City Symphony

From Pictorial Artistry: The Dramatization of the Beautiful in Photography
"Imagination is the thing of which most beautiful and unusual pictures are created. Walk along this lake with me and gaze at what seems to be a sunken castle in the shimmering water. See how it follows us as we proceed, changing with every move to grotesque and weird shapes. Why, snakes seem to be running up and down the edges! There now, towards us comes a tree, upside down. We stop. So does the tree! It stretches its fluttering arms out as if to embrace the castle. There are more quivering leaves at the bottom of the lake. Everything seems to vibrate on the eddying water. The gentle breeze that stirs the water sounds like music, floating from the submerged castle with its towers of glory… a City Symphony.
A steelyard arrangement, but pyramidal in effect. Notice the harmony and unison brought about by the stretching branches and leaves, unifying things that “belong” together”. The tree trunk, bent slightly backward and the heavy foreground made it possible to move the tower somewhat off center avoiding immovability and stagnation.
Technical Problems:
Depth of focus, due to large camera and moving objects, was difficult to achieve. Only by compromising and throwing the foreground (6 feet away) into darkness to overcome lack of focus, then waiting long for the wind to still its movement, and leaving the lends fairly wide open, was it possible to get an exposure short enough to arrest the swift creeping motion along the roof tops. The sky was empty and looked dreary so clouds had to be introduced to create the fairylike atmosphere. To convey a sense of mystery, texture was printed in.
Camera: 9x12cm Jewell A
Lens: Zeiss Tessar
Opening: f.8
Filter: Light
Film: Agfa Plenachrome
Exposure: 1/25, on tripod
Print: 14x17 direct, on Tuma Gas"
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 8 1/2 in; 27.94 cm x 21.59 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Photographic History
Adolf Fassbender, Pictorial Artistry
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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