In 1977, William Neill found his own life’s path redirected when he came to photograph Yosemite for the first time. Not long after, he began working at The Ansel Adams Gallery as a staff photographer, teaching visitors all he could about the art form and the place that he loved. While other itinerant interests would take him on journeys far and wide, from the American Southwest to Antartica, he would make Yosemite his permanent home. Forty years later, to commemorate his commitment to photography and great body of work, The Ansel Adams Gallery will be hosting the exhibit “William Neill — A Retrospective” between July 9th to August 19th, 2017
The Ansel Adams Gallery is thrilled to offer its collectors, friends and fellow art lovers, a chance to participate in a unique opportunity. From time to time on our website, we love to feature hand-made gelatin silver prints from our family of distinguished Gallery artists at a special price.
Successful fine art photographs are generally those which evoke a reaction based on how they render light. It can be about the subject matter as well, but a lyrical luminosity is a wonderful core of any photograph. Anne Larsen and John Sexton have defined their influential bodies of work by seeking out such instances. Their innate sense of light pushes familiar subjects to become singular and precious as landscapes and still life arrangements always seem to be in a state of tiffany grace.
This month, as part of our Unique Fine Print Offer series, we are excited to feature two photographs, one each from Anne and John, as The Ansel Adams Gallery continues its longest standing relationship with any contemporary photographer. These images, “Bottle No.2, Copenhagen, Denmark” by Ms. Larsen, and “Merced River and Forest, Yosemite Valley” by Mr. Sexton, both represent superb examples of their style, vision and meticulous technique.
While Anne’s original 6×8″ silver prints normally sell for $450, with John’s original 11×14″ silver prints starting at $1,000, you can now add one to your private collection for 25% off the retail price. Each photograph is hand printed in their personal darkroom, signed, as well as mounted, matted and ready for framing. The time to purchase will begin at 9:00 AM Pacific Time on Monday, June 19th and will expire upon the close of business, Sunday, June 26th 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 printing offer is available for a very limited time, after which, the print will return to full price.
Email our curator, Evan Russel, at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any additional questions about the prints or shipping.
About the Images
In the fall of 1983 I was working closely with Eastman Kodak Company in the product development of what would be known a year later as Kodak Elite Fine Art paper. My good friends at Kodak, Bob Shanebrook and Gordon Brown, had flown out to Carmel for a week of darkroom experimentation. Once I learned what they wanted to accomplish in the darkroom I realized, if we worked incredibly long days, we could get through their agenda in a shorter period of time than a week. Then we could all head to Yosemite to make photographs (Bob and Gordon are both passionate photographers). We worked in the darkroom together, running experiments, from early in the morning until the wee hours of the following morning for three days in a row. I remember coming out of the darkroom and finding Gordon asleep on the floor of my studio.
Once we completed our work, we loaded up our gear and headed for Yosemite. I, unfortunately, made one significant error. I brought along my empty film holders, rather than the ones I carefully loaded the day before!!! I was mortified when I realized my error. Fortunately, I became aware of it before we went out photographing and, having access to the Ansel Adams Gallery darkroom, I was able to use my backup film to load my film holders.
On our first evening we headed to one of my favorite locations in Yosemite Valley – Happy Isles. There isn’t a lot of fall color in Yosemite Valley, but this particular tree on the other side of the Merced River had donned its autumn plumage. I used a Wratten #12 deep yellow filter on my 120mm wide-angle lens. I used the back tilt on my 4×5 view camera to exaggerate the scale of the foreground boulders. The image, Merced River and Forest, which was made in the dim but luminous light of dusk, required an exposure of five seconds at f/32. To increase the contrast of the soft illumination in the forest, I selenium intensified just the forest area of the negative. I included this image in my first book “Quiet Light,” and has been reproduced in a number of publications, as well as in advertisements by Eastman Kodak, over the years.
