This is blog post is a repost of what I wrote in 2008.
So the story goes something like this*, Ansel Adams had been out photographing all Halloween day in 1941 in the Chama Valley, north of Santa Fe, in New Mexico, and didn't really think he had gotten anything that he was going to like. He had been photographing some trees (they might have been cottonwoods) but what he was thinking about in his head just wasn't really working, so he called it a day and was heading back to the hotel in Santa Fe, driving really fast in his car, when he came up upon the little town of Hernandez, New Mexico.
The moon was rising. The sun was setting. There were these incredible clouds low in the sky and these crosses in the cemetary of the town and everything was just getting lit up incredibly. He drove over to the side of the road and jumped out to get his camera and tripod and equipment set up, knowing that the sun and the moon were going quick. His boy Michael, who was 8, and his friend Cedric jumped out to help him. Ansel wasn't able to meter the light but he remembered some formula for the moon's light and took the shot at 1 second, f/32 with ASA 64 film with an 8x10 negative. He would have exposed another negative, but by the time he got the first one done, the sun was gone.
When I think about this story, I kinda picture it all in black and white. The car screeching to the side of the road, gravel flying, the little boy jumping out of the car to help, totally excited because his dad is all excited. I imagine the crispness of the air that evening, think about how you might smell wood fire smoke and hear a rooster crowing, but at the same time there would be this great amazing stillness.
I imagine the darkness completely falling and everyone getting back in the car, heading to a diner in Santa Fe maybe, the adults drinking their coffee black. I don't imagine that Michael went trick or treating that night, but I guess you never know.......
Ansel Adams didn't keep track of when he took his pictures, but later on it was figured out by the placement of the moon and an analysis of the site that the negative was exposed at 4:05 pm, local time, on Friday October 31st, 1941. When I first read about this picture and realized that someone could figure out the time the picture was taken just by the position of the moon, I was absolutely AMAZED and the idea stuck in my head that the moon is so dynamic, that time and space and light and everything is so constantly changing and it seems so wonderful and mind-boggling.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
So, the other day, Columbus Day actually, but I didn't realize it, I was heading to my bus stop on Central. The streets were so quiet, there was hardly anybody else about, there were almost no cars going by. (Later on I realized that it was because most people who work around there work at banks and law offices and had the day off.)
I crossed the street headed to my bus stop and was suddenly aware that there was light all over the parking lot. In the time I have been coming to this bus stop, there has NEVER been light here. All the tall buildings block it out. It is actually why I come to this bus stop and not another closer one, cuz when it's over 100 degrees, you want all the shade you can get. So here is a picture of the area from google maps, and at the time of day that I am usually there, everything is in shade.
Except not when I got there that day. I seriously stopped in my tracks. Where was all this light coming from? Why had I never noticed light here before? I literally looked around at the people standing around the bus bay to see if everyone was standing in wonder mesmerized by all this new light! (Um, nobody seemed to notice!)
Gorgeous sunshine was pouring in thru these buildings across the street that are all closely standing together. And I guess I had just never been there at the right time of year and time of day to see light hit thru there.
I noticed something else was happening with the light that I had never seen before either. It was hitting off this building to the south and the reflection of the light was hitting off the windows and back on to the benches for the new light rail across the street from me.
So from the building pictured above back to the parking lot below where the blue arrow is pointing.....
and onto these benches. Oh my! Sunlight reflected by tall building windows can be so pretty. Airy and magical like moonlight. The light only stayed there for about 5 minutes. By the time the bus finally came it was all but gone. I kept thinking those benches with that light would be amazing for taking pictures of people...would it be possible to get people here in such a tiny window of time? Who knows, but it would be soooo fun to take pictures here when the light is hitting just so.
* If you are like, possibly, writing a report about Ansel Adams, please do not take what I say here for absolute truth about what happened that evening in New Mexico. I am writing that all down from memory and even though I was reading a lot about the making of Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico lately, I can't say I am remembering perfectly everything I read!