13 August 2011

Ansel Adams: Saint Francis Church, Ranchos de Taos

Saint Francis Church, Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico, c. 1929-© The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust This image is copyrighted by The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust and cannot be printed or reproduced in any way. The use of the photograph is limited to viewing in the context of this web site.
Susan Brannon
13 August 2011
Saint Francis Church, Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico, c. 1929 - When he first saw the church, Adams was impressed by it's "magnificent form" and its "rigorous and simple design and structure." The photograph of this church was shot from the rear, which was the angle that Adams thought made it "one of the great architectural monuments of America." He wrote in Elements, "it is not really large, but it appears immense. The forms are fully functional; the massive rear buttress and the secondary buttress to the left are organically related to the basic masses of adobe, and all together seem an outcropping of the earth rather than merely an object constructed upon it."

Though this church is not actually in the Pueblo, it held significance for the entire area. Constructed in 1776, it is in the little Mexican American settlement of Ranchos de Taos a few miles south of the Pueblo. It had been interpreted by many painters and photographers, and Adams said he could not resist the challenge.

Adams wrote in Elements, "We should never deny the power of intuition or hesitate to follow its revelations... It is essential that the artist trust the mechanisms of both intellect and creative vision. The conscious introspective critical attitude has no place in the luminous moments of creative expression, but should be reserved for later, when the work is complete." He stated, "I seemed to know precisely the square yard of earth on which to place my tripod." He said, "Some intuitive thrust made this picture possible."

Adams stated in Elements that "this image is an experience in light." He described how he had used yellow and red filters before in many images in special high-altitude light of the Southwest. "But on this occasion some gentle angel whispered 'no filter' and I obeyed." Taking the shot with no filter allowed the blue sky to appear quite light, and the shadows were softened... A darker sky would have depreciated the feeling of light." He asks a good question himself: "What mechanism of the eye and mind selects patterns and relationships in an unfamiliar world about us and composes them as expressive images?" He doesn't claim to have the answers.

    * Camera: 6 1/2 X 8 1/2 Korona View
    * Lens: 8 1/2 inch Tessar-type lens
    * Film: orhochromatic (sensitive only to blue and green light)
    * Filter: none
    * Paper: Dassonville Charcoal Black on mildly textured rag paper of highest quality Developer Amidol

Information taken from: HHMA

12 August 2011

Ansel Adams: Moonrise Hernandez

Ansel Adams - Moonrise Hernandez
Susan Brannon
 12 August 2011
Moonrise Hernandez - 4:05 P.M. on October 31, 1941 Moonrise is one of Adam's most popular images. Why is that?  Do you notice the white clouds, the moon, or the white gravestones first? Do you notice how the photograph is divided according to the "Rule of Thirds?"
Many artists believe it is boring to look at images that are absolutely symmetrical, with images divided exactly in half. In Moonrise, Adams has stimulated our eye by offering three layers, each with a different tone: the black sky, the white clouds, and the gray landscape. Adams made an interesting composition, which became very popular. It "combined serendipity and immediate technical recall." Serendipity means lucky chance. He "felt at the time it was an exceptional image" and when he took it, he felt "an almost prophetic sense of satisfaction." The scene has changed, there are still some of the same features, but the road is wider and busier.  There are more modern buildings, but the graveyard is still there.  When he was a young creative photographer, his original prints sold for $10, and in the 1960s for $50 - $100. The price for a print of Moonrise in the early 1970s was $500. Then the value of the creative photographs of Ansel Adams skyrocketed. At an auction in 1981, the sale of Moonrise set a record price for a photograph - $71,500! Ansel Adams was returning to Santa Fe, New Mexico after a discouraging day of photography. From the highway he glanced left and "saw an extraordinary situation - an inevitable photograph! I almost ditched the car and rushed to set up my 8 X 10" camera. I was yelling to my companions to bring me things from the car…I had a clear visualization of the image I wanted but…I could not find my exposure meter! The situation was desperate: the low sun was trailing the edge of clouds in the west, and shadow would soon dim the white crosses." He felt at a loss to guess the correct exposure, but suddenly realized he knew the luminance of the moon and quickly took the shot."

I was at a loss with the subject luminance values, and I confess I was thinking about bracketing several exposures, when I suddenly realized that I knew the luminance of the moon – 250 c/ft2. Using the Exposure Formula, I placed this luminance on Zone VII; 60 c/ft2 therefore fell on Zone V, and the exposure with the filter factor o 3x was about 1 second at f/32 with ASA 64 film. I had no idea what the value of the foreground was, but I hoped it barely fell within the exposure scale. Not wanting to take chances, I indicated a water-bath development for the negative.
Realizing as I released the shutter that I had an unusual photograph which deserved a duplicate negative, I swiftly reversed the film holder, but as I pulled the darkslide the sunlight passed from the white crosses; I was a few seconds too late!”
Paraphrase of John Sexton, Ansel's technical assistant from 1979 to 1982
In October 1941 Ansel Adams was 39 years old, probably in peak physical shape and certainly at or near the height of his field photography. He was well practiced in every motion, and the time that it takes to make a duplicate negative, to replace the slide, reverse the film holder, remove the slide and cock the shutter is less than 3 seconds. Given that the initial exposure was 1 second and the decision to make a duplicate negative occurred then, Ansel was very, very close to missing that image. It is a testament to his skills that we are able to appreciate it today.”

