November 1, 1941: Moonrise Over Hernandez, New Mexico



One of the most celebrated photographs in American photography, Moonrise Over Hernandez, New Mexico is widely considered to be photographer Ansel Adams’ masterpiece.  The image changed considerably as the years passed as Adams tinkered with it in his darkroom.

In 1943 Adams gave a fairly prosaic account of the taking of the photograph:

It was made after sundown, there was a twilight glow on the distant peaks and clouds. The average light values of the foreground were placed on the “U” of the Weston Master meter; apparently the values of the moon and distant peaks did not lie higher than th…A” of the meter … Some may consider this photograph a “tour de force” but I think of it as a rather normal photograph of a typical New Mexican landscape. Twilight photography is unfortunately neglected; what may be drab and uninteresting by daylight may assume a magnifihalflightity in the halflight between sunset and dark.

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One Comment

  1. I have a small reproduction framed over my home office desk: I always find it inspiring.
    For those who haven’t had the awesome blessing of living for some time in the American Southwest, there is a surreal clarity and beauty of winter light and horizons, night or day in Arizona and New Mexico. There is also an expansiveness I never noted elsewhere. Winter in the desert is wordlessly beautiful, and Christmas must be experienced ar least once.

    Ansel Adams definitely caught it and froze it in time. Where I live now is beautiful, but the American Southwest’s magical natural beauty, its serenity, austerity, and stark simplicity, sky, clouds, moon, sun, have to be seen to be known and experienced.

    Just please don’t go visiting there like the German tourists, in later May until after mid-October. Those Georgia O’Keefes of the bleached white bones are a reminder of something real. The summer desert is a cruel master.

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