“Half Dome, Merced River, Winter” by Ansel Adams
The photograph “Half Dome, Merced River, Winter” by Ansel Adams was taken during his travels in Yosemite Valley, and it demonstrates the author’s aesthetic appreciation of the high mountain experiences (Hammond, 1999). In the picture, a viewer sees the glassy and smooth water surface, the banks and fir trees covered with snow, and a high dome of the mountain in the center of the photograph. The image is well-contrasted, and the presence of cold colors perfectly transfers the feeling of winter weather.
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Another photo is from the personal archive and depicts the high mountains of the Himalayas in the summer. A viewer sees the green hills, the shapes of the south-eastern plants, and the vague lines of the mountain almost dissolving in the sky. When speaking of the technical execution, “Half Dome, Merced River, Winter” is of superior quality, while the personal image has a few compositional defects, contrast misbalance, and the lack of a strong focus on the central element.
The professional photograph has clearer semantic content created by the detailed and eloquent visual shapes. The proficient execution demonstrated in this work, helps to transfer the emotional content to a large audience. Due to the character of the personal picture’s use and purpose of its creation, it addresses a narrow group of viewers. But from a personal point of view, it has a deep meaning as it reminds me about past experiences and adventures.
These two photos are put together in the paper because of their thematic proximity – the same visual elements of high mountains are the indicators of their similarity. Nevertheless, despite the thematic affinity, the photographs are different regarding the color use and balance, exposition, composition, and other technical and aesthetic elements of execution. The combination of similarities and differences of the two works defined their selection for the analysis and helped to make it more profound and interesting.
“Johnny” by Edward Weston
The first photo is “Johnny” by Edward Weston. The central place in the image is given to a cat laying on a tree trunk, but the great contextual significance can be observed in the use of other visual elements – textures, patterns, shapes, and contrasts. Weston’s art is metaphorical and is primarily based on the speculation of the real objects and transcendental elements (Peeler, 1991). In “Johnny,” the photographer combines the visual elements in a way that creates a perfect unity – the pattern of the cat’s fur resembles the lines on the wooden panel in the background which, in its turn, relates to the texture of the tree trunk.
The rounded shape of the cat’s body is similar to the wavy shape of the piece of wood on which it is seating. In his work, the photographer always used “sculpture-like forms of ordinary objects” as the mediums for the creation of art pieces (Nordström, 2005, p. 16). And “Johnny” serves as evidence for this statement.
The personal picture included in the analysis is the image of a small and playful black puppy I once met on the street. The photo merely depicts the dog with its pink tongue peeking out the mouth. Regarding the technical execution of the picture, it has almost zero value and has many flaws in terms of sharpness, composition, and contrasts. But it still has a tremendous personal emotional value because it reminds me of the moment of pure joy and happiness this small creature experienced and shared with us.
These two works have many dissimilarities. The photograph by Weston is highly technical and contains the esthetic value, but the photo of the dog provokes an immediate emotional response. The perception of these two works may vary from viewer to viewer depending on their preferences, emotional needs, overall artistic tastes. Moreover, the analysis helped to indicate that the intentions behind the creation of these photos and the authors’ attitudes to the process were dissimilar. From a personal point of view, it is the major feature that contrasts the two works and endows them with opposing qualities.
Hammond, A. (1999). Ansel Adams and the high mountain experience. History of Photography, 23(1), 88-100. Web.
Nordström, A. (2005). Weston & the post-modernists. Image, 43(1), 16-21.
Peeler, D. P. (1991). Power, autonomy and Weston’s imagery. History of Photography, 15(3), 194-202. Web.