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Full text of "Pictorial composition in photography"

PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 



BOOKS ON PHOTOGRAPHY 



Optics for Photographers, by Hans Harting, Ph.D. 
Translated by Frank R. Fraprie, S.M., F.R.P.S. Cloth, 
$2.50. 

Chemistry for Photographers, by William R. Flint. 
Cloth, $2.50. 

Pictorial Composition in Photography, by Arthur 
Hammond. Cloth, $3.50. 

Photo-Engraving Primer, by Stephen H. Horgan. 
Cloth, $1.50. 

PRACTICAL PHOTOGRAPHY SERIES 

Edited by Frank R. Fraprie, S.M., F.R.P.S. 

Editor of American Photography 

1. The Secret of Exposure. 

2. Beginners' Troubles. 

3. How to Choose and Use a Lens. 

4. How to Make Prints in Color. 

5. How to Make Enlargements. 

6. How to Make Portraits. 

7. How to Make Lantern Slides. 

8. The Elements of Photography. 

9. Practical Retouching. 

Each volume sold separately. Cloth, $1.00; paper, 50 
cents. 

American Photography Exposure Tables, 96th thousand. 
Cloth, 35 cents. 

Thermo Development Chart. 25 cents. 

American Photography, a monthly magazine, represent- 
ing all that its name implies. 20 cents a copy. $2.00 a 
year. 



PUBLISHED BY 

AMERICAN PHOTOGRAPHIC PUBLISHING Go. 

221 Columbus Avenue, Boston 17, Massachusetts 




Fig. 27. ST. JOHN 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 
IN PHOTOGRAPHY 



BY 

ARTHUR HAMMOND 

ASSOCIATE EDITOR OF AMERICAN PHOTOGRAPHY 

WITH 49 ILLUSTRATIONS BY THE AUTHOR 




AMERICAN PHOTOGRAPHIC PUBLISHING CO. 

BOSTON, MASS. 

1920 



COPYRIGHT, IQ20, BY 
AMERICAN PHOTOGRAPHIC PUBLISHING CO. 



TO 

DONALD 

FORREST 

ALFRED 

AND 

GORDON 

AS A SOUVENIR OF OUR MANY PLEASANT TRIPS 
AROUND CAPE ANN AND IN APPRECIATION OF THEIR 
HELPFULNESS AND CHEERFUL COMPANIONSHIP 



631163 



PREFACE 

TO tell a photographer how to compose his 
pictures is like telling a musician how to 
compose music, an author how to write a novel 
or an actor how to act a part. Such things can 
only grow out of the fulness and experience of 
life. Yet the musician must learn harmony and 
counterpoint, the novelist must know the rules 
of grammar and the proper use of words, the actor 
must study elocution, and all of these are more or 
less exact sciences which can be taught. Their 
application is entirely individual. 

So in pictorial photography, some principles of 
composition can be acquired from books, but the 
most important element of success the personal- 
ity and soul of the artist must be implanted in 
the individual and must grow with his experience. 

I am only too well aware that much has been 
omitted that should have been included in this 
little book, and that many important points have 
been but lightly touched upon, but if it should 
contain any helpful information and thus serve 
to encourage some who have hitherto hesitated 
to embark on the uncharted ocean of pictorial 

It 



PREFACE 

photography; if it should help to point the way 
to the friendly haven of success, my purpose will 
have been accomplished. If any should take as 
much pleasure in reading as I have in writing, 
my efforts will not have been in vain. 

BOSTON, February, 1920. 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTER I 

Introductory How Pictorial Photography has Benefited 
by the Energy and Enthusiasm of Technical and Scientific 
Experts The Need for Sound Technical Knowledge 
and Training Composition The Mechanics of Sugges- 
tion Teaches Economy in the Use of Tones; Teaches 
What and How to Emphasize; Teaches What and How 
to Eliminate; Teaches Appropriate Action Following a 
Careful Analysis of Impressions The Limitations in 
Representation What is a Picture? 1-32 

r 

CHAPTER II 

Spacing Lines, Horizontal, Vertical, Oblique Variety of 
Line The Triangle Curved Lines The S-shaped 
Curve The Unseen Line Balance Tones The 
Characteristic Quality of Photography Key 33-61 

CHAPTER III 

Mass Notan Breadth Pictorial Balance The Un- 
corrected Lens for Pictorial Work Accent Figures 
in Landscapes Genre 62-83 

CHAPTER IV 

Linear Perspective Focal Length of the Lens with Re- 
lation to the Point of View Aerial Perspective The 
Effect of Atmosphere on the Tones of a Picture Theory 
and Practice of Orthochromatic Photography When to 
Use a Color Plate Full Correction Sometimes Unneces- 
sary 84-103 

