Forest in Spring, Happy Isles, Yosemite Valley, CA 1989

John Sexton

Original Gelatin Silver photograph signed by John Sexton

Image size 11" x 14"

Mounted and overmatted with 4-ply archival museum board 


$3,000.00 USD

About John Sexton

John Sexton was born in 1953 and has lived on the Monterey Peninsula in California for more than forty years. Respected as a photographer, master printmaker, author, and workshop instructor, he is best known for his luminous, quiet, black and white photographs of the natural environment. In 2018 John was inducted into the International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum, St. Louis, Missouri. After more than fifty years John still finds magic in exposing and processing film, and making silver gelatin prints, by hand, in his traditional darkroom at his home and studio in Carmel Valley, California. John shares that home and studio with his wife and photographer, Anne Larsen, and their black and white cat, Boots.

John's most recent book is Recollections: Three Decades of Photographs, an award-winning retrospective volume, published by Ventana Editions. John's previous award-winning books include Quiet Light, a monograph representing fifteen years of his work, and Listen to the Trees, which were published by Bulfinch Press/Little, Brown and Company, along with Places of Power: The Aesthetics of Technology published by Ventana Editions.

He is Director of the John Sexton Photography Workshops program, and for more than forty-five years has taught photography workshops throughout the United States and abroad, emphasizing traditional silver gelatin printing techniques and personally expressive photography. Some of these organizations include: Anderson Ranch Arts Center, The Ansel Adams Gallery, Maine Photographic Workshops, The Friends of Photography, and The Palm Beach Workshops.

John's informed and entertaining lectures for photographic and professional organizations, colleges, universities, and museums discuss the aesthetic and technical aspects of expressive photography. He has presented lectures for, among others, Adobe, Apple, Kodak, George Eastman House, Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona, Boston University, Oregon State University, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Bowers Museum, Monterey Museum of Art, Museum of Photographic Arts, New Hampshire Institute of Art, Portland Art Museum, and the Seattle Art Museum.

A recipient of the 2005 North American Nature Photography Association Lifetime Achievement Award and the 2014 American Society of Photographers International Award, John is a consultant to Eastman Kodak Company and other photographic manufacturers. He worked as both Technical and Photographic Assistant, and Technical Consultant, to Ansel Adams from 1979 to 1984. Sexton assisted Adams in the darkroom and in the field, and conducted all the technical testing on the revised editions of Ansel's books The Negative and The Print. Following Mr. Adams' death Sexton served as Photographic Special Projects Consultant to The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust. Along with serving as an instructor at number of the Ansel Adams Yosemite Workshops, Sexton was the director of that program in the early 1980's. From 1985 to 1993 he was a member of the Board of Trustees of The Friends of Photography.

John's photographs are included in permanent collections, exhibitions, and publications throughout the world. His work has been featured on the CBS Sunday Morning show, and on the MacNeil Lehrer News Hour. Bank of America, General Motors, Eastman Kodak Company, and Apple, Inc. have used his photographs in national advertising campaigns. Sexton's photographs have been featured in numerous periodicals including: Time, Life, American Photo, Backpacker, Photo Techniques, Darkroom Photography, LensWork, View Camera, Black and White, Zoom, Outdoor Photographer, Outside, The Washington Post, and Popular Photography.

About the Image

Springtime in Yosemite can be a wonderful rejuvenating experience. This photograph, Forest in Spring, Happy Isles, Yosemite Valley, California was made in April 1989. On this visit to Yosemite, I had photographed at Happy Isles a few days earlier. Happy Isles is one of many places that I like to visit more than once when I am in Yosemite Valley. On this day, the small green buds had erupted into a verdant lime green "bouquet" of fresh leaves. I began exploring with my viewing frame trying to arrange a scene that I had studied a few days earlier. As I pondered the possibilities with my viewing frame, simulating different focal length lenses, I was surprised when I decided on my camera position and the use of my 75mm wide-angle lens - the widest lens I owned for my 4x5 view camera at the time.

I wanted to try and create an image that would invite the viewer into the scene rather than observing the scene from a distance. The camera position was very critical. An inch to the left or a small distance to the right created visual challenges. I wanted the trees to appear tall, so I chose a lower camera position. Over the years, having shown this photograph to a number of people, most viewers do not sense that it was made with a wide-angle lens. Partly this is because I very carefully leveled the camera when setting it up, but honestly it was simply good fortune. The tree trunks and limbs that were closest to the camera were somewhat diminutive in size. Their size was exaggerated by their proximity to the wide-angle lens. Most of the tree trunks in the distance were huge, so there was a "normalization" of scale that occurred that was totally beyond my control.

I thought a green filter would lighten them most effectively, and I made two identical negatives with my Wratten #11 green filter. I then decided to look through my Wratten #8 yellow filter as a comparison. To my surprise, it appeared as if the yellow filter might lighten the leaves even more, so I made two additional identical exposures with that filter. It was only when I made the contact sheet of all four negatives that I could see that indeed the unlikely yellow filter candidate had produced an image that was closer to my visualization. I made careful notes in the field at the time so that I could learn from this experience. Since then, when working in the spring in that portion of Yosemite Valley with fresh green leaves, I reach for my yellow filter with confidence.

Once I complete the prints I need to make at this time, the negative will be retired for traditional silver printing, and will never again be printed in any size as a silver gelatin print” with "This negative has been retired by John for traditional silver printing, and will never again be printed in any size as a silver gelatin print. Once the small number of remaining prints are gone there will be no additional silver gelatin prints available for sale.

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