The Splendor of Yosemite: A tribute to Ansel Adams

Photo of Jim Jackson taking photo of El Capitan

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When you think of Yosemite, you instantly think of the renowned photographer Ansel Adams. Conversely, when you think of Ansel Adams you instantly think about the majestic Yosemite National Park. They just seem to go hand-in-hand. His tireless efforts, along with others like John Muir and the Sierra Club, helped save this wonderful place from those that seemed hell-bent on commercializing it for profit.

The Yosemite Valley is like no other place in the world, and it is believed that humans were visitors to the Yosemite Valley some 8,000 to 10,000 years ago with actual inhabitation going back nearly 3,000 years.

The name “Yosemite” which means “killer” in Miwok, refers to the Native American tribe that had been, most likely, annihilated by the Mariposa Battalion. The Mariposa Battalion was a California State Militia unit formed in 1851 to fight the indigenous Native Americans, the Yosemites and the Chowchillas in the so-called Mariposa War.

Accounts from this battalion were the first well-documented reports of ethnic Europeans entering Yosemite Valley. Attached to the unit was Dr. Lafayette Bunnell, the company physician, who kept a journal describing his observations and discussions with the Native Americans that lived there. Dr. Bunnell is credited with naming Yosemite Valley, based on the discussions that he had with Chief Tenaya. Bunnell wrote that “Ten-ie-ya was recognized, by the Mono tribe, as one of their number, as he was born and lived among them until his ambition made him a leader and founder of the Paiute colony in Ah-wah-ne.”

Many years before Ansel Adams visited the Yosemite Valley, the area had been called “Ahwahnee” (“big mouth”) by indigenous people. These indigenous natives called themselves the Ahwahnechee, meaning “dwellers in Ahwahnee” they lived off of the abundance of acorns that were a staple in their diet, as well as other seeds and plants, squirrels, birds, and deer. This group of Native Americans is remotely related to the Northern Paiute and Mono tribes. During the early days of inhabitation of the valley, many tribes would visit the area for hunting, fishing, and trade with the residents. It would not be long before a major trade route was established over the Mono Pass to Mono Lake, just to the east of the Yosemite area.

It would also not be too long before throngs of gold-seekers found their way to the valley of the Ahwahnechee. The gold miners and trappers were soon followed by speculators with commercial interests in mind. Prominent citizens like Galen Clark, the first European American to discover the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoia trees in Yosemite, and John Conness, the Irish-American businessman who served as Senator of California during the American Civil War, who advocated for the protection of the area.

A park bill was prepared with the assistance of the General Land Office in the Interior Department. The bill passed both houses of the 38th United States Congress and was signed by President Abraham Lincoln on June 30, 1864, creating the Yosemite Grant. This is the first instance of park land being set aside specifically for preservation and public use by the action of the U.S. federal government. This act set a precedent for the 1872 creation of Yellowstone as the first American national park. Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove were ceded to California as a state park, and a board of commissioners was proclaimed two years later.

Correspondence and articles written by members of the Mariposa Battalion militia helped to popularize the natural wonders of the Yosemite Valley and the surrounding area. But the history of the mighty Yosemite Valley would soon turn ugly. Chief Tenaya and his Ahwahnechee were captured and their village burned; they were forcefully removed to a reservation near Fresno, California. The chief and a few others from the former tribe were eventually allowed to return to Yosemite Valley. With their former village destroyed, their hunting, fishing and gathering grounds decimated, in the spring of 1852, they attacked a group of eight gold miners who had encroached on their lands. They were soon pursued by vigilante “law enforcement” and fled to the east, near Mono Lake. The Ahwahnechee were given sanctuary with the Mono tribe of Paiute.

It is unknown and it is difficult to say what state of desperation Chief Tenaya and the Ahwahnechee were in. In due course, they secretly appropriated supplies and horses from their hosts and departed, the Mono Paiutes tracked them, killing a huge portion of the Ahwahnechee including their leader Chief Tenaya. The remaining survivors, mostly women, were captured and absorbed into the Mono Lake Paiute tribe.

After many inter-tribal wars and the conclusion of the Mariposa War, several Native Americans continued to live within the boundaries of Yosemite. A number of them sustained themselves by working in the growing tourism industry as laborers or maids. Eventually, their way of life changed dramatically and they would become part of the tourism industry itself by selling baskets or performing for tourists.

