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From Pictorial Artistry: The Dramatization of the Beautiful in Photography
"Way northeast, at the tip of Prince Edward’s Island I found the little harbor of Souris. Here, from time to time, fishermen from New Brunswick cease their fishing in the bountiful channel of Northumberland and put into port to replenish supplies and dig for clams in the shallow waters along the shore.
After a few days, off they sail again in their sturdy weather-beaten boats… as picturesque a sight as anyone with an eye for beauty could hope to find. And I was ready… eager to get a picture of this grand fleet under sail.
There goes the first boat! See… the breeze fills the sails as she moves off. I must take it! Off I dashed to reach the most advantageous point of view, the pier-head. Luck was with me. For there I found exactly what I needed to complete the interest of my composition. Leaning against a massive weather-stained bollard was a young man gazing wistfully out to sea as he puffed his pipe.
Since everyone at Souris seemed to speak French with a peculiar dialect, I mustered the most expressive French in my modest vocabulary and said to the young man… “Regardez le batteau!” He stared at me in blank amazement. Perhaps he does not understand school-book French, thought I, much distressed. But my boat was sailing right out of the picture! So, becoming impatient at the thought of losing my picture, I resorted to action instead of words. I rushed up to the astonished young man, grasped the pipe from his hand and pushed it into his gaping mouth, adjusted his hands, feet and body position to the requirements of my composition, hasted back to my camera point of view and made the exposure.
Realizing that my rude actions called for explanation and apology, I approached the young man again and resorted to my very best French. But still the young man stared vacantly, not comprehending my words. Finally, his face wrinkled up in a bashful friendly smile and he started to speak… “Mister, me don’t speak French… can you speak English?”
Steelyard arrangement. Man and boat are placed far apart to convey a sense of the expanse that is between them and to portray the thought trend from man to boat.
Technical Problems:
Sky, clouds and reflection of the boat on the water had to be introduced by retouching on groundglass substitute. Foreground had to be toned down by reduction. Uneven division of the three horizontal planes was achieved by taking the picture from knee height.
Camera: 2 ¼ x 3 ¼ Makina
Lens: Plaubel Anticommar
Stop: f.11
Filter: medium Yellow
Film: Agfa Super Plenachrome
Exposure: 1/25, in hand
Print: Tuma Gas, direct"
by Adolf Fassbender, 1937
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
before 1937
Fassbender, Adolf
place made
Canada: Prince Edward Island
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
image: 8 1/4 in x 10 1/2 in; 20.955 cm x 26.67 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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