Monday, August 15th, 2022

Silhouette (Baie-Sainte-Marguerite)

While Akiva busied himself building canals,








Iris amassed a small krill collection.






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Back when I was learning to work in the dark room, we were encouraged to study Ansel Adams. I pondered some photos and I read some of his words about technique. I was particularly impressed with his equipment and darkroom setupβ€” or lack thereof. I understood the importance of his work from a historical and from a conservation standpoint, but I had trouble “reading” landscapes in black & white.


What I remember most of all of it was his portrait of a man’s face. After discussing his photo he wrote, “I think this portrait would have been better in color.” That was remarkable to me, as I have generally preferred portraits in black & white and landscapes in color, and I was under the impression that Adams did everything in B&W. I hadn’t even known that color film existed during his lifetime.


I wonder what it was about the face that he thought would have been better in color. He didn’t explain. The only thing I can think that displeased him was the difference in drama between a mountain and a face. Mountains are dramatic in a way that allowed him to capture them in stark blacks and whites, expertly balancing the tones across the page. A face has more muted peaks and valleys, lending itself to the ambivalence of grey. Perhaps Adams was less sure of himself due to this lack of starkness. While most of us need color to comprehend the landscape, perhaps landscape is what Adams saw most clearly in any light. Perhaps Adams needed color to help him comprehend the human face.








2 Responses

  1. Mom says:

    The shapes and contrast are stunning.

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