Ansel Adams

1902 - 1984

"I was suddenly arrested in the long crunching path up the ridge by an exceeding pointed awareness of the light... I saw more clearly than I have ever seen before or since the minute detail of the grasses, the cluster of sand shifting in the wind, the small flotsam of the forest, the motion of the high clouds streaming above the peaks." -Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams is known for his landscape photography, in particular of the Yosemite National Park. He was also involved in portraiture, still lifes and with documentary subjects to a lesser degree. He was a very technically accomplished photographer that experimented with new techniques to refine the range of grays and distribution of light in his final prints.

Adams originally trained to become a musician, but took his first photographs with a box brownie camera he received as a gift from his father. He was an ardent conservationist and returned to Yosemite to photograph during his vacations in his late teens and early twenties. He became the custodian of the Le Conte Memorial and was an official photographer for the environmental organization the Sierra Club. He met Paul Strand and was impressed by the possibilities of "straight" or pure photography. He became a full time photographer in 1930 and later founded Group f/ 64 a group dedicated to the pursuit of "straight" photography.

Adams was interested in teaching and communicating how to get the best results. He lectured and wrote many books on photographic technique beginning with "Making a Photograph" first published in 1935. He later systematized these observations in his "zone" system with the help of an exposure meter to control the range of light in a print. Together with Beaumont Newhall and David McAlpin, he helped found the Museum of Modern Art's department of photography in New York City. He was honored with awards for both his photography and environmentalism. In 1980, he received the Presidential medal of Freedom.

Ansel Adams
© 1977 Yousuf Karsh

Birth name

Ansel Adams


Born in San Francisco, California, 20 February 1902


Died in Monterey, California, 22 April 1984




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