Tag Archives: Landscape photography

Ansel Adams – a photography legend

A documentary about Ansel Adams.

• Ansel Adams – a documentary •
[Image from the video]

Images that expressed the majesty in nature.

Ansel Adams became a legend in his own lifetime. He saw something special in landscapes. That “something” bought alive the majesty we feel when we are awed by natural landscapes. Yet he was much more than a photographer. He was a musician, thinker, energetic conservationist AND an extraordinary photographer.

Special talents defined Ansel Adams

From early in life Ansel Adams was fascinated by music. He taught himself to play the piano. His father saw an extraordinary talent emerging. He took him out of school to concentrate on his music skills. He was home educated using some of the best instructors and teachers available. His musical skill developed and he exhibited great talent. Then in 1916, he encountered a book which excited an interest in the big landscapes that became his life’s work. His father took him to Yosemite with the rest of the family. He later said of the this experience…

“…the splendour of Yosemite burst upon us and it was glorious… One wonder after another descended upon us… There was light everywhere… A new era began for me.”
Ansel Adams

During the first visit to Yosemite Ansel Adams was given a Kodak “Box Brownie” camera. From that moment his approach to the extraordinary landscapes that he loved so much was changed. He became transfixed by his photography. However, his love of music came first. For a number of years during his 20’s he pursued a career as a concert pianist.

Ansel Adams met the woman who later became his wife in a small studio where he was practising his piano while on his summer sojourn in the Sierra Mountains. The affair was on-and-off for a number of years. Ansel Adams struggled to reconcile the two passions of his life – music and the great landscapes of the Sierra Mountains.

In the summer of 1923 Ansel Adams, then 21, had, what he later described as, a “transcendental experience” while out in the mountains. He struggled for another seven years with his artistic inclinations and his ambition to become a musician. But finally the mountains drew him back and he had grown tired of the the petty politics of the life of a musician. From that time on he dedicated his life to trying to capture the wonder and sharp detail of his earlier transcendental experience.

Ansel Adams: A Documentary Film 2002

The most striking thing about this video is the way that Ansel Adams life is so carefully depicted as both an interesting story but also as a study in his philosophy as a photographer. He was filled with art, music and photography. Together they were a way for him to express his understanding of the power and awe to be found in nature. The video shows not only his personal philosophy but also some of the ideas and techniques that together made his photography so graphic, expressive and passionate.
Uploaded by: THE RAD PHO

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Documentary… Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams

• Ansel Adams •
One of the all time greats in photography. This video is about his life, thoughts and work.
Image taken from the video.

The thinker-photographer…

There is a great deal to be said about Ansel Adams. He was a great photographer, thinker and artist. He was also an accomplished musician.

This post was about Ansel Adams.

Unfortunately the video was taken down from YouTube.

We have other Ansel Adams Resources on Photokonnexion.

At the time the video was removed it did not appear available online in another place. However, the subtext for the video as it was published is below. You may find it useful to use the text in case this video becomes available again at a later date.

Subtext for the video

Published on 29 May 2013
“The American Experience” Sierra Club Productions – Steeplechase Films
Ansel Adams is the intimate portrait of a great artist and ardent environmentalist — for whom life and art, photography and wilderness, creativity and communication, love and expression, were inextricably connected. ANSEL ADAMS, a ninety-minute documentary film written and directed by Ric Burns, and broadcast on national public television in April 2002, provides an elegant, moving and lyrical portrait of this most eloquent and quintessentially American of photographers. Written by Joshua Mueller
Category: Education
Licence: Standard YouTube Licence

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By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

Ansel Adams – Master Photographer

Ansel Adams Video

• Ansel Adams BBC Master Photographers (1983 •
Ansel Adams speaks about his photography and his development.
Picture taken from the video.

Exquisite insights to a legend.

The videos I show are usually for you to quickly watch and learn. This one’s different. It’s longer (34 mins.). And, there is so much in it that you will want to watch it over and over again. The wonderful insights run deep and some show us how much photography has changed.

Ansel Adams’ ideas, photographic insights and depth of feeling is magnetic. He was probably one of the first philosophers of photography. He was one of the undoubted masters too. I hope you enjoy this video as much as I did.

Ansel Adams – “BBC Master Photographers” (1983)

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By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

An old sailors trick to improve your photography

An old sailors trick can improve your photography

• Great Langdale •
• An old sailors trick can improve your photography •
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• Great Langdale •
• An old sailors trick can improve your photography • By Netkonnexion on Flickr External link - opens new tab/page

See also: • Great Langdale – no lines •  External link - opens new tab/page

Look carefully at your intended image.

Once you have your composition you should be able to check everything is correct. To do that effectively a good method for checking helps. We are going to look at a method to help you spot mistakes and problems.

What you need to check

In The fifteen second landscape appraisal I outlined a scheme for checking that the composition was all as expected. The scheme calls for a three step approach. First, check the frame. Next review the compositional elements. Finally, check the three D’s (Discordance, Disruption, Distraction). How you do that checking is critical.

I have often heard people say how they easily miss things when checking the viewfinder. Then, later in processing, the rogue element jumps off the image at them. So how can you carry out your ‘fifteen second appraisal’ and be sure not to miss anything.

