Red tulip center

Led by Ansel Adams, Group f/64 was a  collection of American photographers who produced photographs with super sharp details from front to back — no matter how far back those details were from the camera. In their quest to photograph these ultra sharp images, they lugged cumbersome studio cameras up and down landscapes of the American West.

Adams formed the group as a protest against the pictorial photography championed by Edward Stieglitz on the East coast. In their 1932 exhibit, Group f/64 displayed this manifesto:

“The Group will show no work at any time that does not conform to its standards of pure photography. Pure photography is defined as possessing no qualities of technique, composition or idea, derivative of any other art form. The production of the “Pictorialist,” on the other hand, indicates a devotion to principles of art which are directly related to painting and the graphic arts.

The members of Group f/64 believe that photography, as an art form, must develop along lines defined by the actualities and limitations of the photographic medium, and must always remain independent of ideological conventions of art and aesthetics that are reminiscent of a period and culture antedating the growth of the medium itself.”

There’s an awful lot of “musts” in those rules. Happily My red tulip was not hampered by any of these rigid “limitations of the photographic medium.” Unconcerned by aperture, sharpness or staying within the original scene boundaries, this image started out in the lens of a compact camera small enough to slip into a purse. It then traveled on an experimental  journey through digital painting software that intensified its richness of color and feeling of Spring — a transformative journey as free spirited as Spring itself.


More on the opposite side of Group f/64: