Ansel Adams, Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs

Ok, if you don’t know who Ansel Adams is or have never seen any of his work, please immediately shut down your computer and run to the nearest library or bookstore! There is no denying he is one most important photographers of the 20th Century. I have many of his books and have been fortunate enough to see his photographs in the flesh on a number of occasions (I was also fortunate enough to step onto the hallowed ground that is his darkroom!!). I picked this book first for several reasons: (1) it contains a selection of 40 terrific and iconic images, many that are rightfully famous and a few less well known; (2) the reproductions are beautiful; and (3) Adams is a great writer; he eloquently describes the circumstances surrounding the making of each photograph, as well as some useful technical information such as negative size, film and lens used and printing paper to make the final print. Almost like taking a photography workshop from the Master himself!

What is so important about this book is that you look at each photograph and then read what he was thinking about when he made it, why he decided to make it and why it was meaningful to him. Furthermore you learn about the trials and tribulations in producing the final results and that not all satisfied him. Not all was easy in making them, either due to personal error, limitations in the materials he used or other reasons. It turns out that he was human just like the rest of us! Finally you find out that he often modified his printing approach for certain important images as time went by. Remember, it was Adams that said, “the negative is the equivalent of the composer’s score, and the print the performance.” So true!

I have read this book many times, finding it both informative and inspirational. In my opinion, it is an essential book in any photography library.

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