Adding Fire to the Fuel

Adding Fire to the Fuel

The modern saying typically goes: adding fuel to the fire. In this case however, the saying is reversed to adding fire to the fuel, the title of this photograph. A blacksmith (farrier) accomplishes this by holding a red-hot horseshoe up to his face with a pair of tongs in order to light the tobacco in his pipe.

Further comment in the March issue of The Photographic Times describes this photograph as having been taken with an artificial light source, what was then called a flashlight photograph most likely taken using magnesium ribbon:

The frontispiece in this issue is a reproduction of a flash-light photograph by Mr. Leo D. Weil, a young man from Chicago, who has recently established himself in New York City as a ” non-studio photographer,” or  “fotographer,” as he prefers to call himself. We also reproduce a couple of other studies by this artist. We recently had the pleasure of examining a number of very successful flash-light studies, and must congratulate Mr. Weil on his success in overcoming the chief difficulties which attend this branch of the art. Of the number of flashlight photographs of interiors which we have seen the majority have been spoiled by unsuccessful lighting. Unless the light is distributed evenly over the whole scene the result is harsh and chalky. Mr. Weil’s pictures are soft and delicate. While his posing is not always successful, being at times somewhat stiff and unnatural. yet his work, taken on the whole, is far in advance of anything of this kind that we have seen, and we predict a successful career for this young photographer. He has undoubtedly a big field to work in, for there are many we imagine who would prefer to be taken in their own home, with natural surroundings, to the trouble and annoyance attendant upon a visit to the photographer’s gallery. (1.)

1. Editorial Notes: in: The Photographic Times: New York: March, 1897: p. 147

Adding Fire to the Fuel

Image Dimensions17.2 x 13.9 cm March

Support Dimensions28.5 x 21.5 cm detail shown