Ansel Adams has been an inspiration for many of us, particularly his most memorable ‘accidental’ or serendipity photograph of the Moonrise in New Mexico, taken on his way back from an unsuccessful trip. In this image, Adams would go on to invent the Zone System, which till today has been used for calibrating Black and White or monochromatic negatives. The Zone system of photography, which Adams developed while teaching in Los angeles in 1941 allows for the calculation of the range of gray-scale tones in a photograph using a light meter.

Adams who did not date his negatives, took the picture of Moonrise sometime in the late afternoon of 31st October 1941, this date was established with the help of Dr. Elmore who used a computer to read the location of the moon, and also with the help of the lunar azimuth tables. It took only one second to capture this moment on film, and the resulting image through an auction sold for USD71,500 in 1981, two years before Adams died.

The Moonrise was taken on a 8×4 plate/view camera without using a light meter. Adams had said it was very difficult to print this negative, but he was quick to add tha it required an artistic eye to finally produce the work we see today in museums.


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