If Ansel came to dinner

By Tuesday, July 1, 2014 grafphoto
pictured rocks photo

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore towering wall, Lake Superior, Michigan #SL-8277-2

I used to have this recurring dream that I knew someone from a famous band personally, and every time they would come to town, they would stay at my house and conduct a living room or backyard concert for a select list of friends.   The particular band changed from time to time, but the premise was always the same.  It would get loud, and even the neighbors wouldn’t complain because it was such a rare thing.   Recently I had a similar dream, but it was not a band that was coming over, but the legend Ansel Adams himself.

Forget the details of how I actually knew Ansel, logic like that doesn’t exist in the world of the subconscious.   All I knew was that I was picked, and after dinner, I was to show him a spot to photograph in my state.  Time for one spot, and one spot only.  From there the anxiety started.   No pressure right?  After all, Michigan is not exactly on the top ten list of such notable grand landscapes, which I assumed he would be most interested in.  Or would he be more interested in something different than those big scenics?

I settled on the southern shoreline of Lake Superior, at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.   For me, it characterizes some of the unexpected, hidden beauty of the state, and is “grand” enough to entice even the most well traveled landscape photographer.   It is also best explored from the water, something that I imagined might be different for him.    A variety of opportunities exist, from large grand scenics to intimate rock wall abstracts.    I think there is enough to keep any photographer busy for one visit, let alone ten visits.

Rock wall detail, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan

Rock wall detail, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan # SL-9748-2

So here is the real kicker – the dream pretty much ended there.   I never got the chance to see if my selection was enticing enough.   I never got to hear (or see) the music play.    I never got to head back to the darkroom (or computer) with my buddy Ansie to see some of the real magic happen.  It became a dream more about a question than an actual event.    As such, I thought the question would be a good one for anyone to ponder.

So I pose the question to you… “Where would you go if Ansel came to dinner?

Pictured Rocks shoreline

Pictured Rocks shoreline, Lake Superior, Michigan #SL-8274-2

What particular spot in YOUR state or city do you think you would pick?   Would you go for the grand scenic, or try to draw his attention to more subtle natural beauty?

Use the hashtag #IfAnselCametoDinner if you share your post on social media, and if you an include a link back to this post in your post, I will approve it in the trackbacks to keep a list of others that might want to explore a similar dream.

I hope you have fun with this idea.




rock wall photo Pictured Rocks

Rock Wall detail, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan #SL-9173-2

Join the discussion 6 Comments

  • Pawnee Grasslands, Rocky Mountain National Park, Prospect Ponds, Arapahoe Nature Area, Environmental Learning Center and Old Town. I could probably include all National Parks. I chose Old Town because of the old painted pianos he could play for people. It is an interesting question for any photographer who would come and visit. I’m a bit like Guy and prefer solitude with my nature work.
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  • I have a bunch of weddings coming up here so I would keep him very busy lol !!

    All kidding aside we have several large waterfalls here in Southern Indiana that would be my choice.
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  • My answer here is not really fair, but you asked. I would probably go to my room after dinner to go to bed early. I believe that is what I did when Ansel and Virginia came to visit my parents at least one of the several times and something I often did as a small boy when company came. I’m not sure Ansel would want to go photographing anywhere with other people, especially those he didn’t know well, unless they were part of one of his workshops. However, to play along with your question, I would invite Ansel to dinner in the winter time because I would want to show him Grizzly Ridge and Indian Valley or Genesee Valley after a fresh snow. In other nearby areas, I believe Ansel would also appreciate the Feather River Canyon right after a heavy rain when all the waterfalls were running. He probably saw all of these places at least once anyway and even gave a talk one time at local Feather River College, right when my dad had to be out of town photographing for a book project for David Brower.
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  • Tom Dills says:

    Whether it was Ansel himself or Mark Graf who showed up for dinner, the exercise of having a short list of photo locations is an excellent one. Here in North Carolina I’d have to say that the Smokies would be the best place, probably a spot that gets interesting weather like Newfound Gap or Clingman’s Dome. Although Ansel could probably make a decent photograph in my back yard. Mark Graf, too! 😉
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  • Richard Wong says:

    Such a cool dream, Mark! I would probably go shoot Mt. Tamalpais with him or Fitzgerald Marine Reserve because I enjoy going to those places with or without a camera.

  • Guy Tal says:

    Pretty much anywhere in my living room, though the kitchen will work, too. 🙂
    Photography, for me, is a solitary pursuit. Conversation rarely helps it. I think the exchange will be much more stimulating without it getting in the way.

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