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Thread: Ansel Adams : questionable ethics?...or it doesn't matter ?

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    Ansel Adams : questionable ethics?...or it doesn't matter ?

    I have read more times of Adams and his resolution to reproduce his final prints because of the estensive labour that some of them required. I have always thought that i would never take such approach , because i wouldn't be able to consider the product a true fine print , but merely a reproduction . Since i don't want to make a mistake, could it be that he was only doing that for images destined to a publication ? If not , if i had an Adams print , and i had the knowledge of this approach , i would feel cheated.

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    Ansel Adams : questionable ethics?...or it doesn't matter ?

    What the hell are you talking about?
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

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    Tim Curry's Avatar
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    Ansel Adams : questionable ethics?...or it doesn't matter ?

    Since you don't own any of his prints, I would think you would be relieved to know that you have not been cheated, misled or otherwise swindled.

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    Ansel Adams : questionable ethics?...or it doesn't matter ?

    Domenico,

    I think you need to explain better what you are trying to say. I read your post numerous times and I still do not understand what you are Ansel accusing of.

    Juergen
    Juergen

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    Ansel Adams : questionable ethics?...or it doesn't matter ?

    Are you suggesting in your question that AA made copy negatives of prints that were difficult to print so it would be easier to make additional copies?

    If so, I do not think that was the case. He did authorize assistants to make prints from some of his negatives to be sold at a lower price, but did not sign those prints. He merely initialled them.

    He also clearly identified his prints for reproduction purposes since he printed them differently from his exhibition prints. (A stamp on the back of the print.)

    That is not to say other people have not made copies of his prints and tried to pass them off as originals. Given the prices his prints bring today, such fraud might be attractive to the less-than-honest.

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    tim atherton's Avatar
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    Ansel Adams : questionable ethics?...or it doesn't matter ?

    I think Domenico is talking about the difference between what you might call Adam's "hand made" individual prints and the series/editioned prints that were indeed made from copy negative from a "perfect" print.

    I believe these were produced as budget /affordable version of Adam's work at the time. It's up to any buyer today to educate themselves on the provenance and history of Adam's printing.

    Unfortunately it brings us round to the endless discussion of photography and editions (interestingly, in this case, I think Adams "hand made" work was made in basically open ended editions [numbered or not?] while the budget "reproductions" were made in numbered closed edition print runs. The opposite of many today, though probably the more standard and sensible way for photographers)
    You'd be amazed how small the demand is for pictures of trees... - Fred Astaire to Audrey Hepburn

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    Ansel Adams : questionable ethics?...or it doesn't matter ?

    Comparable to Clyde Butcher making laser prints and selling for $48 where an original fine print from the wet darkroom might cost $1500. Certainly not dis-honest in any way. Dis-honesty is when you try to pass the $48 print off as something of real value.
    He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep..to gain that which he cannot lose. Jim Elliot, 1949

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    Ansel Adams : questionable ethics?...or it doesn't matter ?

    "...the series/editioned prints that were indeed made from copy negative from a "perfect" print."

    Tim, I've never found any references saying Adams did that. What is the source of this information?

    Adams wrote that he developed and referred to dodging/burning maps for his prints. And Alan Ross, who still makes the Yosemite Special Edition prints, has shown in View Camera articles how he uses dodge/burn masks to ease the task of producing large numbers of prints from a small group of Adams' original negatives.

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    tim atherton's Avatar
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    Ansel Adams : questionable ethics?...or it doesn't matter ?

    Hi Sal,

    sorry - I read an article about it a while back (in the last two or three years) and I can't for the life of me remember what magazine it was in now - but it went over Adam's printing and sales practices over the years - it may have been in a UK or European publication? As I recall these were very much set up as cheaper prints for the masses as it were - but still a photogorpahic print, not a lithograph or something.
    You'd be amazed how small the demand is for pictures of trees... - Fred Astaire to Audrey Hepburn

    www.photo-muse.blogspot.com blog

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    Whatever David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Ansel Adams : questionable ethics?...or it doesn't matter ?

    It is my impression that Adams did offer repros from copy negs at low cost, and there is no dishonesty in that. The problem associated with it is that the repros are of such quality that they have been mistaken for and sold as original prints by owners who were unscrupulous or ignorant of the distinction between a repro and an original print.

    There was a discussion of this issue over on photo.net in the LensWork magazine forum in regard to the LensWork Special Editions, which are silver prints from digital copy negs. One of the reasons Brooks Jensen said that he decided to use this digital process, and that some of the photographers agreed to participate, was that inspection under a loupe could quickly reveal that the print was a repro and not a fine print, avoiding the problem associated with the Adams repros being re-sold as fine prints.

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