Ansel Adams created Portfolio Four: What Majestic Word to raise funds for Russell Varian's long-time dream of preserving what is now California's Castle Rock State Park. Varian, a Stanford engineer and inventor was also, with his wife Dorothy, a passionate conservationist. In his introductory text to the Portfolio, Adams writes:
Every photo in this Portfolio is related in some direct or indirect way to the places, things and moods Russell Varian loved. In some the essences of light and space dominate; in others the substance of rock and wood and the luminous insistence of growing things. (Ansel Adams, foreword to Portfolio Four)
The Portfolios of Ansel Adams, Little Brown and Company, 1998, n.p.