This iconic picture was taken one winter afternoon in 1960 while Adams was driving toward the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park. The moon was rising above half dome as the low setting sun created shadows into the dome’s 2000 foot cliff. By 1960 Adams had perfected the skill to anticipate the exposure so that the moon appears three dimensionally and in detail. It is difficult to photograph the moon without having it appear like an over-exposed white disc or a featureless gray disc. Adams used a spot light meter with an angle view of 1/2 degree to take a light reading from the moon alone.
The Hasselblad (a single lens reflex camera where the photographer views the scene through the taking lens via a mirror that flips up just before the film is exposed) was set on a tripod to prevent shaking during the exposure. Adams took several exposures with different lenses and made his usual notes regarding film development to suit the conditions and his visualization of the final printed image.