[xi] 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER V 

Simplicity Sympathy Restraint The Law of Princi- 
palityEmphasis 104-122 

CHAPTER VI 

Line Composition Applied to Figure Studies The Ver- 
tical Line Repetition of Line The Curved Line 
The Lost Edge The Triangle The Rectangle 
The S-shaped Curve The Figure 8 The Hands in 
Portraiture The Placing of the Head in the Picture 
Space Groups The Background 123-141 

CHAPTER VII 

Tones in Portraiture Roundness and Solidity Brought out 
by Lighting Ordinary Lighting Outdoor Portraits 
Home Portraiture Unusual Lightings The Outfit for 
Home Portraiture 142-163 

CHAPTER VIII 

The Definition of Art The Need for Cultivated Good Taste 
Picture-making Largely Instinctive Landscape Pho- 
tography Imagination The Selection of Suitable 
Conditions The Illusion of Relief The Illusion of 
Distance The Illusion of Movement Underexposure 
Fatal to Success Night Photography Still-life and 
Flower Studies 164-188 

CHAPTER IX 

The Technique of Pictorial Photography Developer for 
Negatives Intensification Reduction Printing on 
Platinum and Other Processes Bromide Enlarging 
Mounting and Framing Retouching Trimming . . 189-210 



[xu] 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

Fig. 27. St. John Frontispiece 

Facing page 

1. A Slimmer Landscape 4 

" 2. Echo Bridge 12 

" 3. Arthur 16 

" 4. Half Moon Beach, Gloucester 20 

" 5. A Spring Flower 22 

" 6. The Camera Club Secretary 26 

" 7. Sumac Lane, Rocky Neck 28 

" 8. An American Boy 32 

" 9. The Fenway, Boston 34 

" 10. Portrait of Freddie 36 

" 11. The Harlem River 44 

" 12. Starting Out 46 

" 13. Plum Island 48 

" 14. Portrait of A. M., Jr 52 

" 15. Portrait of L. W 60 

" 16. The Explorers 64 

" 17. Crescent Beach, Gloucester 66 

" 18. The Painter 70 

" 19. Wingaersheek Beach 74 

" 20. At the Close of a Stormy Day 78 

" 21. A Home Portrait 80 

" 22. A Summer Camper 84 

" 23. Portrait of a Painter ." 92 

" 24. The Fair-haired Boy 96 

" 25. Charlie 98 

" 26. Portrait of Jack 102 

" 28. Portrait, Mr. B 106 

" 29. George, the Scout 110 

" 30. Building the Fire U , 

" 30A. Young Artists ' 

V 31. Ready for the Party 116 

" 32. An Out-door Home Portrait 124 

" 33. In the Studio 128 

xiii 



xiv ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAGE 

" 34. Jimmie 130 

" 35. The Day after Christmas 134 

" 36. Swapping Pictures 138 

" 37. Portrait, F. S. H 142 

" 38. Sunlight Effect 144 

" 39. The Composer 148 

" 40. John 156 

" 41. Annisquam Bridge, Sunlight 160 

" 42. Surf at Bass Rocks 162 

" 43. Rocky Neck, East Gloucester 166 

" 44. Sunrise on Lake Winnepesaukee 170 

" 45. The Washington Statue at Night 174 

" 46. The Little Roy in the Park 192 

" 47. Ahnost Human 196 

" 48. Gordon 204 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION IN 

PHOTOGRAPHY 0'itl' 

* ' * j j j 

CHAPTER I 

Introductory How Pictorial Photography has Benefited by 
the Energy and Enthusiasm of Technical and Scientific Ex- 
pertsThe Need for Soun<i Technical Knowledge and 
Training Composition The Mechanics of Suggestion 
Teaches Economy in the Use of Tones; Teaches What and 
How to Emphasize; Teaches What and How to Eliminate; 
Teaches Appropriate Action Following a Careful Analysis of 
Impressions The Limitations in Representation What is 
a Picture? 

"PHOTOGRAPHY, with its many and varied 
JL aspects, appeals in different ways to people 
of widely differing temperaments and this, doubt- 
less, is the reason for the almost universal interest 
taken in cameras and camera results the world 
over. This interest may be scientific and utili- 
tarian or it may be purely aesthetic. Photogra- 
phy may be regarded either as an art or as a 
science, and, therefore, an artist may find in it 
just as much to interest him as does one^who is 
mainly concerned with the scientific laws and 
principles involved in the production of a photo- 
graphic print. 

