Signs of Spring

From Pictorial Artistry: The Dramatization of the Beautiful in Photography
"Blossom time—thin, graceful branches swaying in the gentle breeze, the little white flowers like thousands of fluttering butterflies, dance about, enjoying the first warm rays of spring. They also warm the heart of the eager pictorialist who had exhausted his skill trying to photograph beautiful things in bleak winter. It is Dogwood in bloom, one of the most rewarding subjects with which to play in blossom time. Tiny, transparent, and bright green leaves were just sprouting, intermingling with the sparkling flowers.
A delicate Japanese design against a soothing blue sky. The various treetops, a repetition in different shapes of other Dogwood flowers, were permitted in the lower part of the picture, first, to lend height to the real motive, and second, to provide for a base in the picture. Without them the composition would be top-heavy. The radiation of curved lines from the main stem forms the foundation of the charming design.
Technical Problems:
There were other branches interfering in the upper left section of the picture. They had to be removed by making a composite negative first, followed by additional retouching, etc., filling in the corner with plain sky. This gave the branch and design more freedom. The swaying of the tree would not allow a small diaphragm stop and long exposure. Waiting for the wind to abate was a trial on my patience. The exposure had to be made at the end of the sway, the dead point where momentum stops. Each white flower was emphasized by retouching.
Camera: Jewell A 9x12cm
Lens: Zeiss Tessar
Stop: f.11
Filter: Deep Yellow
Exposure: 1/5 of a second
Film: Agfa Superpan
Print: 14x17 Tuma Gas, toned"
by Adolf Fassbender, 1937
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
before 1937
Fassbender, Adolf
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
image: 11 1/8 in x 8 1/4 in; 28.2575 cm x 20.955 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Adolf Fassbender, Pictorial Artistry
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Photographic History
Adolf Fassbender, Pictorial Artistry
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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