Capturing the Wild West

I don’t know what’s taken me so long, but after spending last week out west, visiting some national parks, and driving through the incredible western scenery, it occurred to me. We need to talk about Ansel freakin’ Adams.

First off, here are some fun facts about one of the most famous photographers in the world:

  • 1.   First off, his name is hot: Ansel Easton Adams. He was going to be successful no matter what he did, amiright?
  • 2.   Secondly, he contracted the Spanish flu and survived! Yay, pandemic survivors!!
  • 3.   Adams was a gifted piano player; his initial plan was to make a living being a pianist… then he got a camera.
  • 4.  It’s thanks to Ansel that there is a photography section at MoMA.
  • 5.  His first and favorite national park to photograph was Yosemite. In his day, there were only 28 national parks, and he photographed 27 of them. He never did make it down to the Everglades.

But what about his art? 

I think you have to be half-crazy to scale this thing.

His most famous photo, I think, is Monolith, the Face of Half-Dome. It’s also one of his earliest works. He had one shot left and took a risk, using a glass plate that altered the tone of the picture. It worked. He claimed, “I had been able to realize a desired image: not the way the subject appeared in reality but how it felt to me…”

Here is another photograph you may have seen: Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico. 

My moon pictures NEVER look like this.

How stunning is this photograph? And he just took it from the shoulder of the road, all nonchalant. My pictures from the car are blurry and crooked, but it’s fine. Totally fine. If you zoom in a little you can see the church and little white crosses of the graveyard giving the whole photo an eerie feel.

Finally, one I love, because it’s one of my favorite places to visit:

That river curves in all the right places.

It looks angry and majestic. If you didn’t know better, you’d think the river was superimposed. How could a river be so perfectly winding? And the clouds? Did he have those brought in for the photo shoot? They’re so perfect. If you’re interested, this photo is for sale for a Grand (Te)ton of money: $775,000.

Otherwise, feel free to enjoy my crappy picture for free:

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