Half-Dome: A New Photographic Classic

In Aperture magazine can be found a fascinating interview and a great picture of Half-Dome by a young German photographer named Florian Maier-Aichen.

He calls his picture "The Best General View," which is both a reference to a classic photograph from the 19th-century by Carleton Atkins, and also a sly nod to his method, which blends all sorts of manipulation, digital and otherwise, in service of the final image. As he told Aperture:

I do not really care about believability; the ultimate goal is a good picture, no matter how you got there. I am interested in creating a picture beyond the photograph.

But from my perspective, not only has Maier-Aichen succeeded in creating a good picture, but he has  created a fully believable picture, in that the sky as it usually appears above Half-Dome in photographs is not washed out, as is usually the case these days, and the stone has not a shiny flatness, but a darkness suggestive of weight and mass.

Funny how manipulation can be more real than "reality" — at least according to the lens– itself.

As art critic Christopher Knight put it for the Los Angeles Times:

He does for the postmodern world of digital imagery what camera work
attempted in the 19th and early 20th centuries, when various
pictorialists used painting’s strategies and motifs in photographs.
Modern photographic orthodoxy asserts that the world seen directly
through a camera’s lens is richer than imagination in creative


Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

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