This section is from the book "Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography", by J. B. Schriever. Also available from Amazon: Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography.
647. The object of this chapter is to encourage the beginner to improve his work by diligent and intelligent effort and to urge him take pictures of a high standard of excellence only. The first step is the choice of a subject for the picture. Naturally, street scenes suggest themselves in this connection, and in these, buildings will necessarily figure very largely. So we have, then, our first experience with Architectural Photography. Now, in every architectural picture the first and most necessary requirement is true and perfect perspective. Perspective is the art of representing objects on a plane surface so that the picture will present the same appearance as the object itself when viewed from a given point.
648. Now the lens does not always see the object as the human eye sees it. This is often the case with uncorrected lenses, where the lens is at variance with the normal angle of vision, and the result is a perspective that is untruthful and displeasing to the trained eye. The photographer has then to consider three things in making a picture of this kind: The horizon line in the picture, the relation of the point of view to the sides of the building, and the proximity of the view point to the object. A low horizon line, for instance, tends to heighten a building, while a high one tends to lower and flatten it. However, if you desire to emphasize the height of a building, choose a low horizon line. Furthermore, in selecting the point of view, it should never be directly in front of the building, nor should the picture show equal portions of the front or side. The point of view had best be a little to one side - right or left of the front - to show the mouldings and the ornaments. In general, the view point should be placed at a distance of about three times the height of the building. If the picture is taken nearer, sharp and vanishing lines occur that cause distortion.
649. In Ill. No. 69 is shown a church photographed from the proper distance, and gives a most pleasing effect. In Ill. No. 70 we have a low horizon line, since the object is to emphasize the size and mass of the school building.
650. In both these pictures the lines and proportions of the buildings are admirably reproduced in the photographic prints. Work of this kind is always its own reward. They are excellent examples of good architectural views taken by beginners.
651. The street scene in Ill. No. 71 is likewise a good example of linear perspective and lighting. Being a time exposure, the camera was set upon the shady side of the street, in such a way that the angle of vision extended up the street as far as the eye could reach. The picture is not only a record of fact, but it also gives one an excellent idea of the length and breadth of the street as a main thoroughfare.
652. From street scenes, the next step is naturally to landscape photography. The study of landscape is not only a source of pleasure to the amateur or beginner in photography, but it is likewise a source of education to him in his chosen art. Apart from its pleasures there are many technical uses to which the knowledge thus acquired may be applied. The beginner will make his own application of it as suits his interests best. The chief difficulty in this work comes from inability to see the essential elements in the view, or having seen them, in not being able to reproduce them in his picture.
Illustration No. 69 See Paragraph No. 649.
Illustration No. 70 Low Horizon Line Emphasizing Size of Building.
See Paragraph No. 649
Illustration No. 71 - See Paragraph 651.
Illustration No. 72 - See Paragraph No. 654.
653. There are several essentials that constitute the life of any landscape. First, unity - that is, there must be a central point of interest toward which all lines and all other objects in the picture tend. When this has been selected, everything else in the picture should be subordinated to it. If there are several objects in the picture they should one and all express the same central idea. Any object not directly connected with the principal object should not only be subordinated but, if possible, excluded from the picture altogether. This may be accomplished by putting it out of focus, throwing it into the background, or directing attention to the principal object in the picture by the lines of the composition.
654. The next essential in the landscape should be variety, i. e., there should be variety in the unity of the picture. This brings up the question of composition, the most important question perhaps in landscape photography. In Ill. No. 72 we have an ordinary landscape such as a beginner might make. The picture itself shows thought and intelligent handling on the part of its author. The central point of interest is the winding roadway that leads up into the picture. There is good perspective and the grass and shrubs in the foreground are given importance because the point of view for the camera was low, compressing the ground plans and emphasizing the foreground.
The handling of the various masses of light and shade is fairly good, while the decorative effect of the tree on the left of the picture is pleasingly introduced. There is detail in these shadows, showing that the camerist exposed for the shadows, leaving the lights to take care of themselves, a good rule to follow in exposure for landscapes generally.