I am starting to realize that I love both pictorialist photography and f/64 photography – and that that’s all right. Ultimately, it is about the picture and what the artist is trying to say with the image. One of the great aspects of searching out favorites at the end of each year is that I get to type the name “Ansel Adams” into a GOOGLE Image search and visit old friends. There they are all lined up and tweaking my memory with a dash (dopamine blasts) of fondness.
All that fanfare. I would like to name as Favorite Photograph for 2015 # 9 one of my absolute all time Ansel Adams photographs: Winter Sunrise, Sierra Nevada from Lone Pine, 1944. As with all of Adams’ work there are lots of copies on the web and the link that I have given you is from Scripps College. I chose it because it has those absolutely luscious sepia, selenium tones that finalize a great Adams print. The appeal of Winter Sunrise to me is that it represents everything that Ansel Adams stood for. It is crystal sharp and its dynamic range – the zone system personified as if it were a religion. Note the detail in both the blacks and whites, the subtle differences between the clouds and the sky. Then there is the spotlighting of the horse. The horse is, of course, the central figure in the image, but given the grandeur of the mountains it takes a moment or two for you eye to realize that fact. And recognize that the mountains and the horse define the great American West. This was Ansel Adams at the height of his career – as the master of his craft.