Upcoming Exhibition: Martino Hoss “Yosemite Title”

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Meeting House, Davenport

Meeting House, Davenport

About this photograph – “Meeting House, Davenport”, c.1970, Polaroid, 3.5 x 4.5 inches (center) St. Vincent De Paul Church, in Davenport, was built in 1914 entirely of cement from the local Santa Cruz Portland Cement Company, which had been established in 1906. Ansel Adams made the church famous when he took the photograph above with a Polaroid camera in the 1970s. There’s a world of difference between the contemplative process of using a view camera and the instant result of a Polaroid camera. Edwin Land and Ansel Adams met in 1947 at an optics convention, and once Adams saw what Polaroid cameras could do, he immediately became a consultant. Adams was still testing films and cameras for the company up until his death in 1984. “There it was, (a Polaroid image) brown and of rather awful quality. But, by gosh, it was a one-minute picture! And that excited me to no end,” Adams said. The success of Adams’ collaboration with Dr. Land laid the groundwork for Polaroid’s later sponsorship of younger artists such as Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg.

Gravestone and Church, Chinese Camp

Gravestone and Church, Chinese Camp

About this photograph: Travel back in time to Gold Rush country with Ansel Adams and his portrayal of yet another marvelous photograph of California history. Located in Tuolumne county, right outside of Yosemite National Park, St. Francis Xavier, was built in 1855 toward the end of the Gold Rush. The region became known as Chinese Camp due to the 5000 Chinese immigrants that lived there – first as gold miners, then as railroad workers. Reflecting the times and the stresses of both instant wealth and abject poverty, it became the site of the state’s first Tong War. First established to house miners, merchants and others looking to make their fortune in the Gold Rush, Chinese Camp is now virtually a ghost town. Restored in 1949, a few years after Ansel took this photograph, services have not been held there since the 1920s. Surrounded by graves and family plots, but once again in ruins, the Stockton Archdiocese has determined that they will save it for posterity and have started a restoration campaign. This haunting, yet intimate portrayal is now available as an original gelatin silver print, in Excellent condition and priced at $8,500 Viewed image tonality will vary with monitor type and settings.

Looking for a photograph that you do not see? We have many more original Ansel Adams photographs. Email us at fineprints@anseladams.com for information about Ansel Adams Original Photographs.

Have an original photograph that you would like to sell? We also buy and consign Ansel Adams original photographs.

Gottardo Piazzoni in his Studio

Gottardo Piazzoni in his Studio, 1932

About this photograph: Piazzoni was a Swiss-born American landscape painter, muralist and sculptor of Italian heritage, and a key member of the school of Northern California artists in the early 1900s. Born in Intragna, Switzerland, Piazzoni moved at the age of 15 to his father’s dairy farm in the Carmel Valley. He studied at the prestigious Académie Julian and Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, then returned to California to begin his career. Art critic Ray Boynton wrote that “One finds in Gottardo Piazzoni an artist, a landscape painter, who is also a poet and a philosopher and sometimes a prophet. His conception of landscape is idyllic. He is a romanticist whose methods are realistic.”

Specializing in landscapes in a muted palette, scholars consider Piazzoni among the “Tonalists”. He sought out the lighting effects of certain times of day, taking a “special interest in full moonrises, the viewing of which became a family ritual. Venturing up a hill, the family would cheer the appearance of the moon. Piazzoni knew the exact time for each moonrise and kept precise records.” This, the fact that Gottardo was a highly respected member of the Northern California Artists, along with his gentle personality, may have influenced Ansel Adams respect for Gottardo. His best known murals are on permanent exhibition in San Francisco’s de Young Museum and it is thought that he might have been an influence in encouraging Ansel to print in larger, mural formats. It is no wonder Ansel chose this image to be part of his Portfolio Six edition.

Viewed image tonality will vary with monitor type and settings.
Learn more about Collecting Ansel Adams Photography 
Do you have an original photograph that you would like to sell?
 We also buy and consign Ansel Adams Original Photographs.

Looking for a particular image or have a question? Email us at originals@anseladams.com for information about Ansel Adams Original Photographs.

