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Friday, 06 January 2012


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Some blasphemy for you: I've always thought Adams was a better portraitist than he was a landscapist. Shoot me...

Thanks for alerting us to this two days before its scheduled to close. Sheeesh.

Looks like a nice show.
To your comment "Anyway, it's of a genre I now think I like best in LF, and maybe in all of photography, that is if I could ever say such a thing: the environmental portrait" even before I read that, I thought - based on your previous form here - that was an obvious choice of favourite for you.

Adams' prints may not look as tonally dramatic now as in your younger days, but he clearly changed his prints over time, getting progressively more 'radical' with his print contrast. The link here, for instance, shows 4 versions of Moonrise that illustrate how he reprinterpreted the image over his own lifetime...http://www.andrewsmithgallery.com/exhibitions/anseladams/arrington/arrington_adams.html

Interesting. Too bad it's so far away from Calif. My tastes have broadened, but I still enjoy original Adams prints. I did see a few atypical contact prints in Portland ME last year, but it's been a while for the big warhorses.

The prints I refer to above didn't have extreme contrast. I also some years ago had occasion to be at the Dominican University of California when they had on display a series of images he had made of the University and its students when he was a relatively new professional.

They were the normal sort of shots you expect to be used in promoting the place in brochures and so on. Two things struck me.

First was the complete professionalism of the product. Clear, beautifully printed B&Ws with a full range of nicely graduated tones. No unusual contrast there.

Second was that although the scenes and poses were standard stuff, they seemed to me to have less human life to them than most similar series I've seen. The thought crossed my mind that it was clear why Adams was more successful shooting non-human aspects of nature.

Possibly unfair, of course. He was young and new to his trade, perhaps nervous, perhaps not yet old enough to be comfortable putting subjects at ease and getting them to look alive and interested.

Still, the photo in top hat doesn't look like someone likely to relate warmly to a bunch of undergraduates. +{;~)


The Georgia O'Keeffe, Orville Cox image is one of my favorites. The look in Georgia's eyes..."How YOU doin?"

Your favorite picture (Mrs. Gunn...) is discussed at length in one of Adams' technical books ("The Negative," I think). It required water bath development to keep from blowing the highlights with enough exposure to keep the shadows.

"Your favorite picture (Mrs. Gunn...) is discussed at length in one of Adams' technical books ("The Negative," I think)."

I wouldn't say "at length." At least not in The Negative. It's really just one image caption, on p. 150.

Perhaps it's one of the pictures discussed in Examples: The Making of Forty Photographs? I don't have that book so I can't check.


"Thanks for alerting us to this two days before its scheduled to close."

I don't actually cover exhibits in the sense of informing people about them. The reason is that TOP's audience is spread thinly all over the globe, and any exhibit I recommend would be accessible to only a tiny subset of my readers. I do give an account sometime of my own visits to a museum, but it's not principally or primarily to "alert" anyone to anything.

This show was mentioned a while back in the comments, though.

It would be nice to have a website that tracked and reviewed shows and exhibits, but this ain't it.


You refer to to AA prints, meaning I think prints made by Ansel. I have two AA prints bought years ago at Yosemite. Adams signed the prints he made himself. Prints made by an assistant and approved by Adams were initialed AA.

This show was such a treat. I brought my copy of "Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs" and sat in awe as I compared the prints to what I saw in the book. One image from Hawaii that I thought was okay in the book was just jaw dropping in person. I sneaked a few shots with my Fuji X100 as souvenirs. I was lucky in that there was no one there that day and spent a couple of hours with these magnificent images.

I saw the Adams show in Edinburgh (Scotland) in 2008 when a rare opportunity to see his prints was juxtaposed with a 21st century counterpart. I'm not an Adams fanboy by any means, but I have to say the physical beauty of the prints surprised me, and lingers in my memory.

Excuse me for posting another link to my own blog, but it's curious that the photos I took then seem to mirror Mike's


Please write more about Wright Morris sometime. I don't know enough to know about chains of influence and timelines, but Morris has always been one of my absolute favorites, and seemingly under-appreciated.

Want to know lil bit more about Mr. Wright plz .

While I see you don't normally advertise museum exhibits, I'm very glad you mentioned this one and that I was able to go yesterday. As an amateur photographer that loves landscapes, and the Sierras in particular, but has never seen a museum-quality exhibit of prints (or anything close), this was more than worth the hour drive from Chicago.

The quality of the prints was stunning, and I completely agree about the vast chasm between online JPGs and well-done prints. Best of show for me was "Tenaya Creek, Dogwood, Rain" which was just a gorgeous, detailed, and charming print in person - and I don't think I would have given it a second glance from an online JPG.

I think this is a great idea. In fact, I think it would be fun to try simethong like this in my classroom. Maybe an abbreviated version would be fun. I like to see the stories my students create.

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