Ansel Adams once wrote, "The Canyon de Chelly is geologically impressive... Some of my best photographs have been made in and on the rim of the canyon." The National Monument is located in northeastern Arizona on land owned by the Navajo Tribal Trust, the only National Park Service area to be co-managed. The aim of the monument is to preserve ruins of the early indigenous tribes that lived in the area, including the Ancient Pueblo Peoples (also called Anasazi) and Navajo. At the time Adams made this image, the monument was barely 10 years old, but the geological structures are so ancient as to be timeless.
A tireless photographer, environmental activist, and writer, Ansel Adams captured the wild of America as no artist before or since. Considered one of the last defining figures of nineteenth-century American landscape imagery, Adams dedicated himself to both his art and his subjects. The sweeping landscapes established him as an expert in photography at the time, consulting for multiple camera manufacturers and developing the "zone system", a technique enabling photographers to visualize an image and produce a matching photograph by controlling exposure and the developing process. His expertise was not just in his art, but also in his knowledge of the canyons, cliffs, forests, and plains that were his subjects. A vocal environmental and wilderness activist, Adams advocated for the conservation of state parks. His work is a continuing testament to his passion for the wilderness of America.
In 1941 the National Park Service commissioned Adams to create a photo mural for the Department of the Interior Building in Washington, DC. The theme was to be nature as exemplified and protected in the U.S. National Parks. The project was halted because of World War II and never resumed. Much of the project is now kept in the National Archives. This photograph is from the initial National Park Service project.
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