Photographers [Oo] Solitude of Ravens | Masahisa Fukase, Hokkaido, 1976

“The birds live in groups. They roost at dusk, and disperse again at dawn. Shooting a flock of ravens has to be done in the still of the night, between dusk and dawn, at a time so dark that a light meter cannot gauge it. I had doubts about being able to shoot the black birds in such darkness. As a test I tried a shoot in Kanazawa’s Kenrokuen garden in the middle of the night. I had no confidence whatsoever. I was awed by the sight of the birds soaring in the air, the sheen of their wings glistening. The birds resting in the trees had eyes that glowed like beams. It was an amazing effect.”.

Masahisa Fukase (1934 –2012) was a Japanese photographer. The last book that he supervised, Karasu (Ravens), was shot in 1976 in Hokkaido and was published in 1986. In 2010, a panel of five experts convened by the British Journal of Photography selected Karasu as the best photobook published between 1986 and 2009. In 1992, Fukase suffered traumatic brain injury from a fall, and remained in a coma. He died on 9 June 2012.
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2 thoughts on “Photographers [Oo] Solitude of Ravens | Masahisa Fukase, Hokkaido, 1976

  1. Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
    Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
    While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
    As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
    `'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door –
    Only this, and nothing more.'

    Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
    And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
    Eagerly I wished the morrow; – vainly I had sought to borrow
    From my books surcease of sorrow – sorrow for the lost Lenore –
    For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore –
    Nameless here for evermore.

    And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
    Thrilled me – filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
    So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
    `'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door –
    Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; –
    This it is, and nothing more,'

    Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
    `Sir,' said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
    But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
    And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
    That I scarce was sure I heard you' – here I opened wide the door; –
    Darkness there, and nothing more.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
    Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
    But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
    And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Lenore!'
    This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Lenore!'
    Merely this and nothing more.

    Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
    Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
    `Surely,' said I, `surely that is something at my window lattice;
    Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore –
    Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; –
    'Tis the wind and nothing more!'

    Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
    In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.
    Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
    But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door –
    Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door –
    Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

    [ ]

    Edgar Allan Poe / The Raven / 1845


  2. One is for bad news, two is for mirth.
    Three is a wedding, four for a birth.
    Five is for riches, six is a thief,
    Seven a journey, eight is for grief.
    Nine is a secret, ten is for sorrow,
    Eleven is love and twelve is joy on the morrow.

    One crow means sorrow, two crows mean joy,
    three crows a wedding, four crows a boy,
    five crows mean silver, six crows mean gold,
    seven crows a secret that's never been told.

    Old English Rhyme


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