Capturing the Moon's Beauty - 7/25/14

Today's blog post comes from Elisa Macomber.   Macomber is an artist and feng shui consultant living in Santa Fe, with a degree in Art and Design from Frostburg State University.
The moon, with its simple roundness and illuminating light, has always held an intriguing power over us, affecting our moods and the tides of the ocean. It is said that during full moons, more natural disasters occur as well as an increase in pregnancies! Superstitions aside, there is no mistaking the profound effect it has on us all, with its glorious and soft moonlight that has inspired many artists to visually capture its black and white juxtaposed beauty.
Since New Mexico has the perfect landscape to fully view the next super moon coming up on August 10th, perhaps some artistic inputs and scientific facts will inspire you to appreciate the power of the moon. The name “super moon”  has been erroneously mistaken for its size while low on the horizon; it was actually termed that because of the moon being at its closest point in its orbit to Earth.
Many photographers and artists know all too well how evasive the moon can be, due to its 28-day cycle and ever-changing weather patterns that hide it, whereby taking care to plan the perfect time to visually capture of the moon coming up from behind a cloud or a mountain on a clear night. Unlike a tree or mountain remaining still, the moon continuously changes from Earth as we look at it in the dark sky, making it more elusive to get a good, long look at it.
Ansel Adams
Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, 1941 (printed 1980)
15 3/8 x 19 1/8 in. (39.1 x 48.6 cm)
gelatin silver print
Gift of the Museum of New Mexico Foundation, 1982
Ansel Adams's popular photograph, Moonrise over Hernandez, NM, is one such example of a “quick discovery” because to really capture the moon, the timing must be right, the light must be right, the clouds must not be covering the moon, and Adams, according to his assistants and family, scrambled together the camera and tripod off the side of a lonely dirt road while they were traveling back to Santa Fe for the night. Adams was frantic in trying to get the image captured in time and he succeeded, knowing fully well that a few seconds later would have resulted in a not-so-luminous image of the moon, hovering over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The moon, almost centered in the photograph,  seems to radiate its brilliant light over the clouds and the landscape, leaving the top portion of the photograph in pitch blackness.
Ray Belcher, a New Jersey native, who took Moonset, a photographic image that shows the orbital path of the moon, rather than the moon in still motion, also reflected that “the picture reflects a moment of being and what happens in that moment.” It is clear that the picture evokes movement, the feeling that one is spinning along with the sky. The contrast between the rocky landscape and the streaked sky offers a lonely yet stirring feeling of being out in the middle of nowhere.
Ray Belcher
Moonset, 1978
12 x 9 1/2 in.
Gelatin silver print
Gift of Gil and Eileen Hitchcock, 1984
Many “moonscape” works of art hold a quiet yet evoking feeling over us, since we only can view its luminescence at nighttime. With its whitish gray shape of an orb hanging in the sky alone, it is no wonder it continues to be a source of inspiration for creative artists, over many generations. To see other examples of artistic moonscapes, take a look at the following works here:
Douglas Walter Johnson
Moonset, Winter Dawn
Paul Caponigro


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