© probably Léonard Misonne, ca. 1910, Harvest
The photographic art movement of pictorialism loved the perfect optical arrangement. Cloudy skys, scenic landscapes, dark woods, all of that had to be reflected on the photographic plate in an immaculate balance. The photographers of picorialsm had been masters in postureing these impressionstic settings.
They skillfully used all the photographic tricks to do so: For example by combining different negatives. Just as in this picture of the hay crop. The photographer used three negatives: The picture of a dramatic overcast sky, a photo of a (presumably Belgian or German) estate with the surrounding fields and the image of a hay harvesting farm laborer. With technical sophistication, the transitions are carefully blurred.
Yes, at first glance, one cannot recognize that the picture had been manipulated. The photographers of pictorialism had always been interested in rural themes silimar to the painters Corot and Cézanne. The Belgian photographer Léonard Misonne (1870-1943) had been a true virtuosos of the rural theme. What sets him apart from his former colleagues is his instinctive sensivity for the light: Shadows, reflections, contrast.
Misonne dominated the masterful art of adding artificial light in the darkroom to get a superior optical effect in the picture. At the end of his career, he was asked for the secret of his art and Misonne replied: "It had never been the motives, it’s all about the light."
His strong desire to combine different negatives and his ability to create an almost “supernatural” phenomena of light (as in the clouds against the sun light in above photograph) makes it possible to ascribe this picture to Léonard Misonne. (+)
Note: This picture can be seen as an early application of DRI (Dynamic Range Increase) / Exposure Blending / Exposure Fusion (in case that this is a combination of different exposures of one and the same scene).
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