Returning to a consideration of our photograph, we find that in Fig. 58 there is present such a maze of detail, such a conglomeration of smaller lines, that the effectiveness of the structural lines is reduced. Moreover, no mere pose will satisfy our longing for completeness of pictorial expression. In this print the impression made upon us is that we have in some sense a caged man. Certainly the largeness of his personality is not embodied in the representation.
In Fig. 59 a suppression of the annoying details is partially effected and they are made even less troublesome by a balancing feature thrown into the background, — the vertical line and tone extending from the shoulder to the upper frame. Notice how it has promoted variety in the spacings. The man seems more natural, we come into nearer relationship with him. In Fig. 64 the picture effect has gained in expression until we feel the sitter as a real presence. "Space-filling" and "treatment' have effected these results.
After this analysis it is comparatively easy to find the cause for monotony in other prints. In Fig. 65, for example, we notice at once the repetition of the distances marked A, B, C, D, in Fig. 67. The same motive has been pictorially rendered in Fig. 66 where the whole space is beautifully broken into irregular divisions.
If considered as a specimen of childhood, the little girl represented in print 114 is beautiful, but from the pictorial standpoint the photograph cannot justly lay claim to so strong an adjective. The child seems forcefully detained in an environment to which she is not accustomed. She has no relation to this curtain or floor. Pictorial treatment will help us to love her, to enter into her life and to enjoy it with her. And the pictorial means for accomplishing this are simple. Certain changes in the masses of light and dark perform the miracle. We have advanced sufficiently in the study of art to understand that when in Fig. 68 space A is as wide as B or C, one becomes as interesting as the other and claims our attention about as much. We may conclude that when a background clamors so forcibly to be seen it has lost its place.
To make this little girl a real child we must draw attention to whatever holds her interest. The principle of leading the eye set forth in Chapter III (Theory Of Spots) will help us to do this. In the plain photograph, Fig. 114, the rectangular shape of the white gown claims our attention because it is the chief accent. The hands holding the apple, and the pretty face with its eager interest, are thereby made trivial. In the manipulated photograph, Fig. 115, the despotic lower line of the dress is properly subdued; other lines and parts of the frock are shaded into softness and, as they retire, additional forms of light are needed to invade the space C and extend toward the lower frame line, thus making a very irregular shape of the dress. A sash has given this necessary mass of light. Intentionally we change the floor line, whose cold indifference to the child is destructive to the picture's life. We cast upon it a shadow, thus creating depth of space, and we increase this depth by adding a sharp touch of light accent and a softly graded light in the background. By this treatment the spaces that in Fig. 114 were monotonous and self-centring have been broken into, made irregular, and are now so controlled that by a circular movement our eye is led through the picture to the main interest, namely, the hand holding the apple and the eager face. But to keep the interest there we were forced to carry light above the hat.
One principle helps another, logic and beauty advance together.
It will be observed that the white sash, the white spot in the hat, and the white on the floor line, also the shadow extending from the feet back into the picture, have all been made, not photographed; they are the outcome of photographic processes, convenient and practical.
Though the reason for each change in this picture's development as set forth in the text may be comprehended, the art aspirant will find his problem in original work somewhat puzzling. As an encouragement to him it may be stated that art has a scientific basis and that with the aid of principles we learn through much practice to reason out the problems. But even more valuable than reasoning is the development of feeling that results from constant practice and that instinctively points out the defects and their remedy. In lifting the attention to this child's face we follow an impulse to make a light spot in the upper rim of the hat. We "feel" the need of that spot; later we "reason" that it may be developed into an appropriate hat embellishment. The inclination of beginners in art is rather to pursue the opposite course, to give way to their fancy in elaborate laces, feathers, or trimmings, in an effort to add to the reality of things represented, and they fail to see the abstract value of the spotting.
Thus they frequently add to the confusion and the pictorial result is not attained.
It may be said as an encouragement to those who are making their first efforts away from plain photography that almost any modification on the background of a "good straight" photograph will prove beneficial. Comparing Fig. 50 with Fig. 69, we find that the light mass introduced in the latter takes from the figure, as shown in Fig. 50, the appearance of being pasted on a surface, a feature so inseparable from plain photography. In Fig. 69 something is taking place in the background. The broken tones create a movement, a certain amount of atmospheric effect that extends throughout the space enveloping the head. It is noticeable that the upper portion is alive, the eyes, the features are mobile, while the lower part of the figure, flanked by the even dense background, is inert in comparison. By attempting modifications and observing the result we gain some art knowledge intuitively. In this case we object to the direction of the lines in the background. Aided by a line of the cuirass and arm, they make an X, that, according to illustration 43, is too geometric. The clash of lines against the figure is also painful and their point of intersection centres the interest below the collar instead of upon the face. Turning to Van Dyck's masterpiece, Fig. 51, we see to what height of expression the fertile mind of a gifted man may reach. From the standpoint of arrangement for beauty our examination of this reproduction shows us how carefully the figure itself has been studied. Its lines yield abundantly the rhythms, the harmonious flow expressive of the lovable nature of the artist.
The background re-enforces and strengthens certain effective lines of the figure, as for instance, where the projecting hand is touched by a line that makes a restful termination for it in the frame's upright, see line A, Fig. 70. Line C "foils" this, above the hand; B relieves the two and quiets the obtrusiveness of the "royal staff" by sending a movement upward to the top frame; D contributes to the dignity of the figure. Many are the modifications that have been made, each having its purpose and each realizing an expression of the artist's thought. How we enjoy the workmanship, the perfection of the composition, the tenderness of expression, the healthy grasp of nature, and the lofty intentions and aspirations.
Photographers have sincerely tried to understand beauty, but failing to discover its relation to the pictorial their efforts have been misdirected. They have usually sought a fine type of man or woman, relying for their effects upon the character of the one and the grace and loveliness of the other. The truth that beauty is born of treatment cannot be grasped at once, nor is it easy to understand that the plainest sitter affords material as rich for pictorial beauty as does the physically perfect face or form.