The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.
— Ansel Adams

In Focus: Ansel Adams

Highlights from the Lawrence Janss Collection

February 21, 2019 to March 24, 2019

Moonrise over Hernandez, New Mexico  (1941)   On View

Moonrise over Hernandez, New Mexico (1941)

On View

 This exhibition is about the art of photography and the transformative impact an artist can have on an individual and society. In Lawrence Janss’ exquisite collection of Adams works, visitors will encounter the most popular landscape photographs in history.

Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite National Park  (1937)   On View

Clearing Winter Storm, Yosemite National Park (1937)

On View

The Lay of the Land: An Ansel Adams Sampler (1927 - 1958)

By Colin Westerbeck

The subject of Ansel Adams’ best known photography is, of course, the drama of America’s western landscape. Yet in his old age, Adams himself became an even bigger subject.  He turned into a mythic figure whose fame almost eclipsed the work on which it was based.  Even his death in 1984 didn’t diminish the focus on him as much as, or even more than, his photography. It seems that you still can’t get back to the photography unless you first deal with—or maybe dispose of—the legend of the man.

Ansel Adams and Larry Janss

Ansel Adams and Larry Janss

Larry Janss, Adams’ student, friend, and assistant , shared Adams’s passion for large format photography. As a young, aspiring photographer, Adams invited Janss to “tag along after him, assisting in setting up cameras and carrying stuff around.” During these summer internships, Janss would aim the camera at the subject Adams chose, then focus and compose the subject as best he could. Janss would study the composition carefully before Adams would come over and then reset the composition to his liking. After Adams would finish the demonstration, Janss would crawl back under the cloth and study the difference. Janss would ponder and absorb why Adams organized the borders, why he excluded a rock while including a branch. Janss explains that it was through this “theft” of Adams vision that he unknowingly taught Janss to SEE.

Larry Janss,  Mount Whitney from the Alabama Hills, Lone Pine, CA  (2010)   On View

Larry Janss, Mount Whitney from the Alabama Hills, Lone Pine, CA (2010)

On View


No Moonrise: The Birth Date of Moonrise

by Larry Janss

For those of us who occupy the small, arcane world of traditional (read “large format”) fine art photography, discussing the oral history and the minutia of photographic minutia seems to hold forth any time that more than one of us get together. Debates are engaged, memories are recalled, anecdotes are retold and retold again.

The lore of the great Himself, Ansel Adams, is often at the heart of many fond, usually exaggerated, personal recollections of the jolly old elf.

One of the great kafuffles spins around the precise “birthday” of Ansel Adam’s seminal work, “Moonrise, Hernandez”, arguably the one of the most significant photographs in photographic history.

Ansel was famously flakey in his recording of the dates of his photographs, though he could recall the technical details of their making quite precisely. Ansel had pegged Moonrise’s birth at some time in the fall of 1941, he was pretty sure.


About Larry Janss

Larry Janss attended California Institute of the Arts where he studied film making and photography. His photographic education included in-depth workshop studies with Ansel Adams, John Sexton, Bruce Barnhaum, Cheri Hiser and many other noted professionals. Janss assisted Ansel Adams on many projects. Janss instructs on the technique and the history of fine art photography at both the university level and in small workshop settings.

Monolith, the Face of Half Dome ,  Yosemite National Park  (1927)   On View

Monolith, the Face of Half Dome, Yosemite National Park (1927)

On View

Aspens, Northern New Mexico  (1958)   On View

Aspens, Northern New Mexico (1958)

On View

Quick Facts About Ansel Easton Adams

BornFebruary 20, 1902 San Francisco, CA

DiedApril 22, 1984, Monterey, CA

SpouseVirginia Best (m. 1928–1984)

ChildrenAnne AdamsMichael Adams

Mount Williamson, Sierra Nevada, from Manzanar, California  (1944)   On View

Mount Williamson, Sierra Nevada, from Manzanar, California (1944)

On View

The Grand Tetons and the Snake River, Teton National Park, Wyoming (1942)    On View

The Grand Tetons and the Snake River, Teton National Park, Wyoming (1942)

On View

Highlights From the Exhibition


Thank you to our donors whose support provides free admission to this exquisite exhibition:

  • Shawn & Letal Skelton

  • Tony & Jennifer Principe

  • Larry Janss


In Focus: Ansel Adams is generously sponsored by:

Margaret Fieweger McEnery

GPW3CBT6_400x400.jpg
Tish Greenwood, right, executive director of the California Museum of Art Thousand Oaks, and Tony Principe, board of directors chair, look over their new exhibit “In Focus: Ansel Adams Highlights from Lawrence Janss Collection” on Tuesday, February 19, 2019 at the Thousand Oaks Mall. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

Tish Greenwood, right, executive director of the California Museum of Art Thousand Oaks, and Tony Principe, board of directors chair, look over their new exhibit “In Focus: Ansel Adams Highlights from Lawrence Janss Collection” on Tuesday, February 19, 2019 at the Thousand Oaks Mall. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

A display in the exhibit “In Focus: Ansel Adams Highlights from Lawrence Janss Collection” on Tuesday, February 19, 2019 at the California Museum of Art Thousand Oaks in the Thousand Oaks Mall. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

A display in the exhibit “In Focus: Ansel Adams Highlights from Lawrence Janss Collection” on Tuesday, February 19, 2019 at the California Museum of Art Thousand Oaks in the Thousand Oaks Mall. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)