Gelatin silver print, printed 1970s
Image: 38.9 x 49.7 cm (15 5/16 x 19 9/16 in.); Matted: 61 x 76.2 cm (24 x 30 in.)
Gift of Henry H. Hawley 1989.148
© Trustees of the Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust
An artist, teacher, and writer, Adams was a major force in American photography, education, and conservation for more than 50 years. A practitioner of unmanipulated "straight" photography, he masterfully combined spontaneity with technical recall to create one of the most celebrated images in the history of the medium. As he drove near Santa Fe after an disappointing day of shooting, Adams glanced out his car window and saw the makings of an incredible picture—the setting sun shining on the crosses of a cemetery, snow-capped mountains in the distance, and luminous clouds hovering above them. Realizing he had only moments to photograph the image he visualized, Adams quickly set up his equipment. Unable to find his light meter, he had no choice but to mentally calculate the correct exposure time. His fortuitous split-second timing resulted in this beautifully lit, romantic image that could be captured only once before the setting sun surrendered its energy to the moon and dimmed the crosses.
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