Ansel Adam at 100 : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I had a chance at the library to view the printing quality in the Ansel Adams at 100 book. Not having seen original AA photographic prints, I'd like to know if the photo quality in the book resembles closely with that of his original photographic prints. I notice some of the shadow details in a few photographs seems much lighter (Winter Sunrise, etc.)than those printed in other good quality AA books. A few looks less snappy (Moonrise, etc.) too. Appreciate some comments.


-- Aaron Ng (, December 04, 2001


It was only later in life that Adams printed Moonrise with the deep dark sky that would bring out the clouds. I've seen earlier "performances" of the same negative, and I like his more recent interpretations better. They probably used one of the earlier photos.

I wonder if this could be said generally of Adams, that he tended to print darker in his later years? I don't really know.

-- neil poulsen (, December 04, 2001.

yes, he did tend to print much heavier in the later years, I believe due to his eyesight being affected by cataracts.

-- mark lindsey (, December 04, 2001.

Is this a "Bad Thing" ? I was just wondering what the opinions are, of those who have had the chance to see both Early and Later Prints. I also wonder if anyone on this forum has viewed the AA display at the Winery in NAPA (sorry don't have the name). I find it interesting to look at these "documentary" type photographs and compare with the AA that most of us think we know. Not as DRAMATIC but they do demonstrate that the man knew his stuff.


-- R.L. (Mac) McDonald (, December 04, 2001.


Keeping in mind that many of the prints reproduced in "Ansel Adams at 100" are early, and in some cases, vintage prints, I feel that they are reproduced with impressive fidelity, even down to image color. In 1979, I had the great pleasure of attending "Ansel Adams and the West," an exhibit at MOMA in NYC. A major thrust of that exhibit involved displaying several versions (in some cases five or six) of the same image printed over the entire course of Adams's career (i.e. six "Moonrises" or five "Clearing Winter Storms"). In general, the earlier prints were smaller (often contact prints), softer in contrast, and warmer in tone. The later ones, conversely, were larger, more dramatic in contrast, and colder in tone - more "Wagnerian" as Adams himself described it.

It is the later prints that are most often reproduced in books and monographs representing his career, ergo your observation that the prints in "AA at 100" look different from those in other books.

By the way, this gradual but dramatic change in printing style (which he himself acknowledged and discussed at length) was clearly a sweeping change in his aesthetic vision and taste. I doubt that cataracts had much to do with it.

For the record, I generally prefer the later images. How are the Bach cello suites coming along?

-- James Meckley (, December 04, 2001.

I agree that I liked the later versions, but I am talking about the extreme later versions-the last of the last, when the prints got really heavy. The Alinder biography suggested that all who worked with him were concerned about this and seemed to think it was the cataracts that attributed to this situation.

-- mark lindsey (, December 05, 2001.

Just to offer a different opinion--I haven't seen anywhere near as many of the early Adams prints as I'd like, but I vastly prefer them to the harsher and larger late prints of the same negatives.

-- Carl Weese (, December 05, 2001.

I've seen many early and late Adams prints and to my mind the earlier versions--8x10 contact prints are so much better prints than the often bombastic enlargements. Those contact prints have a glow and a presence to them that simply is not there in the later ones--despite the heightened drama of the later ones. Larger is not necessarily indicative of more "presence" of the print, although it may be.

Michael A. Smith

-- Michael A. Smith (, December 05, 2001.

Hi all,

Thanks for all the different views. You have given me new perspectives in my own printing. Appreciate it.

James Meckley,

Bach's suites has touched me deeply. Yo Yo Ma seemed to play them with more 'colours'. Still prefer Prelude 1st Suite heard on Fred Pickers tape. It's more like my favourite Paul Strand.


-- Aaron Ng (, December 05, 2001.

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