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Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico

© 2013 The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust.

Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico

Artist: Ansel Adams (Born in San Francisco, California, 1902–1984)
Culture: American
Date: 1941
Medium: Gelatin silver print
Image: 15 1/2 x 19 1/2 inches (39.4 x 49.5 cm)
Mount: 22 x 28 inches (55.9 x 71.1 cm)
Mat: 22 x 28 inches (55.9 x 71.1 cm)
Classification: Photograph
Credit Line: Bequest of the Aubrey Courtney Shives, Jr. (T’66) Trust
Label Text:Ansel Adams was a major figure in Group f.64, whose members followed Edward Weston in a Purist approach, exploiting to the full the realist capacities of the photograph. Using the smallest aperture setting with a large format camera (8”x10”) produced the greatest amount of visual information on the large negative; the final print was usually a contact print of the same size, rather than an enlargement, to retain maximum detail. This devotion to photographic purity, however, was sometimes only rhetorical, because there were many ways that the photographers violated this creed to produce more powerful images.

"Moonrise" is a case in point: one of Adams’ most well-known photographs, he told the story of how he stumbled on this vision while driving through Hernandez, New Mexico; stopping his car, he made this picture before the magical light disappeared. Yet careful study of the work reveals that the light is impossibly inconsistent: if some of the crosses in the little graveyard are lit up so brightly, why not all of them? Why not the walls of the whitewashed houses? We can be glad that Adams used subtle darkroom techniques to improve on nature given the extraordinary image he produced, which metamorphoses into the vision of beauty he sought.

Object number: 2011.8.16