Celebrating the 90th Anniversary of Ansel Adams’ making of Monolith, the Face of Half Dome

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!