one of life’s great treats


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You know as well as I do that Ansell Adams is a great, really great, photographer. I suspect that the difference between you and I though is that, as of Saturday, I have seen his work in the flesh.

So what, you might say.

So everything I would retort.

Have you ever seen a real life Tission? A Boticelli? A Caravaggio? A Canaletto? Have you ever seen a reproduction of them? If you have you will understand how visceral the experience was of seeing the real thing is in the flesh. So imagine seeing not one but 150 Adams’ in the flesh.

Here, In Edinburgh, for only £4, with no more than 300 people in the gallery.

All of his most famous work is on display (until April). The first surprise is the size of the prints, few are larger than 10 x 8.

The second is the low lighting conditions. (Quite challenging, but these prints need to be protected.)

The third is how gobsmackingly brilliant the execution of these photos is. It’s one thing composing and capturing these brilliant shots, it’s another thing entirely developing and printing to this level of excellence. I actually cannot describe how breathtaking it is. The skies are often black, pitch black, against grey mountains and small pools of razor-sharp, piercing light.

One can concieve, just, how this can be achieved in Photoshop world, but in 1945? Honestly, the techical achievement is unreal. Almost literally.

As for the photos, what more can I possibly add to the huge body of slavvering adulation?

Nothing.

But, for the record, both Jeana and I had these shots as the highlights.

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You simply would not comprehend how beautiful the effect of the moving water is in this image.

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No, not ‘Half Dome’.

Your computer screen will not even remotely do this photo justice.

There is only one way. Get on a plane to Edinburgh.

Now!

PS. He is not perfect. A significant chunk of the exhibition features his experimental work on parchment coloured Kodak paper that, for me, killed his shots. The paper does not hold the contrast of his skies and they appear insipid compared to his silver Gelatin work.