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Tenaya Creek, Dogwood, Rain, Yosemite Valley, California

Ansel Adams
Tenaya Creek, Dogwood, Rain, Yosemite Valley, California
Negative: 1948; Print: 1980
Gelatin silver print
15 5/16 x 19 ½ inches
Collection of the New Mexico Museum of Art. Gift of the Museum of New Mexico Foundation, 1982
© 2010 The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust

A native Californian, Ansel Adams first visited the Yosemite Valley at age fourteen and returned there almost every year thereafter. He believed that wilderness areas were vital to human welfare and spent much of his life advocating for the preservation of some of the country’s special ecosystems and geographic landmarks. In Adams’s 1985 biography by Mary Street Alinder, he is quoted as saying that he “never intentionally made a creative photograph that related directly to an environmental issue.” But he did publish and give permission for the publication of his images to support an appreciation of the American wilderness and to promote specific initiatives and legislation. During his lifetime Adams came to see some of the drawbacks of the publicity he had brought to the wilderness areas he was committed to preserving. Acknowledging the conflict between conservation and access, he later protested the building of roads around California’s Tenaya Lake. “…I want people to experience the magic of wilderness,” Adams said, but “there is no use fooling ourselves that nature with a slick highway running through it is any longer wild….” (from Celebrating the American Earth: A Tribute to Ansel Adams, by William Turnage, 1981, n.p.).