A weird old sailors trick

My grandfather, a sea captain during WWII, ran freighters from Northern Ireland to London. These were most dangerous waters. They ran overnight up the English Channel to the Thames estuary hoping to escape enemy submarine patrols. They had a 24-hour watch on the ships bridge looking out for submarines. At night the chances of seeing a periscope was very low. Any search was better than nothing. The officers of the watch were taught that the most effective way to spot things that were out of place was to do the exact opposite to the way they normally read a book.

We are programmed to read left to right and as flowing as possible. We skip big sections of the text in interpretation jumps. According to research we actually use only the tops of letters to pick out the shape of the words. We read efficiently by missing out big chunks of the letters and text. Our eyes are actually trained to miss details when we scan as if we are reading.

It makes sense that if we need to look at things carefully and effectively we should be trying to do the opposite to reading. We should break the habit of skipping. In order to pick up the details, scan your composition through the viewfinder so that your eyes do the opposite to reading, scanning in the opposite direction. Work from bottom to top, right to left. As you sweep along unaccustomed routes through the scene you will be more likely to pick up details you would normally miss, things out of place and anything that falls within the realms of the three D’s.
More after this…

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Routing diagram

I have drawn an eye routing diagram in the picture above. Your eye-scan starts bottom right. From there you follow the numbering and arrows in the order of the fifteen second appraisal. First the frame. Check your frame composition following the arrows…

  1. Bottom right to left frame;
  2. Bottom left to top left frame;
  3. Bottom right to top right frame;
  4. Top right to top left frame.

In my composition the mountains either side, the wall on the right and the white sky above act as barriers. They prevent the eye from straying out of the picture. The idea is to hold the eye in the shot so it can drink in the aesthetics – the beautiful, mystery-laden, misty valley. If the frame achieves your compositional design move on.

The fifth step (no. 5) is to check your compositional elements. You are going to work the layers of your scene. Start with the foreground. Scan across the foreground looking for compositional problems and check your layering and any elements you have chosen to help the eye (line 6).

In the mid-ground look for the compositional elements that help the eye there. The mid-ground layer is important – it draws the eye into the landscape. I have zoned it as a shadowed grey box. The end of the wall marks where the eye leaps into the picture. The road draws the eye to the mid-ground. The wall across the scene from the number five right down to the bottom of the valley marks a mid-point for the picture, as does the sweeping ridge in from the left.

Line 8 check allows for the composition check for distance zone. We look to see if it works for, in this case, holding the eye in the picture.

In the final sweep we follow lines 6, 7, and 8 again. This checks these zones for the three D’s. We are looking for detail not composition – stand-out errors; the discordance, disruptions and distractions.

By the time you have done these sweeps, and the way you have done them, you should have spotted the problems, errors, and disharmonies that may spoil your shot.

The fifteen second appraisal is a process that take a little personal training. Those short seconds will make the difference to your outcome photograph.

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

Three photographic heroes (pt 1) – Ansel Adams

Photo-montage - Portraits of Ansel Adams

Photo-montage – Portraits of Ansel Adams

Its good to have heroes!

In contemporary culture they are often elevated to super-beings. My photographic heroes are of the old school. They’re people to look up to, people who represent thought and development in photography. So here are three photographers who I admire. They have all been influential in my thinking and development as a photographer. In part one of this short series I briefly cover Ansel Adams. I hope you will find his example inspirational as I do.

Ansel Adams (Feb. 20, 1902 – Apr. 22, 1984)

I admire thinking photographers. Adams was definitely a thinker. He is widely quoted both in photographic circles and outside them – his ideas span music, conservation, photography and many other subjects. As a conservationist he was one of the early protectors of the environment and as a photographer he produced some of the most iconic photographs of the national parks in the USA.

In particular Adams brilliant photographs of Yosemite National Park in America captured the imagination of a generation. Adams first went there when he was sixteen and returned to photograph the magnificent scenery on many occasions throughout his sixty year career. He also captured, in fantastic tonal detail, many other of the amazing wilderness locations in the USA. All of this was before these places were subject to the stresses and damage caused by tourism.

While photography was what he was mainly known for, he was only a practising hobbyist until well into his twenties. He intended to be a professional musician and worked hard at it from the time he taught himself the piano aged twelve. His schooling was limited but his concentration on music and photography proved sufficient to sharpen his intellect. He possessed an eidetic memory (or photographic memory) and and this could only have enhanced his excellent understanding of tonal control and landscape structure in his compositions.

Adams is best known for his black and white landscapes, but also produced the first presidential portrait photograph and worked with colour photography. He developed the Zone system in photography – a method of optimal exposure control for photographers. He taught a number of student photographers who went on to become influential themselves. He also developed a number of important photographic and compositional techniques. As a writer and photographer he published a number of books about photography and of his own pictures as well as work about his photographic discoveries.

Adams legacy lies not only in his superb landscape work, but in his tireless work to elevate photography to a true art-form. In his later years he worked with galleries and institutions worldwide to promote and develop photography. He will be remembered mostly for his pictures. But in fact he influenced a generation of photographers and several generations of the public by the work that he did in conservation and art development. Later in his career he was honoured with both photographic and general honours including the highest civilian honour in the USA. He published a number of books and worked with photographers, politicians, academics and publishers to build a better understanding of photography as a public domain. He should be remembered not just for his amazing photographs, but also for establishing photography as a form of public expression and passion. He was a remarkable man who will live on through his pictures.

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.