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The Barnet Book of Photography A Collection of Practical Articles

Such relative lightness and darkness is called tone


relative lightness and darkness is called "_tone_." The word used in this sense has nothing to do with "tone" as applied to the colour of a print, which colour we change by a process we call "toning," and upon the correct rendering of relative tones so much of the effect of a picture depends, and so much of its emotional qualities.

Generally speaking, although there are often exceptions, the further an object is from us the grayer it seems. White becomes less white, and dark objects grow less dark, until in the distance both, under ordinary circumstances, come almost to the same "tone," and we see the distance only as a gray hazy mass.

If for a subject we have a figure of a woman by a stream of water and we make an under-exposed negative of it, or develop the negative to too great a density, we shall very likely have a print in which the water and the woman's apron and cap come very much whiter with regard to the rest of the subject than ever they appear in nature, whilst the distance will very likely come too dark. Here we show a disregard for the correct rendering of relative tones and the effect is hard and harsh, unlike nature. We must therefore endeavour, both in exposure and development and printing, to preserve relative tones exactly as they are in nature, and constant study and observation of nature should be carried on in order that the eye may be trained to know how things come relatively in nature,

and so be able to decide at a glance if the photograph is good.

Ultimate success, by the way, often depends less on knowing what to take and how to take it than on a well-trained judgment which knows what is good or bad when we have taken it.

Whilst the mere lines or forms of objects may impart some amount of feeling and sentiment to a scene, inasmuch as there is restfulness and repose in the long horizontal lines of the river-side pastures, something rhythmical in the sinuous curves of the winding stream, or vigour and variety in the irregular forms of the rugged cliffs and so on, yet the ideas and feelings which the picture will promote depend more on the lights and shades, and the masses contrasting or merging each with each.

But Nature does not always present herself in pleasingly arranged masses, and is consequently at such times commonplace and unpicturesque in the literal sense of the word. At such times she will not attract the pictorial worker any more than she will when perchance the lines and groupings are unsuitable.

The landscape which basks under the full blaze of sun, glittering throughout every inch with a myriad twinkling lights and sharp details, awakens no feeling akin to those which probably everyone feels when in the twilight of evening plane after plane recedes as one broad flat tint behind the other. Under the bright light of day we may wonder at the richness and plenty upon the earth, we may rejoice in that there are so many curious and pretty things to look at, but these are like the feelings inspired by reading a book on natural history, rather than the emotions created by the perusal of a poem, or listening to sweet music.

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