|Ansel Adams at work, Bear Valley, California, May 1971.|
It was mid-week in May, 1971, at Ansel Adams’ six-day Yosemite Workshop. The photographers in attendance ranged from young and excitable (like me) through seasoned seniors with (apparently) loads of money, time, quality cameras and confidence. Early Wednesday Mr. Adams announced he was leading a photo expedition from Yosemite National Park to Bear Valley, California, and would any one care to ride along with him. I was first to volunteer, then spent several hours “riding shotgun” for Mr. Adams in his Ford LTD listening to stories of photographic zones, his extensive travels and Edward Weston. I was a curious young man and listened intently — amazed and amused at the revelation that MAD was his favorite magazine.
We passed the Mariposa County Courthouse and other sites Ansel Adams had recorded over the years. At several locations in Bear Valley, he’d plant his tripod, focus a top-quality Hasselblad camera, measure highlights and shadows with his Pentax one-degree spot meter, evaluate the scene through a yellow gelatin filter, then take his single exposure.
All the while I was bracketing exposures with my second-hand Mamiya C330 twin lens reflex camera.
We had lunch. I learned he used a metronome in his darkroom for a timer. (He was an accomplished pianist who chose between music and photography.)
I developed the (long discontinued) Kodak Panatomic-X black-and-white film the following morning and had some pretty decent negatives as a result — including a couple shots of the Master Photographer himself.
Link to one of Larry's Photos from the Yosemite Workshop: