More lessons from Ansel Adams

It’s the end of the month and time to turn the page on my Ansel Adams calendar. Here is February’s choice: The Golden Gate before the bridge, 1932. I am struck by how much of his technique we all do. Of course, he might have learned some of this from his predecessors but he certainly popularized the technique. I am talking about: darkening the sky to a degree that is not possible in reality, a strong vignette, dodging the center to draw the eye there, and burning the cloud on the right, perhaps more than was present in reality. I also follow with a photo I edited in 2009, using most of these techniques. And I show a screen shot of the adjustments made in Photoshop to get this version. I don’t have the original color RAW, the black and white edit is from an edited color version.

Screen Shot 2021-01-30 at 1.32.56 PM

1 Like

I am in the process of rereading Weston’s Day Books and came across an entry in Mexico where he uses a similar filter to darken the sky. He’s in love with the skies he sees around Mexico City with natural dark blue skies and those puffy tropical white clouds. He talks about using a filter to emphasize what he sees… This is 1924, 4 years before Adams made is his personal discovery on that image of Half Dome shot from the Diving Board. It might be in your calendar as well. So he wasn’t alone with this approach to skies.

One thing that’s interesting about AA’s images compared to yours is how he boosted the whites in the clouds but kept the whites in the surf unchanged. How was that done without photoshop?