An Annual Event: Parks In Focus & The Ansel Adams Gallery

Last week, our gallery hosted a wonderful group of students from Udall Foundation Parks in Focus Program. Each summer for the past decade, Parks in Focus has been bringing groups of middle school youth from the San Francisco Bay Area to visit, explore, and learn about Yosemite through photography.

Parks in Focus Camera Walk in Yosemite Valley. Photographs taken by Staff Photographer Chris Corrandino

The Ansel Adams Gallery had the pleasure of displaying the artwork from the 2018 Parks in Focus participants from the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula, Real Options for City Kids, and the Sequoia YMCA on gallery walls all week!

Student work from 2018 on display in the gallery

We also enjoyed taking the kids out on a Camera Walk throughout Yosemite Valley with Staff Photographer Dillon Engstrom. Students learned photography tips, practiced composing scenes big and small, and returned home with colorful images to help tell the story of their Yosemite experience.

We look forward to seeing the pictures taken by this year’s group of students, and can’t wait to keep the Parks in Focus tradition going next year! To see highlights from the past decade, check out the Parks in Focus Flickr collection.

The Parks in Focus program at Yosemite is made possible by the Yosemite Conservancy.

A Private Guided Session to Vernal Fall

The Ansel Adams Gallery offers the once-in-a-lifetime experience of exploring Yosemite’s wonders with a private guide. Each guided session is different from the last, tailored to participant interests and curiosities.

Recently, staff photographer Brittany Colt conducted a private guiding session to Vernal Fall. Her participant craved adventure and wanted to travel to the spot near where Ansel captured one of his famous photographs of Vernal Fall.

Picture taken of Vernal Fall during Guided Session

During the guided session, Brittany and her participant hopped in the car and traveled to the trailhead of the falls. Brittany took them to a spot free of tourists where they experienced a very similar view to what Ansel saw when he set up his camera to capture his iconic shot.

And what did they see along the way? RAINBOWS…lots of them!

Hiking to Vernal is not a long walk, but one filled with lots of rainshine on a sunny day. To ascend atop the falls, you must pass by a part of the trail that is notoriously wet from waterfall mist. It is said that standing in the rain can be drier. A sturdy raincoat can combat the heavy mist, and with all the water, often times rainbows abound!

Traversing the wet terrain does come with spectacular perks!

 

Photographing the falls after the ascent up to the top

If a privately guided hike isn’t what you’re looking for, choose a drive through the park to its most mesmerizing look-out points, or a half-day excursion photographing lakes and streams. Your options are endless in a guided session.

Vernal Fall, captured with a cameraphone during the Guided Session

Whatever you choose, you will find yourself immersed in extraordinary views, following along to intimate stories about Ansel Adams and his beloved Yosemite.

Sign up for your very own private guide to make the most out of your next Yosemite experience!

The Art of Digital Photography with Kirk Keeler

Looking to dive into the creative possibilities of your digital camera surrounded by some of the world’s greatest natural wonders? Staff Photographer Kirk Keeler and Yosemite Valley offer just that in “Using Your Digital Camera,” a hands-on, outdoor lesson offered by The Ansel Adams Gallery. In the course of one afternoon, Kirk’s class explores artistic possibilities in digital photography with step-by-step tips and techniques in aperture settings and priority, shutter speed, ISO, and using histograms to optimize exposures. Kirk instructs you how to unlock the power of your digital camera so your creativity can soar to new heights.

Practice and explore, be engaged, and return home with an extraordinary photography collection from your Yosemite Valley experience.


In Kirk’s class, he guides photography students throughout the valley, teaching how to better understand the way your digital camera “sees.” He engages thoughtful conversation on how our cameras interpret the scenes before us, and how if we understand this better, we will achieve more satisfactory results. A distant mountain may appear majestic and gleaming to the eye, but to the camera it may be interpreted as a distressingly small, weak image. Learn to make thoughtful adjustments with your camera that allow you to capture the scene as your eye perceives it.

Using Your Digital Camera” teaches you how to intuit your camera’s capabilities and quickly solve problems of scale, contrast, harsh light, and depth of field.

