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Ansel Adams is greatly admired for his photographs of the might and majesty of nature. His black and white images evoke the notion of landscape as a sublime and peerless force in a manner that compares with painters such as Turner and Friedrich. Interestingly though, mountains and rugged landscapes were not necessarily always perceived by Europeans as sublime; before the industrialisation of the 19th century untamed nature was seen by many as ugly and frightful. The works of Adams, Turner and Friedrich make interesting comparison with John Pfahl and his photographs of industrial chimneys billowing dramatic plumes of smoke into the atmosphere. Breathtaking as these may be, for an environmentally-informed audience they are deeply troubling. Jeff Wall’s P44868A magnificent photographic construction A Sudden Gust of Wind (after Hokusai) addresses our relationship with nature, our aspirations and the frailties and imperfections that make us human.

Film-based photography

Digital photography

Film and video

Ansel Adams

John Pfahl

Jeff Wall