This handmade silver gelatin, selenium toned, print is approximately 10-3/8 x 13″, personally printed by me (as are all my prints), processed to current archival standards, signed, mounted, and over matted to 16×20″ on 100 percent rag museum board.
When I began my career as a photographer I worked for a large, and highly regarded, commercial studio in Copenhagen, Denmark. Their specialty was photographing food and beverages – though they also did other types of commercial work. I loved my job! At times, it was very stressful, but one of the things I enjoyed most about working there was that I often had complete freedom to create my images exactly as I desired.
Over the years the studio had collected items that could be used as props in photographs. These props were nicely organized in a very large room. There were rows and rows of plates piled high – in all colors and shapes – along with, water and wine glasses, bottles, silverware, fabric, as well as interesting objects like weathered wood doors with peeling paint, rusted refrigerator doors, chairs, tables, corrugated metal, picture frames, and much more. You name it – virtually everything was there waiting to be discovered.
As photographers at this studio, this is where we would go to select the plates that would compliment the food we were photographing. We would pick backgrounds, napkins, and whatever else we would need to set up for a particular assignment. Among the many items in the room there was one particular bottle that always fascinated me. It was a dark green triangular shaped bottle that I absolutely fell in love with! The bottle was not perfect – it was slightly crooked and the neck was chipped.
One day, after I had completed all of my assignments, I decided to spend some time with this intriguing bottle. In most cases, as photographers we want everything to be sharp in our photographs – but in this image, Bottle No. 2, I wanted everything to be out of focus – EXCEPT the very tip of the bottle’s neck. I used my 4×5 view camera, and with the help of my tilts and swings, I made sure that everything else was out of focus. The tilts and swings also altered the shape of the bottle and created what I felt was a more painterly interpretation. I actually had to focus above the top of the bottle so that just the very rim of the bottle’s neck was in focus. The photograph was made with the lens absolutely wide open.
One of the things I enjoy most about photography is that we all see things differently. That old green crooked bottle was beautiful to me, and still is today. Sometimes, what appears to be “junk” to one person can become a “treasure” to another. I hope you enjoy this image.
This handmade silver gelatin, selenium toned, print is approximately 6×8″, personally printed by me (as are all my prints), processed to current archival standards, signed, mounted, and overmatted to 14×17″ on 100 percent rag museum board.
About John Sexton
John Sexton was born in 1953, and is known worldwide as a photographer, master print maker, workshop instructor, and lecturer. He is the author of four award-winning books; Quiet Light, Listen to the Trees, Places of Power, and Recollections. Sexton is best known for his luminous hand crafted traditional silver gelatin black and white photographs of the natural environment.
He is director of the John Sexton Photography Workshops, and has conducted hundreds of photography workshops throughout the United States and abroad. Sexton served as Photographic Assistant and Technical Consultant to legendary photographer Ansel Adams from 1979 to 1984. In addition, John has served as a consultant to major photographic manufacturers including Kodak. His finely crafted large format photographs have appeared in numerous
exhibitions and publications, and are included in permanent collections and exhibitions throughout the world.
Sexton has received numerous awards and honors during his forty-year photographic career. In 2005 Sexton was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the North American Nature Photography Association, and in 2014 he received the prestigious International Award from the American Society of Photographers, as well as being a recipient of the inaugural George Eastman Award in Beijing, China.
John still finds magic in exposing and processing film, and making silver gelatin prints, by hand, in his traditional darkroom at his studio in Carmel Valley, California which he shares with his wife Anne Larsen—a talented photographer in her own right.
About Anne Larsen
Anne Larsen worked as a successful photographer for one of the largest commercial studios in Copenhagen, Denmark. In 1994 she moved to the United States to pursue a career in fine-art photography.