Taking a class with Kirk is both fun and creatively rewarding; he has had a life steeped in the arts with a background in drawing and painting, piano, guitar, and an extensive experience photographing in the great outdoors. In 2007, Kirk purchased a digital camera to learn more about this emerging medium, and was quickly swept away in a passion for landscape photography. He moved to Yosemite National Park in 2011 and has been sharing his passion for fine art photography as a teacher at The Ansel Adams Gallery ever since.


Not only does Kirk’s class enrich your digital camera expertise while practicing new skills in a variety of locations throughout the Valley, it is also guided by stories of Ansel Adams’ personal curiosities and discoveries in camera and film technology.

Sign up for “Using Your Digital Camera” and acquire the skills to truly capture the essence of Yosemite Valley with your digital camera, soaking up the surrounding splendor each step of the way.

“The great rocks of Yosemite are the most compelling formation of their kind. We should not casually pass them by for they are the very heart of the earth speaking to us.” – Ansel Adams

Yosemite at Night: A Photography Exhibit by Michael Frye and Kirk Keeler

Purchase these photographs

On Exhibit at The Ansel Adams Gallery – June 30 – August 17, 2019

In Yosemite, the hustle and bustle of activity pervades the day.  But at night, this all changes and the park becomes unfettered, with the wild echoes of nature and the humbling magnitude of an endless firmament overhead.  Here, bears forage for grubs. The coyotes howl in Tenaya Canyon. Mountain Lions traipse through talus. And while others turn in, artists like Michael Frye and Kirk Keeler work patiently photographing the moon and the stars.

Michael Frye has been famously photographing Yosemite for the last 35 years, frequently the beneficiary of a well honed instinct and a thorough knowledge of Yosemite’s unique geography.  Kirk Keeler has likewise found his home in the Sierra now ten years on following the encouragement of Mr. Frye to pursue photography. Like many a dedicated photographer, both of them have weaved their way through the iconic locations and grand vistas of the National Park.  But where their shared experience finds a potent intrigue is in their continued dedication to exploring Yosemite by the hidden light of the night.  

Opening at The Ansel Adams Gallery on June 30th and running through August 17th, Yosemite at Night: Photographs by Michael Frye and Kirk Keeler, will exhibit works of stellar and astrophotography made by these two local artists of their great back yard over the course of their combined 45 years in park. On Wednesday, July 24th from 3-5pm, the gallery will host a reception for the artists who will be in attendance.  We hope you can come by and see a NEW side of Yosemite.

Michael Frye – Artist’s Statement

Night Photography

During the day, it’s difficult to see beyond the surface beauty of nature. But when the sun sets, and the forests, mountains, and deserts are enveloped in darkness, nature reveals its hidden power. At night, the wilderness offers a chance to experience something that has become truly rare in the modern world: a sense of mystery.

In order to capture this sense of mystery in my photographs, I’ve ventured out at night into wild places throughout the American West at night. I started making nighttime images in the 1990s with a medium-format camera, film, and a battery-powered flash. In recent years the tremendous low-light capabilities of digital cameras have opened up new possibilities, making it possible, for example, to photograph a clearing storm in Yosemite with only starlight for illumination.

Although I often make photographs with just the light from the stars or moon, I’ll sometimes add light to the scene by using a flashlight to “paint” objects in the foreground. At night can you take control of the light by choosing its angle, color, and focus. Light-painting can be quite complex, but adds a creative dimension to the work that’s tremendously fun and rewarding.

Regardless of the light source or technique used, in all my after-dark images I try to convey the mood of the nighttime wilderness – the sense of mystery, wonder, peace, and awe that can overtake you when you venture into wild places at night. Nighttime offers a chance to forge a connection with nature that’s become increasingly rare in our crowded world.

Kirk Keeler – Artist Statment

Active listening.  I think that best describes my current approach to photography.  Active listeners, “Need only [to] restate – in their own language – their impression of the expression of the sender” (1).

Whether it’s a 12-mile backpack trip to a remote wilderness area or the constant action of moving around a cyclocross course during a race, I believe movement can play an important role in positioning to ‘listen’ for a photograph.  During the act of movement, I strive to be led by my intuition.