The artist who uses the camera for picture- 
making is following only one of the many branches 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 



of photographic work, and there are others just 
as interesting. There is for instance, the allur- 
ing field of photographic chemistry, that tre- 
\ / Ktendously interesting study of such manifesta- 
tions of nature working according to fixed laws 
* l 



t chemical reactions originated by the energy 
of light and the reduction to metallic silver of the 
silver salts which have been affected by light. 
The science of optics, too, is connected very 
closely with photography, and here is another 
absorbing study for the practical scientist, who 
will find much to interest him in the study of 
light and its transmission through a lens. The 
purely technical problems of photography, and 
the cultivation of the ability to produce perfect 
results under varying conditions, will interest 
many who are neither artists nor scientists, and 
such lovers of technical perfection can go far 
before their interest will wane, for almost every 
picture, or, at any rate, every class of pictures, will 
offer new technical problems. In the study of 
technique alone many years may be spent with 
pleasure and profit. 

To the chemical and optical experts and to the 
enthusiastic technicians we, as photographers, 
owe a deep debt of gratitude; to their careful 
and painstaking investigation and research are 
due the wonderful strides made in the invention 
and manufacture of the photographic apparatus 

' [2] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

and materials now at our disposal. To the ex- 
perts in photographic chemistry we owe the 
perfection of the modern dry plate with its won- 
derful speed and other advantages over the wet 
plates of the past. To them,lalso, we owe the in- 
vention and manufacture of orthochromatic and 
panchromatic plates, which place in our hands 
a wonderfully efficient means of securing better 
pictures. To the enthusiastic technicians and 
their insistent demands for better and more effi- 
cient apparatus we owe that marvellous photog- 
raphic tool, the modern anastigmat lens, which 
so greatly enlarges the possibilities of photog- 
raphy. And, in answer to their demands for 
portability, compactness and convenience of mani- 
pulation, we have the roll-film cameras and the 
miniature, vest-pocket cameras with exquisite re- 
finements of workmanship and tremendous possi- 
bilities. There are some who look down from the 
plane of high art and are complacently tolerant 
of the technician and the chemical and optical 
enthusiasts, but if it were not for these and for 
their energy and enthusiasm, photography would 
not have reached its present high standard of 
artistic quality. 

Those whose interest in photography is con- 
fined entirely to its possibilities as a means of 
artistic expression and pictorial representation 
are artists, and they recognize in photography a 

[33 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

flexible and responsive medium by means of 
which they can express their pictorial ideas and 
convey their impressions to others. 

The appreciation of beauty is an almost uni- 
versal human attribute. It is manifested very 
early in life by the little child who, though hardly 
able to walk, will toddle gleefully to pursue a 
butterfly or to grasp a flower. This primitive 
instinct sometimes remains dormant in an adult 
whose interests and activities along other lines 
of human endeavor leave little room for unprac- 
tical and visionary enthusiasms. Often, how- 
ever, the childish instinct develops and expands 
in later life, and the desire to create, the longing 
of the artist to produce some concrete evidence 
of his thoughts and feelings, is the logical and 
natural outcome of the interest in beauty that is 
inherent in us all. 

This impulse to express our ideas of beauty 
must be guided by knowledge and training, and 
much hard work is necessary to train the mind 
and "that clumsy instrument, the human hand" 
adequately to perform the tasks demanded of it. 
It is so in all branches of creative art, and photog- 
raphy is no exception. A musician works hard 
for many years to perfect himself in his art; a 
painter has to put in many years of training 
before he can express himself fully, with satis- 
faction to himself and others. So the artist in 




Fig. 1. A SUMMER LANDSCAPE 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

photography must work and study to make him- 
self the master of technical difficulties. In his 
hands the camera and lens should be flexible and 
responsive to his moods. This implies a thorough 
mastery of technical details, and a clear, though 
not necessarily exhaustive, understanding of the 
scientific principles involved in the production of 
a photographic print. There must be artistic 
feeling, of course, but that alone will not suffice. 
Knowledge and skill are also required to enable 
the artist to use his chosen medium to the best 
advantage. It is a mistake, therefore, for the 
artist in photography to regard technique as be- 
ing merely mechanical and beneath his notice, for, 
unless he possesses a thoroughly sound founda- 
tion of technical knowledge and manual dexterity, 
his work will always be crude and unfinished, and 
he will never have complete control over his 
medium. 

There are many good books and magazines 
which deal with various portions of the technique 
of photography from the practical standpoint. 
Therefore, when technical advice is given in this 
volume, it will be on the supposition that my 
readers already possess a thorough knowledge of 
the elementary principles. The reader is referred 
to other volumes in this series for additional in- 
formation on the technical and scientific aspects 
of photography. My purpose is to try to point 

C5] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

out to the artist in photography some of the uni- 
versally recognized rules of composition, and to 
give as much practical help as is possible in deal- 
ing with a phase of artistic work in which the 
personal equation is so important a factor. 

