Redwoods, Bull Creek Flat, Northern California
Ansel Easton Adams was an American photographer and environmentalist. His black and white landscapes of the American West are well known and commonly used in books, calendars, and on the internet. This photograph of California Redwoods by Adams gives the popular myth of a beautiful and expansive wilderness a more depressing tone. It does however, continue the idea of a pristine wilderness. The land in this photo looks untouched, completely devoid of human interaction. The dark colors Adams uses make nature seem ominous and less inviting than other photographs of national parks, however. It presents a mysterious feeling and begs the viewer to look further into the background of the photograph. Adams’s work is characterized by the intense sharpness of his prints. He worked in tandem with artist Fred Archer, and together they developed the Zone System. This allowed Adams to determine proper exposure and adjust the contrast of the final print. The resulting clarity and depth characterizes many of his photographs. The clarity in the trees and every small piece of bark is easy to see. The background is dark, but still has some detail and is not simply pure black. Adams focuses heavily on the foreground, throwing every natural detail into relief. The dark gray leaves and low-lying bushes are starkly contrasted with the much lighter trunks. This object presents an overall contrast to the common romanticism associated with the national parks.