It was necessary to act quickly. The artist does not have time to make his hand on his exposure meter and calculates in his head the suitable exposure time. He chooses his framing, installs his 8 x 10 inches camera on the roof of the car and shoots the negative. Moonrise Hernandez will be the most iconic landscape photograph of all time. His rush was the key of the success : the harmony between sun and moon disappeared before he could make a second photo.
He did not take notes and probably forgot his picture in a first time. Astronomers will define later from the position of the moon that the shooting happened on October 31, 1941 at 4:05 in the afternoon.
In 1946, Adams executes prints in the rich gray tones that are his specialty, restoring the atmosphere of this cool twilight on the countryside of New Mexico. In December 1948 he reworks his negative to enhance the details of the village and especially the fantastic light that seems to emanate from the crosses of the cemetery.
The meeting of Adams and Land is one of the most fruitful collaborations in the history of photography. A 67 x 94 cm print of Moonrise Hernandez made for Land in the very early 1950s accentuated the drama through a very dark night sky interrupted only by the shining moon.
In 1952, Land presents this photo to the young physicist Edward Mills Purcell who has just been honored with the Nobel Prize. Both Land and Purcell are members of the advisory committee created at the request of President Eisenhower to counter the very early space ambitions of the Soviets. This photo expresses the encounter of life and death with an outer space dominated by the Moon.
This print is estimated over $ 200K for sale by Swann Galleries in New York on February 25, lot 99. I invite you to watch the very interesting video shared by the auction house.
SOLD for $ 180K before fees