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.
Introduction. We have been taught that all our relations with the outer world are maintained by five senses - sight, hearing, smell, taste and feeling - but it is now a very generally conceded fact that a larger number of senses exist.
145. Artistic Perception should by all means be included among the additions to the list of senses, as it embodies the power or faculty to see and, to a greater or less extent, interpret the beautiful in Nature and in Art. This is certainly a thing quite apart from the mere physical sense of sight.
146. The difference between artistic sight and ordinary sight is that, generally speaking, mankind does not look for the beauties and impression of truths that the artist strives to see and interpret. The average man uses his eyes as a means of securing information; for instance, if you wish to know what time it is, you look at the clock; but if you are careless about the time, you may look at the clock and not see the hour it marks.
147. What you actually see is governed by very complex conditions of faculties, experience and education. What one person sees another either does not or cannot see. As the world in general is not thinking of, nor looking for, beauty in Nature with reference to Art, it seldom sees the aesthetic side at all. Sometimes, however, it is observed, but in a very imperfect manner.
148. On every side we see persons, cameras or kodaks in hand, ready to "snap" at anything, regardless of interest or beauty expressed m the subject. Perhaps it is an historic building, a monument, a bridge, a bit of landscape which holds charms of childhood days; or something else you can give a name. But even in these instances little thought is given to obtaining the most pleasing effect.
149. The predominating thought of the photographic enthusiast seems to be concentrated on having the house, or whatever it may be, come in the center of the plate, with nothing in the way. Such people have yet to learn to see in an artistic sense.
150. It is said that the artist, like the poet, has to be born, not made, and in some individuals the sense of artistic perception seems to be perfectly natural, while in others it may exist in only a latent degree, waiting for an opportunity to be developed.
151. "Whatever may be the inborn gift, actual success as an artistic worker can only be attained by careful and conscientious study of Nature and of Art. He who studies the character of form, light and shade, and examines and compares their effects and the manner in which they are combined and arranged, will be all the better able to discover and enjoy natural scenery. No matter how much you might otherwise have appreciated it, your enjoyment will be greatly increased if you look at Nature with the eye of an artist, and know why it is beautiful.
152. Men see but little of what is before their eyes, unless the mind is trained to use the sight in a special way. If an artist, a scientist, and an untrained and unobservant person take a walk into the country together, the attention of the artist will be immediately directed toward the effects of light, shade, form and tone; the scientist may have his attention concentrated just as intently, but what he sees will be of a different character entirely; while the unobservant person, as far as mental effect is concerned, will see absolutely nothing at all, and might as well have gone along with his eyes shut.
153. It is the business of the pictorial photographer to see, and by seeing appreciate what this sense has favored him with. This power of artistic perception is best cultivated by earnest study of the principles of Art which have been the guide in producing the great works of famous artists.
154. You should take advantage of every opportunity to visit picture galleries, exhibitions of art work of all kinds, and of studying the reproductions of old masters, which may be found in practically all of the modern magazines. A careful study should also be made of the illustrations in this library, as they are the results of the efforts on the part of leading photographers to learn and apply artistic principles in the most simple and pleasing manner.
155. This Volume III should, of course, receive your most concentrated attention, as it contains the actual training that will lead you to see, appreciate and apply the artistic sense to your photographic work. Do not allow the study of Art nor the principles which you acquire through the study of the following chapters to bind you and keep you in a hard, straight "rut." This instruction should simply act as a guide to follow and assist you in expressing your originality.
156. We cannot do better than to impress upon you, if your aims are pictorial, the necessity of constant study and application. The ease of performing the various operations in photography is often fatal and apt to give the idea that success may be attained with little effort - but nothing could be wider of the mark. Aim high and do not be discouraged by occasional failures. Study nature and the following chapters, and good work will be your reward.