Ansel Adams

It’s ANSEL ADAMS week!

About Ansel Easton Adams (February 20, 1902 – April 22, 1984) – With more than half a century of camera work behind him, Ansel Adams stands as one of America’s greatest and best known landscape photographers. His career is punctuated with countless elegant, handsomely composed, and technically flawless photographs of magnificent natural landscapes. No contemporary photographer equaled the lifetime contributions of Ansel Adams in bringing public recognition of the art of photography or taught so widely the techniques of black and white photography. His strength as an artist is largely attributed to his tireless investigation of the methods of photography, developing a careful darkroom technique of exposure and development he called the Zone System.

Striking photographs of Yosemite and the surrounding Sierra Nevada capturing the elusive visual myth and mood of these wild places became the wellspring of Ansel Adam’s consciousness and brought him widespread popular acclaim. His intimate understanding as well as passion for conservation of this pristine wilderness gave Ansel Adams the energy and tenacity needed to bring subjects to life for a wider public.

Thirty years in the field as a shooter. Twenty plus on the road for National Geographic. LIFE staffer. Sports Illustrated contractor. 54 countries. 50 states. 

Other videos here:

In-Class Assignment

For the in-class assignment (if you missed it), watch this video and take notes using the Ansel Adams Documentary Note Sheet downloadable from here:


Critique the Artwork of the Day

What elements and principles are used? Composition Rules? Are there shapes and forms? What is the subject? What does it communicate and HOW? Break it down into Elements, Principles and Composition.


Line, Shape, Value, Form, Texture, Color, Space


Balance, Emphasis, Rhythm/Repetition/Pattern, Scale/Proportion, Unity/Variety, Contrast, Movement


Fill the Frame, Rule of Thirds, Triangle, Frame in a Frame, Leading Lines, Circle, Rhythm, Positive/Negative Space

Please sketch out the composition and critique the photo below in your photo journal:

Look at the composition. Does it follow composition rules? How do the layers and depth create interest? How does the contrast create interest?

How does this photo use composition? Does it break any rules? Is there detail in the lights AND shadows?

How did Ansel build this composition? Look at the layers? Look at the framing , contrast and space.

Other Resources

The Zone System