In the early days of the newly established park, access was not too easy. Horseback was the mode of transportation and one only needs to visit the park today to understand how difficult that must have been. Eventually, accessibility to the park and within the valley itself improved and more and more tourists visited Yosemite. With the completion of the first Transcontinental Railroad in 1869, and several stagecoach roads being built in the mid-1870s access for the growing number of tourists improved greatly.

John Muir, the Scottish-born American naturalist, and explorer made several trips to visit the Yosemite Valley. In 1903 he took a milestone camping trip there with the President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt. It was during this trip that Muir convinced Roosevelt, himself a naturalist and champion of preserving the natural wonders of America, to return the Yosemite Valley and Mariposa giant redwood grove back under the protection of the federal government as part of Yosemite National Park. It was because of the steadfast diligence of John Muir that many National Parks were left untouched, including Yosemite Valley National Park.

Muir would continue to write articles that helped promote the wonders of the valley to tourists and the scientific community as well. His scientific interest in Yosemite laid the foundation of one of the first theories that the Yosemite Valley and the prominent landforms like El Capitan and Half Dome were created by massive glaciers. Muir’s observations and theory went against the “conventional” wisdom of established scientists such as Josiah Whitney, who regarded Muir as an inexperienced amateur. But eventually, the theory of this so-called “amateur” would be proven correct, and even if it mattered little to John Muir, his legacy would be enduring.

John Muir’s dedication to eliminating the unregulated overgrazing of pristine meadows by sheep, and the unchecked clear-cutting of giant sequoia trees by logging interests, convinced him to be a lifelong champion and advocate for the further protection of the Yosemite Valley. Muir was instrumental, as was Robert Underwood Johnson, editor of Century Magazine who along with Muir lobbied Congress for the Act that created Yosemite National Park on October 1, 1890.

Muir and his Sierra Club continued to lobby the government and influential people for the creation of a unified Yosemite National Park. On Muirs May 1903 three-day trip there with President Theodore Roosevelt, he convinced Roosevelt to take control of Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove away from California and return it to the federal government. In 1906, Roosevelt signed a bill that did precisely that.

Ansel Easton Adams (February 20, 1902 – April 22, 1984) was first and foremost a magnificent landscape photographer, known for his dramatic black and white images. Although initially he never considered photography as an avocation, rather wanting to be a musician, he nevertheless went on to become the premier photographer during his lifetime. As an environmentalist and photographer, he helped to emphasize the importance of keeping Yosemite wild and pristine, first with his remarkable 1926 photo that captured the sheer cliff face of Half Dome.

Adams was born in the Fillmore District of San Francisco, the only child of Charles Hitchcock Adams and Olive Bray Adams. He was named after his uncle, Ansel Easton. His mother’s family came from Baltimore, where his maternal grandfather had a successful freight-hauling business but lost his wealth investing in failed mining and real estate ventures in Nevada.

The Adams family originally came to America from Northern Ireland during the early 1800s establishing roots in New England. His paternal grandfather founded and built a prosperous lumber business which his father later managed. In his later years, Adams would condemn the logging industry that his family had worked in for their indiscriminate clear-cutting of many of the pristine giant redwood forests.

It has been told that one of Ansel Adams’s earliest memories was watching the smoke rise from the fires caused by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Ansel was only four years old at the time and was not injured during the initial quake, however during a violent aftershock he was thrown into a garden wall breaking his nose and leaving a large scar. His broken nose would not be reset and it would remain crooked for the remainder of his life.

In 1907, the Adams family moved to their new home near the Seacliff neighborhood, just south of the Presidio military base. As he said later, “The home had a splendid view of the Golden Gate and the Marin Headlands.”

Ansel Adams in an interview stated that his father, Charles Hitchcock Adams, “raised him to follow the ideals of Ralph Waldo Emerson: to live a modest, moral life guided by a social responsibility to man and nature.” It has been said that Ansel had a wonderful, loving relationship with his father, but he had a somewhat distant relationship with his mother. His father encouraged Ansel’s photography pursuits but his mother did not approve of his interest in photography.

Ansel’s relationship with his mother and his frugal upbringing caused a heated quarrel the day after his mother died in 1950, with the undertaker. When Ansel selected the lowest-priced coffin in which to bury his mother, the mortician snidely commented, “Have you no respect for the dead?” to which Ansel barked, “One more crack like that and I will take Mama elsewhere!”

