A quest for the ultimate, beautiful, meaningful picture

How a Classic was Made: Moon over Hernandez

‘Moon over Hernandez’ is one of Ansel Adams’s iconic landscape photos, and in this videoblog by Marc Silber of the Digital Photography School, Ansel’s son Michael tells a little about how the picture was made. It was a shot ‘at the spur of the moment’, a single negative at intuitive exposure settings (he couldn’t find the exposure meter!) because before Ansel could make a second one, the light in the foreground had faded. In our digital age, we could have made a dozen photos, bracketed for exposure…

But the real point was how different a straight print from the negative was from the final black-and-white print: all kinds of darkroom magic was used, for instance to make the sky darker (Adams’s later prints were even more dramatic than his first published ones) and mask some clouds at the top. The video showed a whole ‘storyboard’ that Ansel used for a graphic depiction of all that he wanted to do when enlarging the picture–much like the different steps you would have in Lightroom, or like the different layers you would use in Photoshop.

The main lesson for us, black-and-white landscape photographers: interpret your pictures afterwards when processing it at the computer, to get the result you want. There is not a single-best conversion from the red, blue and green pixels that make up your sensor data into the black-and-white you are going to print, and ‘highlighting’ certain areas of your picture through software adaptations is allowed–maybe we can make our own classic!

Advertisements

Comments are closed.