an Autobiography. Boston: Little, Brown, Pages 290-291)

Ansel Adams is also credited with the concept of previsualisation – whereby he advocated that the final image should be seen in the mind’s eye before the photo is taken. The idea is to benchmark the goal that would help achieving a combination of aesthetics, intellect, spiritual elements and mechanical effects. toward the goal of achieving all together the aesthetic, intellectual, spiritual, and mechanical effects desired.

Among his repertoire, Ansel Adams’ famous photograph called The Tetons and the Snake River was one among as many as 115 images that were recorded on the Voyager Golden Record aboard the Voyager spacecraft, and the idea behind the choice of these images was that they were selected to convey information about humans, plants and animals, and geological features of the Earth to a possible alien civilization. Ansel continued for the duration of his life, to keep raising standards and pushing the envelope in photography, where he built it to a level of an art that would be comparable with painting and music and hold its own as an art form that is fully and equally capable of expressing emotion and beauty. He has gone on record to say: “It is easy to take a photograph, but it is harder to make a masterpiece in photography than in any other art medium.”[ Source: Adams, Ansel (1985). Ansel Adams, an Autobiography. Boston: Little, Brown, Pages 300]

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