Spring Lecture Series: The Underwater Photography of Liquid Light

Presented by Jeanne Adams – January 7, 2016 @ 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM.
The Mariners’ Museum’s Liquid Light exhibition is a pioneering look at the world beneath the ocean. It would not have been possible without the efforts of world-renowned photography expert Jeanne Adams. Adams, the daughter-in-law of noted photographer Ansel Adams, is a strong advocate for the power of the photograph in telling nature’s stories. Her relationships with underwater photographers are helping to bring this beautiful, emerging art form into the global spotlight. Get an insider’s perspective of the making of Liquid Light from Adams in this presentation. Cost: $5 for Non-Members. Free for Members.

Special Edition Photographs Signed by Ansel Adams

Beginning in 1958 The Ansel Adams Gallery began selling Special Edition Prints. In the early years, Ansel signed each photograph after they were printed by his assistant. These full signature versions ended in 1972, but we currently have a few available for purchase from this era on our website. These would make a truly extraordinary holiday present for a collector of Ansel Adams photography.

New Modern Replica – Canyon de Chelly

Canyon de Chelly from White House Overlook, Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona, 1942.

Canyon de Chelly from White House Overlook, Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona, 1942.

On his first trip to Canyon de Chelly in September 1937, Ansel was drawn to the “beautiful, flowing patterns” of the solidified sand dunes clearly visible in the lower left corner of this photograph. He wrote to his wife, Virginia, “The Canyon de Chelly exceeds anything I have imagined at any time!” Available as a Modern Replica

More Information about Ansel Adams Modern Replicas

Modern Replicas are very high quality reproductions of Ansel Adams images, available in multiple sizes, made using the most advanced digital technologies today. Each one is individually produced and inspected, assembled with the best materials, and designed to provide the most elegant presentation possible. Available exclusively from The Ansel Adams Gallery.

Images

The technology begins with imaging, but the entire process begins with image selection. The Modern Replicas are reproductions made from original photographs hand printed by Ansel Adams, rather than from the negatives. This allows us to accurately capture Ansel’s intent when he made the photograph, including all of the choices he made in the darkroom – paper selection, burning, dodging, and toning – to achieve his “visualization”. We have chosen prints from the collections of the Ansel Adams family and the Ansel Adams Archive at the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona. The exact print is selected based on the tonal values and clarity.

Technology

The imaging technology we are using is not generally available. It is currently in use by only three entities in the US: ourselves, the Getty Museum, and the Smithsonian Institution. Every element of the image capture is carefully controlled and characterized – the image capture device, color temperature of the lighting, how light falls on the print, and colorimetric readings of the print itself. These elements are then processed with the raw image file using a specialized software program to produce the most accurate baseline image file possible. There is some modest ‘cleaning’ done after the scan is made, but this process provides a nearly 100% color accurate file across 100% of the image area.

The image capture is done in full color, because all gelatin silver prints will have subtle hues of cyan, magenta, and yellow that the eye renders as gray or black. It is only recently that the technology has advanced to the point that these hues can be replicated on paper without creating noticeable (and disagreeable) color shifts. Prior to these advances, gray scale reproductions could look good, but simply did not have the right tonal qualities to be acceptable for Ansel’s work. The printers are constantly self calibrating, and use 12 different inks, including 4 shades of gray. They offer a consistency from Modern Replica to Modern Replica that is unmatched.

Quality Control

Even in, or perhaps especially in, a mechanical process, quality control is critical. Sometimes the technology provides a level of QC that is acceptable, such as printers constantly self calibrating. Regardless, we eye-match every single print to a master and take colorimetric readings on a regular basis to validate the tonal qualities of the Modern Replica. Each one is inspected for other aberrations – scratches, paper dust, paper flaws, or general hiccups. Our standards are very high, and we will not offer anything less than superb.

