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Monolith, the Face of Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California

© 2013 The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust.

Monolith, the Face of Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California

Artist: Ansel Adams (Born in San Francisco, California, 1902–1984)
Culture: American
Date: 1927 (printed 1979)
Medium: Gelatin silver print
Image/trimmed sheet: 19 3/8 x 14 1/2 inches (49.2 x 36.8 cm)
Frame: 28 1/4 x 22 1/4 x 1 1/2 inches (71.8 x 56.5 x 3.8 cm)
Edition: Museum Set Edition #223
Classification: Photograph
Credit Line: Bequest of the Aubrey Courtney Shives, Jr. (T’66) Trust
Label Text:Monolith, The Face of Half Dome is one of Adams’s earliest and most famous works. Half Dome is a popular cliff in Yosemite National Park, California, well known for its high degree of difficulty for climbers. Adams hiked this mountain on an early April morning in 1927, stopping at an adjacent cliff so that he could take the photograph. He described this experience as “an accomplishment… I had been able to realize a desired image: not the way the subject appeared in reality but how it felt to me and how it must appear in the finished print.”

To do this, Adams used the contrasting dark tones of the cliff’s ridges and the radiant whiteness of the snow to highlight the face’s extreme drop, evoking the psychological effect of the climb itself. The cliff’s vertical ridges appear daunting and insurmountable against the white base of the snow, while a pure gray sky in the background captures the morning sunrise.

Object number: 2011.8.1