Highlights of the Collection: Ansel Adams, Winter Sunrise

Ansel Adams woke before dawn for five days in order to capture the key moment of sunrise over the Sierra.
Ansel Adams, Winter Sunrise, Sierra Nevada, from Lone Pine, California, c. 1944, 14 3/4 x 19 in., gelatin silver print, gift of Virginia Adams, Scripps College

Ansel Adams, Winter Sunrise, Sierra Nevada, from Lone Pine, California, c. 1944, 14 3/4 x 19 in., gelatin silver print, gift of Virginia Adams, Scripps College

Ansel Adams wanted to capture the motion of landscape in an inherent static medium, photography. Through patience alone, Adams could document time’s passage across the natural world. This photograph was taken in the fifth morning that he shot the rising sun over the Sierra Nevada. Only on this fifth occasion did the lighting perfectly capture both the vast, mountainous landscape in the foreground while casting a beautiful shadow across the land in the foreground. This quality makes the Sierra Nevada tremendous: it, not Adams, controls the lighting in this photography, dictating how one sees the landscape. In Adams’s photography, one can only admire the enduring qualities of nature by looking at the fleeting, here represented by a horse grazing in a spot of light, and a sunrise five mornings in the making.

David Kuhio Ahia, PO ’18
Getty Multicultural Undergraduate Intern

 

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