This is the first in a series of articles that will feature an image and the story behind it.

Today we are pleased to share the story behind the image Doorknob by Ruth Bernhard written by Willie Osterman.

The  Doorknob
by Willie Osterman

It was in the early 80’s and Ruth Bernhard was teaching at the Ansel Adams Yosemite workshop and was showing her work to a group of students. The image under discussion, and one I love dearly, is of a glass door knob with bright sun shine diffracting and creating this amazing pattern on the door.

She told the story, using all of her wonderful mannerisms, said she awoke and saw what she thought was an aberration. When she sat up, she saw that the window blind was open enough to let the sun in and hit the door knob and created this incredible pattern of diffraction. She jumped out of bed and got her camera and by the time it was set up the moment was gone. Early the following morning she was up and ready and, as often happens in San Francisco, it was foggy. I believe the next few days were foggy as well and when she finally had a clear day the magic was gone as the sun had changed and it was not hitting the glass knob. She pulled out her calendar and marked the day a year ahead and every day for that year, she thought about it, looked at that knob and waited. Fortunately, that day, a year later, the sun shine was gifting her with the beautiful photograph.

Ruth Bernhard (American, born Germany, 1905-2006), Doorknob,

Thank you Willie Osterman.

To see more of the work of Ruth Bernhard please visit the Princeton University Art Museum.  

To learn more about Willie Osterman please click on his name.

4 thoughts on “The Story Behind the Image

  1. This image was certainly worth the wait, and proof we need not always travel to exotic places or concoct elaborate scenarios to get a good picture.

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