About Black&White or not?

On April 10, 1927, Ansel Adams clambered through Yosemite’s LeConte Gully trail with four of his friends in tow. Their destination on that chilly spring morning was Half Dome, the park’s iconic granite summit rising some 5,000 feet from the valley’s floor.The aspiring photographer had made the trek before, once with an uncle and later with a painter acquaintance, who nearly broke his neck making the treacherous descent back down the narrow gully. But this time, Adams was intent on capturing the perfect shot of Half Dome to add to his portfolio—a shot that would launch his career as one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century.For most of his 25 years, Adams had considered himself a musician first and a photographer second. He was an accomplished pianist, and had spent a winter in San Francisco teaching music lessons and performing as part of the Milanvi Trio. But it soon became clear to Adams that his level of talent would only garner him local fame, never national.So he decided to chart a new course. In 1926, his mentor Albert Bender, a patron of the arts in San Francisco, tasked him with producing a portfolio of large-format black-and-white photographs of mountains that he would finance and help the young artist sell.

2 thoughts on “About Black&White or not?

  1. Adams’s term for carefully determining all elements of a photograph before ever releasing the shutter. Over a decade later he would institutionalize this idea with his Zone System, a photographic technique that is still taught

  2. Instead, for the second exposure, he used a deep red filter that would darken the sky almost to black and emphasize the white snow on Half Dome’s cliff face. The filter made all the difference, as Adams quickly realized when he developed the photo later that night. He considered Monolith, the Face of Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California (1927) his “first really fine photograph,” a career-changing image that marked his first successful “visualization”—Adams’s term for carefully determining all elements of a photograph before ever releasing the shutter. Over a decade later he would institutionalize this idea with his Zone System, a photographic technique that is still taught in schools today.

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