By Kara DeSantis

Campus Times Staff

The George Eastman House currently houses an exhibit entitled ?In Praise of Nature: Ansel Adams and Photographers of the American West,? a black-and-white retrospective of the work of Ansel Adams and other nature photographers.

Adams is the best known of a group of American photographers who practiced Transcendentalism. Transcendentalists believe that religion is found in nature, and that man can find God through interaction with his natural surroundings.

The exhibit began with a series of paintings by members of the Hudson River School, demonstrating how Transcendentalist thought was echoed in other areas of the art world.

Two of the works on display portrayed locations in the Rochester area ? High Falls and the banks of the Genesee.

The American West was a logical location for these photographers to focus their efforts. The West was a huge, largely unexplored expanse for them to discover and capture on film. The stark, rugged beauty of the area is well suited to black and white photography.

While Adams is undoubtedly the central artist in the exhibit, some other well-known American photographers being displayed are Charles R. Savage, Carleton Watkins and Edward Weston.

Adams was a great admirer of Weston?s work, even going as far as imitating one of his favorite shots by Weston.

Weston?s work, ?Mirror view ? Mirror Lake, Yosemite Valley California? is breathtaking. The perfect stillness of the lake resulted in a complete reproduction of the scene above the water, and the double image gives the photograph a captivating power.

Adams worked intimately with nature, regarding every aspect of it as a possible subject. He photographed everything from sweeping mountainous expanses to minute details of ferns and pine branches and he managed to give them all a quiet mystery, demonstrating the power contained in nature.

The exhibit records a comment once made to Adams ? ?but there are no people in your pictures.? To this Adams replied, ?Oh, but you are wrong. There are always two, the photographer and the viewer.?

One of the greatest artistic strengths of Adams was that although he maintained a true artist?s vision, he presented it in such an unobtrusive manner that he fades into the background, and the viewer feels as if they are the only person involved with the photograph.

One interesting part of the exhibit is labelled ?The Rochester Connection.? Adams was a good friend of George Eastman, and in the 1950s, Eastman asked Adams to take photographs for a UR brochure. The exhibit contains a photograph of a UR student, one of Rush Rhees Library before its expansion, and several portraying other aspects of life on the UR campus.

The ?In Praise of Nature? exhibit will be showing until Sept. 16, and tickets are $5.00 with UR ID.

Kara DeSantis can be reached at

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