Archival

The “archival-ness” of a medium has become a very important in the world of photography and digital imaging and printing. Many types of color photographs have had a tendency to deteriorate quickly, and early digital printing technologies could only expect to last 5 to 8 years without noticeable deterioration. Recent advances have lengthened the “archival stability” – measured by the length of time that a medium would be expected to retain its tonal characteristics – of certain printing media to over 100 years. The paper and ink used in the Modern Replica have been estimated to last over 180 years.

Display and Design

The design of the Modern Replica starts with the choice of paper. This is a heavy paper that mimics the look and feel of gelatin silver paper. We found in testing that it provided the richest feel and carried the image the best.

A Unique Offer in Fine Art Photography – Don Worth

This month, in time for the holidays, we have reached into our archives for the first time to present two images by Don Worth (1924-2009): “Succulent, Mill Valley,” and “Shrubs and Snow, Yosemite Valley.” Traditionally, Mr. Worth’s respective prices ranged between $4,000 and $6,000, but you can now add one to your private collection for 25% off of our original retail price.

Merced River Cliffs, Autumn – A Yosemite Special Edition Photograph

merced river cliffs autumnAnsel Adams made this image on a chilly late autumn morning in 1939 with an 8″ x 10″ view camera and 10-inch Kodak Wide-Field Ektar lens. The Cathedral Rocks loom in the background. He took the photo from west side of the El Capitan bridge over the Merced River in Western Yosemite Valley.

Over time, Adams printed the negative of ”Merced River, Cliffs, Autumn” in different ways, initially printing it very brightly and later using more dramatic tones as in the Yosemite Special Edition version. In Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs , Adams writes that he had “not yet made a print that fully satisfies” and goes on to consider how he would have visualized the image in color:

“I can imagine a very quiet and luminous effect of subdued hues; the elements here that made a black-and-white image difficult would be most favorable to color photography. The low contrast of the subject would be compatible with color processes. … Few subjects lend themselves to both black-and-white and color image concepts.”

Though Ansel Adams claimed to dislike color photography, he did produce an accomplished body of work in color and even tested color films for Eastman Kodak. A selection of his color photographs appear in the posthumously published Ansel Adams: In Color. (Ansel had a love-hate relationship with color photography, primarily because he could not control it)

Merced River, Cliffs, Autumn appeared with the title “Merced River, Cliffs of Cathedral Rocks, Autumn” in “Portfolio III, Yosemite Valley” published by the Sierra Club in 1960. It was included in the 2001-2003 traveling museum exhibition Ansel Adams at 100 and companion book. The photograph also appears in Ansel Adams Monograph (out of print), entitled Autumn, Yosemite National Park, Yosemite, Yosemite and the High Sierra, Yosemite and the Range of Light (out of print), Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs, Our National Parks, and Classic Images, the book based on the Museum Set Collection, a retrospective portfolio of what Adams considered his strongest work.

That Time When Ansel Adams Posed for a Baseball Trading Card

In the 1970s, photographer Mike Mandel asked his famous colleagues to pose for a pack of baseball cards. The results are as amazing as you’d imagine.
orget that 1989 Ken Griffey Jr. Upper Deck card or your 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle, the real baseball card prize is the Ansel Adams rookie. How many of you can say you have that in your parents’ attic?

The Adams card is one of 135 cards in the “Baseball Photographer Trading Cards” set, a whimsical and unique collectible that’s equal parts art and spoof.

Ansel Adams exhibit coming to Reynolda House in spring

An exhibition of work by Ansel Adams, an American photographer known for his luminous and detailed black-and-white nature photographs, will open at Reynolda House Museum of American Art on March 11, 2016 and hang through July 17.

