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kb3lms
09-01-2012, 09:39 PM
If you google for it, I think you can still find a straight proof of "Moonrise Hernandez.". IIRC it was on the GEH website.

AA is my favorite artist but "Moonrise" is probably the work of his that I like least. I much prefer "The Tetons and the Snake River."

lxdude
09-01-2012, 09:40 PM
I think I understand what he saw, driving down the road, as he described it. The sun on the crosses and the buildings.

But by the time he stopped, set up the camera, and took the shot, the moment was gone. His attempt to recreate that magic
from a negative that was poorly exposed (his assessment) and lacking the required contrast was not entirely successful (IMO).

We've all experienced that moment when the sun's reflection is perfect, and the subject lights up as if on fire, then it's gone.

- Leigh

Adams gave conflicting accounts of its making. He was rather blase' in his earlier account, and described how he metered.
In his later one he said he could not find his meter, but he knew the luminance of the full moon, and exposed by that. He said he was not able to get a duplicate "safety" shot, as the light had changed by the time he could reverse the holder and pull the dark slide.

kb3lms
09-01-2012, 09:42 PM
http://notesonphotographs.org/index.php?title=File:Moonrise_contact_print.jpg

Here is the link if you'd like to see the contact print.

semi-ambivalent
09-01-2012, 09:56 PM
That was precisely my point. I was questioning the OP's definition of "good".

In the modern USA, good and valuable are synonymous; any question of aesthetics is moot.

Would Moonrise Hernandez be considered "good" in a less commercialized society?
That was the essence of my reply.

- Leigh


In a Capitalist economic system money is the only metric. That's why, even today, cities have to fight to get money for upkeep of parks and greenways that are packed with people using them. Don't be too hard on the good ol' USA; countries everywhere, as soon as they acquire discretionary income, become hell bent on following in our footsteps. That's why their complaints about us ring so hollow.

But back to "Moonrise". Artists should always challenge sacred cows. The truly sacred cows won't mind because, being truly sacred, they're worthy of and not at all diminished by the attention. (I'm talking a secular sanctity here, a cultural one. It'll keep tempers under control.) There should be a Monthly Shooting Assignment where the subject is the Moonrise. Your own. Copy, parody, send up, slavish duplication, whatever. As long as it's all yours.

Every time Adams told the story it became more dramatic. Now, that empty highway where he scrubbed to a stop in the 1940s, and where I stood in the early 2000s when it had been reduced to a crumbling frontage road, is gone, used up in a widening of the highway. Eventually there will be modular homes on the land between the church and 285 and the view, and Adams's image, will be gone for good, leaving only the eternal moon and the eternal dead. Which might have been what he was getting at all along, even if he didn't know it at the moment he released the shutter. But I'd bet he did.

s-a

Chrismat
09-01-2012, 11:28 PM
If anything the comparing the contact print of "Moonrise" and the final print confirms AA's mastery of the darkroom. I've always like the print. I don't know if it is his greatest work, but I think it's up there. I know I'm expanding this a bit but thinking about AA reminds me of when his work became popular. Back in the 80's you started to see his work everywhere: calendars, posters, etc., and that is also where a lot of backlash kicked in. There will always be people who will not like a photographer just because they have become popular. It isn't hip to like what the masses like. It's a real double-edged sword: It's a wonderful thing to work hard at your craft and eventually become successful, just don't become too successful.

Bill Burk
09-01-2012, 11:49 PM
I don't have first-hand knowledge, but I know my feelings towards "Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico"

Being in the right place at the right time is one of the marks that I believe separates a brilliant nature photographer from an amateur. I'll categorize myself in the latter category. I can get really good shots, but I don't have the opportunity to wait if the right light isn't there when I am.

As you drive the highways of the desert, occasionally you come upon human settlements that strike as photogenic. There will be a clean building where people gather, perhaps a playground with children. This shot could have been made at any of these and there would have been similar composition and emotional power.

Occasionally, driving the highways or walking around, you come upon glancing setting sunlight. When that happens, I pray for anything photogenic to exist within five miles (but finding myself at home most of the time I see no potential).

Now the full moon, of course, Ansel Adams had been putting that in photographs whenever possible. And snow-capped distant peaks as well. Always a good thing to fill in the background.

So in this shot it all comes together at once, yes the crosses glisten - it's what catches the eye, there is interesting cloudwork to boot. My opinion is how much better can a black and white photograph be?

Of course Ansel Adams made many better shots, where the light was more spectacular and his negatives were better quality. Yes, those show how much better one can be. In those cases they are better because he waited hours or days or came back several times until he got it.

In this case we all know he was lucky and the prints show his talent as a printer.

I like "Tetons and the Snake River, Grand Teton National Park, California" too, and almost bought a signed 16x20. Actually the $1,500 was totally out of my means, but I daydreamed about buying it.

Vaughn
09-02-2012, 12:42 AM
Good points, Bill. And a dang fine image. Probably sold so well because it combined AA's landscape work with a more human-oriented subject.

The memorial book the Friends of Photography put out after AA's death (Ansel Adams 1902 -1984) has a photo on the last page of AA sitting in front of two copies of Moonrise... -- a straight print and a manipulated print. The second to the last page has a larger copy of the final manipulated print -- and it is printed in the book backwards!!!

Way too funny!

Vaughn

Bill Burk
09-02-2012, 01:03 AM
Thanks Vaughn,

I was afraid after posting that it may have been too dry an analysis... It's also a good example of all his talents exemplified, for those who appreciate talents.

But I go for subtle. One of my all-time favorites is "Dogwood Blossoms, Yosemite National Park."

You don't need tripod holes to make a shot like that. But I haven't yet made my derivative shot.