Whether or not the ability to make pleasing 
pictures can be acquired by reading books on 
composition may be open to question. Person- 
ally I think it can, because the desire to learn, 
and the interest in the subject shown by this 
desire, presuppose a natural inclination and the 
germ of creative ability. This can be cultivated 
by study and by practical experience along the 
right lines. No books on the subject can actually 
teach a photographer how to make pictures. 
They can only point out the road and suggest 
lines of thought. There must be actual experi- 
ment along the lines suggested. Composition can 
become a habit like everything else, and the more 
one works at it the easier it will become. If the 
desire is there and one is interested enough to 
keep on trying, one day he will get a real picture. 
This will be followed later by another, and, in 
time, the ability to see and arrange a pleasing 
composition will become habitual. The would- 
be pictorialist must try to cultivate the ability to 
see everything pictorially. 

The object of the picture-maker is to express, 
not facts, but the emotions which these facts 

C6] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

arouse in him. In order to be able to do this, he 
must understand the laws of composition and 
also those that affect the distribution of light and 
shade. His eye must be trained to distinguish 
values, that is, the varying effect of light on 
objects of different material, and the gradual 
change in the color or tone of an object, accord- 
ing as it is nearer to or farther away from the 
eye. All this is a matter of study and experience, 
and is but the natural development of an instinc- 
tive sense of what is beautiful in line, form and 
tone. When this instinctive appreciation of 
beauty has been developed along the right lines, 
the ability to discuss and criticize pictures as well 
as the ability to make pictures will be more com- 
plete. Instead of a more or less vague idea that 
such a thing is right and that something else is 
not right, one will be able to give definite reasons 
and make the criticism constructive and helpful. 
Artists are not always creative; there are many 
people who admire pictures, who enjoy music and 
literature, who can appreciate the artistic feeling 
shown in works of art, but who are quite unable 
to express themselves in terms of art, or to con- 
vey their impressions to others by any means of 
artistic representation. Such people are just as 
much artists, however, as those who can paint 
pictures, compose music or write poetry. Robert 
Louis Stevenson writes in Ordered South: "We 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

admire splendid views or great pictures; and yet 
what is truly admirable is rather the mind within 
us, that gathers together these scattered details 
for its delight, and makes out of certain colors, 
certain distributions of graduated light and dark- 
ness, that intelligible whole which alone we call 
a picture or a view." 

Those who, in addition to being able to enjoy 
and appreciate pictures, possess also the power 
of expressing their ideas 'in such a way that their 
pictures may be enjoyed and appreciated, are but 
carrying the inherent appreciation of the beau- 
tiful to its logical conclusion. In them the appre- 
ciation of beauty has developed into a craving to 
create beauty, and pictures are the result of this 
craving. 

Thus we arrive at the conclusion that pictorial 
photographs are pictures made with a camera by 
an artist for the benefit of other artists; pictures 
in which individual artistic aim and feeling have 
found their expression by means of the camera. 
The artistic aim and feeling must be guided by 
technical skill and by a knowledge of the laws of 
composition. The technical skill I shall take for 
granted and shall deal, in this book, mainly with 
the principles of composition. 

What is composition? Why is composition re- 
quired? Why is it not possible to photograph a 

[8] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

beautiful scene or a beautiful object, and thus 
make a picture? 

If we could reproduce in a picture a landscape, 
just as it appears to each one of us, including the 
color, the depth and spaciousness, the ever-vary- 
ing and changing lights, the interest due to the 
swaying branches stirred by the wind, the sounds 
and scents of nature, and everything else that 
goes to make such a view attractive; if we could 
pick out just what appeals to us most strongly 
and could include in the picture only what we 
want to see and leave out everything else, our 
reproduction would be a picture, in all probability. 
But it is not possible to represent thus fully or 
selectively. At best we can only suggest, and 
composition is the mechanics of suggestion. 

In the early days of photography popular inter- 
est was excited by the camera's ability to record 
facts. Today the artist's aim is to make it record 
his impressions of facts, and to express his per- 
sonal feeling. 

The artist in photography is handicapped to a 
considerable extent by the fact that the camera 
is, essentially, a copying machine. The optical 
perfection of modern lenses and the orthochro- 
matic qualities of the sensitive emulsion tend to 
make it wonderfully efficient in this respect. But 
the artist must learn to control his medium; and 
knowledge, skill and experience will enable him 

[9] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

to do this so completely that in his hands the 
camera will become as responsive as the brushes 
and pigments of the painter. Mere copying na- 
ture will rarely make a picture: there must be 
individual interpretation by the artist, and the 
camera, properly controlled, will make pictures 
that show this individuality very plainly. No one 
who is familiar with the work of the leading pic- 
torialists would mistake a picture by Coburn for 
one by Porterfield; and a portrait by Steichen 
can be readily distinguished from one by Will 
Cadby. The individuality of the artist is inter- 
preted by the camera and lens, and the results 
produced by different workers are different be- 
cause each artist has used the camera to record 
his own impressions rather than to reproduce 
actual facts. 

