Cazneaux, unlike less skilful pictorialists, often used smoke, mist and steam to great effect in his photographs. In one of the many practical articles he wrote on photography, he advised: ‘haze and mist works wonders with these [harbour] subjects, cutting down insistent detail, so that the masses and tones become more picturesque.’1 This photograph, taken from a spot near present-day Andrew (Boy) Charlton swimming pool in Sydney, reveals the compositional and technical facility for which Cazneaux was acclaimed during his lifetime. From the sharply delineated silhouette of a tree in the foreground, the image moves back through a recession of planes, using aerial rather than linear perspective. The bromoil process, which replaced the photographic image on paper with pure pigment, allowed substantial modifications to the original image and here Cazneaux carefully adjusts tonal qualities and extends the effect of steamer smoke. Cazneaux wrote of the bromoil process: ‘one thing is certain, if there is artistic expression within you, if you are capable of expressing it, then bromoil will surely prove that you have found a suitable medium for picture making.’2
1. Cazneaux H 1910, ‘In and about the city with a hand-camera-continued’, ‘Australasian Photo-Review’, 22 Sep p 490
2. Cazneaux H 1925, ‘Bromoil as a means of artistic expression’, ‘Australasian Photo-Review’, 15 Aug p 400
© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007
18.3 x 21.7 cm image/sheet
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Gift of the Cazneaux family 1975
Not on display
Shown in 2 exhibitions
Modernism/Japonism in photography 1920s-1940s: Ishida Kiichiro and the Sydney Camera Circle, Museum of Sydney, Sydney, 20 Dec 2003–25 Apr 2004
Harold Cazneaux: artist in photography, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 05 Jun 2008–10 Aug 2008
Referenced in 3 publications
Natasha Bullock, Harold Cazneaux: artist in photography, Sydney, 2008.
Philip Geeves and Gael Newton, Philip Geeves presents Cazneaux's Sydney 1904-1934, Sydney, 1980, 106, 107 (illus.).
Steven Miller, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'Australian pictorialism', pg.71-91, Sydney, 2007, 83 (illus.).