Ansel Adams at Greenwich

I finally got to see this magnificent exhibition celebrating Ansel Adams this past week. It ends this weekend (28 April), so if you are in the UK and want something to do this weekend, do not miss this. The venue is the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich.


No photography allowed in the exhibition of course, but some big banners promoting it, and they are the accompaniment  for today’s Post.


The breadth of this exhibition (over 100 images on display) is huge as implied by the title: ‘Photography from the Mountains to the Sea’. In fact, bearing in mind that this is essentially an exhibition about water in all its forms perhaps we might be forgiven for suggesting that it starts not with mountains but with clouds. Clouds feature strongly.

On show are a few of Ansel’s iconic images that are used on the banners to advertise the exhibition.  You see those classics in today’s images.


But there is so much more: Snow and Ice in Yosemite, Waterfalls in full thunder, Geysers from Yellowstone, Quiet lakes and Rivers in spate, Surf, Waves, Ocean. Every aspect and form of water is on show here. Much of it may be new to you, all of it is inspiring.


Images on show span his life from tiny sepia ones shot with his Box Brownie, when he was barely into his teens, to those Icons that cemented his reputation for ever as a master of the American landscape in all its majestic beauty.

One comes away from an experience like this feeling invigorated and yet at the same time with a feeling of inadequacy that one’s own work falls so far short.

Perhaps there is a small clue to his skill in one of his quotes: ‘Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst’.  We never stop learning.


About LensScaper

Hi - I'm a UK-based photographer who started out 45+ years ago as a lover of landscapes, inspired by my love of outdoor pursuits: skiing, walking and climbing. Now retired, I seldom leave home without a camera and I find images in unexpected places and from different genres. I work on the premise that Photography is Art and that creativity is dependent on the cultivation of 'A Seeing Eye'. I'm not averse to manipulating images to produce derivatives that may sometimes be far removed from the original.
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16 Responses to Ansel Adams at Greenwich

  1. An Iconic figure in the world of photography who for some reason seems to be denigrated by a lot these days, (mind you he is in good company)
    I am very envious as I would have loved to have been able to go.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks David. You missed a treat – I do hope it tours elsewhere. People I think tend to denigrate someone they envy. Psychologically I suspect it’s a part of feeling better about oneself

  2. Leanne Cole says:

    I am so glad you got to go and tell us about it, thank you for that. It would be wonderful if the exhibition came to Australia, I won’t hold my breath. It was a shame you couldn’t take photos inside the it, but that is pretty much standard with these sorts of things.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks very much for commenting, Leanne. The exhibition was in subdued lighting to protect images so naturally one understands the reason for no photography. In some instances I’ve found that they will allow it if ‘flash’ is disabled. You would have loved this – Wouldn’t it be fantastic if it came down your way.

  3. “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” That really meant something in the days of film. Nowadays some people go through that number in a few weeks.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Steve. The downside of making images free at the point of capture is that we no longer have to count the ‘cost’ of an image. That, I think, can make us lazy – shooting from the hip with little creative thinking. A very easy trap to fall into!

      • “Shooting from the hip with little creative thinking” is certainly a lot less expensive now, but I remember that even in the film days of the 1970s there was quite a vogue for haphazard shooting of that sort here in Austin, in part because of the promotion of that approach at the University of Texas.

  4. It’s an exhibition I had promised myself to see but unfortunately I’m unable to make it. Sounds like it was an inspiring trip. That feeling of “inadequacy” is just part of the learning that we should never stop. I think we shouldn’t even try to validate our own work against others. I and many others thoroughly enjoy your work and I am often inspired by images you post on your blog. Photography is about communication and reaching places that may not be expressed verbally. Hold on to that feeling of being invigorated and I’m sure you’ll never just settle on an image that is simply adequate! Keep up the great work that you so willingly share. Best wishes, N

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks for your comment Nigel and generous remarks – much appreciated. I’ve been learning now for over 40 years! We can never ‘ape’ someone else’s style, just try to cultivate one’s own Seeing Eye. Inspiration comes from many sources and all spur us on. I’ve gone past the point of competitiveness in my work, I now work for my own pleasure and interest – always carrying a camera – and in consequence seeing the world very differently from how I used to. Retirement is a huge bonus – I have that precious commodity called ‘Time’.

  5. oneowner says:

    I saw the Adams exhibit here in Rochester at the George Eastman House a while back. I was familiar with most of the images but the exhibit blew me away and left a lasting impression. Adams’ son was also on hand and I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with him before the doors were open to the public. Without a doubt, one of the finest exhibits I’ve ever seen.

  6. I think I can safely say that he inspired all of us photographers. Whatever camera or system we choose to shoot with, he changed the way we look at landscapes. I was lucky enough to see an exhibition of his work in Columbia, SC a few years ago, and wish I’d spent even more time admiring and studying his photographs up close. They’re truly amazing, and it’s true; you never stop learning.

  7. Lucky you…I would have loved to have seen that exhibit. I love that last quote…so true…for me anyway 🙂

  8. Phillip says:

    What a wonderful opportunity to see this exhibit. He is such an icon in the world of photography. Considering all of his works using film, just think what he could have accomplished with the digital tools that we have today!

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Phillip – very pertinent comments. Ansel really ‘worked’ on his images in the darkroom. When people complain about images being processed overmuch these days, my response is to wonder what people like Ansel would have made of Photoshop and similar products. I think he would have used them to their full potential.

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