Intuition is the primary internal tool that helps me to see the subjects I capture in a photograph.  Once seen, the ‘listening’ begins in order to obtain my ‘impression’ of the ‘expression’ the subject is emanating in that moment.  What lines attract my attention?  How can the light interact to gain a better expression?  Can I distill the expression to a simpler form?  These are perhaps a few questions I might ask instantly while interacting with a subject.

If all the above coalesces to produce a memorable photograph, then I believe it is my duty as an artist to share it with the World.

(1) Gordon, Thomas (1977). Leader Effectiveness Training. New York: Wyden books. p. 57. ISBN0-399-12888-3.  Thomas Gordon is one of a few people to have coined the term “Active Listening”.

Light from a Distant Mountain

(The Ansel Insider)

“Mount Williamson, Sierra Nevada, from Manzanar, California” by Ansel Adams, 1944

In 1943, Ansel Adams began to document the Manzanar War Relocation Center, an internment camp for over 10,000 Japanese-Americans during World War II. Ansel used his camera to capture the strength, determination, and spirit of the people there amidst the hardship that had been thrust upon them. Immersed in the community of displaced Americans, Adams produced Born Free and Equal. It was a project that would prove to be surpassingly prescient towards the impacts of its own historical moment, and one of Ansel’ only forays into photo-documentation. In more than 100 images, he captured the nature of life in the camp, the humanity of its residents, and the monumentalism of its surroundings weaving them together to form a mosaic of natural beauty and human perseverance.

When Ansel completed his project at Manzanar, he had created a body of work dedicated to the human dignity he found there that was as profound as his iconic photographs of the surrounding landscape.

And as it turns out, it was one mountain in particular that stood out as an agent of hope among the unsurpassed beauty of the western landscape that encompassed Manzanar. Mt. Williamson. On the floor of the Owens Valley, Manzanar is bordered to the west by the soaring Sierra Nevada and the east by the great arid expanse of Death Valley National Park. Ansel believed that this surrounding western landscape was one of the few American cultural symbols the internees could still lay claim.

Photograph of the landscape outside of the Manzanar Relocation Center. Image courtesy of the Ansel Adams family archives

In a poignant passage written in Born Free & Equal, Ansel describes the sublime geography of the region that is empowered by a spirit originating from the granite wall of the Sierra Nevada: Mt. Williamson, only a distance of ten miles west of Manzanar, rises against the sky so magnificent and shimmers under the clear sun.

“The acrid splendor of the desert, ringed with towering mountains, has strengthened the spirit of the people of Manzanar. I do not say all are conscious of this influence, but I am sure most have responded, in one way or another, to the resonances of their environment…The huge vistas and stern realities of sun and wind and space symbolize the immensity and opportunity of America.” — Ansel Adams, Born Free & Equal

It was in 1944, on one of his later trips to Manzanar, when Ansel captured his extraordinary photograph of Mount Williamson, Sierra Nevada, from Manzanar, California. The image, taken from a platform mounted to the roof of his car, portrays Manzanar’s most important landmark rising from the foothills in the far distance. The mountain stands central in the image, its enormous form erupting from a sea of boulders resting on the floor of the newly made desert. Arguably, Ansel’s inspiration that enabled him to make such an iconic, moving image as “Mt. Williamson” came from the impact of his experiences observing the coping and fortitude of the Japanese-American internees. He believed the grand landscape transcended the everyday existence of internment. Ansel received criticism for photographing the surrounding landscape, and responded to such criticism in Ansel Adams: An Autobiography:

“I have been accused of sentimental conjecture when I suggest that the beauty of the natural scene stimulated the people in the camp,” he wrote. “No other relocation center could match Manzanar in this respect, and many of the people spoke to me of these qualities and their thankfulness for them.”

Ansel photographing the sweeping views near Manzanar. Photo courtesy of the Ansel Adams family archives.

