Saturday, February 23, 2013

Revealing Light

In the documentary film "Ansel Adams, Photographer", narrator Beaumont Newhall says
“Light to Adams, as to all photographers, is the great medium of revelation.”
The phrase "light is the great medium of revelation" was first expressed in a 19th century sermon by Princeton theologian Charles Hodge.

In making the unsupportable assertion that god is light, Hodge, a fundamentalist confined by dogma, nevertheless makes arguably insightful observations about light:
  1. Light is the great medium of revelation
  2. Light in the natural world is the source or necessary condition of life
  3. Light is the source of all beauty

The Tetons and The Snake River by Ansel Adams, 1942.

This "revelation" is not of the divine, or of a self-serving deity, rather is self-evident phenomena and beauty revealed to- or discovered by- those who make a concerted practice of seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, and touching the natural world.

Light encompasses all gradations of luminosity ― between blinding highlight and the dimmest shadow.
"When you light a candle, you also cast a shadow."
― Ursula Le Guin

Ansel Adams photographed the American West revealing its sublime beauty for generations to contemplate.

Adams was a student of light, both as an aesthetic and scientific pursuit (cf. The Zone System).

Of Adams' attention and sensitivity to the quality of light, Beaumont Newhall says
“Through its moods: noon brilliance, first light, dawn; through the illusion of substance: snow, charred wood, stone and the magic of a place and a moment, he conveys universal experience."

McDonald Lake, Glacier National Park  by Ansel Adams 1933-42.