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1) Ansel Adams was born and lived in California at a time before it was the

developed area we know today. It was just after the days of the wild west
and the sophisticated parts of the country were in the east. All art trends
were led by the east coast and they were very oriented towards European art.
Ansel Adams was one of the first to emphasize America developin its own
trend in art and focused on purely American subjects.
2) !his was similar to the situation in "atin America who at that time also
followed European trends. #ust as Ansel Adams and others in the $% were
breakin with Europe& "atin Americans were creatin movements like
Indigenismo that focused on drawin on their own national artistic traditions
and subjects. In 'e(ico there were the well known painters such )ieo
*ivera. In the Andean countries there were many writers and painters who
drew on local pre+Columbian themes.
3) Ansel Adams is especially known for his landscape photoraphy that
brouht to a wide American public the reat natural beauty of the ,est. -is
first breakthrouh picture was Thunderstorm, Yosemite Valley done in 1945
.esides the aesthetic values clearly the picture is intended to help make
famous /osemite 0ational 1ark. -e continued this effort throuh out his life
and many of the most famous natural wonders in America were made known
throuh him.
4) Ansel Adams was also a major fiure in the conservation movement which
eventually rew to become the American environmental movement. .y
showin the reat natural beauty of the $nited %tates he inspired people to
save it from becomin destroyed by minin& tourism and other development.
-e was one of the reat early fiures of the %ierra Club conservation
5) At first Adams style was a simple pictorial style where he emphasized bein
able to visualize the picture before it was taken and usin camera and
darkroom techni2ues to create what he had visualized. 3or Adams it is
important that the final imae is 4seen4 in the mind5s before takin the photo.
Monolith, the Face of Half Dome is an e(ample6
Adams used a red filter to increase the contrast 7 or as he would say heihten
the tonal values8. -e took the picture with only one lass plate available& so
he relied heavily on his visualization techni2ue to et it riht the first time.
6) %oon Adams style evolved past this. -e and a loose California roup of
photoraphers developed what they called 9straiht photoraphy:. !his
style emphasized the clarity and crispness of the lens. Above all the photo
was to appear natural that is not bein manipulated in with lenses or in the
darkroom. .ein natural meant that the messaes of the photo were to be
authentic and did not e(clude doin a lot of darkroom work that brouht out
that messae. In fact Adams developed his own e(tensive darkroom
techni2ue that will be discussed later. !he previous photoraph with its
heavy use of a red filter would not have been acceptable to the straiht
photoraphers. -ere is an e(ample of Adams new style straiht
photoraphy called Clearin a ,inter %torm done in ;<=>6
7) 3?@A Broup
8) Cone system
,ith Ansel Adams American photoraphy was also startin to define the
proper techni2ues for photoraphy in the same way European techni2ues
used to dominate paintin.
Adams developed a very complicated techni2ue for how to determine the
best e(posures with a subject that has very contrastin reflection of liht.
!his was a major problem for the liht meters of the day and even remains a
problem with todays technoloy. "iht meters assume that everythin is
liht rey 7what is called ;DE rey8 and on the averae this is true. .ut key
parts of a subject may be very black and if you just use the averae they will
come out undere(posed and without detail. Fr key parts may be very white
and will be overe(posed and washed out. Adams beins with his
visualization so that you imaine what are the key parts of your picture.
-e then develops a complicated scale for determinin how best to adjust the
aperture settins to ensure that these key parts are properly e(posed. -e also
uses the zone system in the darkroom to develop the neatives.
!he emphasis on adjustin for the contrastin reflectivity of the subject
helped Adams produce photos with an enormous rane of detail under very
difficult conditions and produced a dramatic result. -ere are two famous
3irst& in the Tetons and Snake River from ;<AG you can see how Adams
has achieved almost the impossible by capturin detail from both the lihtest
parts of the subject 7such as the shimmer of the water in the stream8 and the
darkest parts 7such as the sides of the bank ne(t to the stream that have
almost entirely lost their liht8. !his would not be possible without Adams
technical enius.
A second e(ample is Jeffery ines from ;<AH. It is amazin to be able to
9feel: the te(ture of the dessert rock baked in the briht liht and at the same time
appreciate the detail of the small pine needles in the darkest part of the picture.
9) Ansel Adams was had reached his full maturity. An e(ample that shows this
is his !Moonrise, Hernande", #e$ Me%ico& done in ;<A;. It is one of his
most famous photoraphs.
Adams visualization techni2ue allowed him to arrive at the scene just before the
critical moment in the sunset and moonrise and immediately calculate the e(act
riht minute to photoraph the scene. -is natural approach brins out the uni2ue
2ualities of nature in the 0ew 'e(ico desert and his zone techni2ue creates a
stunnin set of tonal contrasts. -e has put toether all of his uni2ue
10) Ansel Adams has become so accepted by the mass market that is
almost possible to overlook the lastin influence he had on photoraphy& on
the acceptance of photoraphy as an art form& on the American sense of its
own place in art& and on American society and even politics.

.esides the direct impact of his own photoraphs& Adams throuh the f?@A
roup influenced famous photoraphers like Edward ,eston and then
founded the well known photoraphy maazine Aperture. -e interacted
with many of the reat American photoraphers such as Edward %teichen
and 1aul %trand. -e helped found the 'etropolitan 'useums 1hotoraphy
)ivision and contributed as much as anyone to the acceptance of
photoraphy as an art form. -e was a contributor to a reat movement in
American society that ave respect to American artists and American
schools of art. 3inally& he ave Americans a reat sense of the beauty of
their country and the need to preserve its 0ational 1arks and the
environment. In closin I will show Mo'nt Mc(inley and )onder *ake
from ;<AI. It is Adams photoraph of the hihest mountain in 0orth
America in Alaskas )enali 0ational 1ark.