Evening, McDonald Lake, Glacier National Park
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Lake McDonald is Glacier National Park's largest lake at ten miles long and 472 feet deep. The fjord-like lake is surrounded by mountains from the Rocky Mountain range on the north, south, and east, making the lake a stunning vista from nearly every angle. During the span of the National Park Service project, Adams photographed Lake McDonald several times.
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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Adams' work captures the breathtaking beauty of the American West; rugged, sweeping, and solemn all at once. Having been so passionate it's not hard to see why his pictures convey so much emotion; his love for nature echoes through out all of his pieces. His masterful monochromatic depictions are credited to his creation of the Zone System. This technique allowed photographers to control the exposure and the image's development, which is why there's such a broad depth and superb crispness to his photos. To say his work is important is a vast understatement; it's so significant that his piece The Tetons and the Snake River was sent into space aboard the Voyager as a depiction of life on earth. Adams also helped spearhead the movement towards preserving our national landscape; because of his photos, work with the Sierra Club, and tenacious advocacy he helped expand the National Park system. His contributions did not go unnoticed - in 1980 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Jimmy Carter, the highest honor a civilian can receive.
Moreover, Adams' photos are so striking they propelled photography forward as a medium comparable to painting and sculpture. They changed the way people perceived the medium and led to photography becoming more established among the fine arts. Throughout his extensive career he produced an extraordinary number of pieces, especially from his Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico series which he continually reworked over 30 years. His legacy continues to inspire an expansive audience and capture the essence of the American West.
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