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Ansel Adams in Color Hardcover – January 1, 1993

4.2 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Although he claimed he did not like color photography, Ansel Adams nonetheless produced a highly accomplished if relatively small body of color work, selections of which are gathered here. These scintillating images embody the same refined detail and delicacy of light seen in Adams's black-and-white photographs. In fact, the subtleties of light so often overwhelmed in color photography are clearly evident here. Characterized by restrained, at times understated hues, the photographs are consistently remarkable. They have been ably selected and arranged by editor Callahan and are further enhanced by an informative introduction by James L. Enyeart. This beautifully designed and printed work, which is well worth its price, should be considered a standard title in all public and academic library collections. Highly recommended.
- Raymond Bial, Parkland Coll. Lib., Champaign, Ill.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Adams died in 1984, still planning a book on color photography, a topic that he had wrestled with since the 1950s and that gave him profound discomfort. He allowed that were he a young photographer in the 1980s, he'd work in color, yet in the last letter quoted herein he confessed, "I don't like photographic color. . . . It is not my dish of tea!" In other remarks, he was more analytic about color's challenges. Mostly, he regretted lack of control over intensity and hue, which afforded him no way to transform color as he transformed and exaggerated tonal values in black-and-white. For Adams, black-and-white was an abstract medium and color was inseparable from banal realism. He also sensed in himself a lack of "color imagination," the quality that distinguished the work of his colleague and friend Eliot Porter. He was right, yet he produced 3,000 color transparencies, most as tests for Kodak or for 1940s and 1950s commercial jobs. Eminent color photographer Harry Callahan culled 59 landscapes from this work for this album, which thoroughgoing photography collections will want in order to document Adams' beliefs about color photography and as testimony to the problems color has presented as a creative medium. Gretchen Garner

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 131 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown; 1st edition (January 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0821219804
  • ISBN-13: 978-0821219805
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 0.8 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,228,567 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on November 16, 2000
Format: Hardcover
"I can truthfully say I can remember only two or three color photographs that are worth remembering." -- Ansel Adams
Ansel Adams long felt that color photography was not art and not consistent with his vision of his own photography. What we have in this volume are almost totally unpublished and unexhibited images from his transparencies that he chose not to publish or exhibit. In other words, these are mostly his rejects. So, this is like pawing through his working files of sketches rather than his finished work, in an unauthorized way. How does that make you feel? Hmmm.
For me, the benefit of this volume was to better understand the brilliance of how his processing of black and white images played into the success of his best work. This book contains 50 images that clearly do not have the full Ansel Adams feel and impact.
The strength of this volume is the plenitude of material on what Adams had to say about color photography in general and his own. These points are nicely characterized in the essay by James L. Enyeart. One of the key problems for Adams was that he could "see" the final black and white image he wanted to create in his mind before taking a photograph, but could not "see" the color image in advance. He was not one to take hundreds of exposures hoping to have one or two turn out to be interesting. The art of photography for him was always a deliberate one, not an accidental process. While many color photographers used Polaroid stills as tests in this way, Adams did not want to do so.
Another problem was that early color processing did not allow him the control over the final image that black and white processing did.
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Format: Hardcover
The title says it all: "Ansel Adams in Color." Who knew that America's premier black and white photographer performed his film magic in color too? I certainly didn't.

"Ansel Adams in Color" is filled with Adams' gorgeous, technicolor, photographs along with accompanying essays. While Adams was ambivalent about working in color -- primarily due to the technical limitations at the time -- today's digital advancements allow the photos to shine. These majestic photos were taken primarily in the 40's- 50's and capture America's natural landscape at its zenith. The photographs include breathtaking shots of the Grand Canyon; Yosemite National Park; Death Valley; Hawaii; Alaska, Wyoming; and much more!

"Ansel Adams in Color" would be a welcome edition to the collection of any photographer or Adams' admirer.

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; Rev'd edition(Oct. 21, 2009), 168 pages.
Review Copy Provided Courtesy of Hachette Book Group.
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By A Customer on April 11, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Late in his life, Adams' staff unearthed color transparencies and color negatives that were stored in his negative vault. With Adams' permission, the staff had a few prints made with the idea of exhibiting or publishing them. After seeing the first prints, Adams told them to kill the project. "I hate this color," he told them. "My reaction is like fingernails on a chalkboard. I can't stand it! Please stop." [Quoted in Mary Alinder's bio of Adams, pp. 382-383.]
I can guess at the motives of the people behind this book (who knew Adams, and had to have known of his opinion regarding this aspect of his own work), and they should be ashamed of themselves.
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Format: Hardcover
"Throughout his life Ansel remained ambivalent about color photography - a sampling of his reflections on the subject is included at the end of this book. Much of his antipathy toward color stemmed from the extremely poor quality of color photographing. Another source of his frustration was the inability to adequately translate the brilliance of a color transparency into a fine print."
-Foreward by John P. Schaefer and Andrea G. Stillman

I had always loved Ansel Adams' black and white photographs of nature. His photos of Yosemite had added to the pleasure of my trip to the National Park years ago. I hadn't known that Ansel Adams had worked in color, much less, that he had over 3,000 color transparencies. He had worked with color photography when the medium and technology was in its early stages. His frustration with the technical limitations explain why he is best known for his black and white work. However, with the developments in photography and computers, it is now possible to see his work as he would have been prepared to show it.

The photos in this book were selected by a photographer of Adams' generation and fellow member of the Detroit Camera Club who has expressed the debt he owed Adams for the direction and advice. Callahan is also highly regarded and has been described as one of America's greatest visual poets. He chose the photos based on his own aesthetic pleasure - "selecting those things that pleased me" without adjustments for historical reasons or concern for what the image might have looked like once.

The essays and text that accompany the stunning photographs give a fuller understanding of Ansel Adams' work and the development of the art of photography. This book is such a pleasure - whether you read it carefully or glance at the photographs.

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; Revised edition edition (October 21, 2009), 168 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
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