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Yosemite Special Edition Photograph Technical Information
The Yosemite Special Edition Photographs are high quality silver gelatin prints made directly from Ansel Adams' original negatives, and have been printed since 1975 by Alan Ross, Adams' assistant from 1974 to 1979. These prints are available only through The Ansel Adams Gallery.
The prints are made by projection rather than by contact, regardless of negative format. This ensures a consistency in finished size and also affords the greatest control of dodging and burning. Most of the negatives in the series are 8x10 format, but other negative sizes include 5x7, 4x5, 31/4x41/4, and 120 rollfilm. The 8x10 and 5x7 negatives are printed in the Beseler 8x10 enlarger designed by Ross, with a custom Aristo 12"x12" cold-light head. Negatives 4x5 and smaller are printed with an Omega D5500 enlarger with a diffusion color-head.
The negatives are printed on Ilford Multigrade Fiber Base paper, double weight, glossy. Print contrast is controlled by using varying strengths of yellow or magenta color-correction (CC) filtration. The prints are developed in Ilford Multigrade developer, usually at 1:16.5 dilution, for 3 minutes. After immersion in a standard acid stop bath they are fixed for 2 minutes in Ilford Universal Fixer, diluted 1:7, and transferred to a large tray of fresh water for a preliminary rinse, and then to a larger, clean-water holding bath.
The final processing sequence involves selenium toning, a procedure which intensifies the blacks of the print and which also makes the image more permanent. Adams also felt this process gave the print a more appealing image color, neutralizing the usually greenish-black tones of an untoned print to a sometimes very slight "cool-purple" black.
The selenium toning process for the Special Edition prints consists of three baths. Each of three trays contains a working dilution of Zonal Pro Archival Rinse; the second of these trays is the toning bath (Kodak Rapid Selenium Toner added, 1:10 dilution). The prints are given a minimum of three minutes in the first bath with continuous agitation, and then are transferred to the "toning" bath where they are continuously agitated until the prints have acquired sufficient color and density. They are then transferred to the third bath where they are given intermittent agitation for about five minutes. The prints are transferred to a preliminary rinse in a fresh water bath and then transferred to a large sink where they are rinsed again and held while being loaded into archival print washers. After washing, the prints are squeegeed and laid face down on fiberglass drying screens.
The dried prints are "spotted" to remove inevitable dust specks and are then mounted on Light Impressions Westminster board (bright-white 4-ply) with Seal MT-5 dry mounting tissue. Overmat stock, which has been specially letter-press debossed with the Ansel Adams Yosemite Special Edition signature logo, is bevel cut by hand to accommodate each image. Finally, each print is personally re-inspected and initialed on the back by Alan Ross before shipment to the Gallery. Each print is reinspected on arrival to ensure the highest quality photograph and presentation.