Ansel Adams

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Ansel Adams

Autograph Signed Card - 1983

Boldly signed white card, adding “Carmel, 10-22-83.” Six months later, on April 22, 1984, Adams died at age 82 from heart failure aggravated by cancer.

ANSEL ADAMS (1902-1984) was an American photographer, best known for his black-and-white photographs of the American West, and particularly for his work in Yosemite National Park. Adams first visited Yosemite National Park in 1916 with his family. The famous valley was the first place in the United States to be designated a protected nature area by a Congressional act, signed by Abraham Lincoln in 1864. He wrote of his first view of the valley which so inspired him, “the splendor of Yosemite burst upon us and it was glorious…One wonder after another descended upon us…There was light everywhere…A new era began for me.”

His father gave him his first camera, a Kodak Brownie box camera, during that stay and he took his first photographs with his “usual hyperactive enthusiasm”, as has been described of Adams. He returned to Yosemite on his own the following year with better cameras and a tripod. In the winter, he learned basic darkroom technique working part-time for a San Francisco photo finisher. Adams avidly read photography magazines, attended camera club meetings, and went to photography and art exhibits. With his Uncle Frank he explored the High Sierra, in summer and winter, developing the stamina and skill needed to photograph at high altitude and under difficult weather conditions.

In 1927, Adams contracted for his first portfolio, in his new style, which included his famous image Monolith, the vertical western face of Half Dome taken with his Korona view camera utilizing glass plates and a dark red filter (to heighten the tonal contrasts). On that excursion, he had only one plate left and he “visualized” the effect of the blackened sky before risking the last shot. As he wrote, “I had been able to realize a desired image: not the way the subject appeared in reality but how it felt to me and how it must appear in the finished print”. As he wrote confidently in April, 1927, “My photographs have now reached a stage when they are worthy of the world’s critical examination. I have suddenly come upon a new style which I believe will place my work equal to anything of its kind.”

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