Thursday, June 18, 2015

In the Zone

 "Ansel Adams and camera" by photo by J. Malcolm Greany

"Ansel Adams and camera" by photo by J. Malcolm Greany
Ansel Adams is probably the world's best known landscape photographer. Working mostly with black and white film and a medium format camera, his landscapes of the Western United States, particularly the Yosemite area, have become iconic for photographic perfection.

Adams first visited Yosemite in 1916 with his family and captured his first photographs of the area on a Kodak Brownie that was a gift from his Father. He returned to the park the following year with a better camera and a tripod.

While in Yosemite, Adams met Virginia Best, whose family owned Best's Studio in the park. The couple married in 1928 and inherited the studio upon her Father's death in 1935. They operated the studio until 1971. The studio is now the Ansel Adams Gallery.

El Capitan and Merced River by Ansel Adams
To ensure the best possible exposure for each photograph, Adams and his colleague Fred Sharp codified the Zone System which applies sensitometric methods to calculate a camera's aperture and shutter settings. To use the system, a photographer meters the light reflected from different elements in the scene and adjusts the exposure based upon the photographers knowledge of the desired brightness of the object being metered. The Zone System assigns numbers from 0 through 10 to different brightness values, with 0 representing black, 5 middle gray, and 10 pure white. The difference between the zones represent one stop of exposure on a camera's aperture or shutter speed settings.

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Half Dome and the Merced River by Ansel Adams