Updated: Nov 13, 2020

Figure 1 - ANSEL ADAMS (1902-1984) Self Portrait, Monument Valley, Utah, c. 1958 gelatin silver print, printed 1970s. Figure 1 City Skyline of Oslo, Norway (Source: Appendix 1)


“Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer – and often the supreme disappointment.” – Ansel Adams

As per the definition of Wells (2015) landscape photography is primarily an essential mean for the photographers to escape the artificial world and to let the viewers escape from it too. There are various influences to the landscape photographic lifestyle; one of them shall be the occurrence of the major influence of a primarily adventurous outdoor lifestyle, others shall be the mean of a mere escape from the concrete jungle (Keeling, 2018). Another major influence of landscape photography is the promotion of environmentalism. This is quite crucial for the recent generation as this promotes the beauty of the environment. Earlier before the time of Ansel Adams a major landscape photographer of the early 20th century, photojournalism, documenting the various types of photography of the war era was the most famous. Ansel Adams played an important role in the introduction of landscape photography. The art of landscape photography have always influenced the photographer in such a vast measure that he had been impelled to leave the pursuits of a career of being a drama director and work towards being a landscape photographer.

Biographical Information on Landscape Photography

One of the pioneers of landscape photography who introduced this to the world is known as Ansel Adams who introduced the world to the art of landscape photography. The first image that he ever captured was the ones at the Yosemite National Park in the United States (Adams and Alinder, 2017). Nature have always enthralled the artists, hence the art of landscape photography yielded popularity in the beginning of the 20th century. Since then various landscape photographers like Michael Kenna, Andreas Gursky amongst other have gained popularity. The fact that little or no requirement for extra camera equipment of the likes of various forms of lighting is required is rather effective. The weather and the light exposure that is experienced by a place is quite an effective mean of influencing the quality of a landscape photograph. The imagery of various editing tools and software have made it even more essential for the landscape photograph development.

Landscape photography is primarily done with the means of natural lighting. Not a lot of photographic equipment are used when conducting this type of photography. Landscape photography may include city landscapes, natural landscapes, and landscapes of the sky amongst others. The city landscape photography is an effective mean of highlighting the beauty of the city landscapes. Another aspect of the city landscape is the skyline photography which effectively captures the beauty of the concrete jungles. The natural landscape which may or may not have a subject in general captures the beauty of the nature effectively.

Impacts of Landscape Photography

Landscape photography often acts an eye opener for the majority of the people highlighting the major issues of environmental importance. In the recent times landscape photography has been used as an effective tool of analysing the impact of the human activities on the resources those are used in the recent times. The photograph that is going to be analysed for the assignment is titled the Monolith, the Face of Dome that has been taken at the Yosemite National Park in the year 1927. It is an exaggerated high definition picture that is often referred to as one of the best work of Ansel Adams (Alinder, 2017). According to Adams it was a merely a method of capturing the grandeur and the elegance of nature through the lenses. Adams was smitten by the sight of the great dome at the national park hence he wanted to capture the sight in all its’ glory. It was necessary for the photographer to not only express the beauty of the sight through the photo but also his heartfelt desire. He waited for a longer period of time on the Diving Board which was essentially a high slab of granite at about 3500m above the sea level. It was long time since he was looking for a site that would effectively capture the splendour of the place. With only two glass plat negatives at his disposal, the first one was taken with a yellow filter and the other taken with a red filter. The use of the red filter highlighted the darker aspects of the white dome and added a contrast to the picture. This photograph that Adams proved to be the most critically acclaimed of his work and he could substantially determine the mind’s eye and the effective visualisation in picture. This gave rise to the concept of “Zone Visualisation” or “Zone System” which clarifies the effective utilisation of the usage of the technique of pre-visualisation before the capturing the picture of a particular landscape (Olson, 2018). This is quite evidently capturing the visual and the creative mindset of the people. The main motive of the photographer was to effectively capture the intimacy of the grand structure that is the Monolith or the Face of Dome.

Comparison and Contrast

The work of Ansel Adams would be compared to the work of Brett Weston who too worked for taking high contrast landscape pictures. One of the major similarities between the picture of Adams and Weston was the usage of high contrast and high definition (Geimer, 2018). Both of them used the black and white camera to capture the delicate and the dainty detailing of the natural landscapes. A major contemporary of Adams was Weston, and Adams was rather critical and sceptical of the close up shots that Weston preferred taking. Weston had an intuitive sense where he used the mode of abstract composition of images and the use of layering and the spacing. Whereas Adams believed in the simple usage of high exposure and the usage of various colour of light frames to effectively capture the image from various angles. Adams had created great amount of revolution in the field of negative development, greater exposure of pictures and the mode of printing (Ryan, 2017). Similarly, Weston had created a newer mode of development in printing by using clarified images using gelatine silver papers that gave greater insight to the field of photo development.


The major influence of photography lies at the hand of the viewer as well as the photographer. All the major photographers have certain message to spread via the photographs taken. The environmental aspects those are highlighted by the project play a rather important in influencing the viewer in a positive manner. the emergence of the landscape photography holding the hands of Ansel Adams have been a rather important step towards the development of photography as an effective mean of expressing one’s creative mindset. There are mainly two major types of landscape that have been quite beneficial in the development of the photography. Promotion of environmentalism, the adverse effects of climate change and the change in the practices of human have caused greater deal of adverse changes to the environment. The photography should highlight such changes. They should influence the viewers to undertake a suitable lifestyle that would be beneficial for the people.

Figure 2 -Brett Weston (1911–1993), “Coast, Big Sur, California,” 1963, gelatin silver print. (Source: Appendix 2)

Figure 3 - The Tetons and Snake River, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, 1942. Anel Adams. (Source: Appendix 3)

Reference :

  • Adams, A. and Alinder, M.S., 2017. Ansel Adams: An Autobiography. Hachette UK.

  • Alinder, M.S., 2017. Ansel Adams: Letters, 1916-1984. Hachette UK.

  • Geimer, P., 2018. Inadvertent Images: A History of Photographic Apparitions. University of Chicago Press.

  • Keeling, D.J., 2018. Alternative Languages of Landscape Analysis: Visualizing Geography Through Photography. Handbook of the Changing World Language Map, pp.1-15.

  • Olson, D.W., 2018. VJ Day Times Square Kiss and Ansel Adams in Alaska. In Further Adventures of the Celestial Sleuth(pp. 125-148). Springer, Cham.

  • Ryan, K.M., 2017, March. Rebirthing Environmental Religion: Photography, the Landscape, and the Construction of Nature. In The Image of Rebirth in Literature, Media, and Society: 2017 SASSI Conference Proceedings (pp. 55-64). Society for the Academic Study of Social Imagery.

  • Wells, L., 2015. Photography: a critical introduction. Routledge.

Appendices :




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