Last week, I visited the Ansel Adams exhibit entitled “La Natura è il mio Regno” in Modena with other students from TheDarkroom school. In English, this title translates to “Nature is My Kingdom”, which I feel is quite appropriate for this show. Adams’ photos are world-renowned and I was able to see up close the way in which he regards nature, shown through his absolute mastery of focus, delicate intricacies, and attention to light. We are able to see places like Yosemite National Park through his eyes, in a way that revels in the simple perfection of nature, by viewing vast landscapes and minute details all at once in a single frame.
Although rare, several of Adams’ photographs in the exhibit captured signs of human life, such as through through a cemetery in “Moonrise Hernandez” (1941), or a building in “The White Church in Hornitos” (1946) . It seems that his style of photography is better suited for nature, in that I felt it depicts civilization or man-made objects, though beautiful as well, in an almost unnatural light. The gravestones resting under an enormous night sky and moon, or the uniform fence with a white church in the distance, for example, have a kind of foreign quality to them as if the nature around them has been disturbed in order to make way for man, and the only true beauty in this world can be found in the outdoors.
It has been said (Sierra Club) that Ansel Adams “was often criticized for not including humans in his photographs and for representing an idealized wilderness that no longer exists”, but William Turnage of the Sierra Club says,
“More than any other influential American of his epoch, Adams believed in both the possibility and the probability of humankind living in harmony and balance with its environment.” So, it seems despite the apparent juxtaposition in his photography, Ansel’s higher appreciation for nature comes through, in the hopes that one day it will exist peacefully with the modern, industrialized world.