The Sentinels

The Sentinels

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From Pictorial Artistry: The Dramatization of the Beautiful in Photography
"The stability and strength of these old poplars is forcefully impressed upon our consciousness, as they tower in all their majesty above the quaint little white-walled farmhouse. How protecting these great trees seem… verdant sentries guarding the humble little farmer’s abode at the end of the road. But these great poplars are veterans of many a campaign… of nature’s wrath… of wind and storm, through the many years that they have valiantly stood at their posts. Now age is beginning to creep up their stems. See how silver threads are beginning to show in the husky leafy tresses. Yet, they sway and bend before the gentle breeze with the grace of youth. Live on, brave poplars! Guard with your strength, and charm with your grace… the double service of your magnificent creation!
By placing the house well below the esthetic center of the picture field, greater height and power dramatize the interest of the trees. The light tone of the branches showing through the sparse areas of the dark mass of foliage is welcome contrast. Below the trees the S-curve of the road gracefully leads to the delightful little house. The converging lines of the fence on both sides of the road emphasize the directional lines already suggested, and prevents the interest from straying away from the motive.
Technical Problems:
A great deal of careful darkroom manipulation was required to make the most of the essentially fine pictorial elements of the picture. For example, there was a road in the original print running from left to right across the bottom of the picture area and leading out. The light tone and distracting directional line had to be corrected. So, the fence was “broken through” to permit the roadway to be turned into the picture. The continuing line of the original roadway to the right was eliminated by retouching, which completely unified the directional forces toward the house. High shrubs, which obscured too much of the house, were removed by retouching. The framing heights of the great trees completed the focusing of attention on the house. Part of the fence to the right of the roadway, including the gate, was introduced by retouching magic, so as to gracefully enclose the foreground.
Camera: Makina, 2 ¼ x 3 ¼
Lens: Anticomar
Stop: f.8
Filter: Dark Yellow
Film: Agfa Super Plenachrome
Exposure: 1/25, in hand
Transparency: 8x10 Eastman Commercial
Paper Negative: 14x17 charcoal black, F
Print: Defender Veltura, P"
by Adolf Fassbender, 1937
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
before 1937
Fassbender, Adolf
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
image: 11 in x 7 7/8 in; 27.94 cm x 20.0025 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession 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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