The Ansel Adams Gallery is thrilled to offer its collectors, friends and fellow art lovers, a chance to participate in a unique opportunity. From time to time on our website, we love to feature hand-made gelatin silver prints from our family of distinguished Gallery artists at a special price.
This month, in a full embrace of the arrival of Summer, we are offering two seasonally significant images from Charles Cramer: "Bachelor and Three Graces, Mariposa Grove, Yosemite," and "Morning Backlight, Alpine Lake, Yosemite."
While Charlie's original prints normally sell in these sizes up to $600, you can now add one to your private collection for 25% off the initial retail price. Each photograph is made by Mr. Cramer in his studio, printed to current archival standards, signed and numbered, as well as mounted, matted and ready for framing. The time to purchase will begin at 9:00 AM Pacific Time on Monday, July 17th and will expire upon the close of business, Sunday, July 23rd at 6:00 PM. Once the offer has expired, we anticipate an order fulfillment time of approximately four to five weeks to ensure the quality of each individual order. This inaugural printing offer is available for a very limited time, after which, the print will return to full price.
Email our curator, Evan Russel, at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any additional questions about the prints or shipping.
The Story of These Images
Bachelor and the Three Graces
I first photographed this scene as a B&W negative in August of 1976. I was only doing B&W at the time, and this quickly became one of my favorites. I had recently finished my Master's degree in Piano, and was still planning on being a pianist/piano teacher. The next year, a local group in Santa Clara sponsored me in a piano recital, and we decided I should also exhibit some photographs. We put together a flyer using this image, and since I had just signed up for the June 1977 Ansel Adams Yosemite Workshop , I decided to send a flyer to Ansel (I had lots of copies!) I wrote a note saying I would be at his workshop in June.
I never expected any kind of response from the great photographer, as I knew he was very busy. So I was truly shocked when this arrived in the mail:
I think this shows several important traits about Ansel. He was incredibly gracious and encouraging to photographers. And he had incredible energy, as he continued a voluminous correspondence each morning, promoting photography, supporting environmental causes, and sending out postcards like this.
Over the course of the next few years, I became more and more involved in photography, and eventually supported myself with both music and photography. In the early 80s, I started playing around with color, and re-photographed this scene as a 4x5 color transparency. That is the basis for this print.
This was photographed late in the day, with the trees in complete shade. In the B&W version, you can see a shaft of sun on the ground, coming between the Bachelor and his graces. I waited a little later for the color photograph, and that shaft is almost completely gone.
Back in the 70s and 80s, these trees were fully accessible, but later a protective fence was built around them. I know the trees appreciate it, but it makes photography there a little more challenging. The entire Mariposa Grove was closed in 2015 for a major restoration by the Yosemite Conservancy. It will reopen in the Fall of 2017, and I can't wait to see the improvements. (They're not adding more trees! Just improving the access).
Morning Backlight, Apline Lake, Yosemite
In 2009, the Yosemite Conservancy published "First Light: Five Photographers Explore Yosemite's Wilderness". These four photographer friends and I started these backcountry trips in 2001, and the image above was made on such a trip in 2015. As usual with these trips, we had mule support, and had the Tuolumne Stables brought our gear in, and dropped it off near our campsite. Then, a week later, they came back to pick it up. This allows for bringing all the camera gear we would need, plus some luxuries like camp chairs! (We did have to walk in and out!)
This lake provided some very exciting backlighting. Most of my images are made in soft light—complete shade. Soft light can be found on overcast days, or early or late in the day. In the morning, after the sun does come up, my next favorite light is backlighting, which you see above. Basically, I'm pointing my camera into the sun, but I can protect it from direct sun by carefully shielding the lens, or by hiding behind a tree that blocks the sun, as I did in this image. Backlight looks like it would be very contrasty, with black shadows and burned-out highlights. But, surprisingly, it works really well. The key is to find a composition where the sun is backlighting some important shapes. In this case, that's the foreground tree on the left, and especially the granite island with trees on the right. The backlit grasses in the bottom left also add a nice sense of depth to the image. About an hour or two after sunrise, the sun gets too high in the sky, and then the lighting is very harsh and dull. But then, about two or three hours before sunset, the backlighting gets good again. And after the sun goes down, a period of soft light. Kodak used to advise people to photograph things in full sun, which would be front-lighting, the opposite of what I did here. Front-lit objects seem rather blah, but turning the camera 180 degrees gives much, much more exciting light!
On this trip, there were some forest fires many miles away, and on occasion, some very light smoke would drift in. This can actually be used to advantage, as the distant shoreline of the lake is slightly lighter and hazier than it would be on a clear day. This helps separate the near and far, thus increasing the sense of depth in the print, as you see above.