A view or a landscape will impress different 
people in different ways, just as a human individ- 
ual will. Various people will see the same scene 
in various ways, according to their separate indi- 
vidualities: some people, on seeing Niagara Falls 
for the first time, will be so impressed by the 
grandeur and magnificence of the scene that they 
will say nothing; it will be beyond mere words. 
Others might give a casual glance and say: 
"Isn't it great?" 

What we put into a picture is a record of the 
impression which a scene made upon us at the 

do: 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

particular time and under the peculiar circum- 
stances of our seeing it. Naturally, the impres- 
sions received will vary greatly according to indi- 
vidual temperament. Each sees only what he 
has the capacity for seeing, and the capacity for 
seeing is determined by the physical condition of 
the eyes, by the individual's power of observa- 
tion, and by the personal likes and dislikes which 
lead one to look for certain things in preference 
to others. A farmer, viewing a familiar land- 
scape, would see it very differently from one who 
might happen to be revisiting the dimly remem- 
bered but dearly loved scenes of a happy child- 
hood, after many years of absence. The scene 
itself would also vary greatly under different con- 
ditions of season and atmosphere. We might 
photograph the same view a dozen times or more 
under different conditions, and all the results 
would be unlike. 

Monet painted the same corner of a courtyard 
at Hampton Court several times, at various sea- 
sons of the year and under varying atmospheric 
conditions, and made several entirely different 
pictures. What we represent in a picture, there- 
fore, is just one aspect of a view as it happens to 
exist at the chosen time. We make our repre- 
sentation individual by emphasizing those as- 
pects of the subject that give us the impressions 
which we desire to convey, and by subduing or 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

eliminating anything that may be antagonistic to 
these impressions. A work of art, whether a 
painting or a photograph, is, at best, only an 
abstract interpretation of actual facts. Nature 
gives us the subject, from which we select what 
we want; of what' we select, we emphasize part, 
or eliminate part; and composition teaches us the 
practical and common-sense methods of selecting, 
emphasizing and eHminating. 

What we can do in the way of actual repre- 
sentation is very limited. A photograph of a 
landscape is very largely made up of suggestion. 
To begin with, we cannot, by the practical 
methods at present at our command, reproduce 
color in a print, but can only suggest it by getting 
the tones and values approximately correct. We 
cannot actually represent the life and movement 
of the scene, the changing lights and shadows 
that make it so interesting; we cannot simulate 
the glorious, blazing sunlight of midsummer or 
the brilliant sparkle of the sun on snow in winter; 
we can only suggest these things by means of a 
comparatively few gradations of tone, ranging at 
the extreme from white paper to a black deposit 
of silver or platinum, a very poor substitute for 
the infinitely longer range of tones in nature. 
So we must be careful how we use these grada- 
tions and must economize and make them go as 
far as possible. Composition will help us to do 

[12] 




Fig. 2. ECHO BRIDGE 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

this. With the aid of composition we can convey 
impressions, and these impressions will be more 
clearly and more convincingly conveyed if we 
make intelligent use of the mechanics of sugges- 
tion the recognized formulae known as the 
principles of pictorial composition. 

This applies also in portraiture as well as in 
making outdoor pictures. We have all seen, I 
am sure, a snapshot of a friend or even a tech- 
nically good professional portrait, in which that 
friend is represented in a way that is quite un- 
familiar and far from characteristic, so that the 
picture fails to convey the desired impression. 
This is usually a case of poor selection; the good 
points were not emphasized, nor were the unde- 
sirable features subdued or eliminated, therefore 
the print fails to be a picture. We have to be as 
careful in selecting the right conditions under 
which to photograph a landscape as when photo- 
graphing a human subject, and here again the 
principles of composition will help us by teaching 
us what to look for, and by guiding us in the 
selection of the best point of view, the best con- 
ditions of lighting, and so on. Composition, then, 
is the exercise of the power of selection. 

Every human being has many moods, and a 
clever and competent artist can make a picture 
that will be so characteristic of one particular 
mood that others will be able to recognize it. 

[13] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

The artist does this by emphasis, by elimination, 
and by suggestion; and a knowledge of composi- 
tion will tell him what to emphasize, what to 
eliminate and how to suggest. We cannot actu- 
ally represent the irrepressible merriment of a 
happy human boy, but we can suggest this by 
emphasizing his bright and laughing eyes, and, 
similarly, we can emphasize the 'grace and dignity 
of a handsome woman by having a predominance 
of easy, flowing curves in the line composition of 
the picture. 