Light from Dark: The Alternative Process Behind “The Black Sun”

(The Ansel Insider)

The Ansel Adams Gallery is pleased to offer “The Black Sun, Tungsten Hills,” a phenomenal example of Ansel’s personal work and discovery in solarization.

Ansel Adams was trekking along a small stream in Owens Valley, California, when he first pictured the sun as a point of darkness. “In this instance I recognized the potential for using an unconventional process and I visualized the outcome much as it appears here…” he wrote in Examples, The Making of 40 Photographs. That day he saw the sun not as it appeared to his eyes but as the camera might see it: a dark disk hanging above shadowy hills.

The Black Sun is considered the earliest and most famous example of overexposure solarization, a reversal effect caused by longer-than-normal exposure time.

“The Black Sun, Tungsten Hills” by Ansel Adams, Original Gelatin Silver Photograph
Negative: 1939 | Print: 1970 | 14 ¾ x 18 ⅜”
Signed “Ansel Adams”

So, how does it work?

Silver halide crystals are the magic ingredient in film. They begin to transform the moment light enters the camera. The more light there is, the more metallic and opaque the crystals become. These places of darkness on a film negative become highlights in the finished print.

Ansel knew, however, that his film stock had a peculiar limitation, common among films of the time. When the silver crystals absorbed all the light they could hold but continued to be bombarded with more light, a destructive process would set in. Inside the camera, the latent image would begin to disintegrate. The brightest highlights on the film would turn from opaque to clear. It would be like the sun never touched them at all. In other words, overexposure was his trick to darkening the sun.

“The implication in this photograph is that wherever there is significant shadow value there is light— otherwise we have nothingness” said Ansel.

From his vantage point along the stream, Ansel set up his 4×5 Linhof camera and took two identical exposures. He lingered as light spilled into the camera. How long would it take for the dark star to burn its image onto film?

Back in the darkroom, the experiment continued. He processed the first piece of film with traditional developer and scrutinized the tones. Close, but not quite right. In went the second exposure, the negative that would become The Black Sun. This time he followed an alternative process known as compensating development. For this technique, the developer is watered-down and the film left floating in the mixture longer than usual, allowing more details to emerge from the shadows.

“It was gratifying to see both negatives as experiments and one, The Black Sun, as a striking surrealistic image. It was proof that the subject may prompt ideas, ideas crave visualizations, and craft makes their realization possible.”

This photograph is in excellent condition and includes a Certificate of Authenticity from The Ansel Adams Gallery. Call 888-238-9244 or email us at originals@anseladams.com for more information about this photograph or other Ansel Adams Original Photographs.


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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!

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.

Visions of Taos: The Making of “Taos Pueblo” by Ansel Adams and Mary Austin

(The Ansel Insider) 

When Ansel Adams traveled to New Mexico for his fourth time in April 1929, the majesty of the desert had already started to ingrain itself deep in his soul. During this particular trip, Ansel began to develop a lasting and very rewarding collaboration with feminist writer and bohemian Mary Austin. The artistic duet between Ansel and Mary in this particular case spawned the creation of “Taos Pueblo,” an exceptional project at the intersection of their two careers as photographer and writer.

Taos Pueblo Plate IV – “Girl of Taos” by Ansel Adams

When Ansel arrived in New Mexico in April 1929, he wrote a letter to his father to describe the impact of the desert and his partnership with Mary Austin on his spirits and career trajectory:

“Today there is thick black sky and snow is falling in the hills. Tomorrow it may be a crystal clear day; the changes of the weather are always startling…Mary Austin gets back in a day or so. We are enjoying every minute of the time, and the people are all so good to us that we feel quite at home. There is an unfolding a perspective of work that seems much, much more than I had ever hoped for…I am certain that New Mexico will keep me half a year at least [in the future] and I shall meet with a great success. The wealth of material is beyond belief.” — Ansel Adams letter to Charles Adams, New Mexico, April 4, 1929

“Taos Pueblo” Title page and subsequent page signed by Mary Austin and Ansel Adams

