Best of the Best: Ansel Adams


"A true photograph need not be explained, nor can it be contained in words." — Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams (February 20, 1902 – April 22, 1984)

Black and white landscape photography is almost synonymous to Ansel Adams, an American environmentalist and photographer who was associated with photography terms such as the Group f/64, pictorialism, visualization, and zone system.

Adams used large-format cameras and his photographs are widely known to heavily rely on careful composition, darkroom craftsmanship, sensitivity to tonal balance, very sharp focusing and heightened contrast, and accurate exposure.

He was a pioneer in wilderness preservation and, at the same time, he promoted photography as an art form. He once said that a true photograph need not be explained, nor can it be contained in words — and this is evident and true to his own scenic photographs.

So just sit back, relax, and let these best photographs by Ansel Adams speak for themselves.

Autumn Moon, the High Sierra from Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park, California, 1948
Bridalveil Fall, c. 1927
Bridalveil Fall, c. 1952
El Capitan Fall
El Capitan, Sunrise
Frozen Lakes and Cliffs, Sequoia National Park, California, 1932
Monolith, Face of Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, 1927
Moon and Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California, 1960
Moonrise over Hernandez, New Mexico, 1941
Nevada Fall, Rainbow, Yosemite National Park, California, 1947
Sand Dunes, Sunrise, Death Valley National Park, California, c. 1948
The Tetons and the Snake River, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, 1942
Trees and Snow, 1933
Winter Sunrise, Sierra Nevada from Lone Pine, California, 1944
Yosemite Valley, Thunderstorm, 1949

All photographs in this article are from and

Which of these Ansel Adams photographs strike your liking the most? What other classic photographers would you like to be written about?

basterda is a member of the Lomography team in Manila. She has been dealing with your Customer Service concerns since August of 2010 and is now also contributing to the magazine. Influential Photographs is also one of her ongoing series for the Lifestyle section.

written by basterda on 2011-03-08 in #lifestyle #ansel-adams #weekly-tribute #black-and-white #ansel-adams-week #classic #best-of-the-best-series


  1. superlighter
    superlighter ·

    Moonrise over Hernandez, Trees and Snow and The Tetons and the Snake River are my favourites!

  2. emilios
    emilios ·


  3. awesomesther
    awesomesther ·

    The true master :)

  4. megustastu
    megustastu ·

    Recommended / almost mandatory lectures from Adams are: The Camera, The Negative and The Copy. He was a genius!

  5. nural
    nural ·

    I LOVE Ansel Adams!!!!!

  6. dhuffone
    dhuffone ·

    A True Legend! The photo of him on top of the car is Priceless! :-)

  7. marant69
    marant69 ·

    Absoloutely my favorite!

  8. gvelasco
    gvelasco ·

    He was also a pioneer in the use of dark red and orange filters to darken the sky and increase contrast in black and white photographs - something that you can really notice in all the "moon" shots above.

  9. sandkorn
    sandkorn ·

    wow, a true legend! love the 'trees and snow' pic and him standing on the car, awesome!!!

  10. huesosdequeso
    huesosdequeso ·

    He was unbelievable, Moonrise over Hernandez is my favourite!

    Someone should write one of these for Philippe Halsman! :D

  11. ethanheartslomo
    ethanheartslomo ·

    Is the Diana+'s Telephoto modeled after the lens in the first picture?

  12. cargoelf
    cargoelf ·

    Doesn't Ansel Adams exemplify the opposite of the Lomography ideas of unpredictable, lo-fi results with little manipulation? It stikes me as a bit odd to see this posted here given his scientific approach to developing and careful dodging and burning of the print. Not to mention the days or weeks he would wait for the sun and clouds to be in the right position. His deliberate methodical use of large format kinda flies in the face of the lo-fi high volume approach.

  13. emkei
    emkei ·

    i love these photos !!!

  14. laurasulilly
    laurasulilly ·

    It's true, Adams spent days and weeks on composing his images- he even said it took him over 5 years to get to know and understand his camera and it was only then that he could really start doing photography. Honestly, I think that would be my goal as well: being able to have a picture in mind and getting this picture on print just the way I want it to be. A picture as the outcome of composition rather than mere coincidence- that's what makes a photographer an artist and photography an artform (this can be achieved with lo-fi cams as well of course) Anyways, I think that the carefree approach of Lomography is a great starting point because it frees one of the burden of presenting a perfect picture from the very start and opens up photography to people who otherwise might feel too intimitated to even touch a camera...

  15. gelibee
    gelibee ·

    The Tetons and the Snake River is amazing!

  16. pangmark
    pangmark ·

    One of my favourites (since i was a youngster) is the one of him on his car roof. illustrating what lengths he would go to, to get those great pics. Also shows his "compact" camera which he would lug up the Yosemite mountains.

  17. natalieerachel
    natalieerachel ·

    Moon and Half Dome, and Tetons and the Snake River are my favorites!!

  18. gabysalas
    gabysalas ·

    @cargoelf: Lomography is also for people who like to work on their pictures and set ups, we are open for all types of analogue photography! Also, you cannot deny that even if this is not your photography style, or what you associate with Lomography, Ansel Adams was a master at his trade and his photography is a pleasure to look at.

  19. basho
    basho ·

    He's always been one of my favourite photographers. His books are a must-read for everybody. I am sorry, but I can't choose any of them. All his photographs are awesome!

  20. lomoteddy
    lomoteddy ·

    A True Master, reading the comments, and here on lomography it is always interesting to hear different points of view. Mine is that of the power of man, and also of the power of happenstance. For me I love to see inside of someone's photos who they are, for Ansel Adams I see a huge appreciation and respect for photography itself, and of natural beauty. It is more the care and love for his craft that makes his work so interesting, and how his work influenced more Natural Environments to be preserved.
    I love to see someone's hard work, and unique vision combined, this is a supreme example of both.
    Photography means many things to many people, whether it is striving for perfection, saving something beautiful from being forgotten, or celebrating a child's birthday, no one thing is more beautiful than another in it of itself, photography is a personal journey, a way to see the world around you more clearly, to open your mind not to close it. A True Master.

  21. basterda
    basterda ·

    Photographers, analogue or digital, professional or hobbyists, have their own styles which they believe in and live up to. I guess it's not deviating to feature a master like Mr. Adams here on Lomography since he, in the first place, also advocated and propagated the love for analogue photography.

    But of course, we are open-minded about everyone's opinion and it's actually good that you're sharing your insights to us. So, thank you! :)

  22. bpvarona
    bpvarona ·

    All his photos here are amazing. The photos seem to pop out of the page with its vividness and contrast. My heart stopped for a moment while looking at these gorgeous images. Thank you for the article; it increased my already simmering desire for analogue photography.

  23. hanifmaidin
    hanifmaidin ·

    i want large format camera

  24. stratski
    stratski ·

    Hard to pick a favorite, but I would go for Nevada Fall, Rainbow, Yosemite National Park. This must be where Bob Ross got his ideas ;-)
    And Trees and snow. A simple picture, but beautifully executed. I wish I had the patience to take pictures as perfect as these.

  25. begutierrez
    begutierrez ·

    My favorite Ansel Adams is Moonrise Over Hernandez. But that one of the Sand Dunes in Death Valley is pretty awesome too.

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