New Photography Class – Ansel Adams’ Legacy and Your Digital Camera – Starts in September

We are pleased to offer a new 4-hour photography class out of Yosemite National Park on Sundays and Wednesdays – ” Ansel Adams’ Legacy and Your Digital Camera”

Ansel Adams is known for his artistry in what has become known as Landscape Photography. He also contributed to advancing the technical aspects of bringing this artistry to light. In this class, you will learn some of Ansel’s important innovations to photography and how they relate to your modern digital camera. This class is designed to instill more confidence in digital image capture, including understanding the histogram and fixing exposure problems. The foundations of the camera are also discussed: Aperture, shutter speed, and ISO; their light gathering and/or creative values. Our goal is to improve your technical camera proficiency while learning how important historical elements of Ansel’s photographic career are still relevant in modern digital photography.

This class is offered Sunday from 9am-1pm and Wednesday from 1pm-5pm starting on September 2, 2015. This class is limited to 10 attendees and costs $95. Sign up online

Manzanar: The Wartime Photographs of Ansel Adams

“Manzanar: The Wartime Photographs of Ansel Adams” presents a lesser-known dimension of celebrated photographer Ansel Adams’s body of work, and offers insight into a decisive and disquieting period in American history.

Vintage Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico Now Available Through The Ansel Adams Gallery

Price available upon request, contact Matthew Adams, President, at matthew@anseladams.com

I have had the great fortune of growing up in the family of Ansel Adams, and been exposed to his work all my life. This has formed my belief in Ansel’s comment that “Art has to do with beauty”, its purpose to uplift the soul. Beyond this regular exposure, I have been working closely with his fine art pieces for the past 25 years. I have seen a lot of original photographs, in Ansel’s studio, in the family collections, coming through The Ansel Adams Gallery, at museum exhibitions, and in photography auctions. I think it is possible, sometimes, to forget how special something is when you see it every day, but Ansel’s work has a staying power that few others’ have.

Ansel’s works are examples of human genius, demonstrated in terms of both the object – the physical presence and unique characteristics of a print – and the concept – the image composition, subject, and development that are roughly common to all examples of that image. I think it is quite fair to say that Ansel was an artist of a caliber of Rodin, Matisse, Picasso, Michelangelo. Not every work is the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, but every once in a while, you come across an example that quite simply confirms Ansel’s stature.

Camera Setup: "Sony A7R | NorthLight 600W", Artwork Image: "Matthew Adams Capture1030 Moonrise.tif", Artwork Colors: "moonrise 47.ss3.txt", White Image: "Matthew Adams Capture1031 WC.tif", White Colors: "WC.ss3.txt", Yoked Image: "Matthew Adams Capture1030 Moonrise_yoked.tif"

Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico 1941

Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico is an image that Ansel recognized as important from the moment he first made it. He even wanted to make a duplicate exposure, but in the 20 seconds it took to insert the negative slide, pull the carrier, flip it over and reinsert it into the camera, pull the slide and cock the shutter, the light was gone. It was that close from never happening. But having a negative and being able to produce something with it are two different things. It is an extremely thin negative and was very difficult for him to print. As an example, according to John Sexton, his assistant in the 1980s, when Ansel was burning in the sky, he had to open up the aperture of the enlarger by 4 stops and give it up to 70 additional seconds, all while holding the exposure on the moon constant. This is after intensifying the negative in 1948 to make it easier to print. Ansel was able to print the negative prior to 1948, but it was even more difficult and there are very few examples extant. The commonly held belief is that there are possibly as few as 10 that were made prior to the intensification.

This vintage photograph has a known history from the early to mid 1950s, but was definitively made prior to 1948, perhaps as early as 1942. The print traces back to Carl Wheat, whose family believes he acquired it from Ansel or a 3rd party in the early 1950s. There is a letter from Ansel to Wheat dated 1956 referencing a Moonrise, however the date and suggestion of a gift is at odds with both his family’s recollection and physical evidence. From him it passed to his grandsons, and through two collectors to today. Until the research conducted this past Spring, the letter was considered to refer to the time the print was made. This research is definitive that the print was made prior to 1948, and possibly as early as 1942.

