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18 April 2010

Ansel Adams' "Museum Set" at the Benaki Museum

Better in Real Life

Saturday at noontime I went to see the Ansel Adams exhibition at the Benaki Museum. The exhibition shows the "Museum set", 72 pictures, selected and printed by "Saint Ansel" himself, to be shown to represent his life's work. Adams is one of the, maybe the best known photographers. In the field of landscape photography and/or large format photography, he's the big name, not only having done outstanding photography, but also having published books about how to do it. Not to forget, he also worked out the "Zone System" for exposing and developing photos.

Myself, I had seen his pictures only printed in books. Some of them were printed good, but more often than not, the resulting pictures were just ok. Now for the first time I saw the real prints.


They are worlds away from what you see printed in books. Just not the same thing. The prints were shining, emitting light and shade. I wouldn't be surprised if they glowed in the dark when held next to a photo printed in a book. Most of all, they went out of the way and let you see the picture, the "vision of the photographer". The philosophy, you know, of Ansel Adams for a large part comes down to the photographer envisioning the final product, the print, when he is out in the nature, at the scene of taking the picture. He then takes all the decisions, does all the hard work to produce that vision in the end result.

Some of the visitors did not seem to have gotten that particular message. They were obsessing (some quite loudly) about "look how white the white here is" and "look how it makes the tree stand out" and the likes. Au contraire, my own company, without knowing any of Mr. Adams work or story, but with an artists background, after only a short view around, dragged me to "Moonrise, Hernandez", saying "this one is really special, I like it." In fact, yes, some of the best known picutres were standing out from the others. But given such a selection, there were many, many good pictures.

I spent a lot of time there. I obviously looked at all the pictures - not necessarily in the order presented. For long times I would step back and look at them from afar. Thanks to the setup at the Benaki Museum, there was enough space to do that and at the time there weren't many people to disturb.

I did learn some things for my own photography. Things that I won't spell out in words here, things which I often only understand with my heart, about what's important and what's not.

Some of the pictures in the exhibition could appear as if the photographer had become "lucky". Considering the amount of time spent at it though, the persistence, the effort put in there, it's no luck that apart from the right spot and time, there were also the right clouds there and there was a horse in the only spot where the sun hit the meadows under the mountains.

So, one of the important lessons I got from this exhibition is to continue and do more photography in order to learn. I've received an order of 40 rolls of film some days ago. Taking pictures with all those I might produce a lot of trash, but if I keep my eyes open, I might also improve a bit... and get a tiny bit lucky.

Posted by betabug at 22:41 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
ch athens
Life in Athens (Greece) for a foreigner from the other side of the mountains. And with an interest in digital life and the feeling of change in a big city. Multilingual English - German - Greek.
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