Anne’s intimate still life images and delicate photographs of the natural environment, all made with a 4×5″ view camera or medium format camera; share a common luminosity and elegance. Her hand made silver gelatin prints are distinguished by their impeccable execution and tonal subtlety. Anne has assisted and taught on workshops instructed by James Baker, Morley Baer, Ruth Bernhard, Charles Cramer, Philip Hyde, Ray McSavaney, and John Sexton.
Her prints are in numerous private and public collections in North America and Europe. Her images have been included in exhibitions at the Susan Spiritus Gallery and the Alinder Gallery in California. In 2007 she was awarded Third Place Fine Art Still Life in the Pilsner Urquell International Photography Awards.
Legendary photographer Ruth Bernhard said this about Anne Larsen’s photographs: “Anne Larsen has the ability to transform the commonplace into the unforgettable. Her beautiful photographs are made from the heart.”
Anne lives with her husband John Sexton in Carmel Valley, California.
Anne Larsen’s photographs are represented by The Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite National Park, California, Sun to Moon Gallery in Dallas, Texas, and Timeless Gallery in Beijing, China.
Ansel met Marie for the first time in a creative photography workshop in Yosemite in 1961 and always held her in high regard. I met her in 1963 and have been friends ever since. She was good friends with Dr. Land, who asked her to make his official portrait (an honor) and Ansel, who recommended her to Dr. Land and invited her to teach at the workshops in Yosemite and stay with them in Carmel. April 18th I visited her and we went to Fitchburg State College an hour outside Boston, where she gave a very interesting lecture and happily showed slides of her work, replete with anecdotes.
Marie’s early life was in a poor immigrant family with her parents from Greece and living in South Boston in a small apartment. She was very tidy and organized, sure of herself and had elegant style, some of which might have been inspired by her fashion advertising work at Helene Rubenstein (where she wore designer clothes and was chauffeured around in limousines) and her appreciation of art history and perhaps the graceful draping of marble statues in early Greece. Her command of color was unsurpassed and she developed her own techniques in the experimental use of Polaroid color, developing it longer which made the color cooler, but she had anticipated that and warmed it with filters. Light always fascinated her, especially where light was coming from. She blended tungsten light and ambiant light in her portraits of people, flowers, vegetables, sculpture, masks — whatever her subject was, after enhancing the stage set with props carefully selected and arranged. Everyone will focus on her photography. So, I am mentioning some of her quiet, sure, command and style personally. She succeeded as a woman artist in a time it was nearly impossible.
I have also always admired Marie for over-coming obstacles and succeeding so surely.
She was so dyslexic that she read to her siblings by turning the book upside down, so when she looked into a camera’s ground glass, everything for her was right-side-up. A severe obstacle became an asset. Her back was severely malformed and she had to undergo many surgeries and rods and replacements and pain, and carried on, walked, got around, worked, and lived independently, was delightful and energetic when we were together in April, even late when I was dropped off at Alison’s home in Cambridge. She lived fully from 1923 to May 25, 2017, and passed on at the age of 93 (age was never disclosed!).
When photographer and former Yosemite resident Keith S. Walklet waited out a thunderstorm to record his Double Rainbow, Tunnel View image in 1987, he knew it was a special moment.
Setting out on a daring hike early in the morning of April 17th, 1927, Ansel Adams – along with then fiancée Virginia Best and good friends Charlie Michael and Arnold Williams – would conclude a day’s worth of photographing by making an image that would define his career: Monolith, The Face of Half Dome. The resulting image was Ansel’s “first true visualization” (a summation of the emotional process that went into making a photograph), and a revelation from combining technical cunning with artistic principle. In fact years later, while reminiscing about this day with assistant John Sexton in the context of a lifelong pursuit, Ansel mock confessed, “Maybe I should just have stopped then.” The image itself has stood the test of time and is to this day one of the most recognizable made within the history of the medium. Add to this the fact that Half Dome is one of the most photographed landscape icons on the planet, and the impact that Monolith has had, and continues to have within a crowded arena, begins to come into focus. To this day, exactly 90 years later, Monolith remains an inspiration to professional and amateur photographers alike, is a testament to creativity, ingenuity and conviction of pursuit, and speaks to the success of the National Park ideal as well as the importance of protected, public lands. Here is to 90 years of distinction!
