On February 20, 1902, American photographer and environmentalist Ansel Adams was born. As a youngster, he loved the outdoors and hiking through his home state, California. Adams joined the Sierra Club, spending summers in the glacial Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park in the western Sierra Nevada Mountains of California.
When the century was in its 20s, just as he was, Adams began photographing the Sierra Club’s most prestigious outings. He made images of the Sierra and his early prints caught the attention of Albert Maurice Bender, a patron of the arts. Bender helped launch Adams’ first portfolio, Parmelian Prints of the High Sierras, 18 silver gelatine prints of mountain features in vivid black and white photographs.
Although the images are not realistic because they are black and white, Adams used the medium to serve his vision. He was not interested in merely duplicating reality. Adams visualized how he might best capture an intensity of shape or size or texture or light or line that might burn its power into the mind of the beholder. He was a nature photographer trying to express an essence.
Gallery shows, commercial photography contracts, technical articles in Camera Craft followed… as did his first book, Making a Photograph. Adams’ title was a statement of his belief that one did not take a photograph, one made a photograph.
He was so committed a craftsman in both the technical and ambient areas of his work that camera companies like Polaroid and Hasselblad sought him out for technical advice for their products. He produced over three dozen books with photographs in black and white and in colour and a 10-book technical series that examined camera and lens, exposures, printing, and different kinds of light.
Often criticized during his working life for not including human beings in his landscapes, Adams concerned himself with trying to capture the soul of environmental power to share with his viewing audience. His collected works reveal what once was, what we have missed, and what we might make of moments alone to investigate nature with a camera.
Adams’ photograph The Tetons and the Snake River is one of the images on the Golden Record aboard the Voyager spacecraft presently travelling in deep space. Mount Ansel Adams, a 3,580 m (11,760 ft) peak, and the Ansel Adams Wilderness are located in the northern part of the Inyo National Forest. The Ansel Adams Award of the Sierra Club honours an individual making superlative use of still photography to further a cause in conservation.
B Bondar / Real World Content Advantage