Ansel Adams, Moon and Half Dome, 1960, Silver gelatin print, Polk Museum of Art Permanent Collection 2011.2, Purchase through the Art Resource Trust.

Ansel Adams’s life was, in his words, “colored and modulated by the great earth gesture” of the Yosemite Sierra. He spent substantial time there every year from 1916 until his death in 1984. From his first visit, Adams was transfixed and transformed. He began using the Kodak No. 1 Box Brownie that his parents had given him. In 1919 he joined the Sierra Club and spent the first of four summers in Yosemite Valley. The Sierra Club was vital to Adams’s early success as a photographer. His first published photographs appeared in the Sierra Club’s 1922 Bulletin, and he had his first one-man show in 1928 at the club’s San Francisco headquarters.

In 1927, he made what is considered his first fully visualized photograph, Monolith, the Face of Half Dome and in 1932, he had his first one-man exhibition at San Francisco’s DeYoung Museum. That year he and contemporary Edward Weston founded the renowned Group f/64, which brought the new West Coast vision of straight photography to national attention and influence. Adams is often revered as the last and defining figure in the romantic tradition of 19th century American landscape painting and photography