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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Playing Ansel

New possibilities for the classic craft of black-and-white

Sierra Nevadas Near Lone Pine
Sierra Nevada Mountains near Lone Pine, California.

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I was very fortunate early in my career to have known Ansel Adams and worked for The Ansel Adams Gallery (www.anseladams.com) in Yosemite Valley. For five years, I was exposed to all things Ansel, including showing his fine-art prints, visiting with him at his home and attending many sessions at his famous workshops. I met and learned from many great photographers during that time, including Paul Caponigr (www.soulcatcherstudio.com/artists/caponigro.html), John Sexton (www.johnsexton.com), Alan Ross (www.alanrossphotography.com), Jerry Uelsmann (www.uelsmann.net), Ted Orland (www.tedorland.com) and Chris Rainier (www.chrisrainier.com).

In spite of this exposure and opportunity, I didn’t make black-and-white images. I loved making color images then, and it continues to be my main passion. However, I did use many techniques employed by many of these black-and-white artists, including using a large-format camera, a spot meter for precise metering and a modified version of the Zone System for making my exposures.

Along with the evolution of digital imaging, the ease of making black-and-white conversions in Photoshop and Lightroom has intrigued me lately. A client recently asked me if I had any black-and-white images of Mount Whitney. Fortunately, I had visited the Alabama Hills on a stunningly gorgeous winter morning, so I made quick conversions in Lightroom from which I could make JPEGs to e-mail. Time was a concern for my client, so this worked well as a temporary solution. When it comes to making fine-art prints, a master file (a saved .psd file containing all of my adjustment layers) was made in Photoshop for the best results.

To visit William Neill's blog or sign up for newsletter updates on his Landscape Essentials course with BetterPhoto.com, and for information about his books, portfolios, new images and more, go to www.williamneill.com.


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