Not only human beings have moods, but every- 
thing in nature has moods. Possibly this state- 
ment is not strictly correct because the word 
"mood" presupposes some intelligence and voli- 
tion, but the sea, under varying conditions, sug- 
gests different moods, calm and quiescent, or 
lashed to fury. A landscape may also be said to 
have moods, and may thus give rise to different 
sensations and impressions. It may convey an 
impression of beauty; its grandeur may inspire 
awe; it may suggest melancholy or gloomy ideas, 
or may give an impression of peacefulness, calm 
and quiet; perhaps solitude may be suggested, 
or desolation. It is such impressions and sensa- 
tions as these which we desire to convey in our 
pictures. We want to suggest the mood of the 
landscape, just as we suggest the moods and 
characteristics of the human subject, and we go 

[14] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

about it in much the same way, by emphasiz- 
ing, eliminating and suggesting, which we are en- 
abled to do clearly and convincingly by means 
of a knowledge of the principles of pictorial 
composition. 

We must be sure, first of all, just what appeals 
to us in looking at a certain view or landscape; 
we must try to analyze our impressions, and find 
out just what the prevailing characteristic is. 
This will give us some idea what to emphasize 
and what to subdue or eliminate, so that we can 
make our impressions clear to others. Composi- 
tion, then, is appropriate action following a care- 
ful analysis of impressions. 

Let us see how this works out in actual prac- 
tice. In viewing the scene before taking the pic- 
ture, A Summer Landscape, reproduced as Fig. 
1, the impressions I had were those -of space 
freedom and plenty of open air, and they were 
what I wished to suggest in the picture. The 
appropriate action, it seemed to me, was to leave 
a good deal of sky above the horizon and to make 
the trees rather small in the picture space. Again, 
in Echo Bridge, (Fig. 2), the impression I had was 
one of tremendous height, for the bridge is very 
high above the water. I also felt that the curve 
of the arch of the bridge, repeated hi the water, 
was a more pleasing line than the straight line 
of the aqueduct along the top of the bridge. 

[15] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

Thus the appropriate action in this case was to 
emphasize the height of the bridge, and to giv 
prominence to the curved line of the arch and its 
reflection in the water. The height was easily 
and convincingly suggested by placing the bridge 
very high in the picture-space. By the same 
means the curved lines were emphasized and the 
straight line at the top was brought so close to 
the upper edge of the picture that it lost a good 
deal of its force. 

Composition is very largely common sense. 
Such methods of emphasfe as those referred to 
are quite obvious and would readily suggest 
themselves to anybody. The appropriate action 
will usually be easily discovered as soon as we 
-have analyzed our impressions and have made 
up our minds as to just what we want to suggest 
in the picture. 

The emotions suggested by facts, not the facts 
themselves, are what concern the picture-maker. 
This is where he is differentiated from those who 
seek to make only records and who are concerned 
only with facts. Nature provides the subjects 
which are the material to be used in picture-mak- 
ing, and the manner of using the material is what 
makes or mars a picture. By careful selection or 
arrangement of the material, by emphasizing the 
important features, and by curbing the prolific 
generosity of nature by ruthless elimination of 

[16] 









Fig. 3. ARTHUR 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

the unessentials, the picture-maker can make 
his picture deliver a message and convey to others 
the thoughts and feelings he himself experienced 
and which inspired him to use the particular 
material in the particular way. This is composi- 
tion; knowing what to select, how to arrange, 
what to emphasize or eliminate and how to do it, 
and the aim of this book is to give practical in- 
struction along these lines. 

A straight photographic representation of a 
scene usually has only a very limited interest, 
which is purely topographical. A picture may 
be considered a photographic record if people 
say, on seeing it: "Oh, yes, that's the Grand 
Canal in Venice," or, "That's in Honolulu; we 
stopped there on our trip around the world last 
year, and there's the very place where we had 
lunch." But, if they say: "Oh, isn't that just 
typical of Venice?" or, "That picture of Hono- 
lulu makes me almost feel the blazing sunlight 
of Hawaii," then the picture is pictorial, because 
it suggests an emotion and conveys an impres- 
sion, instead of merely imparting local informa- 
tion. 

It is sometimes thought that in order to get 
pictures one must travel far afield and visit the 
much lauded beauty spots of the world, but that 
is by no means the case. In fact, I believe I am 
not putting it too strongly in saying that the 

[17] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

best pictures can usually be found at home, close 
at hand, no matter where one may happen to 
live. In cities like New York and Boston there 
are endless possibilities. That pictures may be 
found in the vicinity of a big city, and pictures 
that are well worth while, may be demonstrated 
by the success of Rudolph Eickemeyer, who 
made the majority of his most successful pictures 
within a mile and a half of his home in Yonkers. 
You must get the spirit of a place and study 
it under varying conditions before you can get 
more than a topographical record. I do not in 
the least mean to imply that places like Venice, 
Honolulu or the Grand Canyon will not furnish 
pictorial material: they certainly will, as much 
as and possibly more than less favored localities; 
but I want to make it clear that the success of 
a picture, as a picture, does not depend upon the 
topographical interest of the subject, but on the 
ability of the photographer to convey impres- 
sions of beauty or interest by his manner of treat- 
ing it. It would be just as absurd to claim that 
a portrait of a famous person could not be a good 
portrait. Whether or not it is a good portrait, 
and suggests the character and personality of the 
person portrayed, depends entirely upon the 
photographer and on his knowledge, skill and 
artistic ability, but a portrait of a quite unknown 
and humble individual may also be a very inter- 

