Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Vision of Ansel Adams

Yesterday marked the birthday of famed nature photographer, Ansel Adams, who was born February 20, 1902. When I was 18 or 19 years old, my perception of natural beauty was deeply and forever impacted by the clear vision of Ansel Adams. Although I was a biology major, I remember often going to the library at the University of Delaware, settling down in the photography section, and loosing all sense of time as I immersed myself in his images. Ansel Adams taught me to look closely and patiently, to appreciate shape and texture, to notice every subtlety of light, shade, and shadow. Above all, Ansel Adams demonstrated that nature's beauty is present wherever we look, from majestic mountains to lowly fern. Although I have only used simple point-and-shoot cameras of late, Adams taught me that quality photography deserves equal comparison with any of the fine arts.

What many people today might not realize is how involved Ansel Adams was in the early environmental movement. At age 17 he took a job with the Sierra Club as custodian in a Yosemite lodge. From there Adams became a vital member of the young environmental group and helped it grow to national prominence.

For those who might not be familiar with Ansel Adams, I'll leave you with three quotes and four photographs. Ansel himself might have preferred to leave you only the photographs. 
“A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed.”
“Both the grand and the intimate aspects of nature can be revealed in the expressive photograph. Both can stir enduring affirmations and discoveries, and can surely help the spectator in his search for identification with the vast world of natural beauty and wonder surrounding him.”
“The whole world is, to me, very much 'alive' - all the little growing things, even the rocks. I can't look at a swell bit of grass and earth, for instance, without feeling the essential life - the things going on - within them. The same goes for a mountain, or a bit of the ocean, or a magnificent piece of old wood.”

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