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Aspens, Northern New Mexico

Artist: Ansel Adams
Created: 1958
Format: Photograph

Aspens, Northern New Mexico

Ansel Adams was well known for his adoration of our natural world. Equally famed for his astonishingly beautiful photographs, Adams did well in joining two of his greatest passions: nature and photography.  ‘Aspens, Northern New Mexico’, taken in autumn of 1958, demonstrates his remarkable talent in capturing the environment.


A cluster of tall, slender trees set amidst a minimalist dark background create the mesmerizing scene titled ‘Aspens, Northern New Mexico’.  The image’s unmistakable focal point is the illuminated smaller aspen positioned slightly off center towards the left. The light on its leaves is bright, bold, and warming, while the subdued light on the trees in the background, set against the distant darkness, produce a fascinating atmosphere.  The palpable stillness within the innermost depth of the forest creates a sense of eeriness, but the uneasy feeling gradually diminishes and transforms into an awareness of serenity as one’s eyes are drawn to the peaceful forefront.

A Few Words from Ansel Adams

With regard to ‘Aspens, Northern New Mexico’ Ansel explains his personal experience: “…we came across a stand of young aspen trees in mellow gold. I immediately knew there were wonderful images to be made in the area. We were in the shadow of the mountains, the light was cool and quiet and no wind was stirring. The aspen trunks were slightly greenish and the leaves were a vibrant yellow. The forest floor was covered with a tangle of russet shrubs. It was very quiet and visually soft. The photograph is exceedingly popular at all levels of appreciation. I do not consider it a 'pretty' scene; for me it is cool and aloof and rather stately.” (Ansel Adams, Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs)

About the Artist

During a visit to Yosemite National Park in 1916, Ansel Adams received a Kodak Brownie box camera from his father. With it, he took his first photographs of the natural scenery which ultimately set the course for his career.

Adams received wide recognition for his stunning photos, which eventually inspired him to co-found the Group f/64. Its members were able to promote their individual and innovative approach to photographic style.  The concept motivated Adams to share his personal applied methods and techniques with aspiring photographers.

In 1941, after having embarked on many instructional workshops, Adams began teaching on a serious level at the Art Center School of Los Angeles (currently known as the Art Center College of Design).


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