13 August 2011

Ansel Adams: Saint Francis Church, Ranchos de Taos

Saint Francis Church, Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico, c. 1929-© The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust This image is copyrighted by The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust and cannot be printed or reproduced in any way. The use of the photograph is limited to viewing in the context of this web site.
Susan Brannon
13 August 2011
Saint Francis Church, Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico, c. 1929 - When he first saw the church, Adams was impressed by it's "magnificent form" and its "rigorous and simple design and structure." The photograph of this church was shot from the rear, which was the angle that Adams thought made it "one of the great architectural monuments of America." He wrote in Elements, "it is not really large, but it appears immense. The forms are fully functional; the massive rear buttress and the secondary buttress to the left are organically related to the basic masses of adobe, and all together seem an outcropping of the earth rather than merely an object constructed upon it."

Though this church is not actually in the Pueblo, it held significance for the entire area. Constructed in 1776, it is in the little Mexican American settlement of Ranchos de Taos a few miles south of the Pueblo. It had been interpreted by many painters and photographers, and Adams said he could not resist the challenge.

Adams wrote in Elements, "We should never deny the power of intuition or hesitate to follow its revelations... It is essential that the artist trust the mechanisms of both intellect and creative vision. The conscious introspective critical attitude has no place in the luminous moments of creative expression, but should be reserved for later, when the work is complete." He stated, "I seemed to know precisely the square yard of earth on which to place my tripod." He said, "Some intuitive thrust made this picture possible."

Adams stated in Elements that "this image is an experience in light." He described how he had used yellow and red filters before in many images in special high-altitude light of the Southwest. "But on this occasion some gentle angel whispered 'no filter' and I obeyed." Taking the shot with no filter allowed the blue sky to appear quite light, and the shadows were softened... A darker sky would have depreciated the feeling of light." He asks a good question himself: "What mechanism of the eye and mind selects patterns and relationships in an unfamiliar world about us and composes them as expressive images?" He doesn't claim to have the answers.

    * Camera: 6 1/2 X 8 1/2 Korona View
    * Lens: 8 1/2 inch Tessar-type lens
    * Film: orhochromatic (sensitive only to blue and green light)
    * Filter: none
    * Paper: Dassonville Charcoal Black on mildly textured rag paper of highest quality Developer Amidol

Information taken from: HHMA

No comments: