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  1. #1
    Mustafa Umut Sarac's Avatar
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    AA without color control

    Today , as to many others , i received mail from ansel adams web site.
    It writes , AA did not like color photography because he did not able to control it.
    I thought , without photoshop , is it possible to control colors today with analog technology ? I think , I understood photoshop now.

    Best ,

    Mustafa Umut Sarac

  2. #2

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    g'day Mustafa

    what sort of control?

    what analogue technology?

    what do you understand about PS?

    you have very interesting ideas but how about explaining yourself a little more this time

    Ray

  3. #3
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    The statement might have come from his work with early color transparency material that he was testing for Kodak. An 8x10 color transparency, as an end product, does not give one much room for control. However, in the hands of artists/craftsmen such as Christopher Burkett (sp?) printing 8x10 transparencies optically onto Ciba/Ilfordchrome paper (using masks) can be highly controlled. His "analogue" workflow easily out-does most people's best results from digital workflows.

    Photoshop has stepped in to offer technically easier color management in small areas and over-all, as well as contrast control...at least technically easier than making printing masks.

    Vaughn

  4. #4
    David H. Bebbington's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mustafa Umut Sarac View Post
    Today , as to many others , i received mail from ansel adams web site.
    It writes , AA did not like color photography because he did not able to control it.
    I thought , without photoshop , is it possible to control colors today with analog technology ? I think , I understood photoshop now.

    Best ,

    Mustafa Umut Sarac
    At the time AA was working, there were numerous color printing processes available, including one called dye transfer which was complex and expensive but gave a very wide measure of control when making color prints from color transparencies. Some spectacular examples of manipulated color pre-World War II can be found in the work of an English portraitist called Madame Yevonde, who used a slightly different process called Vivex. There were also so-called "1-shot" cameras, which recorded color onto 3 b+w negatives simultaneously. If AA was saying he could not control color, this statement applied only to him personally.

    Regards,

    David

  5. #5

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    Adams shot large format color shots for the Kodak Colorama display in Grand Central Station. He would have just shot the film and sent it to Kodak, thus not having any control over the final image. Later, Ansel was a (paid) user of Polaroid materials. Of course, there is limited control (other than exposure) with these color materials.

  6. #6

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    I think Ansel did a fair amount of color work. Don't forget the published hard cover book Ansel Adams in Color.

  7. #7
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deane Johnson View Post
    I think Ansel did a fair amount of color work. Don't forget the published hard cover book Ansel Adams in Color.
    That was an interesting project -- basically "Color by Committee". Most, if not all of the transparencies had significant color loss/shifting over the years. They were scanned in and it had to be decided what the original colors were. The book came out about 10 years after he died.

    Some of the scenes were also photographed in B&W, and it appears that AA would decide to also expose a sheet or two of color since he was there. Most of the images are from the late 40's and early 50's (there is one image from 1960).

    AA was working on a Color book to add to his photo series before he died, so I think it is safe to say that he reconized the use of color as part of photography...he certainly was not "anti-color". He is quoted many times as wishing he was starting over in photography so that he could take advantage of the relatively new field of color photography.

    Vaughn

  8. #8
    Photo Engineer's Avatar
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    Adams shot the entire Teton range in color for Kodak and National Geographic in color. Kodak featured several of the pictures in their "How To" book series.

    In addition, Nat. Geog. had Grant Haist reshoot those scenes in part in an AA retrospective in the 90s. It was completed just before his stroke and the project was not finished.

    So, I know that AA did a lot of work in color!

    And, I know he got a lot of good control!

    PE

  9. #9

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    I often wonder what Ansel would be doing with photography now if it were a time he was at the top of his game. What would he do with digital? What would he be doing with Photoshop?

    I remember him saying he could get better shadow detail in his photos that were scanned for the posters than he could with a finished photographic print. I believe he made special prints that did not reach the end of the photographic scale for scanning, then allowed them to be "stretched out" (my term, not his) to the limits of the reproduction process. I believe I remember him showing an original next to a reproduction with the thought the reproduction was better.

    These things sort of imply to me that if he were productive today, we'd see him pushing the envelope to create expressive prints with newer processes, be they digital or otherwise. He would be leading the way as he always did.

  10. #10
    David H. Bebbington's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Photo Engineer View Post
    And, I know he got a lot of good control!
    PE
    In what way? For a modern color shooter, control means using polarizers, warm-up/cool-down filters, graduated filters, etc. Is there any evidence that AA did this? If not, how did he work?

    Regards,

    David

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