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Ansel Easton Adams Born in San Francisco Adams manifested an early interest in music and the piano an interest which he initially hoped to develop into a professional career In 1916 he took his first photographs of the Yosemite Valley an experience of such intensity that he was to view it as a lifelong inspiration He studied photography with a photofinisher producing early work influenced by the then prevalent pictorialist style Each summer he returned to Yosemite where he developed an interest in conservation Adams invented a method of exposure and development called the zone system which he used to divide the gradations of light in a scene into ten zones from black to white this allowed him to visualize the different levels of gray in the final photograph with great accuracy The control he achieved with this system enabled him to capture such subtle changes of tone and light that he could return again and again to the same scene yet produce images that were always fresh never repetitive By 1920 he had formed an association with the Sierra Club In 1927 his first portfolio was published Parmelian Prints of the High Sierras In 1928 he married Virginia Best and began to work as an official photographer for the Sierra Club His decision to devote his life to photography was influenced by his strong response to the straight photography of Paul Strand whom he met in 1930 Adamss first important one-man show was held in 1931 at the M H de Young Memorial Museum and in the same year his work was exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution In 1932 Adams and other California photographers including Edward Weston and Imogen Cunningham founded an influential group called f64 which was devoted to taking straightforward photographs in sharp focus In 1935 Adams published Making a Photograph the first of a series of technical manuals He helped found the photography department of the Museum
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