Ansel Adams in Colour

I've been pretty quiet of late on my blog, and this has been for good reason. The past few weeks since I returned home, I've been busy preparing my first cloth bound book for printing. It's been a long haul, but I think that anything worth doing, should be done properly.

Doing a book requires a lot of preparation. You may think the choice of images would be the hardest part, but it's been a huge learning curve.

Firstly there is the cost of doing a book, learning about paper types and also, getting past the jargon that printers talk in. There is also the question of storage and distribution to overcome - where exactly do you store 1,000 books?

The good news is that the Quark express file is almost ready now. I spent the early part of this week in Nottingham with my friend Darren putting the layout together. We've got some beautiful fonts in there and the layout is simple yet elegant. The ISBN number has been allocated and the preface has been written by someone whom I admire the work of greatly. The book will be released by Half-Light Press. Estimated release date is the later half of October, early November, but I will preview a proof copy of the book on this blog when the printer sends me one.

So why the title 'Ansel Adams in Colour'? Well, I guess the past few weeks, as I've been busy looking at samples of paper types to use for my own book ( I have settled on a fine Japanese art paper), I've been busy plundering my ever growing collection of fine photography books for comparisons. One such title that I hadn't looked at for a long time is Ansel's book about his colour photography.

Apart from the fact that it's beautifully printed on the finest stock Silk paper I can imagine, I'd almost completely forgotten that Ansel shot colour at all.

This brings up an interesting aspect for me. I feel that photography that is considered 'art' is often black and white. Certainly, I'm in awe of the medium, despite that I don't shoot it myself. But what of Colour? Why has it not been embraced so steadily by the photographic art world? Well, I think if we look inside Adam's book, it's clear to me that Ansel had trouble with the medium. That's not to say his work was bad. It's rather beautiful in fact to see very Adams-like compositions, but done in colour. The thing is though - he was troubled because he lacked the degree of control that he wanted over colour. Ansel was no black and white purist, and is often noted to have looked forward to the digital revolution and the means to control colour the way he wanted to. I feel that perhaps, since the amount of dark-room control that was ever present for Black and White, allowed it to establish itself more than Colour could. Colour has been a late developer (no pun intended).

So what of Ansel's book. It's a great read. It's also interesting to see how he grappled with the problems of working with early colour and how he failed (too strong a word) to reach his vision with the medium. I personally think this book is a very important document, illustrating the trials of colour, how it was perceived by the generation of the 40's and 50's.

Maybe you didn't know that Ansel had made colour images? If so, then I can recommend this book as it's a beautiful edition and I feel, should be part of every landscape photographer's 'core' book collection.

It turns out that the book has been revised and expanded since my early 90's edition, and unfortunately - is now out of print. So if you're interested in this title, my review is based on the 1st Edition, and you can get a copy of it on