Ansel vs Howard: The Battle of Yosemite

I have been a writer for most of my life. Or, maybe I’ve been a storyteller. It’s hard to know for sure. In the fifth grade, a poem, my first published work, Ethan Allen and the Green Boys, appeared in the school newspaper.

A Short Story by Howard Feigenbaum

 

Short story by Howard Feigenbaum- Ansel vs Howard: The Battle of YosemiteAnsel vs Howard: The Battle of Yosemite

Twenty-two years ago, an April family vacation to Yosemite, the land carved by glaciers, set me to thinking. As I packed, my mind settled on a discomforting thought. How could my puny, predictable thirty-five millimeter photographs ever compare to Ansel Adams’ majestic prints? I wanted to avoid joining the multitude, cameras slung around their necks, who would have done better buying postcards featuring the master’s work.

Who would an amateur nature photographer admire more than Ansel Adams? Nobody. His photographs are synonymous with Yosemite National Park. Ansel’s large format view camera, his patience in waiting for the perfect moment to shoot the scene and his skill in the darkroom combined to portray the beauty and drama of Yosemite.

Sure, he had a proven system for composing and processing his iconic images.

But I had something Ansel never could have imagined—two plastic, pink flamingos, purchased at the Armstrong Garden Center and placed with care on top of the luggage in the car trunk. If his work was iconic, I would go the other way—iconoclastic. My photographs would juxtapose the park’s natural splendor with crass, mass-produced symbols of the tasteless. I would become the “anti-Ansel” of Yosemite—my David to his Goliath. Watch out, Ansel. The battle had been joined.

The day of reckoning arrived. We parked near a breathtaking meadow with sparkling waterfalls in the distance. I opened the trunk, lifted out the birds and marched to a location that would provide the perfect scene—plastic, pink flamingos in the foreground accompanied by lush green fields and splashing cascades in the background.

Fellow tourists watched with interest, pointing and murmuring.

“Dad, do you have to?” asked my young daughter as I shoved the iron rod bird legs into the