My interview with Michael Adams was intentionally directed towards what I knew were key points in Ansel’s books
having read these in my teens and then recently re-read them with the digital age in mind. There is no doubt about it, Ansel was a generous teacher who left us his wealth of know-how. In my interview I wanted to highlight some of his key points (BTW, there are two excellent documentaries
on Ansel that cover his life and history, my interview with Micheal was never intended to compete with them, rather I wanted to focus on key points of photography.)
- The story of how Ansel got the shot of Half Dome
in 1927 “that probably changed his life and his future.” This was when
he realized the process of visualization which became the key to his
mastery of photogaphy.
- The effect of his musical background on his photography. “It taught
discipline and practice.” BTW, the piano you hear is Ansel, this
recording generously loaned to us by Micheal.
- The basis of his Zone System.
- To master the skills of photography you have to thoroughly know your equipment, lighting, your tools.
- What it was like shooting with Ansel — sometimes hectic because of
changing light conditions but it was usually fun, enjoying being in the
environment he was in. You’ll see 3 photos of Michael and Ansel
together, and one that includes his friend Cedric Wright. It was on a
trip with Cedric and Michael that Ansel took, probably his most famous
shot, the haunting Moonrise, Hernandez, NM.
- Ansel said, “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” (Look for cutaways to his darkroom.)
- Ansel generously moved his negatives to the Center for Creative Photography for others to be able to print.
- Ansel’s work flow: He would go into the darkroom soon after
shooting to make sure he had the negative he wanted. How easy we now
- Ansel was a tech guy, for example he was an early user of Polaroid.
- He would have embraced digital read what he wrote in 1981.
- You hear straight from Ansel exactly what he means by visualization: “The whole key lies very specifically in seeing it in the mind’s eye, which we call visualization.”
- Use of the framing card. You can read about this here
(Print out the card on cardstock, cut out the black rectangle and
practice looking for shots. This is vital training for your eye–the
equivalent of going to the driving range for a golfer.)
Hope this data helps. Stay tuned there’s a lot more to follow.