Mount Williamson - the Sierra Nevada, from Manzanar, California.
The first question to ask is what makes an Ansel Adams photograph an Ansel Adams. To classify him to one certain category would be nearly impossible. .
Ansel Easton Adams, born on Thursday, February 20, 1902, in San Francisco, was an only child. For many years his Aunt Mary home schooled Ansel. However, in 1911 he was enrolled in the neighborhood school. It was at the young age on twelve that Ansel's interest in the piano began. His parents supported his interest, and Ansel began to teach himself to read and play music. Ansel continued for many years with this passion and became outstanding. In the spring of 1916 while recuperating from a cold, Ansel's attention started to stray from music when he read In the Heart of the Sierras by J. M. Hutchings. The book set in the Yosemite Valley illustrated by maps, engravings and photographs kept Ansel's imagination. It was because of his fascination with Yosemite, that his father and mother would take him there on a family vacation. This was a momentous event that would change his future forever. It was on this trip that his parents gave him his first camera. Yosemite became a place that Ansel would visit frequently and held a place in his heart that would remain and that would inspire him. "From his first days with a camera, fourteen-year-old Ansel approached photography seriously." .
In his early career, Ansel tried to emulate pictorialism. Pictorialism is photography that invoked the qualities of painting. True pictorialism had no heart in reality, but instead muted the truth of hard lines with soft focus, diffused light, and textured papers. As each year passed Ansel approached photography in a more serious manner. Ansel spent the majority of his teen years concentrating on photography and development. In a letter written to his aunt, on September 28, 1923, he declared that from that day forward he would seek to achieve the highest standards of art in his work, without compromise and following purely photographic standards.