When Ansel was 12 years old his father gave him his first camera, a Kodak Brownie box camera, during his first visit to Yosemite National Park in 1916 with his family. Adams wrote of his first view of the valley: “the splendor of Yosemite burst upon us and it was glorious… One wonder after another descended upon us… There was light everywhere… A new era began for me.”

He returned to Yosemite on his own the next year with a better camera and a tripod. During the winter, he learned basic darkroom techniques while working part-time for a San Francisco photograph finisher.

This fostered his lifelong photographic work as a member of the Sierra Club where later he was contracted by the U.S. Department of the Interior to make photographs of U.S. National Parks. For his work and his persistent advocacy, which helped expand the National Park system, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1980 by President Jimmy Carter.

Adams contracted the Spanish Flu during the 1918 flu pandemic and it took several weeks to recuperate. Reading a book about lepers, he became obsessed with cleanliness and was afraid to touch anything without immediately washing his hands afterward. Over the objections of his doctor, he implored his parents to take him back to Yosemite. The visit cured him of his disease and compulsive behavior.

While in Yosemite, Ansel had the need for a piano to practice on. A ranger introduced him to landscape painter, Harry Best, who kept a studio home in Yosemite and lived there during the summers. Best allowed Ansel to practice on the family’s old rectangular upright piano. During that time Ansel grew interested in Best’s daughter Virginia who he would eventually marry. When Harry Best passed away in 1936, Virginia inherited his studio and would operate it continuously until 1971. The studio is now known as the Ansel Adams Gallery and remains in the ownership of the Adams family.

From an early age, Ansel Adams was a budding environmentalist. At the age of 17, he became a member of the Sierra Club, a group formed by John Muir and dedicated to the preservation of pristine, undeveloped wild places. From 1920 until 1923 he was the summer caretaker of the Sierra Club’s visitor facility, the LeConte Memorial Lodge, in Yosemite. He remained a member of the Sierra Club up until his death, serving as a director from when he was first elected in 1934 for the next 37 years. While a member of the board Ansel would participate in the Sierra Club’s annual High Trips, later becoming assistant manager and official photographer for the trips.

Ansel’s first photographs were published in 1921, and his future father-in-laws studio began selling his Yosemite prints the next year. His understanding of composition, light, contrast, and balance, as well as his daring to climb to the best viewpoints in the most inclement weather, made his work stand out among his peers. Although some would argue that he really had no peers.

Administrators in the National Park Service felt that limiting the number of concessionaires within the national park would be more financially sound so they forced a merger of the Curry Company and its rival, the Yosemite Park Company, in 1925, to form the Yosemite Park & Curry Company (YP&CC). The Ahwahnee Hotel would be built by the merged company when they began leasing concessions as a single concessionaire.

In 1927, the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite opened. Located on the floor of the Yosemite Valley, this majestic hotel was constructed from steel, stone, concrete, wood, and glass. It is considered to be a premier example of National Park Service rustic architecture and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987. Its magnificent interior would later be adapted for Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 horror film The Shining.

Despite financial struggles, the YP&CC remained the concessioner of the Ahwahnee Hotel from 1925 until 1993, before the National Park Service demanded a new concessioner to buy the YP&CC. It is unclear how these moves came about or how the new concessioner was selected, but in any case, the Delaware North “hospitality” company obtained the contract.

Controversy erupted when Delaware North’s contract expired on March 1, 2016, and the National Park Service selected Aramark as the new concessionaire. During that time Delaware North made the senseless assumption that they owned all of the intellectual property rights of Yosemite which includes historic trademarks of place names such as Ahwahnee, Badger Pass, Curry Village, Yosemite Lodge, the slogan “Go climb a rock”, and even “Yosemite National Park” itself.

Facing a massive pending lawsuit from Delaware North in January 2016, the National Park Service announced that due to the trademark dispute with outgoing concessionaire Delaware North, the Ahwahnee Hotel, as well as other historic hotels and lodges in the park, would be renamed. The Ahwahnee was renamed the Majestic Yosemite Hotel effective March 1, 2016, although many locals and long-time supporters of the Ahwahnee continue to call it by its former resplendent name. How a corporate giant like Delaware North could behave so childishly and act as though they own anything that belongs to our National Park, is, well, unAmerican! It is surprising that they didn’t believe that they also owned the names “Mariposa Meadows”, “Bridalveil Falls”, “Half Dome” and “El Capitan”!

