Hi everyone and welcome to today’s post. Today is Ansel Adam’s birthday. Happy birthday Ansel. There are so many photographers who have had the great fortune to have studied or worked with Ansel during his career. Sadly I am not one of those lucky ones. But I did have an incredible encounter with Ansel and it remains today in my thoughts. When I was in graduate school for architecture I took a design studio in the fall of 1983 where we were to design a house, in an urban setting, for an artist. All of my classmates chose famous painters or sculptors. I chose Ansel. After all I loved photography-and his photography in particular.
I stewed around for a week trying to decide what Ansel might want in a house and what about his work could influence the design of a house. That was the difficult part. Several years earlier I had visited Yosemite and spent time in the Ansel Adams Gallery. So I decided to call them thinking they might be able to help. They were most kind but did not have any ideas. They thought I might be better if I spoke with his personal assistant. So they gave me the number and I made the call. His assistant answered (to this day I cannot remember her name), and I gave her the whole story. She said ” I have no idea what Ansel might want in a house. I think maybe you should talk to him”. I went silent. She called out for Ansel. And the master picked up the phone and said hello. I introduced myself, stammered a bit, but managed to tell him about my project. “So tell me about this house” he said. I said it was a project to design a house in an urban, city setting, and it must reflect the artists personality. He said “well, I would never build a house in the city”. “Oh”, I said, somewhat defeated. But he picked up on this and immediately said “but if I did here is what I would like to see”.
Ansel spent over thirty minutes with me on the phone that day. It was the greatest of treats. His kind, and generous spirit, and willingness to talk with a young student architect has remained with me to this day. Not long ago I tried to find, without success, the drawings from that project. I managed to inject some natural elements into the design including a walkway that passed through large focal plane walls and granite boulders. I sent some of the sketches to Ansel after the class was over. Not long after I received a small package with a print. It was Moonrise over Tanaya Lake. The print hangs today in my office and is a constant reminder of a wonderful photographer and a special man.
The image below was taken near Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park. I sat through a storm as it passed over the high country. As it cleared a small bit of sunlight illuminated a cloud passing next to Half Dome. It was fleeting and gone within a minute or so. The color and texture on Half Dome was amazing. A beautiful evening in a special park. Thank you Ansel for all the inspiration you have given to me and countless others who continue to enjoy your work today. Happy birthday Ansel.
Thanks for stopping by today.