Wednesday, September 26, 2007

And That's the Way it Was -- Oh, Really?

The New York Times has an interesting opinion piece today by filmmaker Errol Morris.

His subject is two photographs taken by Roger Fenton during the Crimean War, part of his Valley of the Shadows of Death series in 1855. One photos shows a battlefield road, with cannonballs lining the side of the road (above left). The other shows the road with the cannonballs littered throughout (below right). His question? Which photo came first and did Fenton stage the photo by scattering the cannonballs along the road?

The essay was initiated after Morris read a passage in Susan Sontag's latest book On Regarding the Pain of Others about the photos. She concludes the photo with the cannonballs on the road must have been staged and that it was taken after the shot of the road without cannonballs. Morris says there is little evidence to come to this conclusion.

He's asked Times readers to judge for themselves.

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