Ansel Adams' Photographs Remind Us of the Importance of Preserving our Wilderness Parks.

© The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite National Park, California, about 1937 Photograph by Ansel Adams

TreeHugger is on a photography roll so let's go back to basics and see the photos of the American photographer who started the whole natural and environmental photography concept: Ansel Adams.

Happily a big selection of his photographs are on display at London's National Maritime Museum. Ansel Adams: Photography has almost one hundred of his black and white images dating from his youth (1915) up to 1968 (he died in 1984).

Bonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0

Born in 1902, Adams was working with a Kodak Brownie camera when he was 14 years old and by the time he was 20 his first photographs of Yosemite National Park in California were published. The forests, mountains and coastlines of the United States were to be the canvas for his innovative and pioneering work.

© The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust Waterfall, Northern Cascades, Washington, 1960 Photograph by Ansel Adams

He especially loved to photograph water which is evident in the photos on view.

© The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust Fern Spring, Dusk, Yosemite Valley, about 1961 Photograph by Ansel Adams

He was a "master of composition and of using long exposures, as highlighted in Fern Spring at Dusk where flowing water is made to look like it belongs in a primordial world".

© The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust Stream, Sea, Clouds, Rodeo Lagoon, Marin County, California, 1962 Photograph by Ansel Adams

He was not a big fan of colour. Most of his photos, and all of this exhibition, are in black and white. He used long exposures to achieve these magnificent landscapes. The show has photos depicting clouds, geysers, California, surface, snow, rapids, rivers, waterfalls and sea and surf.

© The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust The Tetons and the Snake River, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, 1942 Photograph by Ansel Adams

At the beginning of his career he printed his photographs with low contrast. Later he made them more dramatic by increasing highlights and darkness. In this one the contrast is heightened in the clouds.

Adams was an environmentalist all his life. He was active in the Sierra Club, fought for new parks and wilderness areas, and endangered species such as sea lions and otters. Presciently he railed against the commercialization of public parks; fighting against their privatization, the use of billboards and loss of parkland.

Tags: Forestry | Photography | United States | Water Conservation

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