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| Re: What did Ansel Adams actually do? |
Doug, nobody is disputing the intense technical departure from the "norms" and the prolific amount of exacting and painstaking effort and detail that AA utilized to grace us with the beauty of his beloved nature and passionate craftsmanship. To the contrary ... it is the fact that he went to these extremes in ALL facets of the process that is a tribute to the point that it doesn't stop "in camera". When it comes to AA ... "in camera" ... is a myth. From that, I think Ben is experiencing some imposition combined from his chrome experience (much like mine) and overly associating the significance of "in camera" efforts to a medium that has more process variability than chrome allowed for.
Yes, we have it much, much easier and 99.9% of the folks with a camera today wouldn't even take a picture of their own children if they had to go through what AA had to do. BUT, just because we have it infinitely "easier" than AA did ... that doesn't make it more AA like to avoid the full range of tools, techniques and processes that are available, just because they are easier for us than he had it. Rather, if we truly respect and admire AA, we should strive to master (ha, ha) our craft with the tools of our choosing through a lifetime of growth and refinement ... as his legacy tells us of him ... beyond his iconic images.
Self-imposing limits on ourselves because of what AA was challenged to adapt and overcome doesn't make for a better image aesthetically. It might garner additional respect for the purity of the effort and be seen as a display of respect for AA ... but the purpose of the image is to communicate the message. Sacrificing available methods at the expense of the message is not something AA would have espoused. Rather, he sought to expand methods in order to further facilitate the delivery of his desired message beyond previously considered conventional and restrictive means.
Even though AA did it the "hard way" ... and respect abounds for him and what he did for both nature and photography ... his legacy should not be something that we use as restrictive to our efforts, but rather a launching pad from which to go further. He pushed, practiced and perfected, only to realize that he had not perfected, so he pushed and practiced more, and more, and more. He literally printed some images in excess of 100's of times (over periods of years) to strive to get it where he wanted. This is hardly an effort that would come from a man who felt that "in camera" was somehow "more pure".
Doug, did you ever get a chance to speak with him ... or attend his classes? The closest I ever got to him was the opportunity to speak with his son.