It's Ansel Adams's birthday! Cheers to all you Dektol-sniffing, landscape shooting, West-Coasty, wooden-tripod-using, view-camera-lugging, spotmetering Zonies today.
Ansel had a sense of humor. Photobooth self-portrait.
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A book of interest today:
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Jim Hughes: "In December 1981, Evelyn and I received an invitation to attend a gala event in photography: a two-day celebration, in Carmel, California, of Ansel Adams' eightieth birthday, hosted by the Friends of Photography and organized by Mary and Jim Alinder. More than Two hundred of Ansel's 'oldest and dearest' friends were expected to attend. On Friday night, February 19th, 1982, we attended three different exhibitions of Ansel's photographs. Ansel, his wife Virginia, and their family drove between venues in his white 1977 Cadillac with its 'Zone V' license plate. He announced his arrival by tooting his new computerized horn, which played 72 different songs. Ansel said he was partial to 'Marseillaise' and 'I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy.' The melodious horn had been installed as a gift by his studio staff. At each stop, the throngs awaiting him sang 'Happy Birthday Ansel.'
"On February 20th, his birthday, Ansel was feted at a black tie dinner. Soup served was his favorite, now named Ansel's Sorrel Soup. The main course, as I remember, was pheasant under glass (although it may have been squab). Either way, it was delicious. As described in Mary Street Alinder's excellent and affectionate biography, a birthday cake that was supposed to be in the shape of Half Dome, but which more resembled Devil's Dome in Wyoming (remember Close Encounters of the Third Kind?) because the pastry chef had neither been to Yosemite nor even seen Ansel's famous photograph, was brought in to great fanfare by the local high school marching band. Champagne toasts began with a presentation of the Legion of Merit by the French cultural attache and the photographer Lucien Clergue, who had flown over for the event. Toasts continued through much of the evening. John Szarkowski was seated at our table (or we were seated at his...), and I have vivid memories, as the evening wore on, of John balancing an empty champagne glass on his head as a signal to our waiter for increasingly frequent refills. It was a side of John I had never seen.
"The celebration culminated with a recital in Ansel and Virginia's home by Ansel's favorite pianist, Vladimir Ashkenazy. In his autobiography, Ansel called it an 'unforgettable experience. His interpretations of Chopin, Beethoven and Ravel were colossal.' Ansel had, after all, given instructions to Virginia and Mary that when he died, he didn't want a funeral; he wanted instead a 'small concert to be arranged for our friends.'
"Without question, it was an equally unforgettable experience for us."