Favorite Photographs 2016 #8, Ansel Adams, “Mount Williamson, The Sierra Nevada, from Manzanar, California, 1945”

I think that it is important to every once in a while, perhaps more often than not, to spend some time studying the photographs of Ansel Adams. So for Favorite Photograph 2016 #8 I have chosen Adams’ “Mount Williamson, The Sierra Nevada, from Manzanar, California, 1945.” This image is exemplary in what it teaches us about the superfluity of color, about the possibilities of  tonal range and depth of field. It is truly a masterpiece, and I cannot tell you how often I have stood before it in awe at a gallery or exhibition. It makes you want to rush back out with your camera to try again to equal the master.

And there is one other point about it that has always struck me and that is the perspective. You have this sensation that you want to bend down and see things from a bit lower. Adams created this sensation with his camera position and along with the depth of field it lends a sense of dynamism and three-dimensionality to the image. A contributing factor to this sense of motion is the way in which the human eye perceives. We construct the whole in our minds but our eye perceives in a series of points of concentration, which in this case involves details of the foreground, midground, and background. That is why the depth of field is so important in making this image work. If you were to fuzz out one element it would have the effect of stabilizing the image in your eye. But as is, the whole effect is like being there.

This entry was posted in History of Photography, Reviews and Critiques.