In the mid to late 1800s, Felix Nadar, a French photographer, experimented with and pioneered the use of artificial lighting in photography. Nadar was the pseudonym of Gaspard-Félix Tournachon, born in the 19th century and died in the early 20th century; both birth and death were witnessed by City of Lights where Nadar was also buried, in the Pére Lachaise Cemetery. Not quite as impressive as the recently deceased woman who “lived in three centuries,” but what he lacked in temporality he made up for in technical achievement and inspiration.
Below are a few of Nadar’s portraits that especially captivated me, in large part because in some instances I had concocted completely different images in my mind (eg., Manet) and in other instances, I realized that I had never bothered to imagine a visage for said person (e.g., Rodin). And the ones that render me speechless (e.g., Bernhardt). The portraits evoke in me a deep sense of gratitude for the basic notions of light and dark, and caught in the spaces in between is the very essence of the camera obscura out of which the camera as we know it now was first born; wherein:
“The dark, far from representing a total absence, remains in our photographs like information at rest.”—Cia de Foto (h/t @_firescript)
For a more complete look at Nadar’s photographic works around the world, goto Felix Nadar Online.