A few weeks ago I went to the Ansel Adams exhibition at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. The exhibition had been drawing large crowds and my Saturday visit reinforced the reports…lots of people crowding around the photographs. The work was mostly drawn from a private collection lent to the museum and the curators added photographs from other photographers who claim to have been influenced by Adams and exhibited them sometimes side-by-side. Several of my favorite Adams’ images were in the show and for that reason alone the visit was worthwhile, but I have to say on balance the exhibition was disappointing. Most of the Adams images, and there were a lot of them, were printed in small formats and the accompanying photographs from other influenced artists were mediocre at best.
The two images that I have always loved were in the show: “Moonrise over Hernandez New Mexico” and “Clearing Winter Storm” and both were printed in a large format. And I learned something valuable from the backstory of Moonrise. The image as viewed by so many appears to be taken at night as the moon is shown rising in a dark sky. But in fact it was shot late in the afternoon with the sun lighting up all the cemetary crosses in the image and with the moon set in a bright afternoon sky. Adams printed this negative many times and over time gradually incremented burning in the light sky so that the sky became completly dark thereby leaving the moon much more prominent in the image that we are all familiar with.
I also came away from the exhibit determined to look for and shoot more black & white images. While I do so, here are a number of images either recently shot or re-imagined with a black & white treatment.
I was looking for a great sunset this afternoon. It eluded me but I did get this shot of a great cloud formation.
Is there a better black & white subject than a zebra?
Waves were pounding the South African coast and I took at least a hundred photographs trying to get just the right wave explosion. During the last few minutes of shooting, this cormorant flew in and added himself to my frame.
This group of elephants ambled across the Amboseli National Park plains and I was lucky that they all fit into the composition perfectly. I later turned this into a B&W image which I like much better than the color version.
Also taken at Amboseli National Park in Kenya and also originally shot in color. I also like this image better in B&W.
I originally photographed this woman in Ethiopia’s Omo Valley in color. I think it looks equally good in B&W.
Sabi Sands, a private reserve adjacent to Kruger National Park in South Africa is one of the great wildlife areas for seeing and photographing Leopards.
I shot this at the Nagaur Cattle Fair in Nagaur, India. Doesn’t this fellow have a great face?
Love the way the sun lights up the whitewashed houses in this image.
And finally a shot of a local gas station a mile from my house. This was a night of a full moon and I was out with my camera and tripod looking for something interesting to shoot with the full moon as a backdrop. I couldn’t find anything that looked any good. On my way home I passed through this intersection and voila! this scene presented itself.
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