Photography: Beauty in the Awful

Bernhard Becher is one of the few people in the world who hate to see a bright sunny day. Before his blonde wife Hilla even pouts on the morning tea in their Düsseldorf apartment, she looks outside, hoping to see the kind of lead-gray overcast for which Germany's Ruhr Valley is noted. Becher's concern with the weather is not a matter of whim. He is a photographer, his subject the collieries, mills, water towers and other rugged structures of Europe's coal and steel industries. Only a dull diffused light, he has found, can properly set...

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