Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Exposure Sets the Mood

Another take-away from the Ansel Adams Show is how effectively he used dark areas to set the mood of an image. Two pictures described this. One Ansel shot at the Acoma Pueblo. Uncharacteristically, the adobe buildings in the background were dark, just barely detailed. In the foreground, there was a large pool of water from a recent storm. Ansel made the pool and the reflection of the buildings in the water the focal point of the image, all quite dark to reflect the post-storm mood. In another picture, perhaps Ansel’s most famous, Moonrise, Hernandez (1941), he chose to print the sky and edges even darker than the original negative, so the white gravestones and clouds are nearly overpowered by the darkness. But study the image further and realize that the moon itself is in the middle of the frame vertically (nothing but black above it) and the horizon line is only a third up from the bottom edge. He used all that dark area to focus our eye on the small amount of light that remained.

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