The White Night

From Pictorial Artistry: The Dramatization of the Beautiful in Photography
Christmas! The Spell of Yuletide everywhere… enhanced a thousand-fold for me by the all-blanketing blizzard. Excitedly, the snowflakes whipped and clung to my face and camera like myriad tiny hands. Now and then, the sounds of the crunching footsteps made me aware of strangers passing by furtively. The park was shrouded in the mystery of this luminous night. The high ascending buildings that frame the park were lost in the far-reaching darkness. But the bright glow to the south was unmistakable. There stands the Plaza. A tiny bell tinkled… a “Santa Claus” still at his post somewhere waiting for alms. The world about me, so aloof in the snowy stillness, held a serenity that filled me with gladness… an unknown something that for me is the spirit of Christmas… so glorious, so white, on this night of nights.
We are led into the picture field over a winding black brook, resembling one of the many strange designs of the Chinese Dragon, culminating in a mysterious glow beyond the trees. The fantastic towers in the dim distance group themselves in pyramidal fashion and lend dignity to the drama.
Technical Problems:
The buildings were not visible, but their position was known through my daytime familiarity with the setting. The feeling of snow in the air was lost, due to time exposure and had to be reintroduced by printing a texture into the image during enlarging. The icy snow settled between metal parts of the camera and on the lens which made the camera useless after one exposure.
Camera: 4x6 inches
Lens: Zeiss Tessar 7 ¼ inches
Stop: f:11
Exposure: 3 ½ minutes
Plate: Illingworth Lightning
Exhibition Print: 12x17 inches, direct enlarging
Paper: Tuma Gas, blue toned"
by Adolf Fassbender, 1937
Currently not on view
date made
before 1937
Fassbender, Adolf
place made
United States: New York, New York
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
image: 11 in x 7 5/8 in; 27.94 cm x 19.3675 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Photographic History
Adolf Fassbender, Pictorial Artistry
Data Source
National Museum of American History


Add a comment about this object