In the summer of 1979 -- when I was just 19 years old -- I had the rare privilege of studying under Ansel Adams in Yosemite National Park. As the years go by, without question, I appreciate that experience more and more.
Yosemite National Park is an amazing “classroom” and we spent time photographing the Valley, the Merced River, as well as up in the high country. But as much as the instruction, I remember some of the social time we had in the evenings with Ansel and his wife Virginia. What an amazing life to have traveled this country — and particularly to our National Parks, and how fortunate he was to see many of these places without the large crowds and restrictions that we have today.
I had been working with black and white film for a solid decade before I began working with Adams' Zone System, and I would spend another two decades continuing to work in black and white to hone my craft.
At 19, I was pretty awestruck in his presence. I remember scraping together the last bit of cash I had — just enough to buy two of his books at the bookstore in Yosemite; "The Negative" and "The Print" -- they seemed like the obvious choices. And then, in a bit more brazened move, I asked him to autograph them! Honestly, to this day, I can’t think of any possession more cherished.
Ansel Adams visited and photographed many of our National Parks -- and many places that have become National Parks or are otherwise better protected than they were 100 years ago. And The National Park Poster Project lets me share these incredible places with people from all over the world. Creating the next generation of National Park supporters is something that's become more and more important to me, and I hope in some small way to contribute to this effort.
One of my goals is to connect with people by producing high-quality artwork that beautifies everyday life. When you buy one of my creations, you also help the trusts, conservancies and associations that support our National Parks. I donate 10% of annual profits to these organizations who use them to raise funds for their ongoing work, and in the past year, I have made financial contributions to:
The National Park Conservation Association
Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Glacier National Park Conservancy
Grand Canyon Conservancy
Grand Teton Association
Rocky Mountain Conservancy
Washington’s National Park Fund
Western National Parks Association
- Zion National Park Forever Project
Ansel Adams, who in addition to being an amazing photographer — was also an environmentalist who was realistic about development and the subsequent loss of habitat. Adams advocated for balanced growth, but was pained by the ravages of “progress”. In his autobiography, he stated that, “We all know the tragedy of the dustbowls, the cruel unforgivable erosions of the soil, the depletion of fish or game, and the shrinking of the noble forests. And we know that such catastrophes shrivel the spirit of the people... The wilderness is pushed back, man is everywhere. Solitude, so vital to the individual man, is almost nowhere.”
Ansel Adams first visited Yosemite National Park 101 years ago in 1916. Nearly 50 years would pass before my first visit -- the first of many. To this day, Yosemite remains my favorite National Park, not just for the awe-inspiring beauty that is Yosemite, but also for the memories of camping with my family, backpacking the high country with friends, and of course, the summer of 1979 studying under one of the true masters!
The Yosemite National Park poster I have created features what is commonly called the "Tunnel View" or the view of the Yosemite Valley from Inspiration Point.
In May of 2022 I was fortunate enough to attend a photography workshop led by Alan Ross, Ansel Adams' friend and assistant, who to this day, is the only person allowed to print Ansel's negatives to create traditional photographic prints.
Spending a week in the Yosemite Valley is an amazing opportunity in and of itself, but spending a week with one of the country's leading photographers to further hone my craft was indeed quite special.
Now, in addition to the original Yosemite National Park poster, I have created two new posters - one featuring Yosemite Falls, the other featuring Half Dome.
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