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Pauline Lerner

October 14, 2004 at 3:27 PM

Someone recently posed the question: Would Ansel Adfams have used Photoshop Pro? Here is my response:

I'm sure Ansel Adams would have explored the possibilities of Photoshop Pro. He was curious and talented in so many ways. He pioneered a lot of photographic techniques and even tried using his microwave oven in a modified developing/printing setup. My guess is that he would have thought of ways to improve Photoshop.

Ansel Adams's connection with music was very strong and predated his discovery of photography. He grew up in a poor and dysfunctional family, and he was forever grateful to his father for buying him a very good piano, spending just a little money every week for years. (I can understand his feelings. My family of origin was likewise dysfunctional, and my father bought me a good violin in just the same way. That has meant so very much to me throughout my life.)

When AA had to make a choice of careers to pursue -- concert pianist or photographer -- one of the key factors was the size of his hands. He felt that they were not large enough for a piano virtuoso.

AA's connection with music was so strong that it influenced his thinking, writing, and teaching of photography. He often explained something first in terms of music and then, by analogy, in terms of photography. In his will, he bequeathed his negatives to a university (U. of New Mexico, I think) with the stipulation that they be used by graduate students to study the photographic development process. He said that a negative is like a musical score. Each time the negative is developed or the score is played, the original work is created anew, with opportunities for interpretation and creativity.

He was such a star and contributed so much in so many ways: photography, teaching, writing, music, and environmentalism. He used to walk the halls of Congressional office buildings with his photos and drop in on Congressmen to lobby for conservation.

I highly recommend his autobiography.

I didn't intend to write this much, but AA always inspires me.

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