Aspens, Northern New Mexico 1958 An Original Ansel Adams gelatin silver photograph

Original gelatin silver print of “Aspens, Northern New Mexico” available in a 16 x 20 inch format, signed in pencil, printed in the mid-1970s and in “Excellent” condition. Email or call (888) 238-9244 for more details and pricing.

It may come as a surprise for some to learn that at one point in Ansel Adams’ life, he contemplated and was fraught with the decision whether to become a classical pianist or a photographer.

From a very early age, Ansel taught himself to play the piano and read music. He began taking formal lessons when he was twelve, and practicing the piano became an integral aspect to his home schooling. Two years later, he would visit Yosemite National Park for the first time with his family, and become utterly enthralled by its majestic beauty. By age eighteen, he had decided upon a career as a concert pianist, all the meanwhile having taken up photography as a burgeoning passion. The decision as to whether or not to pursue classical piano or fine art photography was quite difficult for him, something that he discusses in his autobiography. One could argue that the dedicated training and discipline required to play the piano during some of the most formative years of his childhood laid the foundational framework for his unwavering work ethic and dedication to photography.

In many ways, there is a musical and poetic element to Ansel’s photography. His ability to capture not only a “picture” but an “expression” of his own experiences is utterly magical. When he exposed the horizontal and vertical negatives of “Aspens, Northern New Mexico” he recalled the details of his experience: “I immediately knew there were wonderful images to be made in the area… We were in the shadow of the mountains, the light was cool and quiet and no wind was stirring. The aspen trunks were slightly greenish and the leaves were a vibrant yellow. The forest floor was covered with a tangle of russet shrubs. It was very quiet and visually soft, and would have been ideal for a color photograph…” Yet what Ansel envisioned in black-and-white was “a considerable departure from reality”. This underscores the significance of his ability to first visualize an image, and then through his technical mastery, record his own experience. Ansel Adams’ original photograph of “Aspens, Northern New Mexico” is a symphony of tonal values.

When you compare prints of “Aspens, Northern New Mexico” there can be quite a difference between one print to another. Some of the earlier prints that he made are lighter, whereas, some of the later prints are significantly darker. Much of the image itself is black; yet it is that brilliant glistening aspen tree in the center that stands out as a result of the high contrast that many associate with Ansel’s photography. He is often quoted for saying, “The negative is comparable to the composer’s score and the print to its performance. Each performance differs in subtle ways.” Many of these subtle details and delicate nuances distinguish one print’s “interpretation” from another. His formulation of the Zone System, along with highly disciplined and refined darkroom skills, informed his printmaking and resulted in beautiful individually hand-printed photographs, such as this example of “Aspens, Northern New Mexico”. Its richly detailed, pin-sharp clarity and overall balance in tonal variation distinguishes it as a superb example of fine art photography. Its classical overtones are indicative of his printing style during the mid-1970s, and its condition is excellent.

Ansel Adams was at times quiet, but incredibly expressive throughout his career: first as an aspiring concert pianist, then as a world renown photographer. In many ways he changed the course of history, not only through his printed photographs, but in a myriad of other ways – as an ardent environmentalist, founder of Group f/64, pioneer of the Zone System, and key player in establishing the photography department at the Museum of Modern Art. With his hands he created extraordinary photographs. With his words he inspired others through his poetic commentary, persuasive language and informative writings. In doing so, he brought photography into the same realm of painting, music and other fine art forms, similarly capable of expressing and evoking the human emotion and our response to the beauty in nature.

Virtually everyone with whom he encountered has a memorable and favorable story about Ansel Adams. Music would continue to inform his work, and color his livelihood with a piano stationed in his living room, amidst photographic prints, murals, and other artifacts that the Adams collected over the years. If you could go back in time and mingle at one of the Adams’ cocktail parties or social gatherings, you might have heard the lively touch of his fingertips at the piano.

The Ansel Adams Gallery will be introducing a sensational mural of “Aspens, Northern New Mexico” in a large horizontal 32×40 inch format. Recently at Christie’s 2017 spring auction, a mural of the same image, with similar but slightly smaller dimensions, sold for $440,000. To learn more about our gallery’s selection of murals, please contact the Director of Photography Sales, Brittany Moorefield, by email at or by phone at (888) 238-9244.