(I make no apologies for the rant but I just do not understand how some corporations can act in this manner. Delaware North is one of the largest privately-held hospitality and food service companies in the world. Founded in 1915 and owned by the Jacobs family for more than 100 years, Delaware North has global operations at high-profile places such as sports and entertainment venues, national and state parks, destination resorts and restaurants, airports, and regional casinos.)

In 1927, Ansel Adams began an association with San Francisco insurance magnate and arts patron Albert M. Bender. Bender helped Adams produce his first portfolio in his new style, Parmelian Prints of the High Sierras, which included his famous image Monolith, the Face of Half Dome. This iconic photo, which was taken with a Korona view camera using glass plate negatives, became a signature Ansel Adams photograph. It would not be long afterward that he began to receive assignments to photograph the patrons who had purchased his portfolio.

The career of Ansel Adams propelled him to heights that few artists achieve in their lifetime. His photos were in demand and he would receive many renowned assignments that produced equally renowned works of art despite the commercial nature of the subject. He would continue to sell his famous photos at the gallery that his wife managed in Yosemite.

Beginning in the late 1940s, the Polaroid Corporation would attempt to make a major change in the way photography would be used with the release of their “instant” cameras. Although the instant cameras were originally marketed to families and amateur shutterbugs, Polaroid wanted to make their product stand up to both everyday consumers and for artists as well. Polaroid’s long journey began with Ansel Adams, who was a friend of Polaroid scientist and co-founder Dr. Edwin Land. Ansel signed on as a consultant with Polaroid in 1949, and he would evaluate and test the cameras and film that came out of the Polaroid labs. He performed field tests and took endless notes that were used to improve the newest Polaroid products, enlisting friends and peers along the way. At one point he went on a daytime television show and astounded viewers by taking artful photographs of everyday objects that he found lying around the studio.

By the 1960s, Adams was suffering from gout and arthritis and hoped that moving to a new home would make him feel better. He and his wife considered Sante Fe, but they both had commitments in California most notably his wife Virginia was still managing the Yosemite studio of her father. A friend offered to sell them a home in the Carmel Highlands, on the Big Sur coastline which they accepted. Along with architect Eldridge Spencer, they began plans for their new home in 1961, moving into it in 1965. Afterward, Ansel began to devote much of his time to printing the huge backlog of negatives that he had accumulated over the past forty years.

On April 22, 1984, Ansel Adams, the renowned photographer, the lifelong environmentalist, and dedicated chronicler of the world around him, died from cardiovascular disease, in the Intensive-care unit at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula in Monterey, California, at age 82. He was surrounded by his wife, children Michael and Anne, and five grandchildren. His life had given much joy to the world and brought forth to the masses places that deserved to be preserved and deserved to be observed in their raw, natural state.

There are three wilderness areas adjacent to Yosemite with one, the Ansel Adams Wilderness to the southeast, established to honor this remarkable man. The other two are the Hoover Wilderness to the northeast and the Emigrant Wilderness to the north.

The making of the iconic photograph that made Ansel Adams famous Monolith, the Face of Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California (1927)

It was a Sunday on April 10, 1927, when Ansel Adams and four of his friends trekked along the LeConte Gully trail in the Yosemite Valley in search of the perfect vantage point in which to photograph the iconic granite face of Half Dome.

It would be on that day that started out as a chilly morning in spring that Adams would capture a perfect image of Half Dome and propel his photographic artistry skyward. It would help to launch his career and add him to the very short list of the most influential photographers of all time. But it was not that simple…

As it was, Ansel’s mentor, Albert Bender, had financed him to help produce a series of large-format black-and-white photographs of mountains. During these relatively early stages of artistic photography, it was uncommon to produce sharp images, rather they were produced with soft focus and slightly blurred highlights to make them appear more “artsy.”

The majority of the photos for his first limited edition portfolio was nearly complete with 11 of the 18 photos that he needed to finalize the set. Ansel had captured Half Dome on film many times before but none of the images met his rigorous standards. He wanted to capture the definitive natural beauty of this masterpiece of nature. However, to capture it, he faced fleeting light, ever-changing weather conditions, and daunting, even treacherous locations in order to obtain that perfect vantage point and exceptional exposure.

