Ansel Adams’s Son Revisits a Life Changing Photo

Ansel Adams was one of the pioneers in landscape photography. His work is something extraordinary. Something still relevant today. Thanks to Marc Silber‘s interview with the legendary photographer’s son, Michael Adams, we have the opportunity to see up close how some of his most important photos were born:

Michael Adams tells the story of one particular photo that served as a turning point in his father’s life.

During a trip to Yosemite National Park in April 1927, Ansel Adams set about taking this photograph:

the legendary shot of yosemite made by ansel adams

One of Ansel Adams’ most life changing photos

He took his next to last glass plate with a yellow filter, but realizing that he wasn’t going to get the result he wanted, he switched to a red filter. When he developed the photo, he realized that he had made the right decision. He knew what he was doing.

This previsualization of the photo—knowing how the final image would come out—was a life changing moment for Ansel Adams. It was then that he decided on his career change from a pianist to a full time photographer.

photo of ansel adams

Ansel Adams with his son and Cedric Wright in 1941

“A lot of us could take the picture and come up with the negative, but he could do some magic things with it in the dark room. And he always told people that this is not reality. What I’m giving you in this print is not what you are seeing in the environment. You’re seeing my interpretation of it.”

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