How ‘Moonrise, Hernandez’ Came to Be One of the Iconic Photographs of the 20th Century

by Daniel Grant, Huffington Post March 17, 2014

Moonrise, Hernandez by Ansel AdamsDriving back to Santa Fe, New Mexico on October 31, 1941, after what had been a disappointing day for picture-taking, photographer Ansel Adams (1902-84) brought his car to an abrupt stop, yelling to his companions to bring him his tripod, exposure meter and other photographic equipment so that he could take what would become one of the most famous images in fine art photography, “Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico.”

The picture has three separate elements: the town of Hernandez in the foreground, a rim of clouds illuminated on the horizon by the setting sun and the glowing moon alone in the dark sky above.

Adams knew it was a great picture, but “he was never completely satisfied with the prints he was making,” according to his grandson Matthew Adams, and so the photographer tinkered with them in the darkroom, producing more than 900 prints over the course of 40 years. “In 1948, he bathed part of the negative in a chemical intensifier in order to create more contrast in the foreground and to make the moon brighter. Before that, things had looked a little flatter.” Over the years, the prints also became larger, moving from 16″ x 20″ or smaller up to 40″ x 60″. Ansel Adams himself said that, with all that tinkering and various alterations, “it is safe to say that no two prints are precisely the same.” read more at Huffington Post