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Ansel "yosemite" Adams

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Ansel "Yosemite" Adams

It is said that, "A picture is worth a thousand words." Ansel Adams proved this statement correct with every single image he produced. Some of his best-known photographs were taken in the Yosemite Valley, including his first ever picture of Monolith; the Face of Half Dome nestled in the heart of the valley. When the thought of Yosemite comes to mind, Ansel Adams' name follows right behind it. Adams' life revolved around Yosemite in many ways, and he was often called "Ansel Yosemite Adams" (Fischer 8). He was a caring man and cared deeply about the Sierra Nevada, and seemed to have a psychic connection with Yosemite (Spaulding 615). Ansel Adams once recalled his first visit to Yosemite:

The first impression of the Valley-white water, azaleas, cool fir caverns, tall pines, and solid oaks, cliffs rising to undreamed-of heights, the poignant sounds and smells of the sierra, the whirling flourish of the stage stop at Camp Curry with its bewildering activities of porters, tourists, desk clerks, and mountain jays, and the dark green-bright mood of our tent-was a culminations of experience so intense as to be almost painful. From that day in 1916, my life has been colored and modulated by the great earth-gesture of the Sierra. (Fischer 9)

Adams' love for Yosemite was portrayed through his elegant words and pure black and white images of the valley. The natural beauty of Yosemite was shared with the world through his images of unspoiled rushing streams, raging waterfalls, crystal clear lakes, lone trees and high sierra mountain peaks. In the combination of his photographs and writings, Adams demonstrated "that those who appreciate the earth's wild places have a duty and responsibility to use them wisely and well" (Fischer 8). Adams did just that and took responsibility for the protection of the Yosemite Valley. The beauty of Yosemite and the risks it faces are captured through Ansel Adams' photographs and writings in his effort to protect the land he loves.

In June of 1916, Ansel Adams was introduced to Yosemite on a family vacation. His parents presented him with his first camera, a Kodak Box Brownie No. 1. After his first visit, he returned year after year during the summer months to takes snapshots of the Yosemite Valley (Nash 5). He spent a substantial amount of time in the Sierra Nevada from 1916 until his death in 1984 (Turnage). Three years after his first visit, Ansel Adams made his first contact with the Sierra Club at age seventeen (Ansel Adams). The Sierra Clubs main purpose was for the protection of the Yosemite Valley and the preservations of "the natural world's wonders' and resources"(Ansel Adams). According to the National Park Service's article, "Ansel Adams," Adams took a job working as a custodian for the LeConte Memorial Lodge, Yosemite's first visitor center and club headquarters in the Yosemite National Park. For the next four summers Adams would work at the lodge (Nash 6). This was the start of Adams future with Yosemite, and he began to devote all of his energy to discovering its beauty. His interest in the mountains brought him back consistently to take snapshots of the valley. In 1927, Adams took his first outing or "High Trip" with the Sierra Club. These trips were part of the clubs efforts to gain new supporters by letting people hike, camp and explore the valley. (Brower). A year later, he became the clubs official photographer, and in 1930 he became the assistant manager of the annual outings that "consisted of month-long excursions of up to 200 people" (Sierra Club). As he became more involved, he led backcountry trips, "introducing thousands to the brightness of the stars in the wilderness and the clearness of high country lakes" (National Park Service). Adams role working with the Sierra Club grew from this point on. His images and writings were published in the 1922 Sierra Club Bulletin (Turnage). In 1934, he was elected as a member of the Sierra Club's Board of Directors. Adams was now not only an artist of the Sierra Nevada, but also a defender of Yosemite (Turnage).

Ansel Adams' work promoted many of the goals of the Sierra Club and brought several environmental issues to light (Ansel Adams). According to the Sierra Club's article, "About Ansel Adams," during Adams' political role with the club, it "evolved into a powerful national organization that lobbied to create national parks and protect the environment from destructive development projects." While on the board, Adams' lobbied "congress to stop logging and mining in the King's River Canyon, near Yosemite" (Barr). The Sierra Club used Adams' images for environmental purposes in seeking a new national park in the Sierra Nevada's Kings River region (Sierra Club). Adams' images were featured in the Sierra Clubs limited edition book "Sierra Nevada: The John Muir Trail" (National Park Service). This book directly influenced interior secretary Harold Ickes and President Franklin Roosevelt to embrace the idea of the Kings Canyon National Park (Sierra Club). This park was created in 1940, but Adams' love deepened for Yosemite, and his passion to protect its beauty was not done.

Ansel Adams believed Yosemite was not being managed like a national park should be. The park service was in the mindset of attracting tourists instead of portraying the great beauty and benefits the park had to offer (Fischer 11). Much of Adams life was devoted to "fighting the historic compulsion of the National Park Service and its concessionaires to turn this magnificent natural resource into a resort" (Fischer 11). Adams soon became the best-known environmentalist since John Muir, and he was the only environmentalist to gain access to the oval office for decades (Fischer 12). Ansel Adams "used his prestige to gain the ear of government leaders and to spread his strong message in the national media" (Fischer 12). In his efforts to protect Yosemite, Adams trips to Washington D.C. and letters to many government leaders became regular occurrences. Although Adams became a political man he states, "My political activity has continued to be related primarily to conservation problems" (Adams 289) His letters created a clear insight of what was necessary for the Yosemite Valley. Adams had many issues he brought up such as, saving the park from economic success, protecting is from becoming overcrowded, removing the automobile from most of the park, reducing camping and banning campfires, removing entertainment designed to attract tourists, and finally limiting day-use visitation (Fischer 12). The limitation of people entering the Valley and the removal of commercial obstruction



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