Yosemite Shutter Geeks

Sleuth astronomers in Texas announced last month that they had unraveled a minor mystery from the career of Ansel Adams: The exact date and time he shot one of his most famous images, “Autumn Moon.” By locating the site from which Adams took the picture and doing lots of number work, the astronomers figured that the shutter snapped at 7:03 p.m. on September 15, 1948, The team calculated the same alignment of Earth and moon occurs precisely every 19 years; thus, everything ought to line up the way Adams saw it at 7:03 p.m. on September 15, 2005.

Armed with that knowledge, there was only one thing for Adams geeks to do: Go up to Yosemite to try to capture the scene. Ben Margot, an Associated Press photographer who was snapping pictures for the Alameda Times-Star when I was there in the early ’80s, was one of those who made the trek. SFGate has his story (and some of his images) of the event.

(Naturally, the copy editor in me screams, “Autumn Moon”?! It was still late summer!)

(And here’s another, less neutral take on last night’s photo-pilgrimage. I also note that that post and others freely use the copyrighted Adams and AP images.)

6 Replies to “Yosemite Shutter Geeks”

  1. In the classical Japanese way of telling the seasons everything was set off by about a month and a half so Sep 15th would have been in the middle of Autumn. But then again Ansel Adams was not classical Japanese.

  2. Well, there’s autumn and then there’s autumn.
    The literal-minded or arbitrary copy editor — not that I could ever be described that way — might say the equinox doesn’t happen until September 21, so if the picture was taken September 15, it’s misnamed.
    But anyone who is just watching the way the world looks in our middle latitudes as it changes through the seasons notices that the light is shifting and that, equinox or no equinox, summer is passing and autumn is on the way in.
    Meantime, I see that the harvest moon is tonight (the 17th on this side of the dateline). A whole different way of considering the seasons.
    Hope all’s well there in Edo.

  3. I know the guys (any chicks there?) at the National Weather Service station in Monterey have referred to our seasons, in the climatic sense, as:
    Spring: March, April, May;
    Summer: June, July, August;
    Fall: September, October, November;
    Winter: December, January, February.

  4. Think of the regional variations!
    For Chicago:
    Spring=Mid-April through end of May
    Summer=June, July, August
    Fall=September through mid-October
    Winter=Mid-October through mid-April
    The Ansel Adams scene was in the high Sierra, so it’s hard to argue with designating mid-September as autumn.

  5. Personally, I prefer the seasons in the climatic sense as ennunciated by Pete, and Chicago’s own Tom Skilling. It seems to get the bad weather of Winter, and some Summers, done with faster,so we can enjoy the magic of Chicago’s Spring and Fall earlier.

  6. I third Pete and Einar Uno’s 4×3 season breakdown. And note the reflexive Chicago habit of drama-queening in unison (with media assistance) whenever it’s above 90 or below 10. Oh, how we suffer….from lack of perspective.

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