Cuchara Valley Landscapes | Moonrise Over Wahatoya

Moonrise Over Wahatoya

June 21, 2016  •  Leave a Comment


Moonrise Over WahatoyaMoonrise Over Wahatoya24 mm, 1/13 sec, f/9, ISO 100

Last weekend I was reading about how to photograph a moonrise and came across an interview with Ansel Adams sharing the story of how he captured one of his most famous images, Moonrise, Hernandez. The short version (click here for full story) is that he was driving along and came upon the scene with the full moon above the mountains and the gravestones lit up by the setting sun. He knew that he had only moments to capture the scene before the light was gone, so he literally ditched the car, frantically grabbed the camera gear, and set up to take the shot. In the rush, he could not find his light meter, so he quickly calculated the exposure in his head using the known value of moon's brightness. (I would not even know where to begin!) He dialed in the settings on the camera and snapped the photo. Then before he could flip the film plate to get a duplicate exposure, the light faded and the scene was gone.

the Moon Illusion), this is very close to what I saw standing there in the field.

Capturing time lapse frames with the Sony a6000

I'm no Ansel Adams, but I shared this story because trying to capture this image make me realize how truly skilled that Adams was. This image shows the scene as I saw it with my eyes, but I couldn't capture it with my camera. You can see in the time lapse video that the moon becomes a white circle with no detail, and that is exactly what I had in this photo. After sunset, the difference between the dark landscape and the very bright moon is more than my camera can capture. Since the camera was recording frames for the time lapse, I couldn't take a second photo exposed for the moon, so instead I went back to the same spot the next night and took another photograph. I used a longer focal length for the second image, so the moon appears bigger than it really was, then I combined the two images together. But because our eyes can see the difference in brightness and the moon appears larger to us when near the horizon (

Moonrise TimelapseSolstice moon rising over the Wahatoya

For more information about Ansel Adams and his work, visit the Ansel Adams page at Artsy. This page provides visitors with Adams' bio, over 150 of his works, exclusive articles, and up-to-date Adams exhibition listings.


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