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Vintage Photos by the Man Whom Ansel Adams Called a "Roving Genius of Mind and Mountains"

Bradford Washburn

When he died in 2007 at the age of 96, Bradford Washburn's New York Times obituary hailed him as "an accomplished mountaineer, photographer and mapmaker from his teenage years" and National Geographic lauded him as "legendary." This praise was hardly exaggerated: Washburn, who published his first hardcover book, Among the Alps with Bradford, when he was 17 and served as the founding director of Boston's Museum of Science for 40 years, spent eight decades traveling the world and scaling its most dramatic peaks, from the Grand Canyon to the Matterhorn. He also developed stuntman-like techniques for photographing the mountains under all variety of conditions, leading Ansel Adams to call him a "roving genius of mind and mountains."

Next month, Boston's Panopticon Gallery will exhibit some of Washburn's never-before-seen vintage contact prints, as well as some of his best known and admired "colossal" images, on loan from the Washburn Estate and the Decaneas Archive. The photographs below are drawn from their exhibition, which will be on display through January of 2015. Click to expand and experience more fully Washburn's awe-inspiring images of the natural world.

Bradford Washburn
Negative #4672
Two members of an Air Force accident investigation team take a brief rest.
Bradford Washburn
Untitled – Neg. 2980
Bradford Washburn
Untitled – Neg. 5185
Bradford Washburn
Untitled – Neg. 5248
Bradford Washburn
Untitled – Neg. 5188 at 8,500 feet
Bradford Washington
Untitled – Neg. 488
Bradford Washburn
Negative #556
View from near top of North Peak.