Most people are familiar with the dramatic, high contrast prints Ansel made late in his career. There seems to be a linear progression of how Ansel printed the sky over time, from light to dark, early to late. This print is on the extreme end of the lightness, and the softer contrast helps to create a photograph that has an overall luminosity that is rarely matched. The photographic paper gives it a patina unlike most of the pre-intensification prints I have seen, only the 1943 US Camera print at the Museum of Modern Art is similar.

The condition of the photograph is remarkable, particularly given that it was made approximately 70 years ago. The label on the reverse, typewritten with the title and date, appears to have been applied with too much moisture, which swelled the mount board and created a slight raised area in the print. Otherwise there are only minor areas where Ansel or an assistant etched the emulsion to remove dark spots from light areas.

The proof of creation date is interesting and incontrovertible, which is that the print shows the extent of retouching the negative, and the research shows the negative was retouched over time. Dust or lint on the negative at the time of exposure creates a clear spot in the emulsion, which shows as black on the print. In an area that is already dark on the print, there is no problem and it might not even be visible. In a light area, however, it shows up readily and can be distracting. One technique that Ansel used on this negative is called “needling”, which is to rough up the surface of the gelatin above the emulsion layer with a fine needle. This changes the angle of refraction, and reduces the amount of light going through the clear spot in the emulsion, making the dark spot on the print smaller and lighter. When the spot is away from the center of the image, there is a good chance of a halo effect, caused by the slightly different angle of light between the top and bottom of the negative. The needling is irreversible, and will show on all prints going forward. If the negative is worked on again later, it will change the halo permanently. The combination of working on different areas and working on the same area over time allows us to establish a time line of prints. The print in question here shows less work than prints produced in 1948 and similar amounts of work as prints in 1943 and 1942. That does not tell us exactly that the print was produced in 1942 or 1943, only that Ansel worked on the negative again at some point between 1942 and 1948, and this print was made prior to that time.

Camera Setup: "Sony A7R | NorthLight 600W", Artwork Image: "Matthew Adams Capture1030 Moonrise.tif", Artwork Colors: "moonrise 47.ss3.txt", White Image: "Matthew Adams Capture1031 WC.tif", White Colors: "WC.ss3.txt", Yoked Image: "Matthew Adams Capture1030 Moonrise_yoked.tif"

Wheat 194x

x1971-202

McAlpin 1942

Getty 1948 vertical

Waters 1948

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other evidence is suggestive of an early date, but not definitive:

  • The label on the reverse is typewritten with the year date of 1941. Ansel was notoriously bad with negative dates, and even by 1946 was misdating the negative as 1942. Several experts have commented that it must be early if Ansel got the date right.
  • During the course of research, I found very few prints with a similar mount in terms of weight, tooth, and an absence of a core. There were two smaller prints of different images from the Lane Collection at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston that had a similar mount, both considered vintage but undated.
  • The label is identified as in use from about 1940 to about 1953 (Haas/Senf 2005). Having the label show through to the front because of too much moisture could indicate that at the time of application, it had not been used very often with this particular mount board.
  • As mentioned previously, there seems to be a linear progression of the sky being printed darker and darker over time. Again, this is a generality, but this print is on the light end of the scale of compared prints, even when considering only prints prior to intensification in 1948

All of the physical evidence is indicative of a range of dates from the negative date in late 1941 to a date prior to the intensification in 1948. There are several facts that suggest that it was printed around 1942 or 43. Moonrise, Hernandez has been researched extensively, and there are about 10 photographs known or suspected printed prior to intensification, including this photograph. The scarcity of these early examples of Moonrise contributes significantly to their value.

Even so, when we put so much emphasis on the print date, it is sometimes easy to forget the bigger picture, the work of art itself. And that this photograph is easily, in my opinion, the most beautiful example of Moonrise that I have ever seen. As Ansel said, Art is about Beauty. If any single photograph could immortalize an artist, this is it.

It is thus with great pleasure that I am able to announce this once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire a most spectacular example of Ansel Adams’ most critically acclaimed photograph.

Price available upon request, contact Matthew Adams, President, at matthew@anseladams.com