Here’s How Ansel Adams Created Moon over Hernandez

Ansel Adams was a photographer that inspired a generation of photographers, and without a doubt is one of, if not the, most well-known and respected American photographers in history. Ansel has long since passed but his work continues to inspire photographers, even without his guiding hand to help.

“Moon over Hernandez” is probably Adams most well-known photograph, and now, thanks to this video, you can hear Adams talk about the image in his own words. Through a combination of information from Adams son, name, who was also present when the image was made, and old video from the Adams family archive, you can get a clear picture of the turn of events that unfolded to make the image happen.

At its core, it’s a perfect example of why you should always be prepared as a photographer. You can’t capture an image if you don’t have your gear. In Adams’ case, he couldn’t find his light meter, yet he was able to work out the correct exposure in his head (bonus points if any of you can do this off the top of your head, on the spot losing light for every second it takes you).

I took away two things from this video beyond a renewed respect for Adams and his work. First, seeing his original image compared to that of the processed version that we are all used to. Many photographers incorrectly work under the assumption that Adams work was not modified, when in reality, as you can see, he was a master of the dark room. (On a side note, can you imagine the field day Adams would have with the capabilities of the latest Photoshop?!)

My second take away was more of a realization. I loved that portion of the video where Adams is talking about the ‘Moon over Hernandez’ shot and about how he didn’t really understand why that particular image of his was so much more popular than some of his other work. I have experienced this with my own work, and you have likely experienced this as well. It was really fun to see that such a renowned photographer not his struggle with that dilemma.

Anthony Thurston

Anthony is a Portland, Oregon based Boudoir Photographer specializing in a dark, moody style that promotes female body positivity, empowerment, and sexuality. Besides The Phoblographer, he also reviews gear and produces his own educational content on his website.