16 August 2011

Ansel Adams: Thunderstorm Espanola Valley

Ansel Adams - Thunderstorm Espanola Valley © The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust
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15 August 2011
Thunderstorm, Espanola  Valley, 1961 - I could not find much information on this image, but for me, being a New Mexican, this image shows the intensity of the storms.  Form this location, you can see the storm coming from miles away because of the vast horizon in New Mexico, and the big sky that looms over head.  The light in this image is wonderful because you can see the suns reflections on the clouds and a bit of light falling on the hill.  This is one of his later images, and by then he had hiked around New Mexico since the 1940's.

In 1941 the Secretary of the Interior, Harold Ickes, hired Adams to photograph lands and Native Americans under his department's jurisdiction. Adams intended to make some thirty-six photographic murals to hang on the walls of the Department of the Interior. He hoped that his powerful images hung in an emotionally progressive sequence would positively influence congressmen, lobbyists, and government officials. His job description read, "Photographic Muralist, Grade FCS-19, " and his contract was effective from Oct. 14, 1941 to July 2, 1942. At the same time Adams was saddled with his duties as Vice-Chairman of the Board of Advisors of the Department of Photography at New York's Museum of Modern Art which he had helped found in 1940. Thus, he was unable to start the mural project until June of 1942 when he headed west to make negatives. He planned to photograph in Colorado, Yellowstone, the Tetons, Glacier National Park, Mount Rainier and Crater Lake. Given his late start and the fact that World War II prevented his contract from being renewed, he made a number of now classic photographs, but never finished the mural project for the Department of the Interior.
I am sure that the New Mexican light had a lot to do with Ansel Adams returning to capture images.  There is a magic in our light and landscape that seems to offer inspiration to artists from around the world.

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