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Ansel Adams’ Clearing Winter Storm, 1944 is a particularly interesting photograph to me because of its complexity. It’s a specific kind of complexity. Like many other complex images, it’s made of a lot of separate elements but is still unified. Unlike many other complex images, it can be broken into many separate images, each complete compositions in themselves; four peaks in clouds, one vertical monolith in clouds, shadowed valley between monolith and peak, waterfall and peak, waterfall and two trees, etc. (Try finding as many separate compositions in this single image like this as you can.)

When you look at prints of Ansel Adams’ Clearing Winter Storm many assumptions about the medium, the man, and his work are confirmed and challenged. It’s neutral, perhaps even slightly cold in tone, which is appropriate for the subject. The tonal scale is high contrast and full scale, perhaps heavier than expected with very full highlights and it may be surprising that some shadow detail is not preserved. The large format original renders detail well, though there are traces of visible grain in light smooth areas. There’s detail throughout the image (deep depth of field, sharp focus, full scale printing); when it was printed this may have been the sharpest image quality possible while today it looks classically smooth in comparison to new high resolution digitally sharpened images. At 16×20” it’s a medium scale enlargement, not a contact, and could have been printed larger; that it wasn’t is an interesting reflection on both the man and his times. Print quality becomes not only a window into the past of the subject but also into the medium, which this man above all others epitomized for his time.

There’s a lot to be learned from looking at originals, which is why we look at masterworks from my collection in all of my  digital printing workshops.

Find my comments on other Masterworks In My Collection here.

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These two apps give unique windows into the life and work of photographer Ansel Adams.

The app Ansel Adams includes correspondence and a rare piano performance (Adams was trained as a classical concert pianist.)

Find it here.

My favorite thing about the app Looking At Ansel Adams is the Print Explorer where dissolves show the evolution four prints over several decades.

Find it here.

Read 22 quotes by Ansel Adams here.

Watch video on Ansel Adams here.

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Here’s a collection of my favorite quotes by photographer Ansel Adams.

“The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.” – Ansel Adams

“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” – Ansel Adams

“There are always two people in every picture:  the photographer and the viewer.” – Ansel Adams

“To photograph truthfully and effectively is to see beneath the surfaces.” – Ansel Adams

“A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense, and is, thereby, a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety.” – Ansel Adams

“A photograph is usually looked at – seldom looked into.” – Ansel Adams

“Photography is more than a medium for factual communication of ideas. It is a creative art.” – Ansel Adams

“No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit.” – Ansel Adams

“We must remember that a photograph can hold just as much as we put into it, and no one has ever approached the full possibilities of the medium.” – Ansel Adams

“Photography, as a powerful medium…offers an infinite variety of perception, interpretation and execution.” – Ansel Adams

“There’s nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.” – Ansel Adams

“The sheer ease with which we can produce a superficial image often leads to creative disaster.” – Ansel Adams

“Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.” – Ansel Adams

“Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer, and often the supreme disappointment.” – Ansel Adams

“Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter.” – Ansel Adams

“Notebook. No photographer should be without one.” – Ansel Adams

“…one sees differently with color photography than black-and-white… in short, visualization must be modified by the specific nature of the equipment and materials being used.” – Ansel Adams

“The negative is the equivalent of the composer’s score, and the print the performance.” – Ansel Adams

“Dodging and burning are steps to take care of mistakes God made in establishing tonal relationships.” – Ansel Adams

“A true photograph need not be explained, nor can it be contained in words.” – Ansel Adam

“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs.  When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.” – Ansel Adams

“I am sure the next step will be the electronic image, and I hope I shall live to see it. I trust that the creative eye will continue to function, whatever technological innovations may develop.” – Ansel Adams

Find more photographer’s quotes here.

View photographer’s favorite quotes here.

Michael Kenna shares many of his early childhood experiences and how they influence his photography today.

Find out more about Michael Kenna here.

Read my conversation with Michael Kenna here.

View more Videos On Photographers here.

Read conversations with photographers here.

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(Drawn on the iPad with Adobe Ideas.)

Here’s a collection of recent landscape sketches.

Drawing does many things for me. Drawing helps me find, refine, and expand ideas. Because of drawing I’m never at a loss for visual ideas – and consequently I become more discriminating about the ones I devote significant time to. Drawing helps me identify essential structures in existing images. After I draw them, (no longer hung up on the details) I understand them better and can better apply what I’ve learned to other images. Drawing helps sensitize me to fundamental compositional patterns. After I draw them, I recognize them more quickly.

For so many reasons drawing is an immense pleasure – and that’s why I keep doing it.

View more sketches from this series here.

See more drawings here.

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David duChemin provides quick candid answers to a 20 questions.

What’s the best thing about photography?

The best thing about photography is the gift of seeing – really seeing – the moments in life that otherwise pass so quickly. It’s the elevation of what we normally see as mundane, or perhaps not the elevation of it so much as the recognition that it was beautiful to begin with.

What’s the worst thing about photography?

Like any storytelling medium or art, it’s easy to fall more in love with how we tell the stories than the stories themselves. I think photographers have an unusual relationship with their gear, one that can be beautifully collaborative or strangely incestuous.

What’s the thing that interests you most about other people’s photographs?

I like to see through the eyes of others, to see what I have not. I’m a very curious person and this gives me a glimpse into a world in ways I’ve not considered it.

Who were your early photographic influences? 

My earliest were portraitists, like …

Read the rest of David duChemin’s Q&A here.

Read other Q&A’s by other top photographers here.

Read a selection of David duChemin’s favorite quotes here.

Read other top photographers favorite quotes here.


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