Saturday, 20 July 2013

Ansel Adams at 100

by John Szarkowski

No, the book is definitely not dead. And I can’t think of a better example than this: a true objet d’art. Now that’s how to use it:

Take the linen slipcase off. Open the linen-bound book. Read the text. Admire the tritone photographs Ansel Adams himself would approve of. Hang a print on the wall.

Much has been said and written about Adams’ legendary technique — probably too much, for in fact it was no better than it needed to be to describe what he wanted to describe; often it was not good enough for that, as he repeatedly deplored. His technique had to be better than that of most photographers because his subjects required it. Photographing the air of Yosemite required a more sophisticated technique than was required to photograph its geology. Otherwise, Adams’ insistence on precision would have been just showing off — fancy dancing with no partner, and none in view.

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