Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Happy Birthday Ansel

Ansel Adams spawned a generation of photographers concerned with not only rich black and white imagery, but a deep concern for our natural environment. He was an avid conversationalist throughout his entire life.

Black and white images, along with nature photography, have always had a special place in my heart. Early in my career it was my good fortune to study under one of Ansel's printers. While Ansel printed many of his negatives himself, he also had people he trained and coached in the art of the darkroom. Learning from one who had touched the master's hand was not easy. I remember printing the same negative for weeks before I produced an acceptable print. "Again," was about the only word I heard in that time. At the end of a year my mentor gave me the greatest compliment by saying, "you now print better than I."

It was very traumatic when I said goodbye to silver based photography, leaving behind decades of tradition and craft. I love digital imagery in many ways, but I still miss the acidic smell of the darkroom and the magic seeing a print rise slowly from a blank sheet of paper.

Moonrise over Red Rock, Page, AZ

The following is from the February 20th edition of The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor:

"It's the birthday of photographer Ansel Adams, born in San Francisco (1902) and best known for his black-and-white Western landscapes, many of them shot in national parks. His nose was broken in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and never was set properly. It jutted to the left. As a boy he loved to hike around Golden Gate Park and along Lobos Creek, or out to Baker Beach - a boy who didn't care so much for school, who wanted to become a concert pianist. But when he was 14, his parents gave him a Kodak Brownie camera, and that same summer he saw Yosemite for the first time. He went back every year from then until he died at 81. He joined the Sierra Club when he was 17 and became their photographer, publishing his first pictures in the 1922 Sierra Club Bulletin. He supported himself with commercial photography, but he's remembered for his images of the Sierras and Yosemite. Ansel Adams said, "A good photograph is knowing where to stand."

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