Ansel Adams

American, 1902–1984

Mount McKinley and Wonder Lake Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska, 1947, Gelatin silver print

Ansel Adams, one of the most influential American photographers, journeyed to Alaska during the summers of 1947 and 1949. He captured the awesome magnitude of Mount McKinley’s 20,000-foot (6,096 m) elevation and five glaciers in three exposures shot at dawn (at 1:30 a.m.) during a break in cloud cover. Glaciers proved a perfect vehicle for the artist’s style, which was based on heightening dramatic contrasts of light and shadow.

Through his close relationship to the Sierra Club, Adams used his photographs to advocate for the preservation of Alaskan wilderness. He also helped lead the effort to create Kings Canyon National Park in California. Because of his work’s popularity and connection to the National Parks, Adams has contributed significantly to the culture of alpine landscape. This photograph inspired Chris Jordan’s print Denali Denial, 2006.