Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Witches, Demons And Hooded Monks

Ansel Adams' idea of photography was man meets mountain and their love is pure;  he thought it wicked to manipulate an image.  William Mortensen's idea of photography was man meets bare-naked lady in a studio and scribbles all over the resulting image until it looks like one of those etchings you might invite a date upstairs to examine. Adams hated Mortensen and Mortensen's success with the vulgar (who included Hollywood folk) and got Mortensen kicked out of the history books. At least, that's what it says here. In their time Adams passed for a modernist but- now- with the manipulation of digital images being not only easy but respectable- it's Mortensen who looks like the prophet. And he did it the hard way. God only knows how he achieved some of his results.

I have some sympathy with Adams. Mortensen's sabbats and torture chambers are hokey but compelling. You see one of his pictures, you want to rifle through the whole portfolio. They're like sweeties. They won't do you any good but...
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