Software co. to put works of Ansel Adams on CD-ROM

By Jimi Jo Story
Arizona Daily Wildcat
April 8, 1996

A little-known computer software company owned by Microsoft Corp. has begun production of a CD-ROM to archive the photographs by Ansel Adams, most of which are now housed in the UA's Center for Creative Photography.

The CD is expected to go on sale in the fall of 1997, said John Schaeffer, member of the Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust, and former University of Arizona president.

The center is working with the trust and software company, Corbis Corp., based in Bellevue, Wash., to create the CD-ROM.

"Ansel Adams was very interested in new technology," said Nancy Solomon, director of public information for the Center for Creative Photography. "He would have embraced digital technology."

Adams died in 1984.

Schaeffer, who was a close friend of Adams, agreed, saying, "In the later years of his life, Ansel said that if he were a young man starting out he would have pursued electronic photography as a profession."

Soloman said that while there is a difference between screen images and photographs, Corbis Corp. has shown it will try to keep the CD images as true as possible to Adams' original work.

"We hope that the CD-ROM will give more people a wider sense of what Ansel did," she said.

Neither Schaeffer nor Terence Pitts, director of the Center for Creative Photography, were sure how much the trust or the center would receive in royalties from the CD.

But, Pitts said, "Anything that popularizes Ansel's work will have an impact on us."

The center receives 7 percent of the yearly royalties from sales of all items with Adams' images on them, including reproductions of prints and novelty items, like notepads and computer screen savers.

The 7 percent is added to the principle of an endowment from the Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust. The center uses the interest from that principle for operating expenses.

The center gets up to $55,000 each year in interest, Pitts said.

The other 93 percent of royalties go to Virginia Adams, Ansel's widow, for living expenses.

Schaeffer and Adams founded the Center for Creative Photography in 1975 after Schaeffer approached him about starting a museum for photographers.

"Ansel had a vision about a photographer's museum," Solomon said. "He felt it was important for photographers to have a place where their photography process was saved."

The center now has approximately 1,800 artist archives with 70,000 photos, including works by Edward Weston, Louise Dahl-Wolfe and W. Eugene Smith.

Anyone can view the photographs in the archives, but need reservations to do so.

Representatives of Corbis Corp. could not be reached to comment on whether the CD would run on IBM- compatable or Macintosh computers, or what the price of the new CD-ROM. A sales associate from Egghead Software said new CD-ROM games and references can cost up to $70.

Another CD-ROM, detailing Adams' photography techniques, should be available in 1998.

"I am excited that this will bring attention to fine arts photography," said Nancy Lutz, assistant director of the center.

Pitts said, "Ansel loved technology and would have loved to be where the latest inventions were."