The World in Black and White – Ansel Adams

Ansel Easton Adams (1902-1984) was an American photographer credited with developing the ‘zone system technique‘ (a method of concentrating light on negatives to control the look of finished pictures) and the ‘theory of visualization‘ or ‘previsualization’ (the act of measuring a scenes light to imagine a finished photo). Basically, he captured nature in black and white and became famous for his photo series of the Yosemite Valley in California. More than that, he became an environmentalist, and his photographs are a record of what many national parks were like.

Yosemite Valley - California
Yosemite Valley – California

He also wrote technical books defining and developing his theories, and later on, many photoalbums were published in his memory. Some of these are:

# The Camera
# The Negative
# The Print
% Born Free and Equal
% Polaroid Land Photography
% Ansel Adams: In Color
% Photographs of the Southwest
% The National Park Photographs
% America’s Wilderness
% Ansel Adams: The Spirit of Wild Places

To understand how advanced his technique on film was, try to get a picture of the following scenario:

In October 1941 Ansel Adams was 39 years old, probably in peak physical shape and certainly at or near the height of his field photography. He was well practiced in every motion, and the time that it takes to make a duplicate negative, to replace the slide, reverse the film holder, remove the slide and cock the shutter is less than 3 seconds. Given that the initial exposure was 1 second and the decision to make a duplicate negative occurred then, Ansel was very, very close to missing that image. It is a testament to his skills that we are able to appreciate it today. – This information comes from John Sexton, Ansel’s technical assistant from 1979 to 1982.

Ansel Adams received a number of awards during his lifetime, and this is a short list of them:

  • Doctor of Arts, Harvard University
  • Doctor of Arts, Yale University
  • Conservation Service Award, Department of Interior – 1968
  • Presidential Medal of Freedom – 1980
  • Mount Ansel Adams – 1985
  • Ansel Adams Wilderness – 1985

Also, Adams was one of the founders of the magazine Aperture.

Jeffrey Pine - Sentinel Dome
Jeffrey Pine – Sentinel Dome

Art is both love and friendship, and understanding; the desire to give…It is both the taking and giving of beauty, the turning out to the light the inner folds of the awareness of the spirit. – Ansel Adams, 1937

Representing the Work of Ansel Adams
The full archi’ve of Ansel Adams’ work can be found at the Center for Creative Photography (CCP) at the University of Arizona in Tucson.



I started photography as a hobby in 2005, during college. My passion slowly became a more important part of my life since 2008. Because of using a combination of my photographic knowledge, with those of internet marketing, I like to call myself a "photomarketer".

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