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Winter Sunrise, Sierra Nevada, from Lone Pine, California
Inspired by a love of nature, Ansel Adams expanded photography into a personal, expressive form. He first visited Yosemite with his family in 1916, and he returned to the valley with his camera every year of his life. In 1939, while teaching at the Art Center School in Los Angeles, Adams and Fred Archer formulated the Zone System. This method of planning exposure and development began in the field. The photographer used a densitometer to calculate how colors, forms and light would translate into the black-and-white shapes and tones in the darkroom. This image resulted from Adams’s characteristic planning and effort. While driving along Highway 395, he noticed the vista of the Sierra from the east when the mountains were illuminated by the rising sun. He began sitting in his car before dawn, waiting for the first rays of sun to fall over the mountains and meadow, cast in the foothills in shadow. On the fifth morning, he finally captured the critical moment.
from Touchstones of the Twentieth Century: A History of Photography at the University of Notre Dame (exhibition, 2020-21)