Ansel Adams has in some ways become a victim of his own mythology. The Ansel Adams Trust and the Bullfinch press have maintained a steady output of Adams' work since his death, and they have maintained his notoriously high standards, but these are the standards Adams set in his last years when his printing style, in the opinion of this reviewer, became dramatic to the point of brittleness. Everything is played at d-max, all forte and no piano.
This remarkable book is an exception, and William Turnage has taken a brave stand in revisiting Adams' earlier work and printing methods. Yes, some of these photographs were later printed and published with a more contrasty appearance, but they were not thereby improved. This is the work of an artist coming to maturity, confident, meditative and above all about the Sierra Nevada, not about the photographer. Adams was an accomplished musician and often drew upon musical analogies when talking about photography, memorably describing the negative as the score and the print as the performance. To push the analogy a little further, this is not the Wagnerian Adams we are are used to seeing; these are his string quartets. Adams worked at the same high standard for the rest of his long career, but as a suite of photographs Sierra Nevada: The John Muir Trail was never surpassed.