California has long been a place of inspiration for artists and photographers. Take a tour through California’s diverse landscapes with our interactive map focusing on the work of Ansel Adams or enter the competition to win a holiday to explore the Golden State for yourself.
In spite of its name, Death Valley is full of life. A place of extremes, from searing heat to sudden rainstorms, dry and desolate basins to beautiful fields of wild flowers, Death Valley rises and falls with sand dunes, tall mountains and vast plains. With such a range of features exposed in one desert landscape, it is a natural draw for any artist or explorer.
Ansel Adams’ love of the Southern Sierras influenced the establishment of Kings Canyon National Park, now joined with Sequoia National Park. A place of personal significance to Adams, he captured bold images of the National Park’s lakes and pools set against a backdrop of grand sequoia trees and dramatic rocky cliffs. It was his photographs of the Kings and Kern Rivers that were used in political discussions in Washington DC, which ultimately led to the founding of the park in 1940.
With endless hiking trails, an abundance of climbing routes and ever-changing waterfalls, Adams fell in love with Yosemite Valley and fought to protect it throughout his life. The National Park’s unparalleled natural beauty and dramatic light, was the inspiration for some of photographer’s best and most admired work. Today, you can visit two special areas of the park, named posthumously for Adams, the Ansel Adams Wilderness and Mount Ansel Adams.
North of Yosemite and east of California’s state capital, Sacramento, is beautiful Lake Tahoe. Known for its fantastic skiing, the area around Lake Tahoe provides stunning scenery in both summer and winter. With countless ways to see the turquoise lakes and towering peaks – hike, bike, ski, drive, gondola, kayak – you can capture the spirit of Lake Tahoe from almost any angle.
Ansel Adams constantly captured the movement of the sky, often featuring clouds juxtaposed with the light and the land. The rolling hills and vineyards of Sonoma County provided the perfect countryside setting to produce such eerie, misty scenes. Just an hour north of his home in San Francisco, Adams often made the journey to Sonoma County to explore its rugged Pacific Coastline and magnificent redwoods.
Aside from vibrant art and culture, San Francisco is home to wild coastlines, where the ocean sits beneath majestic headlands beyond the city’s bright lights. The view from Lands End across to where the Golden Gate Bridge would finally stand was the subject of Adams’ favourite print, Golden Gate before the Bridge, and remains a place to admire the fog floating in over the bay. Adams childhood home was in the City’s South Bay, where he explored locations such as Baker Beach and Helmet Roc
Jutting into the Pacific Ocean, Monterey County is home to pristine coastline, spectacular surf, and stunning views. It is one of the most scenic coastal spots in California and teems with ocean wildlife, including majestic grey whales and adorable sea otters. To the south, Carmel, and iconic Point Lobos, is a popular golfing destination, and is a frequent subject of Adams’ work. It was hailed by artist Francis McComas as “The greatest meeting of land and water in the world” and remains a hotspot for fine art and photography.
Mendocino County is home to some of the most scenic drives in the world across wide and varied terrain on California's northern coast. This variety drew Ansel Adams to Mendocino in search of inspiration for his art. Locals say he even boarded the historic Skunk Train, still in operation today, for a closer look at the Redwood trees that tower along the Pacific Coast.
Ansel Adams was born in San Francisco in 1902. Nurtured in the great landscapes of the Golden State, it was here that he found his love of nature and where, at the age of thirteen, he took his first photographs. Adams admired the natural features of the state and the drama provided by vast lakes, towering mountains and striking skylines. Although he travelled extensively across the United States, Adams always returned home to California where the spectacular and diverse scenery undoubtedly provided the inspiration for some of his greatest work.
Discover Ansel Adams' work at this must-see exhibition for lovers of photography, with over 100 original prints that range from tiny images of extraordinary detail up to his ground-breaking photographic murals. Buy Tickets
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