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Thread: My epiphany

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    My epiphany

    Since you lot might be the only people who understand (no-one else seems to)....! I just want to tell someone. I at last realised my dream yesterday and visited the exhibition of Ansel Adams prints on show in London, England.

    Was it worth getting up at 4:30am and home at 9:15pm and the not-inconsiderable expense (including the lost rail fare when I couldn't travel in February), to fly to London just to go to this (the gallery staff couldn't believe I'd made the journey solely to visit this exhibition)? Yes. And 'yes' a thousand times.

    I know many of us think that Adams is a bit passť and really not a great artist in the league of such as Weston or Strand. But when your love is landscape and you see these prints, as opposed to reproductions in a book, ..... well!

    I'll probably never have the chance to see these again. For me it was just a hugely emotionally charged experience. Have you ever had tears in your eyes looking at a picture? I appreciate 99% of the population will just not get that, but as Adams himself said, quoting Stieglitz, "You either get it or your don't. There's nothing written on the back telling you what it is you're meant to get".
    Last edited by Donald; 23rd March 2013 at 12:57 PM.

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    Re: My epiphany

    I completely understand, Donald. The very first time I saw really large fine art prints (about 60 inches in the long dimension) was decades ago in an exhibition of Ansel Adams at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. That experience left a lifelong impression on me.

    One of the nationwide land-preservation associations headquartered in Washington, DC used to display about 20 - 30 Ansel Adams prints at their offices for anyone to see. Every time I was in the area, I would enjoy the prints, though the last time I visited there they were no longer displayed. That was years ago so I should probably contact them, if only I could remember the name of the association.

    I know many of us think that Adams is a bit passť and really not a great artist in the league of such as Weston or Strand.
    I think it's passť to think that Adams is passť. There is a tendency, especially on Internet boards, for people to criticize famous photographers simply because their fame makes them large, easy targets.
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 23rd March 2013 at 02:00 PM.

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    Downrigger's Avatar
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    Re: My epiphany

    Nice for me to read this. I just spent some time last evening with my big Adams picture book, musing about Him, There. There is a series of the same view from the same location of the same thing (Yosemite Valley) that speak of the struggle to name in an image the ineffable in an object for which there is an obvious awe and love. I'm moved to read your appreciation. "Passe" might not be as much about the quality of an artist's work as it is about our difficulty in comprehending a perfectly wonderful way of being present, and seeing, from a time distant. It is not clear to me that we improve, over time, with respect to either.

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    tbob's Avatar
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    Re: My epiphany

    I suppose trying to explain a passion for something to a person who doesn't share it is well nigh unto impossible. Your passion is black and white landscape, Ansel Adams is a demigod. When I looked at your link and saw the size of the prints, never before realizing the size of his work, I was immediately struck and wanted to see the exhibition.

    Money and time well spent. What is money and life for, if not to enjoy it?

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    Re: My epiphany

    Donald,

    I don't know if this is the same Adams exhibit that was at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA some time ago, but if it is, I fully understand your reaction. I went to that and found it an amazing experience, even though I have spent many hours looking at Adams prints in books. If it had been easier to do so, I would have gone back repeatedly, as there was so much to see and learn.

    You wrote:

    I know many of us think that Adams is a bit passť and really not a great artist in the league of such as Weston
    I don't. It actually never occurred to me to try to rank them. I find the work of both to be remarkable. I don't think the work of either one will ever be passe.

    Dan

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    Re: My epiphany

    Donald, I understand completely, and I applaud your pilgrimage to see the prints. I am not one to think Adams is passť, but perhaps overlooked in this day and age. I remember being inspired by his work while fiddling with B&W back in the 1970's.

    I missed why you couldn't travel by rail after you had purchased your ticket.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: My epiphany

    Quote Originally Posted by DanK View Post
    I don't know if this is the same Adams exhibit that was at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA some time ago,
    Dan - It is that very same exhibition. The Maritime Museum in London has been the partner to the Peabody Essex. The book accompanying the exhibition (which, of course, I bought) is that which was published by the Peabody Essex.
    Last edited by Donald; 23rd March 2013 at 03:44 PM.

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    terrib's Avatar
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    Re: My epiphany

    Donald, I'm very happy for you that you were able to make that journey. I would love to experience it myself.

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    Glenn NK's Avatar
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    Re: My epiphany

    When I started getting a bit serious about photography (Olympus rangefinder camera in the summer of '62 soon to be followed by a Pentax S - manual diaphragm and focus), I subscribed to Pop Photo for a few years (Popular Photography).

    Ansel Adams was a fairly regular contributor of articles back then. At the time I didn't really know who he was, but it now bothers me that I lost all the copies of the magazines with his articles.

    My daughter has a half dozen large BW prints of his hanging in her house - my favourite is the one of the aspen trees.

    So yes, Donald, I know where you are coming from.

    Glenn

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    Re: My epiphany

    Donald

    I am incredibly envious!

    You know it was worth your time and airfare to travel the length of the UK to get to the Ansel Adams exhibition. I'd have done the same, I'm sure.

    However, I could not arrange to make it from New Zealand — at least not before the end of April. The airfare (not to mention the travel time) is rather greater than that from Scotland! Sadly.

