Ansel Adams from the Mountains to the Sea, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. March 2013When I'm not reading or at the theatre photography is another time consuming hobby that I pursue, one that I was introduced to by dad.
I think I had a camera from about the age of 5 - I remember a very early trip to London Zoo with my dad and a camera, one that had a screw on flashbulb. I know I also had at least one 110mm camera and that I wasn't a teenager by the time I had my first SLR - an Olympus OM10.
Since the advent on digital I've been through a few cameras but Canon DSLRs and their lenses really inspired me. I'm not great at indoor photography or portraits but I love taking landscape and nature shots and for years Ansel Adams has been a great inspiration.
The exhibition at Greenwich was wonderful when dad and I visited in early March.
It was housed in a light and airy room (unlike the rest of the over heated museum) that has wonderful white walls making the images really stand out.
The exhibition was reasonable empty as we wandered round and so we could stop and really stare at images that caught our eye. We could also wander round in any order we wanted and backtrack at any point.
While a lot of my favourite images weren't included (they don't have any link to water) I discovered dozens of new images that I hadn't seen before and fell in love with dozens of them. We were surprised at how small the originals were and how ingenious his methods for making the huge images!
There was a film show in one corner of the exhibition with footage from interviews with Adams and a couple of things he said really resonated.
There is a lot of talk about how 'real' photos are today with all of the technology out there to alter them, yet Adams himself spent up to a day working on a negative to get just the print he wanted. The dates of his pictures are just when the shutter was pressed - the prints can be from anytime as he manipulated them in the dark room.
He also talked about photography and editing as being like music. A composer writes the score but it is up to the conductor and musicians how it sounds. Thus a dozen people can stand in one spot and take the same view but each of us will produce something different.
I've always been a little unsure about editing my photos in programs such as photoshop because I thought it was cheating - now I can see it as creating art from a basic start. I still won't be doing things like substituting one sky for another and changing the basic image that much, but I won't feel guilty about enhancing the colours, converting to black and white and cropping.
One day I dream of taking just one picture half as good as Adams but this exhibition has inspired me and has not depressed me. I'm now looking forwards to a planned trip to California, Yosemite and the Sierra with my camera. And hoping that the schedule will allow a long visit to the Ansel Adams Gallery. I'm already saving hard!
The one disappointing thing about the exhibition was the gift shop. Both dad and I had fallen in love with a couple of images, including one of the huge feature pictures, but they weren't available to buy. I am still debating whether to buy the exhibition catalogue as this may be the only way to get a copy of these images.