Information about Cathedral Peak and Lake

Location: Yosemite National Park
GPS Coordinates:
37.848, -119.406
Original Photograph Negative
: 1938
Artist: Ansel Adams


Also available in:

High Sierra Set  

About the Image

Ansel Adams made this image in 1938 during an outing with friends, notably Georgia O’Keeffe and David McAlpin, in the Yosemite backcountry with a 3″ x 4″ camera. Though the granite bowl and soaring peak are classic archetypes of the remote high sierra, Cathedral Lake lies only four miles from an easily accessible trailhead at Tuolomne Meadows.

As was Adams’ habit, he meticulously noted the exposure and developing of “ Cathedral Peak and Lake ,” but did not record the date. Adams remarks on his habit in “Examples, The Making of 40 Photographs:”

“Because of my unfortunate disregard for the dates of my negatives I have caused considerable dismay among photographic historians, students, and museums — to say nothing of the trouble it has caused me.”

Adams made a portfolio of the outing for each member of the outing, the inclusion of this photograph means that it was made no later than 1938. It may have been made earlier, as Ansel would sometimes include strong photographs of the areas a group visited, particularly if conditions were not so good during the trip.

Cathedral Peak and Lake ” appeared in “Portfolio IV, What Majestic Word,” published by the Sierra Club in 1963 with an inaccurate 1960 date stamp. The image also appears in Yosemite and The Portfolios of Ansel Adams.