Ansel Adams for the iPad App Review

The app is a collaboration between Little, Brown and Company, the publisher and the Ansel Adams Trust. It sells for US$13.99 in the US App Store and does not seem to be available in international App Stores, at least at present.

The app brings together 40 images excerpted from Andrea Stillman’s Ansel Adams: 400 Photographs along with video and a collection of letters. Specific contents include:

  • A slideshow of 40 Ansel Adams photographs, with optional audio narration, written commentary, or synchronized music
  • Option to run the slideshow with any musical selection from your iTunes library
  • Embedded video excerpts from documentary films about Adams, including the Ric Burns/Sierra Club Emmy Award-winning film for PBS, spanning Adams’ career
  • A rich selection of letters between Adams and leading figures in the worlds of art, photography, and politics, including Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O’Keeffe, Edward Weston, Garry Trudeau, and Jimmy Carter, with many original letters shown in facsimile
  • Delightful and amusing vintage postcards that Adams sent to his closest friends, Beaumont and Nancy Newhall, while on the road photographing America’s wild places, with original postal stamps and cancellations, doodles, and hand-written notes, with flip-to-read functionality
  • Send-an-e-card feature, allowing the user to create an e-postcard with one of Ansel’s images, enter a message, and email to friends directly out of the app
  • Facsimile reproduction of the Ansel Adams Playboy interview, the most substantial print interview he ever gave
  • A chronology of key moments in Adams’ life and career and a complete bibliography
  • Links to websites of interest to Ansel Adams fans

As a resource for Ansel Adams fans this is a useful step in bringing content to iPad users. The images do look stunning on the iPad and do compare favourably with originals I have seen. The audio commentary on the images is limited to just a reading of the accompanying text, and so I did feel that it missed an opportunity to go further. Personally I would have loved these audio commentaries to be provided by a selection of people who would have discussed each work from technical, compositional, historical and artistic perspectives, making it a great educational tool for photographers. The video content is useful, but all too short.

This is a really good app and will serve well. For the price it is an inexpensive and effective coverage. But I was left wanting so much more. This is certainly not the definitive Adams app, but then we are all experimenting with just what to do with the amazing potential of tablets. I do highly recommend this app but it will leave you wanting more, which perhaps is a good thing.

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