[18] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

esting picture if the photographer is able to make 
it so. To an artist, one of Mrs. Kasebier's Hu- 
man Documents, or the series of character por- 
traits by Baron de Meyer, including Mrs. Young 
of King's Road, Chelsea and Mrs. Wiggins of 
Belgrave Square, are far more interesting than a 
conventional professional portrait of a famous 
personage. In my own case, I have often made 
friends with rough little Irish or Italian young- 
sters and have made pictures of them that have 
been considered interesting as showing the char- 
acteristics of the type. 

When we consider that a photograph is noth- 
ing but an arrangement of varying shades of 
monotone, ranging from white paper to full black 
or sepia or whatever the color may be, that these 
shades of tone form certain shapes, some very 
small and some larger, and that these shapes by 
their arrangement give us a representation of 
natural objects, it will be seen that the possi- 
bilities in this representation are rather limited 
and leave a good deal to the imagination. 

That imagination and suggestion are impor- 
tant factors in representation can be proved by 
the fact that it is quite possible to make by a few 
pencil lines a sketch of a face that can be recog- 
nized readily, not only as being a face but as 
being the face of one particular individual. By 
a few clever lines an artist can make a likeness 

[19] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

that suggests the character and the personality of 
a particular individual, and yet there may be 
nothing but a few outlines. With photography 
we can go farther than that; we can get, not 
only the outlines and shapes, but also the shading 
which will give roundness and modeling. This is 
composition the mechanics of suggestion for 
the artist, in making his pencil sketch, was guided 
by the mechanics of suggestion in the disposition 
of his lines, and the photographer is guided by 
his knowledge of composition in the disposition 
of the halftones and gradations of tone as well as 
the outlines of the objects in his picture. By 
means of composition we can to some extent 
make up for the limitations in representation. 

The lack of color in photographs is a frequent 
source of disappointment. Often we are at- 
tracted by a view because its color appeals to 
us, and we are disappointed when we have photo- 
graphed it because, without the color, it loses 
much of its charm. Therefore we must look for 
qualities which we can more readily and more 
adequately transfer to our picture. Composi- 
tion will teach us what to look for and how to 
transfer it. 

Another limitation in representation that com- 
position will help us to overcome is the difficulty 
experienced in trying to represent on a flat sheet 
of paper the depth and vast expanse of a land- 

[20] 









Fig. 4. HALF MOON BEACH, GLOUCESTER 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

scape. This is, obviously, a matter of sugges- 
tion, for the view that we see may extend for 
miles into the distance or perhaps only for a 
few hundred yards, but, in either case, we shall 
have to make good use of suggestion to give an 
impression of depth and area on our flat picture 
surface. We can suggest depth and space very 
well by photography, if we know how to do it. 
Composition will help us to solve this problem, 
for it is one of perspective, linear and aerial, the 
study of which is included in the study of 
composition. 

The reduction to a small area, sometimes only 
a few square inches, of a vast expanse of nature 
sometimes gives disappointing results, for ob- 
jects that appear to be quite important in the 
real scene are almost lost and are hard to dis- 
tinguish in the picture. This may be because 
we have included too many different objects, 
or it may be because the object we regarded as 
important is not really prominent or noticeable 
in the landscape, but appeared so because we 
concentrated our interest on it and overlooked 
everything else. There may be personal or his- 
torical interest attached to some particular ob- 
ject in the view, but unless we emphasize or 
isolate this particular object and employ the 
mechanics of suggestion to make it prominent in 
our picture, it will not be rendered in the picture 

[21] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

any differently from any other objects that may 
be included in the view. The lens has no per- 
sonal preferences, has not studied history, and is 
absolutely impartial. 

This illustrates one of the fundamental prin- 
ciples of composition, that of unity or concen- 
tration of interest, and demonstrates the impor- 
tance of having only one prominent object of 
interest in a picture. We have to do the best 
we can to make it evident what our principal 
object of interest is, and we do it by emphasis 
and elimination, which are part of the mechanics 

of suggestion. 

1 '.-*' . " & . 

.!* , ''. . - ' * '. . 

Having thus roughly outlined an answer to the 
question: "What is composition?" the next im- 
portant question that arises is: "What is a pic- 
ture?" 

