Ansel Adams' Lost Los Angeles

Absolutely terrific & useful post. Thanks.

Posted by David Sucher at March 23, 2006 3:15 AM

I bet Lileks will be jealous. Cool stuff. Great detective work.

Posted by Eric Blair at March 23, 2006 5:00 AM

Great photos and story. Submitted it to digg here

Hope this gets lots of attention.

Posted by Thomas Hawk at March 23, 2006 6:08 AM

"So I would conclude that with the LAPL material we are getting a rare chance to look at photographs a great photographer chose not to show the world."

And for good reason, too. He would have done better to have burned the negatives and any prints he could get his hands on.


Posted by A.C. Douglas at March 23, 2006 7:21 AM

Love the photos. Keep them coming.

Did Adams take the photo of the P-39 Airacobra in flight?

A very cool airplane with a powerful canon in the spinner, rear mounted engine and tricycle landing gear. The Soviets loved it too and acquired many through lend/lease.

Posted by Doug at March 23, 2006 9:49 PM

My gut feel is that, in part, some of what Adams was doing with the unpublished pictures was getting used to the camera, but mainly that's the double exposure. I've used old cameras, and that's a mistake I've made with an unfamiliar type.

As you say, colour film and processing was expensive. I'm not going to even try and guess what emulsion was used, but I can see Adams wanting to be sure of his camera.

Posted by Dave Bell at March 25, 2006 8:25 AM

A rare glimpse of the LA in which my father grew up. Also, nice to see images that weren't related to Hollywood.

Posted by Jen at April 21, 2006 12:15 PM

I believe that Adams wrote some about this assignment in his autobiography. I remember his comments about photographing some of the 'horrible' architecture found in L.A. at that time, specifically, the Brown Derby. He also wrote about problems with the weather and the assignment as a whole not being very satisfying. But apparently he was well paid for his work.

Posted by Wade at May 24, 2006 8:17 PM

Love the site and the story. I've often told friends that some of my favorite work of Adams is his urban stuff. They look at me with glazed over eyes. Most people have never seen his urban stuff. I may be wrong, but I think he did some stuff here in NY too. And, again, this might be a myth, but I've heard rumors that he knew Steiglitz and Georgia O'Keefe and shot NY when he came to visit them.
I'm off to do some research of my own.
Thanks for the pics.

Posted by Marc at June 24, 2009 6:09 PM

Ansel Adams' eponymous autobiography doesn't specifically mention that Los Angeles sojourn, but it does address his commercial photography in one of the chapters; it might shed some light on his thoughts around the time he took these pictures. It's a good biography, I think, valuable in that it gives me his perspective on himself and the people, and causes, he valued. Adams, Ansel. Ansel Adams, An Autobiography. New York: Little, Brown, 1985. ISBN 0-8212-1596-5

Posted by oldshoe at July 31, 2009 12:10 AM

They had motor scooters back then? Cool.

Posted by Don Rodrigo at July 31, 2009 10:33 AM

Double-A also worked in color, (and was mighty conflicted about it):

I was able to see some of his color prints at a show at the Center for Creative Photography in the Old Pueblo a few years back. His compositions were strong as usual, but the color only playing a minor role; far, far less than it does in, say, Pete Turner's work.

Posted by ExurbanKevin at July 31, 2009 3:01 PM

Thank you.

Wonderful. It's good to get away from today's turmoil and what better way than through the eyes of Ansel Adams.

Good job.

Posted by Cathy at July 31, 2009 3:16 PM

I love the Newsy photo, especially the fresh comics on the rack below him.

I wonder if the hot dog stand was the one used as a reference by Dave Stevens' for his "Rocketeer" series?

Posted by Bill Peschel at July 31, 2009 5:18 PM

"...A very cool airplane with a powerful canon in the spinner, rear mounted engine and tricycle landing gear. The Soviets loved it too and acquired many through lend/lease."

Very cool, and innovative in a lot of ways, but an aircraft prone to some very strange handling characteristics, owing to the rearward CG (because of where the engine was mounted). The US and Brits got them out of front-line fighter squadrons as soon as better aircraft were available, because P-39s were easily outclassed by Me-109s, FW-190s, and Zeros. The Red Air Force did make the best use of it, as a ground-attack plane. If the Russians could mount a heavy cannon on it, and hang rockets or bombs off the wings, they used it in the ground-attack role, and the P-39 fit the bill nicely.

Posted by waltj at July 31, 2009 5:39 PM

Well done, Vanderleun.

Posted by feeblemind at August 1, 2009 6:37 AM

fyi that very first parking lot photo shows a 1940 California license plate.

Posted by Pete Madsen at August 1, 2009 8:58 AM

Exciting Love and Lone Eagle were not comics. They were pulps -- monthly fiction magazines printed on cheap paper, with those nice bright covers.
A different issue.

Also a different issue.

Posted by Maureen at August 17, 2009 8:16 AM

Good catch, Maureen. Thanks.

Posted by vanderleun at August 17, 2009 8:35 AM

Michael Adams Son of Ansel Adams is a video interview with Ansel Adams' son by Frederick Van of Adobe. Michael talks about life in Yosemite, the role he peyald in assisting with his father's work, and the course of his own career.

Posted by Abrahammuyi at June 3, 2012 5:22 AM

I gotta tell you that photo of the news stand brought back a stunning olfactory sensation.

Remember how pulp paper smelled? Imagine how that stand smelled when he opened up a fresh bale of pulps or comics. Them was the days, bub.

Posted by Rob De Witt at August 28, 2012 12:12 PM

Words cannot express how excited I am to have found this treasure trove of photos showing the lay of the land here in LA in the Forties. Thanks quite sincerely.

Posted by Otis Criblecoblis at August 28, 2012 3:17 PM

The cars parked by the "No Parking:sign look li the SP mainline near the Lockheed plant in Burbank, not far from where we lived.

I don't remember a "Franklin" school in Glendale.

Oh. Way out there. Near where the airport was. (I lived next to that airport when the Army had it. There was a 40mm gun next to our driveway.

Posted by Larry Sheldon at August 28, 2012 6:24 PM

Nope. Not near the airport but where the Ventura and the Golden State Freeways intersect. Near Griffith Park.

Posted by vanderleun at August 28, 2012 8:03 PM