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.
In introducing Architectural and Landscape Photography to the reader, we desire to call special attention to one or two points of importance: Foremost, it is wrong to assume, as most people do, that architectural and landscape photographs are easier to make than portraits or figure studies. Perhaps the real cause for this mistaken impression lies in the fact that the average man does not understand nature and, therefore, cannot detect the mistakes in a landscape as readily as he can in a portrait. The reason for this is undoubtedly his lack of knowledge and unfamiliarity with nature and outdoor life. He assumes that certain forms in the picture are meant to represent trees, clouds, mountains and rivers, and accepts them as such without question, since he really knows no better. So, until quite recently, many photographers made landscapes with bald-headed skies - that is, a cloudless sky without atmosphere and without distance, while the place for the sky was represented by white paper in the photograph. Gradually, thanks to the exhibitions and art talks at conventions, the popular taste is now being educated to a truer idea of nature and a finer appreciation of artistic landscape photography.
The instruction in this volume will not only help you to copy nature accurately and make views with absolute fidelity to the original, but also will point the way for you to artistic and pictorial success, for, while a knowledge of nature sufficient to discriminate between what is true and what is untrue enables one to reproduce a landscape scene truthfully, something more is needed to reproduce it in pictorial form. The ideal landscape picture is one that awakens in us emotions of pleasure and enjoyment. It appeals to us because it is beautiful in itself, apart from any historical or geographical value it may have as a picture. Therefore, to portray beauty, besides being a true and faithful rendering of nature, the picture must also show good selection and proper distribution of light and shade to give it breadth and idealize it.
It is a curious fact that it was not until the seventeenth century that a landscape picture was considered of sufficient importance to make a painting of it. The close of the eighteenth century saw the beginning of modern landscape work, the crowded city, the noise, the bustle and the choking smoke gave man a longing for the fields and the open country. Turner, Corot, Inness, Constable, Millet, all translated this feeling and voiced this aspiration in their wonderful landscape paintings, and now comes the photographer to do the same thing with his camera.
"Will he succeed as the painters have done? We wait, we hope. Without aiming avowedly to reduce Landscape Photography to an exact science, the reader will find in the pages of this book some golden rules, whereby pictorial views and good landscapes may be secured with a camera. One can learn much, in this connection, from a study of landscape paintings by the old masters. An examination of these and of other forms of the graphic art, will soon make clear the value of certain laws underlying the principles of selection and arrangement. Add to this good lighting and correct exposure, all of which may be learned from this instruction, and one may hope to express his ideas or impressions of nature rightly in landscape photographs.
In Architectural Photography, however, the object of the worker is different. Here the photographer aims to secure a print interesting from an architectural, historical, or perhaps archaeological standpoint, his chief object being to obtain a record of facts. He aims, first of all, to secure architectural detail and beauty of line in his photographs. On the other hand, he can improve his picture very much by carefully selecting his view-point and choosing his lighting, thereby giving to the picture a certain amount of pictorial quality, without sacrificing the details he wishes to reproduce. He deals with architecture and buildings as with any other subject matter in photography, paying no attention to atmospheric effects, seeking to obtain broad masses of light and shade, and studying especially beauty of line in his picture.
The chief question to settle in making architectural photographs is whether you wish to show every brick and stone in the structure or only to secure an agreeable impression of the building. With this matter settled, it is comparatively easy by a turn of the focusing screw and a large stop to get the chief object of the picture into sharp focus. Then, by changing to the next smaller stop, one can retain the desired degree of sharpness in the building, while the background and accessories are slightly less sharp. Indeed, this is the best principle to follow in all architectural work, making the principal object sharpest and the other objects less sharp, according to their pictorial importance.
See Paragraph No 27
The lens is always an important factor in this work. While an ordinary rectilinear working at F-8 can be used, it should be so well corrected for spherical aberration that, if the view is focused at full aperture, stopping down will not be necessary to secure definition. But, on the whole, the modern anastigmat lens has so many advantages it is much to be preferred. These facts, however, are dealt with more at length in the succeeding pages.
Finally, if the photographer begins by acquiring a slight knowledge of architecture, he will then be able to go about his work more intelligently, with less chance of failure. The ordinary apparatus and intelligent enthusiasm are the prime factors for success in making architectural and landscape photographs.
SOUVENIR De PETIT TRIANON Study No. 1 - See Page 307 By Wm. II. Phillips.