ANSEL ADAMS: An Autobiography by Ansel Adams
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ANSEL ADAMS: An Autobiography

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Vigorous, humorous, and moving autobiography of a spectacular photograher, whose writing--like his pictures--is ""vibrant with light of a cool translucence and a great mystery of presence."" Adams completed the five-year task of writing his manuscript but had chosen pictures only for the first chapter when he died last year at 82. His autobiography proceeds as intuitively and fragmentarily as he suggests it will, with loved friends popping to mind. ""It is sometimes a desolate moment when one sees old photographs and realizes that all the humanity represented is dead and forgotten. . .there is a reality in the camera remembrances that compels respectful consideration."" At four, his nose was broken in the San Francisco earthquake. The family doctor advised his father it be left alone until Adams matured: ""Apparently I never matured, as I have yet to see a surgeon about it."" And a handsomely deformed earthquake of a beak it became! A hyperactive but sickly child, Adams was lucky to have a nurturing father, who first taught him as a child about the camera obscura, encouraged him as a classical pianist and his interest in the fine arts, took the family on trips to Yosemite, gave him Ms first Kodak Box Brownie, and bought the lad a burro when Ansel got his first job at 18 as custodian of Sierra Club's headquarters at the park. These years first brought him the magic he would know for a lifetime: "". . .to lie in a small recess of the granite matrix of the Sierra and watch the progress of dusk to night, the incredible brilliance of the stars, the waning of the glittering sky into dawn, and the following sunrise on the peaks and domes about me. And always the cool dawn wind that I believe to be the prime benediction of the Sierra. . .I knew my destiny when I first experienced Yosemite."" At 15, he became a ""dark room monkey"" for a San Francisco neighbor who operated a photo-finishing business. As his mastery of the craft of photography develops, he has much to say about printing as well as intuitive subject-ideas, and then about creative photography: as Alfred Stieglitz tells him, ""When I make a photograph, I make love!"" The autobiography includes 270 black-and-white illustrations, including intimate snapshots and many monumental images never before published. His peaceful death scene, written by friend and editor Mary Street Alinder, is especially beautiful.

Pub Date: Oct. 7th, 1985
ISBN: 0821222414
Publisher: N.Y. Graphic Society/Little, Brown