The wilderness instills in us the feeling of being uninhibited, creative and free; we are completely reliant on collective abilities in these places to undertake, protect and enjoy such an experience.
In 1943, one of America’s best-known photographers documented one of the best-known internment camps.
Seventy-five years ago, nearly 120,000 Americans were incarcerated because of their Japanese roots after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. More than 10,000 were forced to live in the hastily built barracks of Manzanar—two thirds of whom were American citizens by birth. Located in the middle of the high desert in California’s Eastern Sierra region, Manzanar would become one of the best-known internment camps—and in 1943, one of America’s best-known photographers, Ansel Adams, documented daily life there.
As Richard Reeves writes in his history of Japanese-American internment, Adams was friends with the camp’s director, who invited him to the camp in 1943. A “passionate man who hated the idea of the camps,” he hoped to generate sympathy for the internees by depicting the stark realities of their lives. As a result, many of his photos paint a heroic view of internees—people “born free and equal,” as the title of his book collecting the photos insists.
Ansel Adams made this image around 1959 with an 8″ x 10″ view camera. The image was once used in a commercial job, as he recalls in “Ansel Adams: An Autobiography:”
“In 1969, for one of my last commercial jobs, I selected a photograph, “Yosemite Valley , Winter”…for reproduction on a Hills Brothers coffee can. The idea was to produce something of lasting attractiveness after the original contents of the can had been consumed…Potentially corny: actually reasonable. There were thousands of three-pound cans filled with coffee sold nationwide in grocery stores for $2.35 each.”
When she saw the coffee cans, reliably acerbic Imogen Cunningham criticized him for selling out. Cunningham had shown her work alongside Adams and Edward Weston in the 1932 Group f/64 Exhibition at the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco . To make her point, she had a friend deliver one of the cans filled with manure complete with a sprouting marijuana plant dubbing it a “pot in a pot.”
Ansel Adams took the ribbing well, saying:
“I enjoyed Imogen’s joke, but when my good friend and fellow photographer Henry Gilpin, then deputy sheriff of Monterey County, dropped by and spotted the plant he quietly suggested that I destroy it. I did.”
In addition to being ‘published’ on the coffee can, it is on the cover of Yosemite and the High Sierra.
Hospitality: 5:00 p.m.
Presentation: 6:00 p.m.
312 Sutter Street, Suite 500, San Francisco, CA
Michael Adams will give an illustrated talk about Ansel Adam’s life and legacy, including the photographer’s youth in San Francisco, his exposure to music, and his relationship to the landscape of Yosemite, the Sierra Nevada, and the Southwest. The talk will be accompanied by a slideshow of some of Ansel Adam’s most beloved photographs.
Michael Adams was born in the Yosemite Valley and was educated at Wasatch Academy in Mt. Pleasant, Utah, and Stanford University. He received a B.A. in Geography from Fresno State College, and his M.D. from Washington University School of Medicine. In addition to his private medical practice, Michael has also served as a fighter pilot for the United States Air Force and the California Air National Guard in Japan and New Mexico, and as a flight surgeon/pilot physician in Germany and Fresno, California. He retired from the USAF and Air National Guard in 1993, as a Major General and from duty as Deputy Surgeon General of the USAF for the Air National Guard.
Michael is Chairman of the Board of the Ansel Adams Gallery, now in its 114th year of operation in Yosemite Valley. He is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco Medical School, Department of Medicine, and teaches in the UCSF Fresno Residency Training Program. Michael has been an advisor to the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona, Tucson, where the Ansel Adams photographic archive is located. He is a Council member of the Yosemite Conservancy.
THE ANSEL ADAMS GALLERY
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, CA 95389