How Ansel Adams revolutionized landscape photography

Ansel Adams is, without a doubt, one of the greatest and most influential American landscape photographers. In his latest video, Martin Kaninsky looks at not only Ansel’s work, but his life and what influenced his work to become as recognizable and influential as it was. If you’re a fan of this great photographer’s work, I’m sure you’ll love this video and the presentation.

I like the fact that Martin reflects on Ansel Adams’ early years and his relationship with parents. That’s something I always like to discover. Our early days define what we will become, and it seems that thanks to his parents’ love, understanding, and support, Ansel Adams was able to develop his passion for art.

Ansel was given a book about Yosemite when he was sick as a kid. He was enchanted by the stories he read, and he convinced his parents to visit this place when he was around 14 years old. He had a Kodak Brownie camera… And he was hooked.

On 10 April 1927, he climbed the Diving Board in Yosemite and reached the destination to photograph the Half Dome. He only has two glass plates left, so he carefully composed and took the first shot with a yellow filter. However, he realized that the camera was going to capture only what he was seeing, not what he was feeling about the place. So, with the last plate in his hands, he made a decision. He used a red filter to capture another photo of the Half Dome, which gave the photo exactly the drama and impact that he felt when he climbed there.

Together with Fred Archer, Ansel Adams developed the Zone System. It’s a technique for determining optimal film exposure and development, based on the late 19th-century sensitometry studies of Hurter and Driffield. While he wasn’t the only photographer relying on processing images in the darkroom, he always acknowledged it as an important part of his process. We can say that he didn’t only take photos, he made them.

I highly suggest that you watch Martin’s video above, and I’m sure you’ll love it. You can also read more on Martin’s blog. If you’d like to learn more about Ansel Adams’ life and work, here’s a great documentary for you to watch. You can also take a peek at his home and studio, and even his darkroom. And remember – your camera is better than Ansel’s was, and it’s your vision, skills, and creativity that will make your work as good as his.

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