018 (Ansel Adams) Mary Austin
The Land of Little Rain (inscribed)

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018 (Ansel Adams) Mary Austin
The Land of Little Rain (inscribed)

750.00

Where Good Cameras Come From

Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1950
First printing thus. 132 pp., square 4to. Austin's classic text, with an introduction by Carl van Doren, and reproductions of 48 photographs by Ansel Adams. Internally about fine, in lightly handled cloth with a bit of fading to spine and wear to extremities. In a supplied dustjacket, price-clipped and with edgewear and small closed tears, but still very good. This copy inscribed on the halftitle by Ansel Adams to Louise Boyd, and dated in the year of publication.

Louise Boyd (1887–1982) was an early explorer of Greenland and the Arctic, an author and photographer, and the first woman to fly over the North Pole, among other distinctions. Boyd and Ansel Adams had a long and interesting friendship.

The camera that Boyd took on her first expedition in 1926 — a Kodak Eastman with standard wood construction replaced by aluminum to make it usable in the Arctic — she later sold to Adams, who used it for many years. In interviews, discussing his equipment, Adams speaks of that camera and an aerial camera that he also purchased from Boyd; both received extensive use and are responsible for numerous iconic images.

Incredibly, Gordon Fountain (who was with Byrd on the second expedition to Antarctica) relates in a 1996 interview that Boyd wrangled Adams into photographing her furniture for insurance purposes!

Adams: And then I sold the Folmer view camera and got Miss Louise Boyd's Kodak eight by ten camera, which was of aluminum, made on the same pattern as the wooden view camera. Silliest piece of engineering. I still have it, but it's just ridiculous to look at. But it worked beautifully. . . . Adams: Then I have also Louise Boyd's aero camera, the five by seven Fairchild camera that she used in her exploration of Greenland, which is a rather extraordinary outfit. She got some very interesting stuff with it. It's big and as heavy as sin, you know. Teiser: How did you happen to have her camera? Adams: Oh, we've known her for a long time and she was disposing of her equipment. I sold quite a few things for her, some very elaborate navigation instruments. These things went rather cheap. They were not worth much financially, but now they have historic value. And a set of optical glass filters that are hard to come by now. Grade A glass, about 1/2 inch thick. Absolutely flat plane.
(from Bancroft Library Regional Oral History project)

BS: Louise Boyd. You were a friend of Louise's? GF: Oh yeah. I've got a couple of her books. And Marjorie had quite a bit to do with her in her later days when she was in hard times and in a bad way physically. She was in a rest home for a while and Marge used to go up and see that she ate her lunch and things like that. In fact, we had some photographs and stuff from Louise. Let's see. What's the name of the photographer that took Louise's furniture pictures? MF: Ansel Adams. GF: Yeah, Ansel Adams. MF: Nobody else but Louise would have got Ansel Adams. GF: Yeah, he took pictures of all her furniture for insurance purposes. She hired him or talked him into it. I don't whether she paid him or not. MF: She talked him into it.
(from interview with Brian Shoemaker, Ohio State University) 

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