Remembering the previous attempts to photograph the monolith, including an upside-down photo that he had taken while tumbling from a tree stump and the numerous other shots which had either too much shadow or too much light or not enough contrast from the blanketing sky. He studied the granite face and concluded that the grey granite face would be, by and large, out of contrast with the equally grey sky that a typical black and white photo would produce. Even that morning he had taken shots of the mountain but to him, they seemed as if they were simply snapshots. Using glass plate negatives he had already used up all but two remaining plates.

As the photographer waited until the sun motioned in front of his subject, he took a photo using his standard yellow filter. Somehow it just didn’t feel right to Ansel. He waited a bit longer as the sun continued to travel westward and cast most light on his subject. With one exposure left, and if this last shot failed to meet his criteria, he would have to forgo the efforts for another day.

The sun began to light up the granite face like a performer on a stage. The time was right and the lighting was perfect, but for this final exposure, Ansel decided that he would use a deep red filter to make the sky look almost black and prominently highlight the snow on the cliffs of Half Dome’s face. That decisive moment when he decided to use that deep red filter was a defining moment in Ansel Adams’ career. When he developed that exposure later that night, he realized that this photo, Monolith, the Face of Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California, was his entrance into the world of fine art photography. It would change the direction of his career and define a photographic “Zone System” that generations of photographers still follow.

The Ansel Adams Portfolios

From 1948 to 1976 Ansel Adams produced seven limited-edition portfolios. Each portfolio consisted of between ten and fifteen signed silver gelatin photographs. Most were signed in pencil, some in blue ink. This is from the Ansel Adams Gallery which handles the sale of his work: “In all there are ninety superb images including many of Adams’ most famous monumental landscape photographs and some remarkable, less familiar portraits and architectural studies. He was renowned for his work in the darkroom and he printed every image for every portfolio himself. Adams placed great value upon technical mastery of his craft, carefully evaluating gradations of light in the image, manipulating degrees of exposure, and constantly experimenting with new techniques. Most of the available Portfolio photographs range in price from $3,500 to $20,000.”

Portfolio 1: Conceived and dedicated to the memory of Alfred Stieglitz to honor Ansel’s friendship and association from 1933 until his death in 1946. Ansel wanted to express his thoughts and feelings about Stieglitz and his remarkable body of work. This portfolio is primarily composed of landscape images made in the mid-1940s (a studio fire in 1938 destroyed most of Adams’s earlier negatives); the set also features a 1938 portrait of Alfred Stieglitz. Adams released the portfolio just two years after Stieglitz’s death, dedicating it to the tireless champion of photography and modern art: “Expressions without doctrine, my photographs are presented here as ends in themselves, images of the endless moments of the world. I dedicate them to the memory and to the spirit of Alfred Stieglitz.”

Only seventy-five copies of Portfolio One were made available, initially selling for $100 each. Nowadays they command a very high price when they become available for sale, which is rare.

Portfolio Two – The National Parks and Monuments

In 1950 Ansel Adams released Portfolio II, a set of 15 photographs, to commemorate the National Parks and Monuments, which he dedicated to Albert Bender, his great benefactor, and friend. This portfolio contains images capturing the grandeur and splendor of national parks all over the country, from Alaska to California, and Tennessee to Maine. It is a testament to his passion for protecting these lands for future generations, and his imagery is both powerful and persuasive.

Self-published in San Francisco, 1950, Fifteen gelatin silver prints, the edition is limited to 100 numbered copies and five presentation copies for a total edition of 105, each mounted, signed and numbered in pencil on the mount, with the portfolio stamp on the reverse. Varying dimensions from 7 1/2 x 9 1/8 inches to 8 3/4 x 12 inches.

Portfolio Three – Yosemite Valley

“In these sixteen photographs are many deep echoes of experience from more than forty years in Yosemite Valley. Each represents for me, a moment of wonder…both the grand and the intimate aspects of nature can be revealed in the expressive photograph. Both can stir enduring affirmations and discoveries, and can surely help the spectator in his search for identification with the vast world of natural beauty and wonder surrounding him – and help him comprehend man’s continuing need for that world.” Ansel Adams

San Francisco: Sierra Club, published in 1960, Sixteen gelatin silver prints, an edition of 208, each mounted, signed and numbered. Negative dates: 1926-59, Various sizes to 11 1/8 by 8 3/4 in. or the reverse.