Ansel’s Mt. Williamson reminds us of the deep-seated relationship between the landscape and its inhabitants, its cool mountain peak radiating an air of possibility in contrast to the heat of the desert floor where the camp lay. Mount Williamson, Sierra Nevada, from Manzanar, California is breathtaking in its portrayal of the Owens Valley environment. In another passage from Born Free & Equal, Ansel expresses:

“It is the magical mountain, the dominant accent of the world of Inyo…No summit of the Sierra looms so impressively above its immediate base as Williamson. Mary Austin speaks of its ‘seven-mile shadow.’ In the same mood Horace wrote of the ‘great shadows falling from the high mountains.’ Yet the shadows of the Sierras are not somber; they make space definite with glowing light.” — Ansel Adams, Born Free & Equal

By Reily Haag, Creative Writer for The Ansel Adams Gallery

The Artists of the Manzanar Relocation Center

At Manzanar, every 20-by-25-foot room held eight detainees. Few furnishings were provided. Cots with straw mattresses, an oil stove, and a single hanging light bulb were all that decorated the rooms. And yet, in spite of the harshness of their environment, and in spite of the injustice of their circumstances, the prisoners managed to find inspiration, extract beauty, and create art.

Ansel’s Teenage Years: Largely Unknown Images

In his late teenage years, Ansel spent quite a bit of time falling in love with Yosemite, traversing the park and discovering many of its wonders. Some of these wonders he documented by camera.

Circa 1920, when he was 18,  Ansel traveled to Tenaya Canyon and captured “Fall in Upper Tenaya Canyon, Yosemite National Park.” Looking at this photograph, it almost feels as if you are flying above the canyon, with an incredible bird’s-eye-view of the sun-struck waterfall below. Luminous against its granite surroundings, the fall claims its place carving right down the center of Ansel’s sweeping scene. One can only imagine how the artist might have been standing, leaning ominously forwards, to have captured such a view!

Image result for fall in upper tenaya canyon ansel adams

“Fall in Upper Tenaya Canyon, Yosemite National Park, California” by Ansel Adams, c. 1920. Image courtesty of the Museum of Modern Art.

Around the same time, also circa 1920, Ansel photographed another two remarkable early works titled “Vernal Fall through Tree” and “Back of Half Dome.” Even though Ansel was very young in his photographic career when he captured these images, they show a very sophisticated sense of composition. They only exist as small contact prints made around the same time as the negatives.

 

“Vernal Fall Through Tree, Yosemite National Park, California, 1920” and “Back of Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California” by Ansel Adams. Image is a picture taken from the book “Ansel Adams 400 Photographs”

About four years later, circa 1924, Ansel photographed “Simmons Peak, In The Maclure Fork Canyon” on another adventure in Yosemite.

 

“Simmons Peak, In The Maclure Fork Canyon, Yosemite National Park, California, c. 1924” by Ansel Adams

Because Ansel neither published these images in articles or books nor included them in any exhibitions, they are largely unknown. Though these four images have not been openly shared by the artist himself, they offer a fascinating window into his early experimentations with composition, along with the fundamental Yosemite expeditions that captured his heart and inspired his artistic passion for years to come.

Yosemite Valley School Silent Auction at the Ansel Adams Gallery

Last week, our gallery hosted a Silent Auction to benefit the Yosemite Valley School — a school that is close to our hearts as it is part of our local community, and was also the very school that Michael Adams, Ansel’s son, attended when they lived in Yosemite Valley! It was a great event with lots of wonderful people. Thank you to all who attended!

Yosemite Valley School Silent Auction Program, designed with a cover of beautiful wildflowers

One of the auction volunteers, a student from Yosemite Valley School, shared her enthusiasm for the fundraiser with us!

Local artists and businesses joined together to donate an array gifts for the auction, including paintings, historic photographs of the school, hand-made soaps, cider, jewelry, and experiences like an overnight at The Majestic Yosemite Hotel, also known as The Ahwahnee.

Paintings, jewelry, photography, and prints were some of the auction items on display.

A photographic collage of Historic Yosemite Valley School

A wonderful time was had by all. Thank you for everyone who participated in lifting up Yosemite Valley School and supporting this educational initiative in the local community. We hope to share more community events like this in the future.

Let the bidding begin!

