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National Geographic Photographer Pays a Stunning Tribute to Ansel Adams’ Work

At sunrise the Minarets reflect in a small pond near Cecile Lake.

At sunrise the Minarets reflect in a small pond near Cecile Lake.

It’s been just over three decades since the passing of Ansel Adams, but his legacy lives on in the hearts and minds (and on many of the walls) of those he inspired. One of those people, noted National Geographic photographer Peter Essick, decided to pay tribute to the renowned Group f/64 master.

Essick revisited Ansel Adams’ ‘playground’ to pay homage to the scenery Adams captured several decades before. Traveling through the Ansel Adam Wilderness, an area in the Sierra Nevada of California that is named in Adams’ honor, Essick composed photographs in what might be considered the “Ansel Adams style,” ultimately compiling the fruits of his labor into a book titled, The Ansel Adams Wilderness.

The Milky Way and Banner Peak shine in the moonlight from Summit Lake.

The Milky Way and Banner Peak shine in the moonlight from Summit Lake.

In the introduction to his book, Essick speaks to the motivation behind this project:

Like Adams, I am a native Californian familiar with the High Sierra, and some of my first successful photos were of this wilderness area (located between Yosemite National Park and Mammoth Lakes, and renamed for Adams following his death in 1984). For 25 years I have traveled throughout the world as a photographer for National Geographic magazine, but the High Sierra always has had a special place in my heart.

Using the stopped down, zone-system approach to his photographs, Essick almost perfectly replicates the monochrome aesthetic of the work that both literally and figuratively put Ansel Adams on the map, without copying him outright or “standing in the same tripod holes,” so to speak.

Today, we have the honor of presenting a collection of images from the book, with permission from Essick, himself. Before you dive in, however, we do have a couple of suggestions.

First: scroll slowly, so that you might better savor the work. And second: when you’re done, be sure to head over to Amazon and secure yourself a copy of The Ansel Adams Wilderness for a steal at only $18.

Young aspen trees sprout in a meadow near Parker Lake.

Young aspen trees sprout in a meadow near Parker Lake.

Winds of up to 50 miles per hour move up a ridge near Summit Lake.

Winds of up to 50 miles per hour move up a ridge near Summit Lake.

Trees frame granite cliffs reflected in Cabin Lake.

Trees frame granite cliffs reflected in Cabin Lake.

The sun sets over Dana Lake’s outflow waters.

The sun sets over Dana Lake’s outflow waters.

Sunrise highlights the granite islands of Thousand Island Lake.

Sunrise highlights the granite islands of Thousand Island Lake.

Summer runoff cascades in Shadow Creek at dusk.

Summer runoff cascades in Shadow Creek at dusk.

Sleet from an October storm blankets aspen trees near Parker Lake.

Sleet from an October storm blankets aspen trees near Parker Lake.

Shadows from afternoon light darken fresh snow near Gem Lake.

Shadows from afternoon light darken fresh snow near Gem Lake.

Shadow Lake remains shrouded as the morning sun hits the mountains beyond.

Shadow Lake remains shrouded as the morning sun hits the mountains beyond.

Reflections of the sun form streaks in a small stream near the Clark Lakes.

Reflections of the sun form streaks in a small stream near the Clark Lakes.

Reflections break the dawn’s stillness on a corner of Cabin Lake.

Reflections break the dawn’s stillness on a corner of Cabin Lake.

Photographed from Nancy Pass, afternoon clouds form behind the Minarets.

Photographed from Nancy Pass, afternoon clouds form behind the Minarets.

Parker Creek flows past aspens shimmering in the October afternoon light.

Parker Creek flows past aspens shimmering in the October afternoon light.

Moonlight shines on a majestic Sierra Juniper near Shadow Lake.

Moonlight shines on a majestic Sierra Juniper near Shadow Lake.

Midday light streams through ripples on to the rocky bottom of the San Joaquin River’s Middle Fork.

Midday light streams through ripples on to the rocky bottom of the San Joaquin River’s Middle Fork.

Grasses fill a small pond near Rush Creek.

Grasses fill a small pond near Rush Creek.

Golden autumn leaves surround an old aspen tree near Parker Lake.

Golden autumn leaves surround an old aspen tree near Parker Lake.

Frost covers an aspen leaf on a cold October morning near Parker Lake.

Frost covers an aspen leaf on a cold October morning near Parker Lake.

Blowing snow surrounds a pine seedling near Summit Lake.

Blowing snow surrounds a pine seedling near Summit Lake.

An early snow melts on the forest floor of an aspen grove near Parker Lake.

An early snow melts on the forest floor of an aspen grove near Parker Lake.

Afternoon thunderclouds rise above Garnet Lake.

Afternoon thunderclouds rise above Garnet Lake.

A white fungus outlines a plant flattened against a rock by winter snow.

A white fungus outlines a plant flattened against a rock by winter snow.

A waning moon sets over the granite cliffs near Donahue Pass.

A waning moon sets over the granite cliffs near Donahue Pass.

A strong summer wind makes whitecaps on Dana Lake.

A strong summer wind makes whitecaps on Dana Lake.

A small, unnamed waterfall flows near the Marie Lakes.

A small, unnamed waterfall flows near the Marie Lakes.

A small piece of ice floats in Iceberg Lake in August.

A small piece of ice floats in Iceberg Lake in August.

A Sierra wave cloud hangs over Rodgers Peak, left, and Mount Lyell.

A Sierra wave cloud hangs over Rodgers Peak, left, and Mount Lyell.

A fierce storm encompasses trees near the Clark Lakes.

A fierce storm encompasses trees near the Clark Lakes.

As a bit of a bonus, below is a 25-minute National Geographic Live presentation that Essick gave in which he shares the journey that lead to the creation of these images. While it is a bit of a long watch, it’s as inspirational and informative as the above photographs are beautiful, so be sure to put it in your queue.

(via Boston.com)


Image credits: Photographs by Peter Essick and used with permission