Ansel and Mary decided upon the subject of the Pueblo of Taos for their creative collaboration. Their dream came to fruition with the help of friend Tony Lujan, a Taos Indian, whose wife Mabel, heiress and patron of the arts, hosted Ansel and Mary at her home in Los Gallos, Taos. Tony Lujan approached the Governor of Taos, who in turn held a Council Meeting, and the following day granted Ansel permission to photograph the Pueblo. Ansel was thrilled to begin this project, greatly inspired by the stunning subject matter of “great pile[s] of adobe five stories high with the Taos peaks rising a tremendous way behind. And the Indians [so] majestic, wearing as they do their blankets as Arabs.” (Ansel Adams, Letters 1916-1984)

Left: Taos Pueblo Plate XII – “Church at Ranchos de Taos” by Ansel Adams. Right: Plate III – “Man of Taos” by Ansel Adams

Ansel’s awe of the Taos landscape, architecture and culture translated directly into the impressive photographs he made for “Taos Pueblo.” His enthusiasm was wild, resounding with excitement and wonder. In a letter to his best friend Cedric Wright from where he was staying at Mabel’s home in Los Gallos, Ansel wrote:

“Lookie! Jezuz Krize this is a great place. Such MOUNTAINS!!!! Peaks are 13000 feet high — MIT SNOW!!!! Pines Aspins Snow Clouds Burros Swell People Injuns No photographers but me. You gotta see this place before you die.” — Ansel Adams letter to Cedric Wright, Los Gallow, Taos, NM, April 1929

Taos Pueblo Plate V – “New Church” by Ansel Adams

Thus the “Taos Pueblo” project began, sparked by the good will of friendship, the enchantment of the region, and a shared sense of dedication to produce something truly remarkable. And remarkable, it was. “Taos Pueblo” was produced in 1930 in a small edition of 100 signed and numbered copies, plus eight artist’s copies, each containing twelve original prints. Ansel published this exceedingly rare book with Grabhorn Press in San Francisco. The folio is hand bound in original quarter tan morocco over orange buckram by Hazel Dreis. Ansel’s contribution to the work includes twelve original silver bromide prints which were hand printed by the artist himself on rag paper specially sensitized with emulsions by William Dassonville, his friend and San Francisco paper supplier. The manuscript pages were enhanced with a striking graphic motif by Italian-American printmaker illustrator and author, Angelo Valenti.

“Taos Pueblo” Book Cover (hand bound in original quarter tan morocco over orange buckram) and Inside Cover

Over a period of several months during the fall of 1929, Ansel manually produced 1,296 silver prints for the book edition. The quality and care put into the publication of “Taos Pueblo” along with its marking of the development of Ansel’s style makes it a breathtaking, sentimental masterpiece.

Taos Pueblo Plate IV – “Ruins of Old Church” by Ansel Adams

In 1977, the New York Graphic Society published a facsimile edition of the original, with the cooperation of Ansel. The society used gravure prints rather than original photographs, and produced a limited edition of 950 copies, each signed by Ansel. Following the release of that edition, photographic historian Weston Naef wrote:

“With Taos Pueblo we see a commitment to light and form as the essential building blocks of a picture. Every exposure was made in the most brilliant sunshine which in turn created deep shadows. Sunlight and shadow are at the same time the photographer’s friend and foe. Neither films nor papers can record the two extremes of bright sun and deep shadow equally well, and an unhappy tonal compromise is often the result. Rich shadow detail is here realized simultaneously with delicate highlights in a way that proves Adams’s native sense for the toughest technical problems of the medium, and how to solve them.” — Weston J. Naef, The Metropolitan Museum Art

Taos Pueblo Plate II – “South House (Hlaukwima)” by Ansel Adams

A seminal work in Ansel’s career, and a landmark photography book, “Taos Pueblo” is considered by many to be the greatest pictorial representation of the American West. With the publication of “Taos Pueblo,” Ansel launched his career as arguably the greatest landscape photographer of our time.

Learn more about the life of Ansel Adams here, leading up to and following his publication of “Taos Pueblo.” View the complete set of twelve photographs made by Ansel for “Taos Pueblo” listed by the Two Red Roses Foundation, a private, non-profit educational institution that promotes an understanding of the American Arts & Crafts movement.