Recently I attended Ansel Adams Masterworks, a traveling exhibit of some of his best work. These images were printed by Adams himself and are exquisite in detail and tonal range. Hand printed in the darkroom, full of chemical smells, dodging and burning each print into perfection; that my friends, is dedication to one’s art. I spent countless hours in the darkroom in college learning the craft, printing for assignments; but never with such dedication and thoughtfulness to each individual piece. His depth of field and focus throughout the images was amazing. The museum handed out magnifying glass to study the pieces with. Looking through the glass, it seemed that each image had an almost three dimensional aspect to it. He said of Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico: “If you have practiced and practiced, the process is intuitive. You suddenly recognize something and you react.” This image he made just one exposure, and could not find his exposure meter to take a reading of the light. This is knowing your craft. Once he had taken the exposure, the light on the crosses was gone and the moment was over.
What he writes of one of his images: “I think of the negative as the ‘score’ and the print as a performance of that score, which conveys the emotional and aesthetic ideas of the photographer at the time of making the exposure.” Thank you Mr. Adams for your performances!
It was an amazing set of images and I am glad I took the time out to view them and to see a master of the craft’s work up close and personal.
To learn more about Ansel Adams and to see some of his work visit Ansel Adams