Yosemite Valley, Winter

The Story Behind the Image

While most visitors to Yosemite National Park come in the summer months, winter is a magical time of year in Yosemite Valley. The majesty and solitude of its snow-capped cliffs and frozen lakes fascinated Ansel Adams, who returned again and again over the decades to make hundreds of photographs of the rugged landscape in winter. This particular photograph, of Yosemite Valley as seen from Inspiration Point, was made in 1938 with a large-format, 8 inch x 10 inch view camera, which allowed Ansel to capture the sheer face of El Capitan and the valley’s striking rock formations in the dazzling winter light.

yosemite valley winter by Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams, “Yosemite Valley, Winter,” Special Edition Photograph, Exclusively from The Ansel Adams Gallery

Though this iconic image serves as the cover photograph for Ansel’s Yosemite and the High Sierra, its most prominent “publication” was on something quite different from a book cover. In 1969, Adams partnered with Hills Brothers Coffee, a San Francisco-based coffee roaster, to produce a special-edition coffee can adorned with this photograph. As Ansel put it in his autobiography: “The idea was to produce something of lasting attractiveness after the original contents of the can had been consumed… Potentially corny: actually reasonable.”