Landscape photographer Ansel Adams was considered a master of light for his ability to capture photos without needing to use an exposure meter; however, the darkroom was where Adams would score the negative and tweak the final image to his liking.
Photographer Marc Silber previously caught up with Adams’ son Michael to learn how he scored the famous Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico photo. Now in this video, Michael takes us into his father’s darkroom to show the tools he used in the decades preceding digital photography and Photoshop.
Adams understood that a photograph would not be perfect until it entered the darkroom where he would manually correct exposure levels using his custom-made tools.
In what was essentially his bat cave, Adams housed a negative enlarger that ran on a homemade railroad track, and a dodge-and-burn stick made from cardboard. The set-up involved 30 individual light bulbs which could be independently switched on or off for complete control over the negative’s illumination.
The entire workflow was meticulous and would require Adams to microwave a quick test print before undergoing the laborious process of creating the final dry print; just imagine editing in Photoshop with no ability to undo changes!
Adams darkroom reveals how he was able to translate the image in his mind’s eye to print and shows that many photographers now have the same digital tools at their disposal. Of course, what separates one legendary photographer from the next is their ability to capture the raw material in the first place; the perfect photo composition.