Photography history on display at Long Island Museum

Image: Ansel Adams: Early Works

Ansel Adams is best known for his heroic, high-gloss-and-contrast prints in the 1970s and 1980s.

Long Island Museum is offering people a chance to see a different side of the photography giant in Ansel Adams: Early Works, open now through Aug. 2. The exhibit features 41 photographic prints taken by Adams in the 1920s into the 1950s from the collection of Michael P. Mattis and Judy Hochberg. The collection includes lesser-known works and a rare print of the famous Moonrise, Hernandez (New Mexico). The prints are smaller but intimate and masterful.

“They’re small prints, but when you get close to them and look into them, they depict vastness and broadness,” Long Island Museum Chief Curator Joshua Ruff said. “That’s what Ansel Adams is all about is capturing these iconic national park scenes and doing it in a way that made people appreciate it.”

Photography has, of course, changed drastically since Adams’ early days. Adams used to go from the field to the darkroom, whereas today people go from the field to a computer screen to experiment with types of filters.

“I think that [photographers] are extremely interested because photography today is such a different process,” Ruff said.

The medium has also become more ubiquitous. Cameras can be bought online with a click of a finger, and it’s easier to travel to the national landmarks, such as Yosemite, Adams captured.

“Maybe that’s something we lose site of a little bit is because its so accessible to us, all we have to do is get there,” Ruff said. “We have great tools at our disposals to capture those scenes now, whereas in his time, a brownie camera would not have produced the results that we see here.”

And that makes Adams’ ability to capture vast space on such a small scale even more incredible.

“You can appreciate it a little bit more if you understand the history of it,” Ruff said. “That is something that hopefully if people are coming to see the show and they know a little bit of that in advance, they’ll appreciate it more.”

Ansel Adams: Early Works

Long Island Museum
Open through Aug. 2
Hours: Thursday through Saturday, 10am to 5pm
Price: $10 regular admission, $7 for seniors and $5 for students ages 6-17; Free for children under six and museum members

beth ann clyde

beth ann clyde

Beth Ann Clyde is a Digital Editor of Long Island Pulse. Have a story idea or just want to say hello? Email or reach out on Twitter @BAClyde.