  • Camera: 8 X 10 view camera
  • Lens: Cooke triple convertible lens.
  • Light meter: lost!
  • Film: Speed: ASA 64
  • Filter: Wratten No. 15 (G) filter
  • Exposure: 1 second at f/32.
  • Development: dilute D-23 and ten developer to water sequences.
    Years later - refixed, washed the negative, and treated the lower section with a dilute solution of Kodak IN-5 intensifier.

11 August 2011

Ansel Adams: Aspens

Ansel Adams -Aspens  ©2008 Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust
Ansel Adams - Aspens (no title)
Ansel Adams -  Aspens Northern New Mexico © The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust
These images are copyrighted by The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust and cannot be printed or reproduced in any way. The use of the photograph is limited to viewing in the context of this web site.
11 August 2011
Aspens- I believe that the second image was taken in Northern New Mexico in 1958.  Adams took many aspen images while he was there, and with this photo, the lighting looks like it was taken at the same time as the known and famous image that Adams is titled, "Aspens of Northern New Mexico"  I could not find the copyright on this one, nor a title, but I really like it. I chose this image because of the geometric of the trees and the lighting reflecting the fullness of the trees.  The first image shows a mastery of a vast spectrum of shadow and luminous light within the simplicity of black and white. The single lit leading tree with many other trees standing behind it.  
In this set of images, you can see how Adam's walked around to capture different views of the same subject.  He used the natural lighting, and it could have been taken either at sunrise, or near sunset because of the light on the trees.

10 August 2011

Ansel Adams: Roots, Foster Gardens, Honolulu

Ansel Adams - Roots, Foster Gardens, Honolulu © 2004 by the Trustees of the Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust. Courtesy of George Eastman House.
Susan Brannon
10 August 2011
Roots, Foster Gardens, Honolulu- 1948.  This is one of Adams images that is refined with close up detail rather than the vast images of landscape. He worked with texture and abstract imagery in this image. The roots, draw your eyes to find the trunk of the tree.
Adams once said, "To photograph truthfully and effectively is to see beneath the surfaces and record the qualities of nature and humanity, which live or are latent in all things."

09 August 2011

Ansel Adams:Dunes, Oceano, California

Susan Brannon
09 August 2011
Ansel Adams -Dunes, Oceano, California
Susan Brannon
Dunes, Oceano, California, 1963. The shadows in the sand dunes reflect the incredible patterns of the hills made from the timeless winds in the dunes.  At first I thought this image was of the white sands in New Mexico, however, sand dunes are sand dunes and this image makes me want to jump in and leave my footprint!

08 August 2011

Ansel Adams: Moon and half Dome

Ansel Adams-Moon and Half Dome
Susan Brannon
8th August 2011
Moon and Half Dome - This image was taken at Yosemite National Park in 1963. Adams reahed for his Hasselbland and took his camera and tripod into the meadow looking for the spot where the elements come together; the full moon, the valley and the silhouette of Washington Column.

This image became a classic and one of the most love black and white pictures made. To make the same scene, you need to have the light, the moon and the shadow all in place.  Adams made this shot in December around Christmas time, if you want to go and try it yourself!

07 August 2011

Ansel Adams: Jeffrey Pine, Sentinel Dome

Ansel Adams - Jeffrey Pine, Sentinel Dome
Susan Brannon
7 August 2011
Jeffrey Pine, Sentinel Dome - 1940.  Adams too this image with his 4" x 5" view camera. Today, the hike up the Mist Trail to Vernal Fall is short, accessible, and heavily trafficked. John Muir, in his book " …it is a favorite with most visitors, doubtless because it is more accessible than any other, more closely approached and better seen and heard. A good stairway ascends the cliff beside it and the level plateau at the head enables one to saunter safely along the edge of the river as it comes from Emerald Pool and to watch its waters, calmly bending over the brow of the precipice, in a sheet eighty feet wide, changing in color from green to purplish gray and white until dashed on a boulder talus." The Mist Trail is notoriously wet -- standing in the rain can be drier. Adams would have faced challenges keeping his equipment dry while capturing this familiar icon of Yosemite .

 If you want to take the picture and did not get there before 2003, when the tree finally fell over (it died during a drought in 1977), you're out of luck. However, people still flock to Sentinel Dome to take a photograph of this tree, I bet that It has since become one of the most photographed trees in the country.