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If Ansel Adams had been a Foamer . . . smoking smiley

June 27, 2022 05:29AM avatar
Russo Loco Wrote (on another thread):
> He'd have had a hard time outdoing John West -

hank Wrote (on another thread):
> Think of all the neat pictures we'd have of the
> old Yosemite RY!

While I agree with your premises, Roosso & Hank -

Considering Adams' role in the Sierra Club and Wilderness Society I sincerely doubt he would have felt kindly toward ANY railroad operations — the eee-pitomization of industrial greed and environmental destruction in the age of the Robber Barons.  I rather doubt he'd have appreciated the Yosemite Valley RR bringing thousands of tourists into its namesake park every year, and it's pretty much impossible to imagine him approving of any nasty oil-burning steam locomotives hauling logs out of his beloved Sierras.  In short, Ansel Adams is about as likely to have ever been a Foamer as Roosso is to ever win a Grammy.*

Adams did have certain advantages when photographing nature that the average railfan in those days couldn't take advantage of — like subjects that for the most part were stationary, so he could take his time evaluating the best composition for a shot, and wait for the sun to be at the optimum angle.  The one exception to Adams taking hours – or even days – to plan and execute his shots being the hastily taken "grab shot" of the moon rising over Hernandez, New Mexico.  (I wonder if he then continued northwest on U.S. 84 for a late dinner at Kelly's Café in Chama and an overnight at the nearly new Shamrock Hotel?  Are there classic shots of the D&RGW in the 1930's hidden away in Adams' archives?)  John West claims that his 'West of Toltec' shots, one of which Roosso posted ten days ago at [ngdiscussion.net], were also "grab shots" — which IMHO they certainly weren't, as he and Gordon Chappell had put in the effort to hike more than two miles from Osier to that point overlooking the west portal of the tunnel.  Of course when the train finally came they had only a few chances to get shots where the engines were clear of brush and cuts and trees, and it wasn't like they could just wait an hour or two for another train to come rolling along.  Anyway, John gives permission on his site for non-commercial use of his photos, and since he's started posting more of his excellent 120 B&W shots that were the inspiration for this train of thought in the first place, I'll use a few more as examples below.

In addition to usually having plenty of time to get the composition just right, another big factor in the excellence of Ansel Adams photos was not just his mastery of his materials and techniques, but those that were available — not just the 8×10 (or larger) negatives themselves, but the ability and skill to expose each one differently and then develop it individually to suit the light available.  Expose for the shadows and then develop so as not to blow out the highlights — not easy to do with a roll of ten or twelve or twenty frames that are all developed together.  I'm not sure that all three of the following "borrowed" from John West's site were on the same roll of film, but it's pretty likely they were taken the same day.  The trees framing this beautiful shot just east of Chama were apparently removed when the highway was widened and paved;   judging from the shadows this is probably the morning Cumbres Turn:

Photoshop's "lighten shadows" tool allowed a bit of detail to be added to the tree on the left, but there's not much available in the shadows of the tree to the right that might have been captured had Adam's "Zone System" processing been available for that one negative.

Here are two more photos stolen from John's site that were probably taken that same day, after the train pictured above had reached the top of the pass.  Contrast & brightness have been increased on the first one, apparently scanned and posted some time go, to more closely match the stunning values of the second, last updated in just the last few days:
(John's originals can be found at [chasingtrains.smugmug.com] and [chasingtrains.smugmug.com].)

These next two appear to have been taken only a few minutes apart when the second train of the day – with three cars of lumber up front and six tank cars at the rear – was ascending Cumbres Pass, probably from about the same location out on Windy Point:

They were almost certainly taken on the same roll of film and developed under the exact same conditions — which would preclude any possibility of altering the pro­cessing to accommodate the significantly different lighting.  IMHO both are gorgeous – especially the Coxo Crossing view – but what would they look like with the subtle differences available to Adams in the olden days with his custom development of large individual negatives?   Only The Phantom knows . . .

- Sincerely, Willie  (Wm. Claude Johnson-Barr III, Esq.)   smoking smiley
          "Not All Who Have Cell-Phones Do Twitter*
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*  For a definition of "Foamer" (aka "Foamite") as well as proof of Roosso's unlikelyhood to ever win a Grammy see [ngdiscussion.net] . . .

Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 06/29/2022 01:06PM by Johnson Barr.
Subject Author Posted

If Ansel Adams had been a Foamer . . . smoking smiley Attachments

Johnson Barr June 27, 2022 05:29AM

Re: If Ansel Adams had been a Foamer . . . smoking smiley Attachments

Russo Loco June 27, 2022 06:23AM

Re: If Ansel Adams had been a Foamer . . . smoking smiley

Dave Peterson June 27, 2022 07:46AM

Re: Was Ansel Adams a closet Foamer?

Russo Loco June 28, 2022 01:20PM

Re: If Ansel Adams had been a Foamer . . . smoking smiley

hank June 27, 2022 10:03AM

Re: If Ansel Adams had been a Foamer . . . smoking smiley

Kelly Anderson June 27, 2022 10:20AM

Re: If Ansel Adams had been a Foamer . . . smoking smiley

John Cole June 27, 2022 10:33AM

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