September 05, 2013

"test of time" 5 of 30 - generosity of Ansel Adams, 1963

photo by Donald Kinney


The year was 1963. I had just gotten my driver's license and a fifty dollar '49 Ford. Freedom at last--it was a very good feeling. I lived i an exceptionally beautiful area of California--the Monterey Peninsula, and now I could finally go places on my own. There was little doubt about what I wanted to do--shoot, develop, and print photos.

One sunny morning I set out for the short trip south towards Big Sur, but as I rounded a curve I spotted the bearded man with the camera platform on top of his car that I had been idolizing for the past few years--it was Ansel Adams. My heart started to race. I had to find out where the "greatest photographer in the world" was going, so I turned my old a around and followed him into Carmel. Being much too shy to approach him directly, I watched as he visited the post-office and cafe to have breakfast. If I had been more brave I would have waited for him to return to his car, but instead I left him a note on his windshield with compliments and a rather bold request that I wished he could look at my photos some time. A few days later a postcard arrived in the mail--it read; "Can't decipher your signature, but sure, I'd love to see your photos--just give me a call when you want to come over".

Somehow I got enough courage to call him, and about an hour later I was sitting in his front room with him giving me pointers on how I could improve each image. Of course, my photography at that point was pathetic, but it inspired me to read his books and get a grasp on the Zone System--a method for predetermining results by carefully manipulating exposure and development. A few months later I felt I had to show him my new attemts, so I re-invited myself to his home and after he had looked through my new work he complimented me on how much I had improved. The moment was probably the finest in all of my short sixteen years.

CLICK for 40 photos on what I call my "big site";
CLICK for "Photographing Marin County"; my Marin County exhibit.

1 comment:

Zoomie said...

Wow, I can only imagine the thrill it must have been to have the great man critique your work! But, I find that the best artists are like that - not jealous or threatened, but generous and open. Bravo for finding the courage to "stalk" your hero! :-)

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