One thing that remains true throughout the entirety of Ansel Adam’s photographic portfolio is his unique vision of his native homeland, California. Each image captures the absolute and sublime beauty of nature in an eternal form, intensifying and purifying it, and making it possible for humans to keep this moment with them indeterminately. Adams was an active member of the Sierra Club and Wilderness Society. He and Nancy Newhall, a fellow photographer, collaborated to create historically significant books and exhibitions, such as This is the American Earth, and through their documentation were able to fuel the inspiration for the first serious environmental movement in the United States.
Due to his extreme shyness as a child, Adams was a slow starter in school. After the earthquake of 1906 had caused Ansel to severely break his nose, his parents Charles Hitchcock Adams and Olive Bray decided to educate him at home. Ansel found his days very secluded, which lead him to take daily hikes through Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Given a great deal of time to be alone in the outdoors, Adams generated a personal appreciation of nature from which happiness was the reward. This intimacy with nature is reflected in Mt. Galen Clark. By playing with different intensities of light and shadow, Adams has created a visibly striking image that is not easily forgotten.
The Sierra Club was integral to Adam’s development as a photographer. He joined this group in 1919 which enabled him to stay in areas such as the Yosemite Valley for extended periods, and it is through this organization that he met his wife, Virginia Best. As we see in Golden Gate Headlands, the untamed landscape without indication of human influence is the message that Adam’s dedicated his life to; that humans should tread lightly on this earth, and leave little to no impact upon its surface.