Was Ansel Adams The First To Photograph At Tunnel View?

Yosemite Valley From Tunnel View

Today on Twitter @terragalleria posed an interesting question in response to my recent comment about looking for original images by going beyond icons. My post was in response to Ian Plant’s excellent blog post on the topic which you can read here. @terragalleria asked “Was Ansel Adams the first to photograph at Tunnel View?” He makes a great point. Just because someone like Adams made brilliant photos of iconic locations doesn’t necessarily mean that there isn’t something more to add. In his towering work in Yosemite, Adams, who was not the first photographer to view that valley through a camera lens, certainly added immensely to the work of those who came before even when he set up at the same vantage points. But not only did Adams do it well, so have hoards of talented photographers who came after him. Today the challenge isn’t to build on Adams’ Tunnel View images, it’s to build on Adams’ Tunnel View photographs AND all of the Tunnel View photographs made by the talented photographers who have already built upon Adams. That’s a pretty high visual tower to climb from that single vantage point.

Ian Plant’s blog post resonated with me because I see a lot of images from photographers who seem to seek out the same tripod holes and compose a scene with the Adams photo taped to the back of the camera. Getting that photo can be rewarding and instructive, but make it the beginning of the journey, instead of the destination. There’s a quote that’s often attributed to Isaac Newton that goes, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Photographers like Adams blazed trails in landscape photography. They brought a vision of the landscape together with state of the art cameras, lenses and film to create magnificent and inspirational collections of images. Stand on their shoulders and branch out from the limited vantage points they made famous and discover how far you can see.

-Christopher Robinson, Editor