Portfolio Four – What Majestic Word

“It is my intention to present – through the medium of photography – intuitive observations of the natural world which may have meaning to the spectators, just as they might have had meaning to him. And through them, I hope that some of the quality, sensitivity, and heart of Russell Varian may be revealed…to a world in need of the vast and patient benedictions of nature and the benefactions of noble men.” Ansel Adams

Sierra Club, San Francisco, Published in 1963, Fifteen silver gelatin prints, each print flush-mounted to a card and signed in ballpoint pen below the image. Printed paper label with information about the edition and numbered on the reverse, from an edition of 260.

Below, a signed Ansel Adams photo titled “Tuolumne Meadows” from Portfolio Four – What Majestic Word, belonging to the author.

Portfolio Five

“What is Adams trying to say to us? He says he can’t verbalize about what only photographs can say. He says only that this portfolio seems to sum up certain qualities and feelings he has not clarified before…it is clear once we open this portfolio. It is a profound statement by a great photographer.” – Nancy Newhall, 1970

Published in 1970, edition of 110 copies, there are 100 copies numbered 1 through 100 and 10 copies lettered A through J. With an introduction by Nancy Newhall.

The Tragic Rim Fire

On August 17, 2013, an irresponsible hunter let his illegal campfire get out of control. It would be called the Rim Fire, named for its proximity to the Rim of the World vista point, a scenic overlook on Highway 120 leading up to Yosemite.

The Rim Fire was a massive wildfire that started in a remote canyon in Stanislaus National Forest in California. This portion of the central Sierra Nevada spans Tuolumne and Mariposa counties. The fire quickly got out of control and eventually burned 257,314 acres (402.053 sq mi; 1,041.31 km2). As of 2018, the Rim Fire was California’s largest wildfire on record in the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

The fire was first spotted and reported by a pilot on August 17, 2013, at 3:25 PM PDT in the Stanislaus National Forest, east of Groveland. First responders arrived 22 minutes later and the fire battle began almost immediately but the rough terrain and remote location, it would be a major effort for the next two months.

After a nine-week firefighting battle, the Rim Fire was fully contained on Thursday, October 24, 2013. Due to a lack of winter rains, some logs smoldered in the interior portion of the fire throughout the winter. More than a year passed before it was declared completely out on November 4, 2014.

A total of eleven residences, three commercial structures, and 98 outbuildings were destroyed in the fire. During suppression efforts, which cost more than $127 million (2013 USD), a total of ten injuries from the wildfire were reported, but luckily there were no fatalities.

Above, in an effort to track the natural reforestation progress, visitors are asked to take a photo of the devastated area behind the sign by placing their camera on the small metal bracket, taking a photo and posting it.

My photo is below, taken at that spot, of the devastated Rim Fire area in March 2019.

Initially, the government made the decision not to publicly identify the irresponsible hunter who had lost control of his illegal campfire. Because of his reckless, rash, careless, thoughtless, incautious, unwise, imprudent, ill-advised, ill-considered, injudicious, misguided, heedless, inattentive, precipitous, foolhardy, impetuous, devil-may-care, negligent, neglectful, and uncaring behavior, the fire had burned only about 40 acres when it was first discovered, but it grew to 10,000 acres within 36 hours and 100,000 acres after just four days. In two days alone the fire had burned nearly 90,000 acres.

When two felony and two misdemeanor charges were filed against Keith Matthew Emerald of Columbia, California, the public finally put a name behind the person who had caused so much damage. According to investigators, Emerald had lied about how the campfire started, blaming it on a rock slide and then on marijuana growers.

In May of 2015 U.S. prosecutors decided to drop the case against Keith Matthew Emerald in the massive Yosemite Rim Fire after both witnesses had died. The abrupt deaths of the two key witnesses caused the U.S. Attorney’s office to dismiss an indictment against the hunter who had been charged with starting the illegal campfire that sparked the fifth-largest (2019 data) fire in recorded state history.

All photographs in this blog, with the exception of the Ansel Adams photo “Tuolumne Meadows” and the title photo of me, which was taken by my sister Heidi Jackson-Kelly, are the copyright of Jim Jackson Photography. Please contact me for authorization to use any photos or for hand-signed, high-resolution copies.

Special thanks to:

The Ansel Adams Gallery

Village Mall

Yosemite National Park, CA 95389

(telephone: 650-692-3285)






































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