|Half Dome, Merced River, Winter, by Ansel Adams, a print (Amazon)|
"I knew my destiny when I first experienced Yosemite." --Ansel Adams
We finally made it, hubby and I, to the Ansel Adams exhibit at Cincinnati's Taft Museum before the exhibit's closing date. We would have missed a great treat if we had let this one slip from our fingers. I've always admired the iconic black-and-white photos of nature, particularly of our national parks, that Mr. Adams is famous for, but to try and absorb the genius, beauty, and compelling images all assembled in one place as these were, was a tremendous opportunity.
|Cincinnati Taft Museum|
Ansel Adams (1902-1984), photographer and environmentalist, was born in San Francisco. He experienced the aftershocks of San Francisco's great earthquake as a four-year old in 1906. He contracted the Spanish Flu during the 1918 flu pandemic and became seriously ill, taking several months to recover. He aspired at first to a musical career after years of studying the piano. But ultimately, after his father gave him his first camera, a Kodak Brownie box camera, after his first visit to Yosemite National Park in 1916, he turned to photography as his passion and purpose. "The splendor of Yosemite," he wrote of his first view of the valley, "burst upon us and it was glorious...One wonder after another descended upon us...There was light everywhere...A new era began for me" (source).
And so, as I often do, I took a look at this man, Ansel Adams, and what he might have left behind in words as well as art. Highlights of my discoveries:
--"Suddenly I saw what photography could be: a tremendously potent, pure art form, and austere and blazing poetry of the real."
--"Photography is not only what you see, but also what you feel."
--"When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence."
--"How high your awareness level is determines how much meaning you get from your world. Photography can teach you to improve your awareness level."
--"I can look at a fine art photograph and sometimes I can hear music."
--"Today we must realize that nature is revealed in the simplest meadow, wood lot, marsh, stream, or tidepool, as well as in the remote grandeur of our parks and wilderness areas."
--"I hope that my work will encourage self expression in others and stimulate the search for beauty and creative excitement in the great world around us."
--"Life is your art. An open, aware heart is your camera. A oneness with your world is your film. Your bright eyes and easy smile is your museum."
And finally, a quote we writers can identify with:
--"One of the most important pieces of equipment, for the photographer who really wants to improve, is a great big wastepaper basket."
"In 1975," the exhibit noted, Adams "ceased making fine art prints for the open market. He selected 70 negatives he saw as his most important works--known collectively as the Museum Set--and began printing them for placement in museums." Six images in the Taft's gallery were among the 70 Adams selected, chosen from a field of over 2500 photographs attributed to his seven-decade career (source). What an agonizing process that must have been, to narrow such a wide range of images into only a few dozen for display. How does one choose one equally beautiful photograph over another?
September's inspiration: Ansel Adams, photography, poetry in photography, beauty in our world, dedication, passion. What artist--photography or other medium--inspires you? What has been September's inspiration for you so far?