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for people who care about the West

The Ansel Adams Wilderness


The Ansel Adams Wilderness
Peter Essick, foreward by Jamie Williams
112 pages, hardcover:
National Geographic Society, 2014.

For 25 years, Peter Essick traveled the globe as a National Geographic photographer, and recently he was named one of the world's 40 most influential nature photographers. In 2010, Essick began "a potentially controversial" project in his native California: shooting in Ansel Adams' Sierra Nevada and in his signature black-and-white style.

Paying homage to a master without imitating the work is a delicate balance to strike. Essick's results, though, are stunning. In The Ansel Adams Wilderness, he captures groves of shimmering aspen trees and alpine lakes, whose calm surfaces perfectly mirror the granite formations and pine trees above. Quotes from Emerson, Thomas Cole and others, plus Essick's own notes, round out the book. Essick, like Adams, conveys a deep respect for his subject matter. And he defends his use of digital technology: If Adams were working today, he says, "he would have a similar model" of the latest camera, although "his would probably be better."