Video: The story behind Ansel Adams' Moonrise Hernandez, New Mexico
Moonrise Hernandez, New Mexico is Ansel Adams' most famous and iconic image, and, as this great new video by the Ansel Adams Gallery reveals, the story behind the groundbreaking image is almost as remarkable as the work itself.
While on one of his legendary roadtrips, Adams described his joy at seeing the soft difused light above the town of Hernandez, nearly crashing his car in his eagerness to capture it. Yet the iconic image almost never happened.
"When everything was setup and I was ready to take the picture, I couldn't find the exposure meter. I was desperate," Adams remembered.
With the light changing, Adams took an educated guess on what exposure to use. He judged the strength of the moonlight as 250 candles per square foot and took one shot, and in the time it took to turn to change his 8x10 film holder, the light had already changed.
"If I had not been willing to estimate the light without the meter, the shot would probably have been gone," he later said.
The image was printed, but interestingly, the video also shows how Adams changed his printing style later towards a more dramatic and darker version with much greater contrast. Adams would claim this was closer to what he experienced at the time of the shoot.
"I knew it was special when I released the shutter, but I never anticipated what its reception would be over the decades," Adams later said about the image.