Ansel Adams’ photographs are among the few things I never tire.

Within hours of knowing about the latest exhibit at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, I had tickets.

I was not disappointed when I went earlier this month. The way he captured light, shadows, landscapes, people—well, there just aren’t the superlatives to adequately describe his photographic abilities.

Great photographers have an eye for their subject. It goes well beyond equipment. That’s not to say knowing how to use equipment isn’t critical.

A native of San Francisco, Ansel Adams had ample opportunities to photograph the Golden Gate before the bridge. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

This exhibit, which runs through July 23, features some of his iconic works like Monolith—The Face of Half Dome (1927), Yosemite National Park (1927), and Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico (1941).

One of my favorites was on display. It’s of the Golden Gate in 1932 before the bridge. I have a copy of it hanging in my house.

This is what Adam’s wrote about the image: “I looked out the window of our San Francisco home and saw magnificent clouds rolling from the north over the Golden Gate. I grabbed the 8 x 10 equipment and drove to the end of 32nd Avenue at the edge of Seacliff. I dashed along the old Cliff House railroad bed for a short distance, then down to the crest of a promontory. From there a grand view of the Golden Gate commanded me to set up the heavy tripod, attach the camera and lens, and focus on the wonder evolving landscape of clouds.”

People admire Ansel Adams’ Winter Sunrise, Sierra Nevada, from Lone Pine (1944) at the de Young Museum. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Also in this showcase of more than 100 of his photographs were ones I had not seen. The Tetons and Snake River (1942) was one that was magical with the light on the rugged snowcapped peaks as well as the clouds and water.

Winter Sunrise, Sierra Nevada, from Lone Pine (1944) was another photo that made me pause with appreciation.

The museum’s website says, “The exhibition looks both backward and forward in time: Adams’s enduring photographs are presented alongside prints by some of the 19th-century government-survey photographers who influenced him, as well as work by contemporary artists—such as Mark Klett, Abelardo Morell, Catherine Opie, and Trevor Paglen—whose modern-day concerns regarding the environment, land rights, and use and misuse of natural resources point directly to Adams’s legacy.”

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