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Monday, 29 January 2024


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Well, he was a people photographer more than any one of us can ever hope to be: in one of his books there are portraits of Georgia O'Keefe, Orozco, Steichen; he photographed the Japanese Americans in their concentration camps; and what about the photograph of that small child of which he says (I think it's in The print): "It's a little hazy, but I borrowed the camera from Imogen Cunningham, and her lenses are always dirty"?

Was never interested much in Ansel Adams but that picture is magnificent (and looking at it on a monitor!).

Thanks for introducing me to Eliot Porter.

2 horses, actually :-)

Could it be that the reason was that the 8x10 view cameras he used along with lower iso films made the shutter speeds too long to consistently capture wildlife?

By all accounts, Adams was a control freak, before that term was invented. With his prolonged process of determining the best exposure and composition, only a static subject could tolerate the time to set up the gear, and make all the adjustments to get the results he desired.

I doubt that an animal would stick around long enough to be included in his images.

Moonrise over Hernandez has tons of bats, just hard to see. The f/64 photos just required long enough exposures the fast moving gazelles streaked through the frame:)

It does seem a choice, curious if it was a result of his methods or a just a disinterest.

Horse riders of Yosemite




“… but there are more people in his photographs than there are Western fauna.” True. But, c’mon, that’s true of -any- photographer whose work specialized in using a view camera. The only way to shoot animals with a rig like that is to kill and taxidermy them first.

Cattle in South Farm, Manzanar


Birds on wire, evening, Manzanar


Half Dome and Deer


Paul Masson Vineyards, Saratoga


Deer, Yosemite Valley, Winter


Chicken Farm, Manzanar


On my Flickr page I took almost the exact same photograph from Lone Pine, CA, as if I was almost photographing from the same spot. The funny thing is that when I took the picture I didn’t even know that Ansel had photographed that same eastern Sierra view of Mt. Whitney. Plus mine is more of a handheld snapshot, one exposure only.

Ansel’s legacy is so powerful anyone trying to photograph a big landscape must be in his Ansel Adam’s phase.

John Szarkowski's Ansel Adams at 100 is enough for me.

Wildlife wasn't his interest. And in his formative years, 1920s-30s, the gear needed for wildlife photography as we know it basically didn't exist.
Look at old "National Geographic" magazines and you'll quickly realize that wildlife photography became a thing with the rise of color film, 35mm SLRs, and affordable long telephoto lenses.
So it wasn't part of Adams' thinking, wasn't his subject, nor suited to his approach. You can't do everything. Cartier-Bresson, Dorothea Lange, Ezra Stoller, Margaret Bourke-White, Weegee, were all contemporaries of Adams, all very successful, none known to have photographed wildlife.

I was going to mention Half Dome and Deer, but I see Jeff already beat me to it. I actually have this print, which I bought while I was attending a workshop in Carmel in 1969.

I have a copy of 400 Photos but I did not check it for animal photos. I occasionally photograph animals/birds when the opportunity presents itself but it is purely opportunistic on my part and I suspect Ansel's as well. Artistic wildlife/animal photos are a separate category just like street photography is different from landscape and I don't think that's where Ansel's head was at. He was attuned to wilderness, not wildlife.

BTW, both deer photos linked earlier were from Yosemite, not Manzanar. Both seem “artistic” rather than documentary in nature.

There's a grazing horse in his Sunrise, Sierra Nevada, Lone Pine photo but I can't think of others. In his early work in New Mexico in the late 1920s and early 1930s, he was shooting the Puebloan dancers with a "miniature" camera, I think a Contax or Zeiss 35mm, but they seem so distant and an anomaly for the work we tend to remember him.

His people photo were not half bad nor was the bulk of his commercial work, such as for the University of California, Yosemite Park and the NPS and his early 1950s book "The Pageant of History of Northern California" which features both his industrial works and cultural landscape.

Like many of us, Ansel did have to make a living between his famed landscape outtings and along the way, contributed to teaching the next generation and give-back to his industry using science and testing that created the foundation of the craft that people like me benefited.

Adams briefly shows off his Hasselblad kit in this video, from his home.


Do moths count?

As Jeff1000 points out, that's Mt. Whitney, highest point in the Lower 48, in "Winter Sunrise, Sierra Nevada from Lone Pine, California, 1941."

