Ansel Adams Recounts How He Scored The Famous Moonrise Photograph

Legendary landscape photographer Ansel Adams is known for claiming he sees the image in his mind’s eye before taking the shot. His photograph of a moon rising in the moments before dusk is a textbook example of why he is such a revered artist.

The photo was taken on 1 November 1941 and ended up becoming Adams’ most iconic work and sold over 1,300 photographic prints over his long career. Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico was taken without a exposure meter; instead, Adams would use his wits to determine the luminance of the moon.

In the video above, Adams’ son Michael explains how his father would use a kind of musicians sense to score the negative and then visualise the final result as a print.

The contrast between sunset and darkness was accentuated by removing clouds in the sky and adjusting various exposure levels in the darkroom. Adams would capture the stunning skyline and make the image conform to his impression without compromising the integrity of the landscape.

Adams recounts the story of Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico in the video above—a fantastic deconstruction of the moments leading up to the famous photo by the man himself.