Happy Birthday Ansel!

Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite national park, California, about 1937

Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite national park, California, about 1937

Ansel Adams has become almost synonymous with the environmental movement in general and Yosemite National Park in particular. He first visited the park when he was 14 and the impression he had at that age would last a lifetime. His photographs played a seminal role in convincing Congress to place that amazing landscape under federal protection.

Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space. I know of no sculpture, painting or music that exceeds the compelling spiritual command of the soaring shape of granite cliff and dome, of patina of light on rock and forest, and of the thunder and whispering of the falling, flowing waters…

— Ansel Adams, The Portfolios Of Ansel Adams Continue reading

If You Happen To Be In Greenwich, England…

We have a photographer friend to thank for bringing this exhibit to our attention. We have the BBC to thank for offering museum exhibitions manager Phillipa Simpson’s fresh and inspiring introduction to some of the world’s most iconic nature photography.  (click on the header for the BBC link with video of a narrated slideshow)

If you happen, like many of us on this site, to be a devoted fan of Mr. Adams, you will particularly appreciate the final element of the slideshow.

Freeze Frame

Eliot Porter Winter Wren, 1969 Amon Carter Museum Collection*

Sometimes it takes a scientific mind to re-calibrate the artistic eye.  Eliot Porter’s parents had instilled a love of nature and science in him from an early age, and he’d been photographing birds since received his first camera at the age of 10.  His training in medicine and as a chemical engineer didn’t dampen his interest, in fact he was among the first to bridge the gap between photography as a fine art and its foundations in technology and science. Continue reading

October Air

National Geographic Magazine, Vol. 1

There must be something in the air.  Some Universal Energy of Inspiration that touches down in October, if not annually, then biannually for a brief moment in time. Or is it just coincidence that two events of such simple, yet great significance should have happened on the same date?

What had begun as an elite club for academics and wealthy travel enthusiasts was reorganized in January 1888 into  “a society for the increase and diffusion of geographical knowledge.”  The National Geographic Society was incorporated a few weeks later and the first issue of the magazine was published as its official journal on October 1st.

William Morris Davis, often called the “father of American Geography” was an early member and contributor who wrote the introduction to Vol.1 of the newly minted magazine.

History became a science when it outgrew mere narration and searched for the causes of the facts narrated; when it ceased to accept old narratives as absolute records and judged them by criteria derived from our knowledge of human nature as we see it at present, but modified to accord with past conditions.

The society’s historic mission has continued for well over a hundred years, extending beyond the specifics of geography to increase and diffuse geographic knowledge while promoting the conservation of the world’s cultural, historical, and natural resources.”

And so we come to conservation.  Continue reading