This section is from the book "Uncle Alberts Manual Of Practical Photography And Guide To The Reproductive Processes", by Powell Perry. Also available from Amazon: Uncle Alberts Manual Of Practical Photography And Guide To The Reproductive Processes.
Obviously one's fellow men are not to be trusted! The torrent of text books on The Art of Photography that has appeared during the past fifty years or so bears eloquent, if dumb, witness to this unpleasant truism: for how, otherwise, could so many have based, like crawling parasites, their spurious writings on the lovingly garnered information and painstakingly original research of my Uncle Albert? It is indeed ironic that the one work of his that was never published should have been so brazenly pilfered - in embryo, as it were - whilst, to the best of my knowledge, nobody has ever dared to quote as much as a single phrase from any of his forty-seven volumes of published treatises on subjects ranging from "The possibility of a study of Amoebae as an introduction "to simple division in junior schools" to "Stamp collecting in North Borneo."
Uncle Albert collecting masses of data by comparing his own density with that of a block of granite. The thoroughness with which he entered into discouraging experimental work of this kind, even at an advanced age, is truly indicative of that rugged persistence which is the earmark of the sincere seeker after knowledge.
Perhaps it is inevitable that one so sweepingly versatile as my Uncle Albert should have been a little garrulous. Perhaps, too, the medicinal spirits that he had recourse to as a stimulant after long hours in dark rooms served to loosen his tongue as well as to "fix his collar down "... (pun, collodion - Ed.) ... as he was wont, jocosely, to remark.
However, it is not with the causes but with the effects of such indiscriminate confidences that I am here concerned - effects, the very existence of which serve to indict far more effectively than any reproofs of mine the vicious practice of literary and scientific plagiarism.
I ask you, dear reader, to examine any six text books on photography, chosen at random from the "P" section of your local Public Library: What do you find? The most casual examination will suffice to prove that every writer says precisely the same thing in precisely the same way. If you persevere and read three or four pages of each book thoroughly you will find the same chemicals mentioned, the same methods of handling detailed and the same results arrived at. Six times you will read that a good developer can be made from:
Saturated solution of ferrous sulphate .. .. .. .. 2 ozs.
Glacial acetic acid .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 1/4 oz.
Alcohol .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 1 oz.
Water .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 16 ozs.
and six times you will be told that:
3 AgN03 - 3 Fe So4 = 3 Ag + Fe2 (SO4)3 + Fe2 (No3)3
Millions of words and acres of paper wasted on unimaginative repetition -what better proof than this could there be of the utter sterility of scientific cribbing? No ! Uncle Albert's dependents may have been robbed of some of the posthumous fruits of his scientific and artistic labours, but, in presenting his "Manual of Practical Photography, etc.," to the public, I am happily conscious that not only is a belated recognition being accorded to original research of a high order, but a blow has been struck that will help, in some measure, to cleanse the Aegean stables of photographic upstartism.
In conclusion I would like to stress that this work must, by its very nature, be more of a spontaneous personal record than an exhaustive and ordered treatise. As one contemporaty critic happily puts it . . . "One of the many things that "' Uncle Albert's Manual, etc.,' has in common with the ' Notebooks ' of "Leonardo de Vinci is an eclectic discursiveness that takes merely technical "difficulties in its stride."