Frozen Lake and Cliffs

Description (Brief)
Silver gelatin, mounted. Eye level view of ice on water, foreground. Tall rock formation, background. Signed, ink (recto: bottom right corner). Verso: Adams stamp, handrwitten title, center.
While on an annual Sierra Club outing to Sequoia National Park, Adams took this image of the frozen Precipice Lake high in the Sierra Nevada range. The contrasting textures, sharp focus and full tonal range are indicative of Adams’ period of transition towards the f/64 Group’s photographic philosophy. In his book, “Examples,” Adams explained that some critics have called the work almost abstract, due to its strictly geometric composition, but that he disagreed. “I cannot change the optical realities, but only manage them in relation to themselves and the format,” he wrote ("Examples," p.11). Perhaps this photograph challenges the viewer to think about the shapes found in nature and the primary framing of a photograph.
Ansel Adams (1902-1984) is one of the most well-known twentieth century photographers. His contributions to the field of photography include his innovation and teaching of the Zone System. The quality of his photographs set the standard by which many straight photographs are judged.
The collection in the Photographic History Collection consists of twenty-five photographs, all printed in or about 1968. All are gelatin silver, mounted, labeled and signed in ink by the photographer. The photographs include some of his most well-known images, but also portraits and objects. The selection of images was made in collaboration between the collecting curator and Adams.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Object Type
print made
ca 1968
negative made
Adams, Ansel
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 35.5 cm x 45.9 cm; 13 31/32 in x 18 1/16 in
place made
United States: Sierra Nevada
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Photo History Collection
Ansel Adams Collection
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Photographic History
Photo History Collection
Ansel Adams Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Reproduction rights held by the Center for Creative Photography--

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