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Ansel Adams

  • American photographer
  • Born February 20, 1902
  • Died April 22, 1984

Ansel Easton Adams (February 20, 1902 – April 22, 1984) was a landscape photographer and environmentalist known for his black-and-white images of the American West. He helped found Group f/64, an association of photographers advocating "pure" photography which favored sharp focus and the use of the full tonal range of a photograph. He and Fred Archer developed an exacting system of image-making called the Zone System, a method of achieving a desired final print through a deeply technical understanding of how tonal range is recorded and developed in exposure, negative development, and printing.


A good photograph is knowing where to stand.




A true photograph need not be explained, nor can it be contained in words.




These people live again in print as intensely as when their images were captured on old dry plates of sixty years ago... I am walking in their alleys, standing in their rooms and sheds and workshops, looking in and out of their windows. Any they in turn seem to be aware of me.




No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit.




The negative is comparable to the composer's score and the print to its performance. Each performance differs in subtle ways.




The negative is the equivalent of the composer's score, and the print the performance.




Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.




A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed.




You don't take a photograph, you make it.




We must remember that a photograph can hold just as much as we put into it, and no one has ever approached the full possibilities of the medium.




A photograph is usually looked at - seldom looked into.




There are worlds of experience beyond the world of the aggressive man, beyond history, and beyond science. The moods and qualities of nature and the revelations of great art are equally difficult to define; we can grasp them only in the depths of our perceptive spirit.




It is my intention to present - through the medium of photography - intuitive observations of the natural world which may have meaning to the spectators.




In my mind's eye, I visualize how a particular... sight and feeling will appear on a print. If it excites me, there is a good chance it will make a good photograph. It is an intuitive sense, an ability that comes from a lot of practice.




There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.

There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.




Myths and creeds are heroic struggles to comprehend the truth in the world.




Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer - and often the supreme disappointment.




Sometimes I do get to places just when God's ready to have somebody click the shutter.




There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.




The only things in my life that compatibly exists with this grand universe are the creative works of the human spirit.




Some photographers take reality... and impose the domination of their own thought and spirit. Others come before reality more tenderly and a photograph to them is an instrument of love and revelation.




Millions of men have lived to fight, build palaces and boundaries, shape destinies and societies; but the compelling force of all times has been the force of originality and creation profoundly affecting the roots of human spirit.




Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space.




There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.




To photograph truthfully and effectively is to see beneath the surfaces and record the qualities of nature and humanity which live or are latent in all things.




When I'm ready to make a photograph, I think I quite obviously see in my minds eye something that is not literally there in the true meaning of the word. I'm interested in something which is built up from within, rather than just extracted from without.




When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.




Not everybody trusts paintings but people believe photographs.




Photography is more than a medium for factual communication of ideas. It is a creative art.




Photography, as a powerful medium of expression and communications, offers an infinite variety of perception, interpretation and execution.




Dodging and burning are steps to take care of mistakes God made in establishing tonal relationships.




In wisdom gathered over time I have found that every experience is a form of exploration.




It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment.




I tried to keep both arts alive, but the camera won. I found that while the camera does not express the soul, perhaps a photograph can!




A photograph is not an accident - is a concept. It exists at, or before, the moment of exposure of the negative.




There are no forms in nature. Nature is a vast, chaotic collection of shapes. You as an artist create configurations out of chaos. You make a formal statement where there was none to begin with. All art is a combination of an external event and an internal event… I make a photograph to give you the equivalent of what I felt. Equivalent is still the best word.



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