In this video by The Nerdwriter, Ansel Adams is portrayed as a photographer who began his career simply snapping photos without any real technique, something that the narrator points out has become a real trend on social media and photo-sharing sites. It wasn’t until Adams received some genuine inspiration that he began to look at photography differently, and subsequently began taking his iconic photos.
On one particular trip to Half Dome in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Adams was standing on an area known as the “Diving Board” with a great view of the nearby massive granite dome. It was there that Adams had a vision of what he wanted his image to look like. He cites that moment as his first conscious use of the technique knows as “visualization,” where you visualize what you want the finished-photo to look like as you are in the process of taking the photo.
Ansel also developed another tool, the zone system, which splits up the full range from black to white into 11 separate zones, each exactly one f-stop apart. Adams used this system to predict what different parts of his image would look like at different exposures. Ultimately, his images would prove to have an incredible range from dark blacks to bright whites.