When Knights Were Bold

When Knights Were Bold

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From Pictorial Artistry: The Dramatization of the Beautiful in Photography
"It was early morning. We were driving through rich farmlands in Northern Bavaria, a drizzling rain from the low-hanging clouds cast a depressing heaviness over the countryside. Despite the weather, peasants were busy with the harvest in the fields beside the road, turning from their labors to greet us respectfully as we passed.
A sharp twist in the road… a clearing vista ahead as a few feeble rays of sunlight began to penetrate the overcast sky. Behold! In a sudden burst of sunlight a gleaming white tower rose high in the distance… a fairy-castle pinnacle which seemed to rest miraculously on a cluster of little houses. What a sight it was midst the otherwise flat and uninteresting country… so breathtaking in its suddenness… unleashing our imagination with its charm. Why, here might be the Sleeping Beauty awaiting to be awakened from her sleep of centuries. Or, here behind the mighty ramparts might be an army besieged… the clash of arms dimmed by time. Yes, here was romance… the glory of the past… when knights were bold.
Pyramidal. Point of view was selected to achieve a repetition of the pyramidal movement within the composition. The tower was centered and positioned high in the picture area to convey the desired impression of might and lofty dominance over the surrounding subject matter. The dazzling play of light on the tower decided the natural focal point of interest within the picture.
Technical Approach:
By the time the picture was taken from close up, the light had become diffused and had spread across the entire picture field. Since I wished to recapture the magnificent first impression as I had viewed the scene from afar, the following was my procedure.
The houses to the left and right appeared too light from false reflections, and the light balance of the entire scene was scattered, minimizing the power and beauty of the tower. So I had to resort to local reduction, and to give added brilliance to the tower itself in keeping with its importance, I used chalk on the paper negative. Elongation then gave the final measure of towering height, strength and dominance.
Camera: Makina 2 ¼ x 3 ¼
Lens: Plaubel Anticomar
Stop: f.8
Filter: Medium Dark
Exposure: 1/25 camera in hand
Film: Agfa Super Plenachrome
Transparency: 8x10 Eastman Commercial"
by Adolf Fassbender, 1937
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
before 1937
Fassbender, Adolf
place made
Germany: Bavaria
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
image: 10 7/8 in x 8 1/8 in; 27.6225 cm x 20.6375 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
See more items in
Work and Industry: Photographic History
Adolf Fassbender, Pictorial Artistry
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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