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.
655. In Ill. No. 73 we have another type of open air picture, where the landscape is used only as a setting for the portrait or figure study of a girl. The entire point of interest here is a girl plucking a rose. The idea is an excellent one and the lighting and technique are good. Furthermore, as a record of fact it is no doubt true to nature, but as the expression of an idea it is lacking in idealization. The rosebush is, perhaps, too prominent and divides at-tenton with the girl, while the pose of the girl on the edge of the pathway, facing the camera full front, with her arm behind her back, is too artificial to say the least. A side view of the girl looking at the roses would be more natural, and by getting back twice the distance from the subject, with the camera, the view would be in better proportion and the figure would not appear so crowded in the picture. Simplicity is the keynote to success in picture making. Learn rather to leave things out, and how to put one thing into the photograph well.
656. In Ill. 74 we have a nondescript print lacking in the first essential for a good picture, viz., unity. There is no one idea expressed by this photograph. It is neither a marine nor a landscape. Because the view point was too low down, the rocks in the foreground were exaggerated and hide the sea. The tree, though graceful and decorative in itself, is an excrescence here, and hideously out of place. Objects that are proper in one set of surroundings may not
Illustration No. 73 Landscape.
See Paragraph No. 655
Which Packs the
See Paragraph No. 656
Illustration No. 75 A Marine Snap Shot.
See Paragraph No. 657 be suitable to another. This applies also to the human figure arranged in this picture, for while a figure in a landscape gives a touch of human interest to the picture, it does not mix readily with landscape accessories. In this picture the standing lady is a discordant note. Had the photographer gone up the beach further and got the sweep of shore line in his picture, he would have improved it very materially. Trimming an inch off the foreground would help still further to center the interest, but the picture as a whole is a good example of what the beginner should not do in picture making. There is a certain amount of attention due to propriety and the fitness of things in photography as in everything else.
657. In Ill. No. 75 we have what is technically known as a marine snap-shot. It was a rapid exposure of a moving steamship. It was almost impossible to focus it on the ground-glass because it was rapidly moving away, and it was equally impossible to expose the plate for any length of time for the same reason. Yet, the result is a fine negative technically, both of the ship and the churning water in its wake. When the lines were being cast off, and the boat was ready to start, in fancy we can see the photographer setting his hand camera upon a tripod and proceeding to focus on the ground-glass. The wind was blowing strongly and he focused on the paddle wheel because it was stationary. When it began to revolve he closed the shutter and adjusted the speed quickly. It was a dark subject for a snap-shot, yet the water in foreground was much agitated and the steamer quivered all over with motion that threatened to blur the picture and spoil it. He, therefore, tried a compromise and gave the view a 1-25 second exposure. This exposure was quick enough to show the motion of the water and was long enough to bring out the details of the ship. There is but one defect, and that is the direction of the boat headed out of the picture. Otherwise, the result is a technically fine marine snap-shot.
658. In Ill. No. 76 we have a picture of a moving tug boat. Here the direction of the boat is more pleasing. It is difficult to keep it in focus, however, because the boat is moving towards the camera all the time. We close the shutter and place the index above the lens at 1-50, leaving the diaphragm at 8. We insert the plate holder and set the shutter. When the tug has reached a point about 200 ft. away from the camera we press the bulb and snap the picture. Most exposures of this kind are guess work, in a certain sense, but guess work based on experience. Time and experience will teach us the proper exposure, and there is no other method by which the beginner can acquire it too readily and so well. Everything depends on the nature of the view and the kind of light we work in.
659. Most of the unsatisfactory work in photographing landscapes is due to ignorance of composition and right manipulation of the print. Composition deals first with the grouping of objects - the relation of masses - the distribution of light and shade, and the direction of lines in the picture. Take Ill. No. 77 as an example. Examine the trees that crowd the picture. The central point of interest is the running brook, which is the chief feature of the picture. Instead of making the water prominent, it has been thrown back and dwarfed by the obtruding tree trunks in the foreground. It is the usual mistake of the beginner, trying to put too many things into the picture. Trimming at least an inch off the foreground would lessen this defect. Furthermore, an important rule is that the lines of the composition should direct attention to the principal object subordinating other details. The lines in this picture are outside the principal object and too far away from it. The composition is really dominated by these parallel lines of tree trunks, which are unduly prominent and make up the composition. More than this, instead of giving perspective to the composition, they are perpendicular and parallel to the plane of the plate, which is also contrary to all the rules of composition. There is certainly no feeling for atmosphere in this picture, and a landscape without atmosphere is unbearable. It is one of several proofs that make this picture the work of a novice. The short exposure of the snap-shot method accounts for this. On the whole, we regard this picture as a lesson to the beginner on what not to do.
Illustration No. 76 Importance of Position in Snap Shots.
See Paragraph No. 658
Illustration No. 77 Example of Faulty Composition See Paragraph No. 659
Illustration No. 78 A Pleasing Landscape Study See Paragraph No. 662.
660. In order to get pictorial quality in a landscape and marine work, the average beginner must have an intimate knowledge of nature as well as an understanding of photographic techique. It is the expression of this rather than the recording effects that must be tried for in the picture. With good ideas and a right command of the medium, results should crystallize into form in the picture produced.
661. A photographer, whether he is a beginner or an advanced worker, will always put something of his individuality into any picture that he makes. Individuality should be seen in this and be just as much a part of the picture as the trees, the shrubbery, or the winding brook. The value of this quality in his work reveals the man and tells us something of his personality. The picture ceases to be a mere winding brook, with trees and shrubbery for a setting; it is really his interpretation of that fact. We not only see the view but we see it through his eyes and he gives us a chance to experience the same feelings of pleasure and admiration that stirred him at the sight. Such a man is usually a careful and methodical worker, and moves deliberately. If he is careless and slovenly you cannot expect to make a picture that will interpret such subtle and elusive elements as the motives and feelings of a man's soul.
662. In Ill. No. 78 we have a pleasing landscape study, that is something more than a mere record of fact. In it one sees the beautiful things that might escape the ordinary observer, if this particular photographer had not made it. The water way, the stone bridge set down amid the foliage and the trees in a soft sunlight, make a quiet, peaceful landscape full of poetry and grace. The low horizon in the sky line gives the effect of distance in the picture. In every complete landscape there is the foreground, the middle distance and the background. The rule is that the foreground must always be in focus. The detail there should be reasonably sharp, while the middle distance is sharp only when the foreground has been cut off. The background is always out of focus, and without detail. The tall trees in the foreground here are sharply in focus and most decorative. But the out of focus background in the picture gives it the feeling of atmosphere. It also emphasizes the lines in the picture, the undulating banks of the water way and the graceful lines of the foliage leading up to the bridge, the central point of interest. When this rule is overlooked, the composition is sure to suffer and the picture will be bad. Again, the lighting here is very soft and pleasing, and evenly distributed all over the print. Too bright an illumination, thoroughly diffused, and without shadows is bad. Shadows naturally follow the light, and are the life and color of any landscape. In this particular view, the shadows are transparent, i. e., have detail in them showing that the exposure was all right. Of course, the development is also included in this and is a strong factor in securing successful shadows. On the whole, this picture is a fine example of the possibilities of photography in the hands of a serious minded beginner, who wants to secure the best results attainable with the camera.