Review of Karl Blossfeldt

Karl Blossfeldt (1865-1932) was a sculptor, who through his photographic studies of plants, was able to teach art, by steering his pupils back to nature and its creation of form and structure. He built his own cameras with high magnification so that he could photograph the minute details in plants.

Plate 46, struthiopteris germainca, 1928 soul cathcher studioFig 1

late 47 pinterestFig 2

Initial thoughts – Shape, pattern, texture, form, symmetry, sharpness, detail, pattern, repetition, macro, no distraction, plain/neutral background, (real size of “fiddle head” in Struthiopteris germanica around 3-5cm). Can see veins in fig 2,

What I particularly enjoy about Blossfeldt’s photography, is the sharpness and the detail. In Fig 1 it is possible to see the new frond growth that are curled up inside of the “fiddle head”, and in Fig 2, it is the leathery texture which highlights the surface structure that I am drawn to.

The neutral background means that the only thing that I see in Blossfeldt’s photogravure’s is the subject. There is an importance to ensuring that depth of field and accurate, sharp focus are spot on to make this type of photography, and worth keeping in mind for the exercises within this piece of coursework.

There are two images by Henry Troth (1863-1948) in A History of Photography (Johnson WS, Rice M and Williams C; 2016; p 274, 275) which I find to be more appealing. Lady Fern (Fig 1) shows the fern with its rhizome, cleverly arranged so that they rhizome is flat on the background and the fern is in the air.

Lady FernFig 3

Tulip Popular Blossom has a black background, and the lighting comes from the left. These combine to bring out some of the detail in the foliage, but more so in the flowers. The background has been removed from these images, but I do prefer the depth in them when compared with Blossfeldt’s images.

Henry Troth Tulip Poplar Blossom 1900Fig 4



Fig 1 – Blossfeldt, Karl; 1928; Plate 46 Struthiopteris germanica; [photogravure]; At (accessed on 13/09/2017)

Fig 2 – Blossfeldt, Karl; 1928; Plate # 47: Saxifraga Willkommniana; [photogravure]; At (accessed on 13/09/2017)

Fig 3 – Troth, H; 1900; Lady Fern; [gelatin silver print]; At (accessed on 14/09/2017)

Fig 4 – Troth, H; 1900, Tulip Poplar Blossom; [gelatin silver print]; At (accessed on 14/09/2017) (accessed on 13/09/2017) (accessed on 13/09/2017)

Johnson WS, Rice M and Williams C; 2016; A History of Photography From 1839 to the present; Koln; Taschen GmbH; p 274, 275

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