As a general thing, there is much more interest in a short view than there is in a long one, which comprehends a large amount of territory. There may he instances where "distance lends enchantment to the view," but it is seldom the case in landscape photography. Mountain scenery may be an exception. - J. C. Potter.
817. We will suppose you intend taking a photograph of a street. Select some important object for a foreground, place your camera about six feet from the opposite side to your principal object, including in your picture a portion of the building on the same side of the street on which you have fixed your camera. You have then made the most of your principal object, the perspective gradually merging more to one end of the plate than the other, and securing a pleasing composition. Observe a similar arrangement in river scenes, old lanes, lated somewhat by circumstances, but sometimes circumstances may be made to bend bo your will, and give you a choice. Diagonal composition and aerial perspective (see Lesson A) now come in to your aid, and must be duly regarded and allowed to influence you in your choice, be your subject in hand a street view, or amidst the rocks and rills and the sunny hills.
318. Having decided pretty nearly where to place the camera, you now begin to arrange your composition, so to speak. The novice will have to shift to the right, to the left, go higher or lower, until he knows full well what he may exact from his lens, or how he stands as to the matter of light and shade and perspective. But all this is good, refining, and cultivating. A dozen and one things will occur to perplex him, but his art principles will always offer a helping hand if he will only be led by them, especially in arranging his composition. Never be satisfied with "good enough." Expend your ambition, rather, on trying to secure a single first-class view than on obtaining a dozen indifferent ones. It will pay the best in the end, both in experience and in money.
318. We must generally take Nature as we find her. Recently, I made a few negatives in a romantic part of the country within a hundred miles of our city. How often the lines of the picture were perfect, the foreground everything desirable, but Nature was in the sulks; she would not smile - no sun shone. Then, again, everything seemed in good humor; the sun shone, but a wind was blowing great guns. Another time wind and weather were favorable, but the foreground was bad - a great bank of sand hiding a choice piece of middle distance. Yet, determined to succeed, I changed point, and carried boulders and mossy logs to make a presentable foreground, when a dense smoke from bush fires settled down and spoiled everything. I waited around for eight days, but had to leave without my picture. Had I the ability to paint my subject, from one point I could get the middle-distance and upper part of the picture. I would then have stepped a few feet to the left and obtained a fine tree for foreground, and then returning a few feet to the right, I would have had some rocks, beautifully marked, to form a strong point in the foreground, also, making my gem complete. - W. J. Topley.
319. To what has been said in lesson a on aerial perspective and the; the lines, reference must be had again, and comparison made with the model view here given, "On the Shores of the River Neuse," by Jan Van Goyen.It seems to possess nearly all the elements laid down for a good landscape in the rules, for the artist has conformed strictly to the customs of art. You can see how his picture gains in value by such a course, if you but exorcise the imagination a little bit. Take from it. then, the groups In the foreground and heap of old piles and bits of and see what a destruction of the beauty of the oomposition will occur. You not only thin destroy the effect of perspective, but you deprive the picture of the perfect balance which it possesses, and the repetition of lines which occurs in the foreground of those in the distance. Again, the lines in the distance would appear to want collecting together and regulating; the distance would come forward, so to speak, into the foreground, and the parts would not assume their proper relation to each other. The buildings on the left and right would seem to topple into the water, and the sails seem to be speeding over some empty space or precipice. Again, remove all the objects in the distance, and see where your perspective would be; and consider, too, what a miserable picture you would then have, with nothing but a black mass in your foreground, against a shimmering, unending sea of light.
819. One who truly loves and studios nature, sees constantly beautiful pictures on every side whilst travelling over the country. It does not always require a grand scene of rocks, river, and mountain to make up a picture. Very simple things, which a person not accustomed to observe would pass by unnoticed, will, in the hands of one who has the knowledge and tact to properly picture them, be made very attractive and artistic too. Small bit of landscape I would advise as preferable for the beginner as being more simple, and a variety of composition and effect can be produced with greater ease and simpler means. The foreground being one of the main points in the picture, and generally required to be bold and effective, can, if not naturally so, be made so in a great measure by a little labor in the way of rolling up an old Jog or stump in an effective position, or placing a bush or clump of large-leaved weeds where they will be of service in making a proper balance or contrast as may be needed. And let one advise you here to always have with you, on your photographic trips, a spade and a good axe; the latter particularly will often be found "a friend in need," when it is desirable to cut a small tree or remove a branch that would otherwise obscure some important point of your view. - James Mullen.