Month: May Activity: Complete the Other Half of an Image Meet the Artist

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Masterpiece: Saguaro National Park, 1941

by Ansel Adams

Keywords: color value, balance, landscape

Grade: 4th Grade

Month: May

Activity: Complete the Other Half of an Image
Meet the Artist:

  • Ansel Adams was born in 1902 in San Francisco, California.

  • He was a gifted piano player and as a young boy his father groomed him for a profession as a concert pianist.

  • In 1916 his family vacationed in Yosemite, California and Ansel was immediately taken by the beautiful natural landscape.

  • In 1927, he began taking photographs with his new camera and in that same year, he gained notoriety in the field of photography.

  • He realized through photography he could capture the emotion, spirituality and wonder of nature.

  • By the 1940’s his landscape photograph work was well know and he set up a workshop in Yosemite known as the U.S. Camera Photographic Forum.

  • In the 1970’s, he traveled through Arizona and found he loved the Arizona landscape nearly as much as Yosemite and began to photography many areas across the state.

  • Many of his Arizona photographs have been and continue to be featured in Arizona Highways magazine.

  • In 1980, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his efforts to preserve this country’s wild and scenic areas.

  • Ansel Adams died in 1984 but left behind a vast amount of beautiful photographs and books about photography that continue to be used in Photography courses around the country.

Color value: lightness or darkness of any color. For this lesson, the color value is the greyscale.

Balance - Symmetry: a design or layout which is divided in half so that one side of the center line is identical to the opposite half.

Balance – Asymmetrical: a design or layout which there is no center line but the elements within is balanced visually but not symmetrically. Many of Adams’ pieces are arranged like this.
Possible Questions:

  • How is this image balanced? If so, it is symmetrical or asymmetrical?

  • What are the differences from one side to the other?

  • Does this photography look realistic? Had it been altered? How do we know?

  • Would this photograph have the same feeling if it were in color?

  • What do you like about this photograph?

  • Can anyone be a photographer?

Activity: Complete the Other Half of Image
Note to Grade Coordinator or Art Guide: You will need to make B/W copies of the Adams photograph (included at end of lesson) and cut it in half. Each student will receive either half.
Materials Needed: scratch paper, 8-1/2”x11” sketch paper, copies of the ½ landscape image by Ansel Adams at end of lesson (1 per student), glue stick, 9”x12” black construction paper, student’s own pencils.
Process (30-40 minutes):

  1. Before students begin their Adams piece, pass out the scratch paper and have them sketch a cactus using light, short strokes on the scratch paper. Next, have them practice the concept of greyscale by shading the cactus with the side of their pencil lead (not the point). Have them experiment with different values from a dark to light shade by applying different forces on the pencil. Challenge them to come up with at least four different values of shading.

  2. When students are finished with their practice piece, distribute the ½ landscape copy, sketch paper and glue stick to each student.

  3. Have students glue the ½ landscape image on the appropriate side of the sketch paper (depending on which side they have).

  4. Explain that they will be completing the missing half of Ansel Adams photograph using the shading technique they just practiced.

  5. Explain this lesson is about exploring value and gradation of color. Particularly, the grey scale and creating the symmetry and/or asymmetry of the overall image. Encourage the student to focus on the areas of detail.

  6. When finished, have them mount their image to the black construction paper and sign the back.

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