    You didn't by chance pick up a hint as to whether this exhibition might be moving to somewhere else, and if so where?

    Tim

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    Mark von Kanel's Avatar
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    Re: My epiphany

    Donald i missed you by 24 hours!!! i visited on Thursday, i was amazed by my camera clubs attitude, nobody wanted to visit and we couldnt even get enough intrest to fill a car let alone a coach . I was going to tie up the visit up with the societies exhibition, but work rained on that particular parade, but then work came to my rescue in the form of a weeks IT course in London. so i got to visit weird how life pans out eh?

    Truly inspiring the man was not only an artist but a magician in the dark room and how he produced his prints with all of the tonal range and different light moods from a single exposure is awe inspiring.

    I found it amusing how Adams was considered a rebel in his time in that he wanted to produce images that represented real life rather than the images that resembled a painting, which was considered true photography at the time. Maybe the HDR photographers will reverse this trend and it will be considered true photography in the future to produce images that look like painting again!!

    Another amusing point was that Adams was the equivilant of a modern day Photoshop wizard, and all those people that say PP is a crime would hold his work as a shining example of what true non altered images could be..... I wonder if Adams when doing all his "PP" in his darkroom had contemporary photogs telling him it wasnt a real image because hed altered it so much in the darkroom?

    I think Ansel if just starting out now would be one of those HDR and PP gurus using every tool in his arsenel to produce new and exciting images and techniques.

    mark

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: My epiphany

    I knew that an informed and passionate lot like you would get it. Thank you for taking the time to post up your comments

    Quote Originally Posted by tbob View Post
    When I looked at your link and saw the size of the prints, never before realizing the size of his work, I was immediately struck and wanted to see the exhibition.
    Trevor - That advertising photo is a bit misleading. Those three murals that Adams made for the American Trust Company building in San Francisco, are the only ones of that size in the exhibition. I was actually struck by how small so many of the prints were. I had my copy of Adams' 'Examples' with me and many of the reproductions in that book are actually at, or very close to, print size.

    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn NK View Post
    My daughter has a half dozen large BW prints of his hanging in her house - my favourite is the one of the aspen trees.
    Glenn

    That, again based on what I've seen in books, is one of my favourites. It wasn't in this exhibition, which is about his images that included water. The one I desperately hoped would be there, but wasn't, was 'Tenaya Creek, Dogwood, Rain'. I love that image and would travel a long way to see a print made by Adams himself.

    Quote Originally Posted by Macmahon View Post
    You didn't by chance pick up a hint as to whether this exhibition might be moving to somewhere else, and if so where?
    Tim - Unfortunately, so far as I know, London is the only other venue (outside of the Peabody Essex in Salem) where this exhibition is being mounted.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark von Kanel View Post
    Truly inspiring the man was not only an artist but a magician in the dark room and how he produced his prints with all of the tonal range and different light moods from a single exposure is awe inspiring.
    How right you are, Mark. It was truly awe-inspiring. The detail he got in the water in 'Base of Upper Yosemite Fall' (the copy in 'Examples' just doesn't come anywhere near the print in this exhibition) and in 'Wave, Pebble Beach, California', just blew me away.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark von Kanel View Post
    Another amusing point was that Adams was the equivilant of a modern day Photoshop wizard, and all those people that say PP is a crime would hold his work as a shining example of what true non altered images could be..... I wonder if Adams when doing all his "PP" in his darkroom had contemporary photogs telling him it wasnt a real image because he'd altered it so much in the darkroom?
    He's lucky that there weren't online forums in his day!!

    You're right. What is interesting is his abhorrence of 'trickery'. He wanted to show the vision of the reality that he saw at the time of capturing the image. But, as we've said on here before, whenever people come on saying that they don't like post-processing because it's 'impure' need to learn just whet someone like Adams did in the darkroom.
    Last edited by Donald; 23rd March 2013 at 10:12 PM.

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    Re: My epiphany

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    ....the vision of the reality that he saw at the time of capturing the image. .....
    Well said Donald. I often see a completely different image (through the viewfinder) to the one I capture. Just wish I had a fraction of AA's skill to realise the potential.
    Graham

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    Re: My epiphany

    In 1972-73 I managed a store in Carmel, California which sold various works of art by local artist. But it was a small gallery around the corner that fascinated me the most. They specialized only in Ansel Adams prints. To this day, one of my biggest regrets was missing the day he personally visited the studio and I was unable to attend. I heard afterwards that he talked of his passions and explained what he was striving for on many of his works. Numerous lunch breaks were spent admiring his images. He was my inspiration to buy my first camera. That was long ago now but I still feel the emotions when I stop and admire what he did for photography. Yes .... my eyes have shed a few as well just staring into his world of shadows and light.

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    Re: My epiphany

    Donald,

    You're singing to the choir here mate,

    A few years ago the acclaimed Magnum photographer Rene Burri had an exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery. It was done so well, it was an almost religious experience. Stunning photos obviously, but what made it special was the fact it almost told a story in itself. A wall dedicated to his portraits of Picasso. A wall on Cuba. And the fact that he'd kept all (All!) of his press passes from over the years was a revelation.

    So, yes Donald, we do indeed understand mate.

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