Before the Storm

From Pictorial Artistry: The Dramatization of the Beautiful in Photography
"Along the southern coast of Nova Scotia farming is difficult and of small reward, because of the stony and poor soil. Here we see the typical terrain. Against an almost black sky on the left, and a weird glow on the right, the struggling farmer presents a rather tragic sight. He is making haste to bring in the hay before the deluge which, no doubt, would wash his harvest down the sloping hill to the sea.
It was a grim paraphrase of purpose between the rushing farmer on the one side and the more rushing Pictorialist on the other trying to get his picture… One fighting against the loss of his livelihood, and the other against the loss of a beautiful, dramatic picture.
The principal purpose of the picture is to show the drama and tenseness caused by the approaching storm. Because the figure of the man tended to monopolize attention, it was necessary to subordinate the figure in keeping with the surrounding elements of the composition. He faces the storm from the lower left corner, his fork and hay pointing to the storm, a leading line following from the tip of the hay along the shore to the storm center. Low tone and low placing of the farmer in the picture field adds to the dominance of the storm area.
Technical Problems:
Due to the farmer’s haste the picture had to be taken almost on the run, against adverse light conditions. Because position of the figure was very important, I had to manoeuver fast to secure the right pose with a comparatively slow exposure. Three interesting pictures were obtained in a few minutes that way. To intensify the feeling of the atmospheric disturbance, texture was emphasized by the use of rough grained paper negative.
Camera: 2 ¼ x 3 ¼ Makina
Lens: Plaubel Anticomar
Stop: f.8
Film: Agfa Super Plenachrome
Exposure: 1/25, in hand
Transparency: 8x10 Eastman Commercial
Paper negative: 14x17 Velour Black F
Print: Defender Veltura"
by Adolf Fassbender, 1937
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
before 1937
Fassbender, Adolf
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
image: 7 3/4 in x 10 3/8 in; 19.685 cm x 26.3525 cm
place made
Canada: Nova Scotia
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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