Ansel Adams – Yosemite National Park
Ansel Adams was a California native and resident who was born in San Francisco. He was a photographer and concert pianist although he was more renowned for his photography. His photography was used as inspirations for saving wilderness by turning it into national parks and also has recorded America’s past.
Ansel was born in San Francisco on February 20, 1902, he was born into an upper-class family. He was injured at four years old from an aftershock of the 1906 earthquake, during the aftershock he was thrown into a garden wall and broke his nose. His nose never corrected and he would go on to live his whole life with a crooked nose. At the age of 12 Ansel was pulled out of school by his father to be taught by private tutors, to take piano lessons and to learn Greek. Ansel first visited Yosemite in 1916 where he had frequent contact with the Best family who owned the Best studio. He would also join the Sierra club at the age of 17 and would later become a director. Later in 1928 he would marry Virginia Best who after her father’s death inherited the studio.
Ansel was originally interested in becoming a concert pianist, but he became interested in photography after seeing some of Paul Strand’s negatives. Ansel was extremely interested in nature and took many photographs in many areas before they were trafficked by large groups of visitors. He was also an avid mountain climber in his youth and but it was during a climb of Half Dome in 1927 that he first realized he could make photographs that were in his own words, “an austere and blazing poetry of the real”. He became extremely interested in saving the wilderness and used some of his photography books and testimony to congress to help secure Sequoia and Kings Canyon as National Parks.
Ansel Adams was very knowledgeable about photography and co-created with, Fred Archer, the zone system. This is a system for photographers to translate the light they see into specific densities on negatives and paper, which gives more control over the finished photograph. He also pioneered the idea of visualization which is trying to determine how the finished photograph will look before it is exposed. Ansel’s received many awards for his work including three Guggenheim fellowships, election as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Science, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, awarded by Jimmy Carter in 1980, and 2007 he was posthumously inducted to the The California Museum for History, Women, and the Arts by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Ansel died on April 22, 1984, but his photography lives on and still inspires people today. A full archive of his work resides at the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona. His work was so respected for capturing nature that one of his photographs was included in the 116 images recorded on the Voyager Golden Record which resides aboard the Voyager Space Craft.