Behind The Image

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BEHIND THE IMAGE: COSSACK BAY, BALAKLAVA, 1855 BY ROGER FENTON

This bustling black-and-white photograph offers an atmospheric view of a natural harbour crowded with ships, campaign tents, livestock and supplies. Titled Cossack Bay, Balaklava, and taken during the summer months of 1855 – just a couple of decades after the birth of photography – it is part of a fascinating portfolio of pictures of the […]

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BEHIND THE IMAGE: Wind tunnel testing, Messerschmitt Bf 109, 1940

It may look like a scene from a movie shoot – Germany’s answer to The Dam Busters, perhaps – but this strikingly modern photograph from 1940 offers instead a real-life glimpse behind the scenes of a top-secret aeronautical project. The state-of-the-art wind tunnel at the Herman Goering Aviation Research Institute, near Braunschweig (or Brunswick) in Lower Saxony, was one of Germany’s most closely shrouded […]

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BEHIND THE IMAGE: captured Luftwaffe crewmen, London Underground, 1940

In photography, timing is all – and there is no better example of the dictum than this gem of a snapshot capturing a surprising moment from ordinary London life during the Second World War. The image shows two airmen in Luftwaffe uniform walking through the Underground. One is a corporal, the other an Oberleutnant (the highest-ranking type of lieutenant), and together they stroll […]

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BEHIND THE IMAGE: Charge of the Royal Naval Division, 1915

This photograph shows infantry from the British Royal Naval Division climbing out of the trenches as if for a charge at the Battle of  Gallipoli during 1915. Every man grasps their rifle with bayonet fitted, ready for the kind of close-quarters encounter with the enemy that it was expected – wrongly – would decide the war. The hills in the background are […]

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BEHIND THE IMAGE – Tanks on Parade

This image shows three tanks taking part in the Lord Mayor’s parade in Ludgate Circus, London in November 1918. The parade celebrated the end of the First World War as armistice was declared that month. In this photograph we can see crowds of men, women, and children who have gathered out on the street to […]

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BEHIND THE IMAGE – L’infanterie Cycliste

The region of Meaux came dangerously close to being occupied by the advancing German army in September 1914. The German onslaught had already laid waste to the surrounding villages of Chambry, Barcy, Montyon, Varreddes, and Chauconin-Neufmontier, where this image was taken. Meaux was well within their sights, and as the Germans approached, the residents of […]

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BEHIND THE IMAGE – Marching to the future

Belgian Carabiniers with dog-drawn heavy machine-gun, 1914 Marching toward the camera, and shot from a low angle, these Belgian Carabiniers are given a powerful sense of purpose by the photographer. Clean uniforms and neat formation say the soldiers have not come from battle. These are the early days of WWI and Belgium has been invaded […]

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BEHIND THE IMAGE – Crash Landing

Zeppelin IV lands on the parade ground of Luneville, April 1913 In traditional landscape format with the horizon a third of the way up the image, the Zeppelin bursts dynamically out of the frame from the bottom left edge to near the top right. The airship dominates the photograph as much as it dwarfs the […]

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BEHIND THE IMAGE – Deserted Trench

Abandoned British position captured by the Germans This cold and desolate image shows an abandoned British trench following a German attack, with mounted German infantry looming menacingly in the background. An inscription on the back of the photograph reads, Die Große Schlacht im Westen. Der Stab einer Infanterie-Division … ueberscreiten einer genommenen engl. Stellung. This […]

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