Surf Sequence #1

1940, printed 1973
Artist Ansel Adams (American, 1902–1984)


Image: 26.2 x 32.2 cm (10 5/16 x 12 11/16 in.) Mount: 40.6 x 54.6 cm (16 x 21 1/2 in.) Framed: 43.5 x 57.5 x 4.1 cm (17 1/8 x 22 5/8 x 1 5/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Photograph, gelatin silver print

Not On View


Americas, Photography



Ansel Adams shot the five images of his Surf Sequence in 1940 during a drive along the Pacific Coast in California, returning from a visit to his friend Edward Weston in Carmel. Stopping along the highway overlooking the ocean, the photographer was taken by the lacy patterns that the waves created, and he made several exposures on the spot. The resulting photographs beautifully captured both a sense of movement and the passage of time, as the sun gradually moved across the sky and the shadows lengthened while he worked. These nearly abstract ocean views suggest the idea of themes and variations that Adams, trained as a concert pianist, appreciated in classical music. Early examples of his serial imagery, they have proved to be some of his most influential work.


mount, l.l., graphite: 1.
mount, verso, center, stamp seven, black ink: PHOTOGRAPH/ BY/ ANSEL ADAMS/ ROUTE 1, BOX 181/ CARMEL, CALIFORNIA/ 93921
mount, verso, center, stamp eight, black ink: TITLE/ CREDIT/ DATE FILM
in stamp eight, black ink [not AA's hand]: Surf Sequence #1/ 4-C-217
mount, verso, l.r., graphite: 19
mount, verso, l.l., graphite: III


mount, l.r., graphite: Ansel Adams


Purchased by William H. and Saundra B. Lane from the artist, c.1973; gift to the MFA from Saundra B. Lane, December 27, 2002

Credit Line

Gift of Saundra B. Lane in honor of Clifford S. Ackley


Photograph by Ansel Adams. Used with permission of the Trustees of The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust. All Rights Reserved.