This is a compilation of statements recorded in Ansel Adams’ book, “Examples”. My intention is to point out some of the “goofs” of one of photography’s patron saints that have probably been perpetrated by all of us at one time or other.
The objective is to generate a little levity in a world sometimes beset by ponderous pomposity, ego and arrogance. Of course I’m not any of these nor do I make these errors – however I’m not sure about you.
1. Page 4 "I made a picture of the North Dome complex, but I overexposed it (I think I forgot to stop down the lens!)."
2. Page 4 "I had only one plate left, and was aware of my poverty."
3. Page 12 "And, unfortunately, when I developed the film a month later, I apparently used fatigued … developer."
4. Page 41 "…I could not find my Weston meter! The situation was desperate: the low sun was trailing the edge of clouds in the West, and the shadow would soon dim the white crosses."
5. Page 42 "Because of my unfortunate disregard for the dates of my negatives…."
6. Page 57 "Several times previously I had struggled through the steep sands with a heavy pack only to find I was too late for the light or I encountered lens-damaging wind-blown sand."
7. Page 69 "I have made many prints that are too heavy because, in trying for maximum richness, I simply over-printed them. I have also made prints that are too light, as a thoughtless rebound from the heavy images."
8. Page 72 "The picture haunts me." … I have not yet made the print I desire."
9. Page 72 "Experience and practice usually recognize such value-control problems, yet I admit I have failed on many occasions because I accepted the visual, rather than anticipating the film's response to values and colors."
10. Page 76 "… I was unloading my gear from a float plane to a small launch and the case containing all the exposed film of the trip fell into the shallow water."
11. Page 77 "Mosquitoes are a real threat; in reversing the back of my view camera I have trapped them in the bellows and they came to rest on the film, appearing as silhouettes of airplanes in the skies of some negatives."
12. Page119 "I sometimes trust my intuitions over my meter, and not always with good results."
13. Page 129 "…but I had lost my blue filter . I used a green filter (Wratten No. 58), which better defined the sunlit areas; it also darkened the shadows in the recess."
14. Page 139 " I have had disheartening failures because I overlooked some significant detail."
15. Page 142 "I have not yet made a print that fully satisfies me."
16. Page 145 " I was very excited and fumbled my meter, dropped my focusing cloth and inadvertently kicked the tripod leg."
17. Page 150 "…I stupidly used a film speed of ASA 64 for Panatomic film instead of ASA 32."
18. Page 155 "While drying, the roll slipped out of the clothespin on the drying wire, fell to the floor and was stepped on!"
This is a wonderful text, easily read and understood. Mr. Adams speaks in a frank and honest way on topics that we should all be aware of when on assignment. It is a peek into the very approachable personality of one of the world’s good photographic image-makers and instructors.
The text is from Ansel Adams “Examples: the Making of 40 Photographs”, Little. Brown and Company, 1989. ISBN 0-8212-1750-X