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Author Topic: Ansel Adams, cheater?
snopes
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Comment: I have seen it mentioned several places that Ansel Adams kept
some cloud negatives handy for stacking on landscapes with boring skies,
essentially creating a composite photo better than the original. I have
seen no examples and can find no original source, but it gets quoted in
online photography communities all the time. I would love to see an
article about this.

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Sandman
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I remember from my photography class in college that Adams did do a lot of composite work in the darkroom, but it was usually combining multiple images of the same site to achieve the "perfect" photograph. Or so the professor claimed. I have no real reason to doubt him, really, he had been a professional photographer for decades before retiring to teach, and he seemed to know his stuff really well.

But I suppose a grain of salt is necessary with any anecdotal evidence.

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Tantei Kijo
The First USA Noel


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Sorry to dredge this up, I meant to reply sooner. I asked my boss, (a photography bigwig) and he said Ansel Adams never did any composites. He can be a little idealistic sometimes, so I'd trust a "yes" on the composites with 100% certainty, but only take the "no" at 90%. I'll have to look at all the books here to see what they say.

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Cervus
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I remember a placard at the local art museum stating that Adams did do composites in which he added clouds because that's what the public "expected" the landscapes to look like. I don't know if that exhibit is still on display. The next time I'm at the museum I'll see.

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Tantei Kijo
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Glancing through some books at the gallery, my very preliminary search turned up nothing about compositing. However, I am rather inclined to trust both infomation coming from a museum and Cervus's memory.

I can say with rather a bit of certainty that the two big images, Half Dome and Moonrise Over Hernandez were "pure". Unless the thought of using filters and light variations in the darkroom are frowned upon too. [Roll Eyes]

I did see some stuff about Adams passing over taking some photos because the sky was too plain (this being on his trip that produced Moonrise). But, being a huge pioneer in a lot of different improvements to photography (even tiny things like experimenting with how agitiation during negative development affects its outcome [Eek!] ), it would make sense that he did at least a bit of experimentation with compositing.

Here's the book I looked over that goes into a bit of detail about how he made Halfdome/Moonrise.

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Bender: Though you may have to make a metaphorical "deal with the devil". And by "devil", I mean the robot devil, and by "metaphorically" I mean get your coat. ------------ My sad site: A new way to be bored.

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ThistleSoftware
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I don't see how this is cheating. Is his work meant to be art or journalism? I think it is art, in which case it need not represent reality exactly.

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