85 years ago Ansel Adams created one of the great black and white photographs of all times, Monolith, The Face of Half Dome. A number of interesting stories surround this photograph, including the “exploration” to physically get to the location, the “pre-visualization” of what the final photograph would look like when printed, as well as a close call with the physical glass negative itself in a darkroom fire. You can read more about it here.The importance of pre-visualization in fine art photography cannot be emphasized enough. When I am out photographing I view the scene with an eye to what the final black and white, silver gelatin print will look like when hanging on the wall. Most of the time an exciting scene does not easily transfer to an exciting print. I am looking for visually exciting details (interesting lines, dramatic textures) that will help convey the excitement of the scene.
Monolith represented a turning point for Ansel Adams. It was the first time he anticipated how what he was doing in the field would affect the final print. Reading about this moment years later certainly helped in my own development of how I think and work. Thanks Ansel!