Unique Offer in Fine Art Photography – Michael Frye

ONE WEEK ONLY! 25% Off Initial Price

While Michael’s original prints normally sell up to $750 in these sizes, you can now add one to your private collection for 25% off the initial retail price. Each photograph is made by Mr. Frye, printed to current archival standards, signed and numbered, as well as mounted, matted and ready for framing. The offer will begin 6:00 AM Pacific Time on Monday, June 17th and will expire upon the close of business, Sunday, June 23rd at 6:00 PM.

Swirling Clouds and Mist, Sunrise, Yosemite National Park, California by Michael Frye. PURCHASE.

Yosemite trades in light; in dawns and sunsets illuminating a cherished landscape, it is hard not to yield to a superlative scene. True light sees fit to accentuate each experience and remind us of what is magical.

Michael Frye, a resolute witness of the Sierra, is no stranger to beautiful horizons. He has been photographing Yosemite for 35 years, and during that time has enjoyed innumerable sunrises. But last month, he had an opportunity to photograph one of his finest: Swirling Clouds and Mist, Sunrise, Yosemite National Park. Couple with this another stunning morning during the autumn, Sunbeams, Mist, Half Dome, and the Merced River and it has been quite a successful year for Mr. Frye. In recognition, we are thrilled to offer collectors, friends and fellow art lovers, a chance to purchase these never-before-printed images from Yosemite at a discount prior to their availability within the general market place.

While Michael’s original prints normally sell up to $750 in these sizes, you can now add one to your private collection for 25% off the initial retail price. Each photograph is made by Mr. Frye, printed to current archival standards, signed and numbered, as well as mounted, matted and ready for framing. The time to purchase will begin at 9:00 AM Pacific Time on Monday, June 17th and will expire upon the close of business, Sunday, June 23rd at 6:00 PM. Once the offer has expired, we anticipate an order fulfillment time of approximately four to five weeks to ensure the quality of each individual order. This inaugural printing offer is available for a very limited time, after which, the print will return to full price.

The gallery would also like to share with our followers the big news that Michael’s print prices, after many years, will be raised starting August 17th, 2019. Pricing will start at $450 for a nominal 16×20 print and increase from there. If you have been eager to add an original Michael Frye to your collection for some time, there is no better time than the present. See more of Michael’s outstanding work from throughout his career.

You are also welcome to email our curator, Evan Russel, at evan@anseladams.com if you have any additional questions about the prints, pricing or shipping.

Sunbeams, Mist, Half Dome, and the Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California

Sunbeams, Mist, Half Dome, and the Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California by Michael Frye. PURCHASE.

 

Stories

Swirling Clouds and Mist, Sunrise, Yosemite National Park, California by Michael Frye. PURCHASE.

Swirling Clouds and Mist, Sunrise, Yosemite National Park, California

I’ve watched many sunrises from Tunnel View, but this is one of the most beautiful I’ve seen.

It didn’t start out with much promise. When my wife Claudia and I arrived in Yosemite Valley we found lots of mist, but overcast skies. Some forecasts hinted that the skies might clear later in the morning, when the sun would be too high. Other forecasts showed little or no clearing all day.

But I thought it was likely that the sun would break through sometime that morning, so I hung around and photographed misty black-and-white scenes while I waited. I knew if the sun did appear early enough that morning it would be right between El Capitan and Cathedral Rocks, which could provide some unusually interesting lighting.

By 6:35, about 45 minutes after sunrise, I could see a bright spot in the clouds where the sun was. A few minutes later the sun started to backlight the mist. Then for the next 90 minutes the sun, mist, and clouds put on a spectacular show. One beautiful view followed another, but this is my favorite moment from that morning.

Sunbeams, Mist, Half Dome, and the Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California by Michael Frye. PURCHASE.

Sunbeams, Mist, Half Dome, and the Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California

I made this photograph on a late-November morning after an autumn storm. The ground and trees were soaking wet after three inches of rain, so when the sun would hit a spot for the first time it would evaporate that moisture, creating wonderful mist, and a succession of beautiful scenes. It was one of those magical Yosemite days when I wished I could be in twelve places at once.

