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Ansel Adams Exhibit in the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park in San Diego

Photography is not just a current trend, like bellbottoms were in the 1970’s. In this digital, iphone, facebook, myspace, twitter, weblogging age, it’s not going to die anytime soon, if ever. Everyone needs a profile picture somewhere. Technology is continuing its advancements, providing new ways to capture and record an image of reality. Take for example,, where an avid learner of photography can come to learn about different type of lenses. Technology is even allowing time travel to become a reality, bringing back the past, with professionals and amateurs taking black-and-white photos and using vintage cameras. Whether or not you know what you’re doing, or even if you don’t do any photography at all, unless a stranger comes up to you with a camera and asks you to take a picture of him/her with their boyfriend/girlfriend (and you know it’s for there facebook or myspace page), it’s nice to know a little bit about the history of photography. The trend might not have an end in sight, but it started somewhere.

Ansel Adams was far from the first photographer, but he is still a milestone in the development of photography as an art and is part of the history of photography. He might be a very good place to start. Most professional photographers if they look far back enough, will remember taking some kind of course on the history of photography. The best way to learn is from example. Perhaps this is the reason for the Ansel Adams exhibit in the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park. The exhibit is entitled, “A Life’s Work” and is on display from May 23-October 4, 2009.

Two of his most famous pieces include, “Moonrise, Hernandez” and “Monolith, Face of Halfdome.” The latter, I actually studied in depth in an art history course I took on modern American art. I have never seen anything that I’ve studied in class in real life until that moment. Those couple of minutes staring in awe at the tiny image in that overwhelming frame, strengthened my desire to travel the world and see the actual works that I’ve studied in real life and more. It’s like meeting your favorite author, musician, or celebrity, minus the haggling with agents and you don’t have to worry about the fear of rejection; will they like me?

Art is ot about the newest avant-garde or the most advanced products or methods. Sometimes, the newest trend is the oldest, but if you don’t actually have knowledge of the past, how can you look back at it? It’s like looking back at a childhood playing in the lush forests of Malaysia, but you’ve never actually been there. How would you know what it’s like? How would you know of the joys in taking black-and-white photos with the grainy effects caused by time and the lack of 21st century technological editing, if you were never there to take them? How could you create a feeling of nostalgia when you’ve never been in the past yourself?

Yes, it is indeed impossible to go back to those times, but it is possible to mimic what they did in the past, which requires an understanding or knowledge of history. I don’t claim to be a photographer, but as a lover of history, particularly art history, I recognize its importance. I think MOPA and I share that commonality.

You don’t have to be an aspiring photographer to appreciate this exhibit. You don’t even have to understand anything about photography at all. I know next to nothing. Most of Ansel Adams’ work centers around nature, which is universal. It is universal in that it is everywhere, and because of that, anyone and everyone can appreciate it.