Arthur C. Pillsbury Foundation

Protecting and Preserving All Life -- By Extending Human Vision

Half Dome and Sentinel Pine

Images of
Half Dome

The portfolio was called - at the insistence of the publisher, Grabhorn Press, Parmelian Prints of the High Sierras. The term 'Parmelian' was a synthetic and meaningless word, made up of bits and pieces of other, 'grander' words, such as 'Parthenon' 'Parnassus' 'amelioration' and 'Pelias and Melisand'. 

The portfolio was championed by Albert Bender (to whom Adams later dedicated Portfolio Two), an insurance broker and philanthropist with a deep commitment to San Francisco's world of arts and letters. Bender admired Adams' work and proposed that he produce one hundred portfolios of eighteen prints, each to sell for fifty dollars.  According to Adams, he was hard put to produce eighteen images he had taken himself.  

On the morning that the project was born, Bender bought ten portfolios in advance and handed Adams a check for five hundred dollars. While Adams sat 'electrified', Bender sold by phone more than half the edition, even before all of the negatives had been made.

From the Parmelian Portfolio. Attributed to Ansel Adams

Below is the Pillsbury photo from the Katherine Ames-Taylor book Lights and Shadows of Yosemite” 1926:   

  Norsigian owned photo from the N.Y. Times article link on A.D. Coleman’s web-site:


“Half Dome from Glacier Point, Winter” - Photo by A.C. Pillsbury

I believe all three are actually Pillsbury photos all taken during the same “photo session” and that the snow bank just under the face of Half Dome in the “Ansel Adams” is the same snowbank in the Pillsbury photo from the Ames-Taylor book, taken during the same photo session – BUT MOMENTARILY CAST IN SHADOW by a passing cloud.

(This “cast shadow” may be the very reason this particular Pillsbury print appears in the Katherine Ames-Taylor book “Lights and Shadows of Yosemite”. It displays both LIGHT & SHADOW ….. falling on HALF DOME.)