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The Barnet Book of Photography A Collection of Practical Articles

So faultlessly complete in its delineation


If

on the other hand the shadow masses are filled with innumerable details, and are thus broken up into tiny lights and shadows they no longer exist as broad masses of dark, but if before retreating as proposed from the picture, the lights or shadows appear so blank as to prompt particular investigation, and upon examination we find detail absent which we know must have been present, then we encounter an instance of untruth and exaggeration which is obvious and which disturbs our appreciation of other fine qualities. Thus we require _sufficient detail to avoid giving the idea that detail is left out_.

The delineation of sharp outlines and redundance of detail is not wrong in itself, but it is usually inexpedient when considered with respect to the effect to be produced, similarly the suppression of sharp focus both as regards outlines and details has no artistic merit of itself except as it assists the picture to impress the beholder first with the general effect.

The painter and photographer start from two opposite standpoints. The painter, or draughtsman, starts with nothing but blank paper, and having built up his picture and produced his desired effect he elaborates no further; the photographer with his more or less mechanically produced _facsimile_ starts from the opposite extreme with a transcendentally elaborate image, from which he will require to eliminate all such excess of truth as is likely to force

the mere facts of the view upon the beholder's attention.

Photography, so faultlessly complete in its delineation, gives us _more than the pictorial worker needs for the expression of an idea_, and this is why I would remind the student that pictorial photography is not photography in the full sense of the word, but the application of some of its powers, just as much as we need and no more, to a definite end.

As just hinted the purpose of a picture is to express ideas, hence I will fall back on a kind of definition which I have used on a previous occasion that a picture is the portrayal of visible concrete things for the expression of abstract ideas.

To give an example by way of exposition we may look upon a picture and be made to feel by it the calm and luminous atmosphere of evening; we feel at once the restfulness, and almost feel the warmth of the humid air, giving place to the chill gathering mists of night; but the same objects, the same tangible materials, paper, pigment, metallic salts, etc., in another picture give us the sense of angry turbulent storm or perhaps bright joyous sunshine frolicking with the fresh breezes on the hill-tops. These are abstract ideas expressed or created by the manner in which concrete things, commonplace facts, are portrayed and rendered.

Finally, let me enunciate that a very excellent photograph may not necessarily be a good picture, because it may contain more than is required for the expression of its idea, and the surplus will overwhelm it; again, a good pictorial photograph may be but a poor photograph, because if we claim the right to apply photographic means to pictorial ends, we may find it convenient to leave out the very qualities which the scientific or technical expert considers most precious.


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