Ansel Adams and His Relationship With the Environment: How His Photos Came Alive Without Color

Although this image was not taken by Ansel Adams, it was taken in the Ansel Adams Wilderness area of the Sierra Nevada mountains in California and provides an example of how his vision would uphold nature's beauty.
Although this image was not taken by Ansel Adams, it was taken in the Ansel Adams Wilderness area of the Sierra Nevada mountains in California and provides an example of how his vision would uphold nature's beauty. | Source

Family History

Ansel was born in 1902 in San Francisco. His parents were Charles Hitchcock and Olive Bray Adams. Interestingly, he only received an eighth grade education deciding to reach instead for those subjects that drove him to learn. Ansel's interest in music was accompanied with piano lessons. His interest in the artistic nature of the environment was increased with experiencing photography. Ansel took his first photographs at Yosemite National Park in 1916 (age 14) and leaning in the direction of this passion, he was employed at a firm as a photo technician where his knowledge was increased on photography. When he was 17, he joined the Sierra Club, an organization that is focused on preserving the Sierra, Nevada wilderness and he would join this organization working at its office in Yosemite Park. He was also the club's acting president from 1936 through 1970.

In his 20s, he spent a good deal of time exploring the area of the park on foot and taking photographs. It was here were he also met his wife, Virginia Best, whom he married in 1928. They had two children.


This image of Ansel Adams also depicts the damage his nose received as a child when he took a fall during an aftershock of the tragic earthquake in California of 1906 when he was only 4 years old.  This made him self-conscious as a young boy.
This image of Ansel Adams also depicts the damage his nose received as a child when he took a fall during an aftershock of the tragic earthquake in California of 1906 when he was only 4 years old. This made him self-conscious as a young boy.

The Photographer

Ansel Adams is best known for his black and white photographs of landscapes. He had a gift for capturing the most beautiful images depicting nature's incredible beauty. This gift could take your mind to a place of serenity and the very heart of nature. There is simplicity lifted in his black and white images that offers no obstruction across the details shown in his photographs and so much so that the audience, too, embraces the statement his eye for beauty gives us. With Ansel's due diligence throughout the 1930s, he lifted his craft inside publications wherein he would describe the value of his carefulness with his presentations of capturing the environment of film.

Ansel Adams was born February 20, 1902 and died April 22, 1984.
Ansel Adams was born February 20, 1902 and died April 22, 1984.

The Conservationist

When Ansel was 17, he worked as a custodian for the Sierra Club. This was his window of opportunity to be swallowed by what would become his lifelong passion of preserving untouched beauty in the environment and to appreciate its value. Ten years later, Ansel would become one of the club's official photographers.

Ansel moved to Yosemite Valley in 1937 to be in the soul of nature to not only enhance his craft, but to also work on publications. One of his mentors was photographer, Paul Strand, where they collaborated in New Mexico.

Throughout the 1930s, Ansel was instrumental in lobbying Congress to create Kings Canyon National Park which the Sierra Club held a strong interest. President Franklin Roosevelt was one who was persuaded on the idea and eventually the park was named in 1940.

Ansel received the Interior Department's most prestigious civilian recognition when he was awarded with the Conservation Service Award in 1968. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1980. Due to Ansel's passions and efforts, a lot of wilderness areas have been preserved. His fan base also value his artistic representation of nature reminding us the significance of uplifting the beauty that rests in an environment that has been untouched.

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Comments 12 comments

ytsenoh profile image

ytsenoh 4 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri Author

Michael, thanks for stopping by. I agree.


Michael Giggs profile image

Michael Giggs 4 years ago from London

His work will always live on


ytsenoh profile image

ytsenoh 4 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri Author

Joe, thanks much for the comment. Ansel Adams is one of my favorites. Very gifted, indeed.


J. Frank Dunkin profile image

J. Frank Dunkin 4 years ago from Foley, Alabama

Wow, I really appreciate your bringing us Ansel in so much detail. What beauty he beheld, what beauty he captured, what beauty he portrayed.


ytsenoh profile image

ytsenoh 4 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri Author

Winsome, so you had a bonus find and an interesting emotional find. Thanks for visiting and leaving your comment.


Winsome profile image

Winsome 4 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

Love the guy. I bought a calendar journal of his at a yard sale that was a couple of years old just to look at his photos. The only entry was in the middle of the book: "Jess and I broke up today." So sad framed in the middle of all that classical splendor. =:)


ytsenoh profile image

ytsenoh 4 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri Author

phdast, thank you for your comment. I really enjoy Ansel Adam's eye of nature. Some of his photographs, as you have seen on calendars, are so incredible. The black and white photos are always striking. Glad you enjoyed this read.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Great Hub about a great American photographer. Over the years, I have bought a couple of calendars with Adams' photographs. Most of them are now framed and hanging on my walls. :)


PierAllegro profile image

PierAllegro 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada

Words of wisdom, Sunny. No better way to define Adam's work


ytsenoh profile image

ytsenoh 4 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri Author

Sunny and Pier, thanks very much for your comments.


sunnynash profile image

sunnynash 4 years ago from Los Angeles

Thank you for this sketch of a photographer who saw the earth as a work of art and attempted to document it as such.


PierAllegro profile image

PierAllegro 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada

A great guy...

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