But here's a friendly tip: Whitney is in the upper right. Lone Pine Peak is no slouch of a mountain, but it appears higher here only because it is closer. I've seen it misidentified as Whitney many times, even by Californians and Nevadans who maybe oughta know better. Did I mention that I've been atop Whitney three times? No? Well, that's because there is no reason for me to mention it.

I should have added this to my earlier comment, but here’s the link to my Lone Pine/ Mt. Whitney picture:


I went through Adams' autobiography, since it seemed to cover a wider spectrum. Lots of people, but few animals. 2 burros plus a horse and rider from his days of Sierra Club expeditions, two bull skulls and horns, plus the chickens at Manzanar. That's it.

I'm pretty sure I saw a color photograph that included a rattlesnake on a rock low in the frame. I believe it was in the book "Ansel Adams in Color", which was a collection of his Kodachrome photographs. I don't have the book so I can't double check. And I can't find it online -- oh well.

Flipping through 400 Photos I spotted a few incidental, though essential IMO, sheep in the foreground of - Pasture, Sonoma County, Northern California, 1951

I looked through my copy of "400", and missed the sheep. But did find a cigar store Indian and the moth.

In 1988 I had the fabulous opportunity to drive from Las Vegas, to the Grand Canyon, then up through Death Valley to Yosemite and stayed overnight in the lodge. I visited the Ansel Adams museum and was so moved that I posted myself a postcard (back to Perth, Western Australia) just saying "I'm here!"

We have some pretty spectacular scenery in Australia, but views like the Grand Canyon and Half Dome just make my jaw drop. The grandeur of America!

But also making my jaw drop is half a million dollars for an Adams print?! Sorry, I can't see the value. Not for me, even assuming I could afford it.

Never heard of "400", but Amazon UK had a hardback copy available for £29 which arrived on the same day. My, it's a chunky book.

I've gone a bit crazy with photo books of late, after years of buying none: "400", Natalie Christensen, Saul Leiter, Kenna's "Trees", Paul Hart's "Drained", "Farmed", "Reclaimed", Nigel Danson's "Spirit of Luskentyre", Finn Hopson's "Fieldwork", "The World's Top Photographers: Landscape", "Masters of Landscape Photography", Nick Brandt "Across this ravaged land".

Please don't recommend books, I'm going bankrupt...

Did the "quick flip" through 400 Photos like Ken Lunders. I found 3 that obviously had animals. The horse image you presented in the article. The one that Ken mentions and another with a dog prominently featured called Sunrise, Laguna Pueblo, New Mexico, 1937.

I believe the Ansel Adams documentary film Jeff referenced earlier (on VHS tape) is actually freely viewable on YouTube.

Adams used smaller cameras (35 mm Contax and 120 [620?] Kodak Medalist. I wished he actually did more street photography. One of my favorite images of his (and in that genre) is of cattle being driven to market. Taken with Kodak Medalist, which he praised. Believe he said it was from atop his IH Travelall station wagon. It is in Book 1, The Camera (although could be Book 2).

Exactly correct Dan Montgomery. I had at first misidentified Lone Pine Peak for Mt. Whitney because being closer it looked taller, and there was no reason for me to mention any of the stuff I had mentioned too lol.

As long as we are on all things St. Ansel, here's a quote I just ran across in a recently acquired book:

"A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense, and is, thereby, a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety."

This may seem contrary to some sentiments about his work.

I can understand that Mr. Adams's using large format cameras that he was famous for using might have made it more difficult to capture any kind of wildlife in his photographs.

In my pursuit of landscape photographs in Canada, many years ago while photographing at White Swan Lake Provincial Park in Eastern British Columbia, Canada. As I wandered down to the lake not far from my campsite I observed a moose at the water's edge, so I quietly set up my 8x10 view camera and made a couple of exposures with black and white film. It was not a great close-up shot but it goes to show that it does happen sometimes that if you are out in nature enough with any kind of camera you are bound to see some kind of wildlife.

Also “Turkeys,Northern California” on page 170 of “Ansel Adams An Autobiography” together with an amusing anecdote of taking the picture.

I think what makes a photographer interesting is what they photograph, not what they don’t.

I came across a very good reproduction of the winter sunrise picture ( in the large format edition of Ansel Adams at 100) and I count 4 horses.

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