|Ansel Adams, Monolith, The Face of Half Dome, 1927|
It seems like every day we are inundated with the best of this, the best of that, vote for the best, photographs that changed the world, the list of the best whatever, etc., etc., etc., …etc. (in my best Yul Brynner voice).
I’ve grown weary of this ranking thing. Let’s face it, it is nothing more than a crutch for many that are not interested in seeking out interesting material for themselves. But it gave me an idea for a series of blog posts (“Photographs That Changed Me”), so I thought why not join the fray.
In no particular chronological order nor importance, I’m going to make a series of posts about a selection of photographs that influenced my perspective of photography, or simply inspired me. That being said, I am going to start at the very beginning.
Many of us that photograph were influenced by Ansel Adams. I mean, how could we have not? For years his images and books were everywhere and his persona was larger than life. The first photograph of Adams’ that moved me was, “Monolith, The Face of Half Dome, 1927.”
This was Adams’ first photograph where he utilized “visualization.” He was only 25 years old when this glass plate negative was exposed; the zone system was in the future. In his mind’s eye Adams saw this scene as a”brooding form, with deep shadows and a distant sharp white peak against a dark sky.” Utilizing a red filter he was able to put onto the negative, and subsequently onto the print, what he had visualized.
I first saw a print of”Monolith” in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1986. Studying the history of this photograph opened my mind to the possibilities of visualization and further down the road to the Zone System. Having this knowledge, and subsequently learning and applying the associated craft, has been paramount to my ability to make photographs, even when using plastic cameras.