Fishermen's Menace

Fishermen's Menace

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From Pictorial Artistry: The Dramatization of the Beautiful in Photography
"Fog! The dismal, misty, almost impenetrable blanket that sailors fear, enveloped everything on my first visit to Peggy’s Cove. For here on the east coast of Nova Scotia the fog seems “thick as pea soup”.
Monotonously the fog-horns sounded their mournful warning blasts. Voices seemed unreal… hushed… now near… now distant… as the water lapped and splashed nearby. As I had not seen the village in clear weather, I could only guess at best as to the relation of things half seen about me. My straining eyes could not discern the ghostly figures of the fishermen as they busied themselves disposing of the day’s meagre catch on a nearby wharf. Yet the vague forms… the water… and the fog all seemed to challenge me, saying… “Here is a picture…” I must take it.
The fascination of the subject matter is the near invisibility of what we see. It is almost nothing, but the eye continues to search for something more. The rare composition is held together by the irregular posts and piers on both sides. The nearby posts lend strength and subtle contrast to the picture, the darker rendition of the tones defining the planes of the composition. This is a natural situation, for the camera lens like the human eye had less haze obstruction to penetrate.
Technical Approach:
Exact exposure was essential. Development had to be on the thin side to avoid losing the delicate tones in printing. Fog has a visible texture, but seldom in a photograph. Therefore, the feeling of fog had to be introduced by printing the image through a paper screen. The print is essentially high key throughout, due to the necessarily limited range of tones required to achieve the desired effect of the saturating monotone that fog creates.
Camera: Linhof 9x12cm
Lens: Zeiss Tessar 15cm
Stop: f.16
Exposure: 1/10 with tripod
Film: Agfa Super Plenachrome
Print: 14x17 Direct enlarging
Paper: Tuma Gas, MQ Developer"
by Adolf Fassbender, 1937
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
before 1937
Fassbender, Adolf
place made
Canada: Nova Scotian
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
image: 7 1/2 in x 10 3/8 in; 19.05 cm x 26.3525 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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