Chris, thank you for your heart felt appreciation and tribute to Ansel, I enjoyed it immensely and personally think that just about every photographer working today owes him some degree of thanks for his influence. Whilst I prefer other photographers work I have AA to thank for his influence in my use of the Zone System even though I apply it in a totally different way to the great man. However, it was reading Ansel's views on pre-visualisation that was the most significant of his influence on my photography for his words made me go out and work to perfect that very important aspect of making photographs.
I'm glad you all liked the article.
Amen! Thanks so much for expressing the sentiments of this APUG'er and I suspect many more of us. We all owe Ansel a great debt of gratitude for showing us how to think before we trip the shutter; and for developing the methodology that allows us to create that which is in our mind's eye.
Chris: I too learned much of my photography through the work and writings of Ansel Adams - though, I suspect, many years before you. I have always believed that the craft of photography is as important as the art. One without the other is like love and marriage - though we all know it happens but it's not a pretty sight! You don't have to like his subject matter to appreciate him and I almost defy anyone with a soul to look at an original print and not be moved. His robotic disciples are another matter, of course. I'll never forget a visit to Yosemite and the sight of a bunch of photographers jostling to get their tripod legs where they thought Adams had placed his! It's THOSE people who give Adams a bad rep.
Thanks for the thoughtful and well written article. Keep it up!
AA is so far and beyond 99% of photographers, having laid down many of its great precepts, that people don't know what to make of it. If anything AA was a perfectionist. He lived the life. People look at his lithographs and its hard to fathom that he was a photographer first. AA set a record that has yet to be matched.
It is interesting how people look at Ansel. I was hanging a show at a friends coffee shop and two women were looking at the photos as I hung them. One came up and thought they looked great, "just like Ansel Adams"! I thanked her and as they walked away, her friend whispered something to her. She came back and apologized! I told her it wasn't a problem since Ansel's work is why I bought a camera and to be compared to one of the greatest photographers ever was quite a compliment!
BTW. I saw an exhibit of Ansel's in 1983 and rushed out the next day and bought my first camera, a Minolta X-GM (which I still have). Shot two rolls of B&W, took it to the one hour lab and couldn't figure out why my pictures didn't look as good as his! Thus began a long journey...
I am currently re-reading Ansel Adams' biography (4th time) and it is such a great read. I love the way Adams words and orders his thoughts. I have always been able to relate to something that Adams was sharing with his contemperaries, as well as his legacy. I'm glad you all liked the article. It was written to get people to look at their own photography, take stock and relate to others around them. I hope that I have, at least to some extent, succeeded in my aim. Thank you all for your affirmations and kind words.
Do you have the American Experience DVD on Ansel? I found it to be VERY inspiring. I was fortunate to see the Ansel Adams at 100 exhibit at the SF Museum of Modern Art (bought the book as well!) Really a great show!
I'm wondering about the arguments used by the digital supporters that Adams would be using Photoshop if he were with us today. Also, isn't it true that, per The Negative, many of the photos he took were not "in camera" but extensively modified in the darkroom.
Rambling thoughts. I troll not. Adams is my personal favorite.
I hope you are not a troll and so I'll respond. I believe this is gross misconception. I imagine that AA, like all b&w photographers who do their own processing and printing, had to work some prints over pretty good to achieve his visualization at the time of the exposure. He was not perfect! And, neither are any of us.
Originally Posted by ehparis
However, in his words, "What is important to visualize may be summed up as follows: The basic compositional aspects, -- The basic tonal values and the emotional values of light and darkness, and -- The style (the personal quality of the photographer's "seeing")."
I think it is accepted that the Zone system is meant to bring the visualization full circle i.e., from the mind's eye to the physical print. Again, in his words: "Our problem is one of visualizing the desired print, and then exposing and developing to get a negative which will yield such a print without complex manipulations (reduction of the negative or fussy adjustments in printing)."
So, IMO, there is no escaping tonal adjustments in the printing process. It remains true, I think, that the better the quality of the negative, the easier the printing process will be and that was what Adams strived for, IMO. And honestly, I think that's what we all strive for (using whatever exposure/dev system or no system at all) that do b&w work.