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Discussion in 'Landscape' started by cliveh, Sep 1, 2012.
Can someone explain to me why Moonrise Hernandez is a good photograph, as I dont get it.
You have to understand that if you don't get it, that's the point.
ITs because of the beautiful interplay between the sun and the moon and the light on the crosses and village. I have it set as my desktop background and I can stare at it for hours. Its a beautiful photograph.
How do you know it is a good photograph?
I don't and don't think it is, but it is by Ansel which many people like.
I think it's a reasonable background for a portrait.
It's interesting how the presentation changed over the years.
I found a photo of Ansel posing with two versions of the print. The later one has a much darker and more dramatic sky.
It's a "good" photo because people are willing to pay lots of $$$ for an original.
In modern American society, $$$ are the only metric of quality.
Ansel Adams, who could beat us all to death with prehistoric equipment and supplies, was extremely excited about this scene..We're all trolling critics and Ansel was an artist..if you don't get it, figure out why you aren't smart enough..EC
But does that make it a good photo, or a $ value photo?
I watched a documentary on Adams, a straight print (no dodging/burning at Grade 2) is very boring and very grey (lack of contrast). I think it is beautiful as there is a contrast between the light crosses and the dark sky. While I don't find it an interesting photo, I do find it a beautiful picture.
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.
I find it both interesting and beautiful.
As I have seen so many reproductions of it, it has lost most of its ability to "surprise", but it remains effective and strong.
In this world where hype is everywhere, it seems to me to be able to stand on its own, despite having received more than its share.
While I think that it is well executed, I do not care for it nor am I excited about it. It is one of Ansel Adams' that I just do not care for; while many others of his I like and appreciate more.
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.
So, are we all supposed to like beets, okra, and Stephen Shore's work too?
I like beets.
Oh... Did you mean that we should like photographs of beets???
At least it's only one outta the three.
Well, I'm ambivalent about okra, and I don't know Stephen Shore at all, so I decided to restrict my comments.
Well if green peppers were included then that would include Ed Weston.
IMO, no one's opinion matters but yours in the judgement of things you want to look at.
If you like it, then it's good, if not, then it isn't. I have this conversation often with my wife. That you may not like something that lots of other people do doesn't make your opinion invalid. Vive la difference!
As for that particular photo, I happen to like it, FWIW. Interestingly, earlier this year I went to a talk by John Sexton, and he showed two examples of that photograph, one was a straight print, the other was what we're all familiar with. As noted earlier, the straight print is awful. It's a good lesson in how important the final rendering of a negative into a print is.
(assuming you like the picture in the first place )
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."
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.
Here is the link if you'd like to see the contact print.
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.
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.