Ansel Adams:The Master of Landscapes


posted on 20th of august, 2009

I guess all of you knowing the Master of Landscapes:Ansel Adams(February 20, 1902 – April 22, 1984). He was one of the highly appreciated photographer in the world & is very famous for his fine quality of prints produced. His prints are still popular & in the sells.

He was having great technique to capture beautiful landscapes with eye pleasing composition & exposure.Adams developed the famous and highly complex "zone system" of controlling and relating exposure. This was a a method for getting real to life exposure for his images & prints.He understood completely how camera & lens sees the world & how one can get images looking real to life. In the age of film camera he understood how tones of color reflect in shades of grey.

His one of the favorite quote is "You don’t take a photograph, you make it".What I interpret his statement that a true photographer composes a photo first in mind & then apply his technique to capture that shot in camera. This is the way of making photograph.He always give advice to novice photographer to visualize,develop the skill of visualization.His development is enabling photographers to creatively visualize an image and produce a photograph that matched and expressed that visualization

He said in an interview he never took two different photographs of a same location. For answering this he added he knows what I have to shoot on a location along with what exposure & other settings. I understood this as if someone is taking more than one snap that means he don't know what he is doing. He took same photograph twice just to avoid accidental loss while developing films. I was really amazed to know this & his confidence in his techniques in the age of film camera. I still ashamed of myself for struggling to get correct exposure & composition in the modern age of digital camera.


I am still struggling to get good exposure by using modern days camera light meter & metering modes. I hope this article may help to make novice photographers curious enough to understand "Zone System".This will also help them for metering in many situations & getting correct exposure. There are various books & tutorials for getting correct exposure by following zonal system. A practical immediate advantage for following this system is getting perfect white background for subject isolation as required for stock photography.After having basic understanding of getting correct exposure you will see your images with very natural colors & light.

'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'- Ansel Adams

Here is another site I just found for interesting info about him.

I can only expect to get a image close to him one day :)

Comments (5)

Posted by Indianeye on August 23, 2009
Thanks to all of you for sharing some more thoughts & appreciating the article.
In my opinion even if he has done some post processing on negatives one can't underestimate his framing,compositions & other technicality as a photographer.
Posted by Wildmac on August 21, 2009
His work is an inspiration all over the world. Thank you for sharing.
Very eloquently put, Elephantopia, I totally agree with you.
Posted by Adeliepenguin on August 21, 2009
Actually I did study with him, for about a week in Yosemite, a few years before he died. I was young and "poor" (I couldn't even afford a tripod.), and not even a good photographer (and I still have a long way to go:) ) When I asked why he chose me to be part of his "group", he said for my passion and enthusiasm that came through when I applied for the workshop. He felt passion, with the zest for learning, was as important for workshop participants as those who had technical skills. He was humble, well spoken, and very wise. FYI, he had us use polaroid cameras to test our exposures, and then we took our "real" photos. (He used a polaroid back on his camera.) That is why I love histograms. It is like shooting with a polaroid camera. I check pixel values and then shoot the "real photo".
Posted by Wisconsinart on August 21, 2009
Adams used to hold photography classes and I know two people who studied under him. What many may not know is he did a lot of dodging and burning with his images. The point being there is a lot more to creating his photographs than merely getting the correct exposure.
Posted by Elephantopia on August 21, 2009
I love Ansel. Nat Geo recently did a piece on him. Don't ever be ashamed to struggle! Things that come easy often get taken for granted. Struggle humbly and with diligence and you will gain knowledge and understanding.



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Photo credits: , Leigh Prather, Willyvend.

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