Ansel Adams

Question

Ansel Adam & 18% grey

In this journal assignment you will meet American photographer Ansel Adams and his 8 x 10 view camera. Ansel Adams is a key figure in the history of photography. In 1939-40 Adams and a colleague Fred Acher formulated a system for understanding and achieving 10 steps of grey within a black and white photograph. They called this system, The Zone System. The Zone system required careful measurement of light when you shot a photograph and careful processing of the negative afterward. Their system focused on the idea of achieving detail in highlights or light areas and detail in shadow or dark areas.

While the Zone System may seem dated, it remains a fundamental principle in photography. The Zone system encourages photographers to understand gradations of light through 10 steps in value from Black to white.

 

Why is this important? We value the Zone system because it underscores the importance of 18% grey in the practice of analog and digital photography. The Zone system attunes photographers to the importance of highlights and shadows. It reminds photographers to seek proper exposure that conveys detail in areas of brightness and shadow.

Did you know that green grass in colour is equivalent in tone to 18% grey in BW!

Adams system requires photographers to understand the concept of middle grey or 18% grey. Light meters judge exposure based on middle grey. In general, the areas of light and dark in a normal scene average out to middle grey. Therefore light meters judge scenes to be equal to middle grey and recommend exposures to achieve middle grey. The concept of middle grey or 18% grey is important in photography because:

light meters judge exposure based on middle grey or 18% grey

generally the areas of lightness and darkness in an average scene average out to middle grey or 18% grey

Middle grey is equivalent to 18% grey and is halfway between black and white. (see zone 5)

WATCH Ansel Adams: Technique & Working Methods (from the Getty collection)

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Ansel Adams is an American photographer (1902-1984) famous for his black and white landscape photographs and his technical approach to visualizing BW as 10 zones of tonal value. In this 3-minute video Ansel says, “technique is simply a means of bringing about in the print the image as visualized by the artist before they operate their shutter. The justification for technique is being able to do what you want to do.”

WRITE 75 WORDS

Do you agree or disagree that photography is about ideas and technical know how?

If ideas and technical know equal 100. what weight do you assign technical and what weight do you assign ideas? There is no right answer. This question reflects on how you see yourself as a photographer.

Why is middle grey (18% grey) important in photography? Provide at least 1 reason. Hint: 3 reasons are provided in this journal text.

  1. Phillip Lorca DiCorcia & frozen time

Separate groups: VISA1006A_TUTR_12, Chris Ironside

WATCH Philip-Lorca DiCorcia – Exposed at Tate Modern

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“Broadcast from his home in New York, American artist Philip-Lorca DiCorcia confesses how he hunted the subjects of his series Heads currently on display at Tate Modern in Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera at Tate Modern until 3 October 2010.” Tate Modern

 

Respond to the following in 75 words:

In Online Classroom 6- lecture, Stephen Shore describes three types of time:

Frozen time: an exposure of short duration cutting across the grain of time, generating a new moment. ( To freeze time select a shutter speed that freezes movement. The shutter speed required will depend on what you are photographing.)

Extrusive time: the movement occurring in front of the camera, or movement of the camera itself, accumulating on the film, producing a blur. ( The bulb or B setting on your camera will allow movement to be captured as blur. Selecting B will keep your shutter open for the duration of time you require.)

Still time: the content is at rest and the time is still. (The bulb or B setting on your camera will capture a scene with no movement at low light by keeping the shutter open for the duration of time you require.)

What quality of time is Lorca DiCorcia capturing in the photographs in the video above?

Describe what quality of time most interests you.

WRITE 75 WORDS

  1. Laura Letinsky & Still Life

Separate groups: VISA1006A_TUTR_12, Chris Ironside

Laura Letinsky is a Canadian born, Chicago based artist who has explored still life and domestic environments throughout her practice. Her evocative, light filled still life are both otherworldly and absolutely recognizable as part of everyday life. Watch this video created by the University of Chicago that shows Letinsky at work in her studio.

Watch Laura Letinsky: Inspiration

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Letinsky describes how she was originally inspired by 17thcentury Dutch still painting. She describes being intrigued by still life arrangements that reflect both happenstance and planning. She describes the historical connection between still life painting and gender roles. Notice how she is combining 2D materials and 3D life objects to stage odd, surprising and arrangements within illusionist spaces. Notice that she sometimes uses paper to create shadows and suggest space. Letinsky is using a 4 x 5 film camera. She is working with natural light. She builds her still life while looking through the lens and adjusting all the parts. She combines real objects and also cut out piece of magazines, scraps of paper and even her old photographs. She describes being attracted to everyday objects that are residue, traces and things left over from daily life.

Write 75 words

Imagine a still life you might make. Make a list of characteristics and objects that you would like to incorporate in a still life that reflect you as a person. Make a list of at least 6 characteristics, qualities or objects you would like your potential still life to include. Create your own list or answer the following questions to help imagine a still life that you might create. Us your imagination. There is no right answer.

Is your still life full of color or monochrome?

Is your still life full of shadows or bathed in light?

Is your still crowded with objects or full of empty spaces and spread out?

Name an object in your imagined still life.

Does your imagined still life have a main theme?

What do you want your viewer to feel?

Sample paper

Ansel Adams

Yes I do agree that photography is about ideas and technical know-how. The idea gives a photographer something new to try on. The technical know-how gives the photographer the knowledge on how to do things including what to adjust on to be able to implement the new idea. Both technical knowledge and ideas are important in photography. The idea guides the technical skills while the idea cannot occur to a person without any background knowledge of photographs. This means technical knowhow can get a score of 70 while the idea gets a score of 30 as the technical knowhow feeds the new ideas. Middle grey 18% grey is important in photography because light meters judge exposure founded on middle grey or 18% grey.

Philip Lorca

The quality of time in which Lorca DiCorcia capturing in the photographs in the watched video is frozen time. Frozen time is also my favorite quality time. Frozen time is the first form of single-moment capture in a photograph. When time is frozen in a photograph two things happen. One is that movement is taking place inside the camera, in front of the camera or both, and that movement is arrested. In this case, a fluid time-discrete parcel is stopped. Frozen time is employed in any photograph where the importance of the image depends on a moving subject adjourned in time and in a specialty area that includes scientific photography. The degree of frozen time in a photograph is determined by five factors that include magnification or focal length, shutter speed, camera-to-subject distance, speed of motion, and direction of motion (Belt, 2012).

Laura Letinsky

Is your still life full of color or monochrome?

My life is full of color

Is your still life full of shadows or bathed in light?

My life is full of bathed in light, I do not think I live in shadows.

Is your still crowded with objects or full of empty spaces and spread out?

I am kinder full of empty spaces and spread out, this could be one reason that I do not feel the shadows in my life.

Name an object in your imagined still life.

This must be an object in nature. For instance a mountain accompanied by the sky, setting sun, and maybe flying birds among other things that are combined in that imagined image. The red and orange colors of setting sun, blue sky, and some clouds all combined in one image.

Does your imagined still life have the main theme?

The still life main theme is a combination that makes life beautiful and complete

What do you want your viewer to feel?

I want the viewer to feel the beauty of the world and nature.

References

Belt, A. F. (2012). The elements of photography: understanding and creating sophisticated images. Taylor & Francis.

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