Ansel Adams on/in Color

“Aesthetically, subjects possessing the least obvious color seem to come through best,
not only in simulation of reality, but in sheer beauty of color in image.”

(Ansel Adams)

We all associate Ansel Adams with black & white photography – in reality though, he made something like 3500 color photographs (according to this book: Ansel Adams in Color, and remember: he was using film) and, as the above quote shows, had profound insights into color photography as well.

Limiting the man to his black & white photographs seems a bit short sighted – even though in the end, he did not approve of his own color images for publishing, and the book linked above would probably not have seen the light of day at all while he was alive. I guess this may have to do with the fact that the range of creative options with black & white images are far greater than those with color images. Something that is true to this day, even in digital photography – though the tools we have at hand today are far better than what was possible with software only 4-5 years ago.

Either way, it’s an interesting insight and aspect of Ansel Adams that few know. And quite naturally, his quote above is probably an expression of his own taste very much, being such a prolific and experienced black & white photographer. But nevertheless, it resonated with me – so I’ve been looking at my archives and found this photo to express “least obvious color” quite well (though everyone of us may perceive that differently, of course…).

Abstract panning photograph of surf at Del Mar Beach, California
Waves Rush — Del Mar Beach, San Diego County, California. October 2010.

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1 Response

  1. Looking for “the least obvious color” would not be intuitively obvious. This image beautifully illustrates how effective that can be. I’m off to go out and try that.

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