Thomas Sowell

No longer was it necessary to lug around heavy and cumbersome cameras. Improvements in both lenses and films now made it possible to get good quality photos with smaller cameras that allowed more mobility and made it easier to capture fleeting moments, which were often memorable. Within a decade, Speed Graphics were obsolete.

Other pioneers shaped the evolution of photography in other eras. Back during the Civil War, Matthew Brady revolutionized the coverage of wars with his grim and shocking photographs of battlefields strewn with the bodies of men killed in that titanic struggle. Never again would war be a romantic adventure taking place somewhere else. Brady's photographs brought it home to the most remote and sheltered civilian.

Perhaps the greatest photographer of all time was Ansel Adams, who was to landscape photography what Karsh was to portraits -- both a consummate artist and a consummate technician. Ansel Adams did not so much change landscape photography as bring it to peaks of photographic perfection and emotional impact never achieved before or since.

Some who have followed in his footsteps have produced some good pictures, but Ansel Adams remains in a class by himself. Some later photographers who have produced pretentious blurs or politically correct propaganda photos have tried to disdain the beauty that Ansel Adams left the world. But they will be forgotten when he is still remembered and his photos of Yosemite and Yellowstone continue to brighten the lives of millions.

Every field has its pioneering giants. Photography has just lost one of its greatest in Yousuf Karsh.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate