Ansel Adams and the Poetic Power of Photography

In my humble opinion, no artist has captured the beauty of the American West as Ansel Adams.  This restless passionate artist was able to put together fragments of the world with his photographic tools like no other artist ever.  He wandered through the wilderness of Yosemite National Park—particularly the Sierra Nevada and Yosemite Valley—capturing the sublime exultation of the meaning of wilderness.  His pictures screamed out loud, “The world is beautiful!”

His enthralling  black and white pictures highlight the American classic song, America the Beautiful written by Katharine Lee Bates with the melody of Samuel Ward:

“O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea! “

Ansel Adams was profoundly in love with music and photography.  He was torn apart by these two passions.  At the end of the day, he chose the poetic power of photography.  His pristine pictures depict the quasi-religious passion for open spaces.  When he lowered the horizon of his photographs, you are catapulted out there where there are no frontiers, where there are no limitations, where space extends to the infinite. By dropping the horizon you are left in the vastness of space in an absolute psychological state of bliss and awe.

In Adams’ work, pictures evoke a deeper truth and meaning; maybe that’s why he liked to escalate the highest mountains and peaks to feel the vastness of space.  “The higher, the better”, he used to tell his friends.

I will say no more.  Words are not necessary to describe the work of this man enamored with the American wilderness.  The following PBS documentary film 2002 dubbed, “The American Experience – Ansel Adams” will literally take your breath away.  You will feel suspended in mid-air, in cloud nine, or the seventh heaven with a spiritual experience you will remember for a very long time.  It is that great.

Relax, take a deep breath and enjoy the poetic beauty of nature expressed by the stunning pictures of Ansel Adams.  The video is 1:22:34 long.  Good Day.

2 thoughts on “Ansel Adams and the Poetic Power of Photography”

  1. I remembered that Adams used large format cameras, and just read a bit about that. Now I understand more what the “tilt” and “shift” functions are for in some of the photo processing programs, and a good bit more about how Adams was able to produce the images he did.

    Wonderful post – thanks for the video, too.

  2. Hi Linda:

    I’m glad you enjoyed the PBS documentary, albeit it was a bit long. It’s amazing that he accomplished most of his creative work back in the thirties; think what he would have done with all the photography technology available today.

    Learning is always a pleasant process.

    Kind Regards,


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