This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
Every artist now admits that photography occupies the place of a handmaid to Art, and in these pages we hope to show that it may assume a similar position with regard to Crafts. It is our purpose to open up the subject of ecclesiastical photography, and to try to induce the user of camera and lens to undertake something more than the customary and more or less conventional view of Cathedral, Abbey or Church exterior or interior. We would point out that hundreds of our churches are veritable treasure houses of beautiful handicraft, and would invite the amateur photographer of discrimination and taste to act upon the suggestiveness of that fact. By way of encouragement, we have inaugurated a series of prize competitions for the best work in this direction. The conditions are set forth in another column.
We have thought that, as a commencement, Wood Carving and Wrought-iron Work would afford attractive subjects, because there is hardly a village church, however small or remote, that does not possess some more or less interesting example. Let us set forth more definitely the work we desire.
As an example, let us suggest, in connection with wood carving, Chair Stalls. They are of infinite variety as to date, architectural period, material and construction, ranging from the ancient benches of a Norman church to the ornate and richly carved stalls of the Cathedral Chair.
In every case we desire to have the best general view of the subject photographed, and to secure this, as well as the subsequent photographs of detail, the question of lighting is of serious moment. Oftentimes in chancels there is little more than semi-darkness, owing to the stained-glass windows. Such being the case, recourse must be had to artificial lighting, and for that purpose nothing can be better than magnesium ribbon, or the well-known flash-axe candles, a preparation of flash-light, or magnesium powder.
It is useless to attempt photographic work of the character we are proposing, without a good lens, and we would suggest one of short focus, say of five or six inches, for use with a half-plate camera; such a lens would permit of photographs being taken at close quarters. To name any particular make of lens would be invidious when there are so many perfect instruments to be bought; still, we may safely mention the following makers: Dallmeyer, Ross, Cooke, Goerz, Suter, and for a cheap lens, Busch.
The lens is the pencil in the photographer's hand. Not only does it sketch detail, but also renders light and shade with the most certain truth. Good definition is absolutely essential for the photographs of details of wood carving or wrought-iron work, and so it will be well to buy the best lens that money at command will permit. To those whose means are limited we might suggest the Busch Rapid Aplanat, which has an aperture of f/8, or the Busch Anastigmat; this lens is made in two series, in one the aperture is f/5'5, and in the other f/7 7. These lenses are of very rapid type, and admirably adapted for work requiring fine definition.
The camera should be of the stand type, or it may be of the more modern folding hand and stand form, but it is imperative that there be a focussing screen. Hand cameras are practically of no use for detail photographs. The most perfect sharpness is needed, in order that the photographs may be of practical value to the art worker.
We cannot, of course, give a list of the objects that shall be photographed. Each competitor must select his or her own work, and will be guided by circumstances and the opportunity that offers; but we may suggest as suitable classes of subjects: Rood Screens, particularly with relation to details of the Cross which so generally surmounts them; Pulpits, details of general carving, panels, figures on the pedestal, mouldings, stair rails, etc.; Altars and Communion Tables, details of construction; Consecration Crosses, etc.; Lecterns, the supporting columns, or figures, carving of book rests, &c; Screens surrounding private chapels; Corporation Seats, Churchwardens' Pews, Coats-of-Arms, often to be- found in front of west galleries; Organs, and particularly details of organ cases; Fonts and Font Covers; Chair Stalls and Misereres, Muniment Chests, Wooden Coffers, etc.
It is a day of specialising, and we have thought the present a good opportunity for promoting special work in photography. In sending in photographs, the competitor should also furnish particulars in brief of the history and period of the subject reproduced, and the conditions under which the work was done. If the competition is successful, considerable space in the magazine will be devoted to the subject.
We have not been able to touch upon wrought-iron work as a subject for detail photography, but must reserve our suggestions for that section of the competition for next month.
Our desire is to gather sufficient photographs of beautiful objects in wood and iron to ensure for this section of Arts andCrafts the special interest of the clergv and their congregations in all parts of the United Kingdom.