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Burt Chernow Galleries
Housatonic Museum of Art
Housatonic Community College
900 Lafayette Blvd., Bridgeport, CT 06604

For information call
Robbin Zella, Director,

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ANSEL ADAMS: Classic Images



Timeline of Photography,
To see a timeline of the history of photography, visit these web sites...

Glossary of terms


The opening of a camera lens that is expressed in f numbers.

Camera Obscura

Literally means darkroom. A box first used by the Greek philosopher Aristotle (384 -322 BC) to concentrate light onto the back of a dark box through a small opening in the front.


The arrangement of elements in a work of art that is essential to the structure of the final image. The composition is the organizing plan used to create a final image that can be an intuitive process rather than a concrete method.

Contact Printing

Before the enlarger was invented, photographers placed negatives on sensitized paper under glass, and printed directly onto the paper by exposing it to direct sunlight.

Electronic Flash

A separate flash unit that is synchronized to go off as lens opens; varying degrees of flash duration will be will be used depending on time and distance from the subject.

Exposure The camera is mechanically equipped with two basic means to control the exposure of light on the film.

F stop (number)

The size of the lens opening is an F stop; the smaller the opening (F22, for example), the greater the depth of field.


Volume or mass that takes up space. Forms on a flat surface create the illusion of volume.


Usually refers to what is represented, depicted or shown.


Refers to images of nature. The word scape means view of.

Luminance The measure of the subject's "brightness". This is usually in terms of candles-per-square-foot.


Repetition of shapes, lines or colors within a work.


A process by which chemically sensitized surfaces are exposed to light (photo) and retain an image (graph) of what is exposed. Methods may be very simple to highly complex. Camera are usually used with adjustable lenses (apertures) and controlled light levels on light sensitive film. The film is then processed (developed) and the image is "fixed" (made permanent). The image (a negative) is transferred onto treated papers, enlarged and processed with chemicals in a "dark room" to make the photographs (also called prints).


A portrait is an image that strives to capture the likeness, character, or essence of the sitter.


The artist seeks to capture his own likeness or convey an aspect of himself to the viewer.

Shutter speed How long the shutter is open (1/1000 of a second to 1 second or more)

Straight Photography

Although Ansel Adams did not invent straight photography, he certainly had a hand in reviving it. Departing from Pictorialism, straight photography eschewed soft-focus lenses and impressionistic, diffused images for sharp-focus, documentary style photographs.


The point from which the artist seems to have been looking in order to depict a scene. With portraits and landscapes, we are likely to find ourselves viewing the image from the same point as the artist.

Hume, Helen. The Art Teacher's Book of Lists. Prentice Hall, 1998

Yenawine, Philip. Key Art terms For Beginners. Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1995.


A method of photographing advocated by Ansel Adams. Adams believed that the image must first be created in the mind's eye and that the photographer should know exactly what the picture will look like before he ever shoots the picture.

Zone System

This process was developed by Ansel Adams to produce an image that had beautiful rich black tones, and a large tonal range (grays) that made these prints stand out.

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Housatonic Museum of Art
Housatonic Community College
900 Lafayette Blvd.
Bridgeport, CT 06604
For information call Robbin Zella, Director, 203-332-5052