Sunday, October 28, 2012


Research Question: How did Ansel Adams use visual rhetoric in his photography to attract people to Yosemite National Park?

I will focus specifically on Ansel Adam's photography in Yosemite National Park. His photography there has had a widespread impact on the park by drawing visitors to it from all over the world. He did this by taking beautiful photos of the park and using traditional photo editing techniques. His presence was so significant here that there is a gallery dedicated to his work within Yosemite National Park.
Ansel Adams: Yosemite Valley Thunderstorm

Ansel Adams's photographs at Yosemite encompasses a number of design elements that are aesthetically pleasing to a viewer's senses. The two most effective ones are value and arrangement. The contrast in his photography is amplified as a result of all the photos being in black and white and the use of traditional photo editing techniques such as dodging and burning. The natural elements that stand out the most in these photos are the waterfalls and snow. Their radiance comes as close to a true white as they can without leaving out any detail. This heavily contrasts other elements in his photos that are noticeably darker, like the trees and granite rock formations. What completes the synergy between these two is the sky, which is always several variations of grey that compliments the other light and dark elements. Adam's display of value in these natural objects gives the photos a strong sense of depth and texture by bringing out the fine detail in the mountains and giving viewers an awing insight of how massive the park is.

The arrangement of objects in Ansel Adams's photographs of Yosemite also has a significant role in aesthetically appealing to viewers' senses. The bottom part of these photographs usually shows either some sort of water, or wildlife on the ground. The middle part displays large rock formations or mountains and the top always shows the sky. This consistent arrangement showcases three of the natural elements; earth, wind, and water. It shows how naturally beautiful the park is.

Adams's photographs at Yosemite consistently reflect the relationship between man and nature. He often shows the sky in a rather surreal way that evokes a divine feeling. The perspective he took the photos from shows how a human stacks up to the colossal mountains and waterfalls. These elements symbolize how small humans are in the world and that they are at the mercy of mother nature. In contrast, Yosemite was a place where Adams felt at peace and he often symbolized this in his work as well. The calm waters and occasional clear sky show the natural healing powers nature can have on humans.

Missing from every one of Ansel Adams's photos at Yosemite are humans. Humans have been known to destroy nature and at the time, Yosemite was barely touched. Leaving humans out sends a message that nature is beautiful by itself and should be preserved. Those who saw these photographs at the time also felt the same way and it lead to the government regulating humans interfering with Yosemite National Park.

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