Vaughn
09-02-2012, 01:25 AM
My favorite has always been this one:

http://shop.anseladams.com/Tenaya_Creek_Dogwood_Rain_p/5010124-u.htm

Saw a print of it at the Weston Gallery years ago. I think I like it because it is similar in feel to my own work. I am glad I had already started to form my own vision before I saw any of AA's work.

Luck favors the prepared -- and those who can reconize luck.

RalphLambrecht
09-02-2012, 03:55 AM
yes, it's a good example of his magic and skill. he turned a plain negative into a piece of art. i wish i had one.

Diapositivo
09-02-2012, 10:58 AM
I think it is because it is a very gentle and poetic form of memento mori.

The moon, which is the "star" of the picture, lits the clouds behind it. In front of it, a village sleeps peacefully. In front of it, the white crosses of the countryside cemetery shine under the moon.

This can give a shiver. The motif of death which is waiting for all of us, and the immensity, the beauty of the nature where it all belongs and it all goes back. The crosses of the cemetery silently "talking" to the moon while the men are asleep. The great eye of God looking at the world, or looking after the world. The contrast between the immensity of the world, of nature, and the smallness of the human events. Each of those crosses was a life, a person full of hope, and anxiety, and joy, and sorrow, and now it's a cross under the moon in an immense plane. And yet, it's as if those crosses are in touch, in harmony with the moon, with the great all. It's not a sad thought which is raised, it's a consolatory one.

At first this is just a nocturne shot. Then it becomes raising some sensations which are not necessarily rationalised as I am doing above.

markbarendt
09-02-2012, 12:36 PM
You bring a good example Fabrizio.

The connection we have with any photo depends on our emotional and spiritual connection with the subject. It seems to me that you connect with Moonrise.

To an atheist who sees similar scenes driving home from work once a month, like me, Ansel's Moonrise seems pretty blasé. Definately no shiver, unless it's cold outside.

I've spent most of my life tramping around Ansel's photographic world. Most of his subject matter is just of places where I've lived, played, and worked.

I do very much understand that Ansel was highly skilled, my interest in his work though is technical, not artistic or emotional.

Klainmeister
09-02-2012, 12:42 PM
To the OP, cliveh, have you seen an actual print of this from Adams (not a repro) in person? Fortunately I have the Andrew Smith Gallery right here in town and have seen it displayed a handful of times. It is an exceptional image and his printing was truly beyond anything I've ever come close to achieving.

cliveh
09-02-2012, 01:12 PM
I think it is because it is a very gentle and poetic form of memento mori.

The moon, which is the "star" of the picture, lits the clouds behind it. In front of it, a village sleeps peacefully. In front of it, the white crosses of the countryside cemetery shine under the moon.

This can give a shiver. The motif of death which is waiting for all of us, and the immensity, the beauty of the nature where it all belongs and it all goes back. The crosses of the cemetery silently "talking" to the moon while the men are asleep. The great eye of God looking at the world, or looking after the world. The contrast between the immensity of the world, of nature, and the smallness of the human events. Each of those crosses was a life, a person full of hope, and anxiety, and joy, and sorrow, and now it's a cross under the moon in an immense plane. And yet, it's as if those crosses are in touch, in harmony with the moon, with the great all. It's not a sad thought which is raised, it's a consolatory one.

At first this is just a nocturne shot. Then it becomes raising some sensations which are not necessarily rationalised as I am doing above.

:blink: Steady on.

PanaDP
09-02-2012, 01:13 PM
To the OP, cliveh, have you seen an actual print of this from Adams (not a repro) in person? Fortunately I have the Andrew Smith Gallery right here in town and have seen it displayed a handful of times. It is an exceptional image and his printing was truly beyond anything I've ever come close to achieving.

I think somebody would have a very uphill battle arguing against "Moonrise..." technically. My school (RIT) had a print of it that I would pop in to look at in the dean's office whenever I could. It is technically magnificent and is made more interesting now that you can view finished prints, contact prints, and printing notes online through the eastman house (http://notesonphotographs.org/index.php?title=Sexton,_John._Moonrise,_Hernandez. _Ansel_Adams_Printing_Notes_—“Translation”).

Easier, however, is to argue against it artistically. That is very personal and subjective. I don't strongly connect with it. I do feel it captures a time and place and evokes a lovely feeling of peace and quiet. Of a town, even an entire mode of life in America, that is perhaps dying like the inhabitants of the cemetery that is so striking in the photograph despite being diminutive.

cliveh
09-02-2012, 01:13 PM
To the OP, cliveh, have you seen an actual print of this from Adams (not a repro) in person? Fortunately I have the Andrew Smith Gallery right here in town and have seen it displayed a handful of times. It is an exceptional image and his printing was truly beyond anything I've ever come close to achieving.

No I have not, so that is perhaps why I don't get it.

Richard Sintchak (rich815)
09-02-2012, 02:09 PM
No I have not, so that is perhaps why I don't get it.

What you mean by get you "dont get it"? Do you mean you don't like it? You don't see what aspects in the photo there are that other people consider good art or a good photo?

David Brown
09-02-2012, 02:20 PM
What you mean by get you "dont get it"? Do you mean you don't like it? You don't see what aspects in the photo there are that other people consider good art or a good photo?

It's our periodic "I don't get Ansel Adams" thread. This comes up all the time. :munch:

BrianShaw
09-02-2012, 03:10 PM
I don't particularly like it, but I'm repeatedly drawn to it... mostly trying to figure out what others see in it.

cliveh
09-02-2012, 03:51 PM
It's our periodic "I don't get Ansel Adams" thread. This comes up all the time. :munch:

If it comes up all the time, then it is worthy of debate. However, it is the easiest thing in the world to criticize an image, but another thing entirely to be there and take it.