Wednesday, 21 November 2012
Reading: Ansel Adams - Trees
I’m sure I’ve looked at this book before because subconsciously I have mimicked Adam's compositional style over the years. I’m lucky enough to live in a wooded part of the country – whether I look to the front or rear of my home, I see dozens of trees. Trees are probably our most visible and constant companions in nature and arouse great passion. This is shown by the breadth and depth of literary quotes which accompany the photographs in this book. It’s a shame the images aren’t bigger – barely 7 inches on their longest side. They would have more impact on a gallery wall.
This book is a veritable catalogue of trees, large, small, alone, in forests, in leaf, bare, tall, short, straight, twisted, deciduous, coniferous, alive and dead. In detail and in distant vistas, all aspects of the form and shape of trees seems to be covered by this volume.
It is tempting to dismiss Adam’s work as old hat because it has been around for so long. His style has been copied and mimicked, his photographic locations have been re-photographed thousands of times. Despite this there is still a lot to be learned from his meticulous nature and extraordinary mastery of exposure, remembering that the zone system he pioneered is now taken care of instantaneously in incredibly sensitive digital systems. I may be able to seek inspiration from his style but never produce prints with such tonal range using just sheet film, paper and chemicals.