Lacking the ability to clone myself, I worked my way around Yosemite Valley, trying to arrive in the right places at the right times to catch moments when the sun first reached the valley floor. One of my first stops that morning was at this view of Half Dome with the Merced River in the foreground. I got there just in time to catch the sun breaking through the mist, casting sunbeams and forming a beautiful corona. To top it off, the cottonwoods along the river still had color, and some wonderfully-patterned clouds were passing overhead and reflecting in the water.

There have been many mornings when I’ve risen early to photograph a sunrise, and thought later that perhaps more sleep would have been a better option. But you never know unless you get out there. And every so often I get to photograph a beautiful, special sunrise, like this one, and remember why I keep getting up early and trying – and why I photograph landscapes in the first place.

 

Michael Frye’s photographs show a restless creativity in depicting the world of nature, with subject matter ranging from wildlife, to the landscapes of Yosemite Valley, to boldly colorful nighttime images of the American West.

“My 30-year-old dictionary defines photography as “The art or process of producing images of objects upon a photosensitive surface (as film in a camera) by the chemical action of light or other radiant energy.” I’m not sure about “producing images of objects.” I tell students that we don’t photograph objects, we photograph the light reflected off of objects. A great subject with poor light will make a poor photograph; an ordinary subject with great light can make a great photograph.

But I like the part about “radiant energy.” Although I’m sure Webster’s didn’t mean it this way, I think the radiant energy comes mostly from the photographer, or from the interaction between the photographer and his or her subject.

The photographs on this web site encompass two distinct bodies of work, each using very different kinds of light. One group of images was made during the day, using all the wonderful forms and textures of sunlight. The other group was made at night, combining electronic flash and flashlights (often covered with colored filters) with the dim light of the moon and stars. Although the subject matter is similar, the look and feel of the images is very different. I try to use my main tool—light—to create a mood, whether the mood is lyrical, playful, or mysterious. ” ~Michael Frye

Michael Frye is a professional photographer specializing in landscapes and nature. He has written numerous magazine articles on the art and technique of photography, and is the author and photographer of The Photographer’s Guide to Yosemite and Yosemite Meditations. He was also featured in the book Landscape: The World’s Top Photographers. His photographs have been published in over thirty countries around the world; magazine credits include National Wildlife, Outdoor Photographer, American Photo, Sunset, and Texas Highways. Michael lives with his wife Claudia and son Kevin in Mariposa, California, just outside Yosemite National Park. Michael has lived either in or near Yosemite since 1983.

Yosemite Valley & Your Smartphone With Dillon Engstrom

Learn how to photograph your next Yosemite experience like a pro, all with the camera you always carry: your mobile device!

Dillon Engstrom, staff photographer at The Ansel Adams Gallery, has created an empowering workshop that guides participants of all skill levels to make the most out of their cameraphone.

Dillon’s smartphone photography class in the field going over composition and light

“In the Field: Creative Smartphone Photography” takes participants on a fun adventure throughout breathtaking Yosemite Valley. Dillon’s class shares step-by-step processes on how to capture, edit, and produce professional looking photos, all in the field and on the go.

Dillon delves into the more intricate technique capabilities of your cameraphone, and shares pro tips on both shooting and filming practices to truly document the essence of your Yosemite experience. He guides his students to explore ways on how to bring the vitality out of the photos they take.

Dillon’s class plays with reflections and Black & White camera settings (photograph taken and edited with smartphone)

“In the Field: Creative Smartphone Photography” builds confidence and aptitude in its participants, along with showing them how to create photographs that accurately represent how the scene looked the moment they took the photo. This class helps participants elevate photos to the level they deserve, and shows each student how to actualize their creative vision.

Dillon guiding his student through quick editing techniques

After exploring Yosemite Valley and practicing what you’ve learned amidst the mountains and meadows, you’ll head back to the gallery workshop for a lesson in editing and photo production. Here, you get to be creative with post-processing techniques, and play around with the artistic capabilities of a free professional photo editing app.

Half Dome compositions with an iPhone camera

When you step away from class, you’ll leave with a clear understanding of the principles of mobile photography, along with how to personalize them for your own unique vision. You’ll be excited and prepared to capture that special moment when it strikes, in Yosemite and beyond.

Practicing smartphone waterfall photography following Dillon’s techniques