Ansel and half dome.....

Discussion in 'Exposure Discussion' started by CMoore, Aug 22, 2018.

  1. CMoore

    CMoore Subscriber

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    Not sue how many frames of Half Dome he shot. I am talking about the "Iconic" picture from when he was quite young. I believe it was pre 1930.?
    Anyway..... i have heard he had 12 frames available. By the time he got up high, he had two left. Number-11 he shot with a yellow filter and Number-12 he shot with a dark red filter.....where the sky is almost black.
    Anybody know...did he ever print Number-11.?
    I have done a search, but i do not find anything.....though i will be the first to admit i am not a computer person or a good researcher.
    Are there photos, On The Internet, of Number-11.?
    Thank You
     
  2. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Subscriber

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    In last edition of the Negative there are 2 examples of the his half dome image, 1-2a was taken with a yellow filter just before his last exposure with the a red filter 1-2b. as numbered in the book. My understanding is that these shoots were taken in 1927 with plates, not with roll film. I may be wrong but I also recall it was a 1/2 plate or 5X7 and it was the last plate he had with him. I don't know if AA printed any of the other exposures he made of that scene for sale.
     
  3. David Allen

    David Allen Member

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    The image was made in April 1927 using a 6 1/2 x 8 1/2-inch view camera and exposed onto a glass plate.

    The two versions of this image are discussed in detail in Chapter 3, ‘Monolith, the Face of Half Dome’ in Andrea G. Stillman’s book “Looking at Ansel Adams: The Photographs and the Man”. A book worth reading to have a more rounded understanding of the man.

    Also, if you scroll down on this page

    https://northrup.photo/podcast/picture-this-photography-podcast-ep-5-ansel-adams/

    you can see a direct comparison between the yellow filter version and the red filter version.

    Bests,

    David.
    www.dsallen.de
     
  4. alentine

    alentine Subscriber

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    There are two half dome pictures. May be more.
    One taken with hasselblad(moon on the sky) the other with LF.
    Hasselblad photo, through Y filter.
    LF photo with Red#29.
     
  5. OP
    OP
    CMoore

    CMoore Subscriber

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    Wow...Perfect. :smile:
    Thank You
     
  6. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    He probably took thousands of shots of Half Dome over the years. Lots of classics and no doubt quite a few bellyflops and near-misses we have never seen. The early glass plate, red-filter one is historically significant because of the formative experience it played in his concept of visualization - not up to par with his full Zone System model - the whites are all blank - but a major step in that right direction relative to his personal style, and a dramatic image indeed. The Hassie one with the moon, a very popular postcard, was taken on a ski trip to the rim of the Valley much later. Ironically, I have never seen a shot taken by AA of the two even bigger domes in the Sierra, which are admittedly a lot more remote.
     
  7. OP
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    CMoore

    CMoore Subscriber

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    To be honest, i never saw the "Genius" in that half dome photo.
    I back-packed the Sierras...North and South quite a few times, and been to Yellowstone and The Rockies.
    I have never seen the sky and mountains look black like that.
    When you look at Frame 11, with the yellow filter, and then think about how the scene really DID look.......
    I do not know why i always hear that "Ansel" tried to make a print look the way the Mountain made him feel.
    How could you look out to a bright, cloudless sky and brightly lit Rock, and feel like the sky was painted black with a paint brush and the Rock looked like it did in frame 12.?
    I understand a person LIKING #12 "better".....but when i compare it to #11, i think Jesus, ..!! My Teacher would say i WAY overplayed the contrast and i have a burn mark in the sky that is 25% of the paper.
    JMHO.
    I am just a hack Street Photographer.
    In NO WAY am i disparaging a Master Printer/Photographer. I would love to spend 40 hours a week for a year, in the darkroom with "Ansel Adams".
    Also, i realize i am looking at a reasonable facsimile and NOT a real print. I Might LOVE The Print. :wondering:
     
  8. Photonuser

    Photonuser Member

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    The Half Done picture was important to him as it was the first photograph he "visualized" i.e. saw in his mind's eye. I think the other pictures he made that day can be seen in his autobiography.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2018
  9. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    CMoore - Many of AA's most popular images were a bit on the theatrical side. But there are many more which are highly nuanced, including certain shots of Half Dome itself. There are six such "gentle sky" images of Half Dome in my favorite book of his, Range of Light, plus the two "black sky" images already discussed. I've never met him. The only point of contact we had, so to speak, was a major retrospective where my big color prints alternated between every one of his big
    "mural-sized" (mostly 40X60 inch) black and white prints. Same High Sierra geography, and both large format, but very very different styles. In that case, he actually printed some of his famous dramatic "black sky" images rather soft and poetic - or technically had them printed under his direct supervision by a big lab suitably equipped. It was a logistical default to the fact that the old-style cameras, lenses, and film he had once used simply wouldn't stand up to high magnification at high
    contrast without looking odd. That's probably why, in his how-to books, he even recommends printing big sizes relatively soft and warm. So a completely different look from the same man, and rather effective too. People backed off to view his prints, and nosed up to study mine (Cibachrome can carry a lot of detail, even in gentle images). Perhaps his whole doctrine of previsualization should be put into realistic context - he certainly fiddled around a lot in the darkroom afterwards; so
    even to him, previsualization was probably just one potential tool among many. When I'm hiking with someone and they see me using a red filter, I simply hand them a pair of red laser glasses and ask them to look at the scene. But I don't recall ever taking a shot that produced a black sky, or maybe once at the very beginning. A bit over the top for me.
     
  10. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Member

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    There is a large mural of Half Dome in the entrance hall of his home;it doesn't have a black sky.so, I assume it's from number 11.
     
  11. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Don't assume that. He took pictures there for six decades.
     
  12. OP
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    CMoore

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    Very Well Said.....Thank You :smile:
     
  13. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Subscriber

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    There is a book out, from the late 80s or so, and an article in Popular Photography that show how AA printed the same negative in different ways over the years. In his book 1976 California he did not select the early Half Domes with dark sky, as a matter of fact he did not select any work earlier than the 30s. His taste changed over time. And for those who want see to what crap he could produce, another book Ansel Adams Photographs has from the National Park Service Archive by Basil Canoon. True these are the best reproductions, but it easy to see that AA was human and made mistakes. He told Minor White that he thought 12 really photos a year was a good haul.
     
  14. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Well, his earlier and lighter version of "Moonrise, Hernandez" now sells for more than the intensified later "black sky" version simply because it is more scarce. I get the distinct feeling that lots of collectors base their decisions on what is supposed to be collectable in an investment sense rather than on their own visual judgment. I might be a lone heretic, but neither version floors me. My very favorite AA images are rarely reproduced and probably exist only in very limited number. Moonrise
    is represented by over 360 prints. I grew up in the Sierra close to three Natl Parks and what are now multiple Wilderness Areas, and held property there until recently, so I can appreciate AA's sensitivity to that kind of natural light in a manner most people cannot. Still, one has to adopt some kind of strategy to plant that kind of impression on a sheet of paper. I would have preferred doing it myself in watercolor, which is far more cooperative than any kind of photographic color, but lacked the
    right kind of discipline for that medium. Plus even a big camera allowed me to keep moving through the mountains more efficiently. But I never know exactly how even the best exposed negative or chrome will turn out until I actually start printing it. I suspect that was the case with AA too, and every serious printmaker. You can only take "previsualization" so far; after that, it's down to brass tacks in what given papers and developers will actually allow, and often more than one version is warranted.
     
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