In our daily life we are surrounded by a multi- 
tude of interesting things, and those of us who 
are sensitive to beauty often find much of this 
quality in quite ordinary and commonplace ob- 
jects and scenes. It is, as Stevenson tells us, 
"the mind within us" that can see beauty where 
others can see only the prosaic and commonplace. 
Such vision is partly instinctive and partly the 
result of training. Dodge MacKnight can see 
color and beauty in a line of clothes hanging out 
to dry, and Stieglitz, Coburn and A. H. Blake 

[22] 




Fig. 5. A SPRING FLOWER 



8gO?:UAU 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

can see beauty in the mean streets of a great city. 
The beauty of a picture does not depend entirely 
upon the intrinsic beauty of the objects depicted, 
but upon the truth with which the picture-maker 
suggests to others the impressions that affected 
him and led him to choose his subject. Beauty 
of line and tone, concentration of interest, bal- 
ance, simplicity and so on, are not mere vague 
terms, the jargon of the studio, but are definite 
and practical attributes of beauty in pictures, 
and it is on such things as these that the beauty 
of our picture depends. Just what these things 
are, and how they may be used in picture-making, 
will be explained in the following chapters, but 
one answer to the question: "What is a picture?" 
can be given by saying that a picture is a repre- 
sentation of an object, a scene or a person, in 
which the picture-maker, by the skilful use of 
good lines and pleasing tones, by concentrating 
the interest and by securing balance and har- 
mony, has made an arrangement that appeals to 
our imagination and gives us an impression of a 
mood or an emotion rather than a bare statement 
of fact. 

Suppose an architect and a painter were walk- 
ing through the Fenway in Boston and stopped 
to look at and to make a sketch of the Museum 
of Fine Arts. Of course the architect might well 
be an artist, just as the painter is an artist, but 

[23] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

we will suppose that his sketch is intended to be 
a record of the architecture of the building. Both 
would use the same subject for their pictures, but 
each would treat it differently, because it would 
make a different impression on each of them, 
and would give rise to different emotions in the 
two minds. The painter might be impressed by 
the play of sunlight on the white columns; he 
might take this as the theme or motive of his 
picture, and, therefore, do all he could to empha- 
size this particular feature. Possibly he would 
select a viewpoint on the other side of the stream, 
and thus get the columns reflected in the water. 
In doing so he would be employing a principle of 
composition, the principle of repetition with 
variety, and this would help to emphasize his 
theme. He would in this way concentrate the 
interest, and make it apparent in the picture 
that the play of sunlight on the white stone was 
the thing that attracted him. The rest of the 
subject would be subordinate, and would form 
an appropriate setting for the principal object of 
interest; only just enough would be included in 
the picture to give a general idea of the rest of 
the building; the emphasis would be on the sun- 
lit columns and, from the pictorial standpoint, 
such a manner of treating the subject might well 
be entirely convincing and pleasing. The artist 
would have seen and seized upon one aspect of 

[24] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

the subject and, using this as the theme, would 
have composed a picture, making this one idea 
more prominent than anything else. The pic- 
ture would thus have one definite idea or motive 
and, if the artist's use of the mechanics of sug- 
gestion were successful, the picture would con- 
vey to others the same impressions which the 
artist received when he selected the subject and 
resolved to treat it in this particular manner. 
"Art," as A. J. Anderson tells us in The Artistic 
Side of Photography, "is the expression of a 
theme, and composition is the constructive part 
of expression." 

The architect, on the other hand, might have 
quite different aims and different motives, and 
he would go about the work in an entirely differ- 
ent manner. We will suppose that he is inter- 
ested in the subject simply as an example of 
architecture. This being so, he would be apt to 
put carefully into his sketch all possible detail; 
he would get as exact and as truthful a record as 
he could. Nothing would be emphasized or given 
more prominence than anything else; all would 
be put in quite impartially. 

This is an example of how two men could use 
the same subject in different ways and from dif- 
ferent motives. Each would get what he wanted 
and each would find the subject interesting and 
suggestive. Each would see the same thing, but 

[25] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

differently, and the two pictures probably would 
be quite different, though each might well be 
very interesting and satisfying, and quite exact 
and truthful. 

Similarly, two photographers might photograph 
the same subject with different intentions and 
with a different result in mind; one might want 
to make a pictorial photograph, and the other an 
architectural record. Consequently their meth- 
ods would vary in much the same way as the 
methods of the architect and the painter. In the 
architectural record we should be able to see 
every detail clearly, and the picture would un- 
doubtedly be very interesting and very beautiful. 
The interest and beauty, however, would be due 
to such qualities inherent in the subject; there 
would be no personal interpretation, and no sug- 
gestion of emotions or individual impressions. 
The pictorial photographer would use the subject 
as so much pictorial material. He would analyze 
his impressions and would then try to convey 
these impressions to others. He would pick out 
one aspect of the subject, such as, for instance, 
the play of sunlight on the pillars, and his knowl- 
edge of the principles of pictorial composition 
would lead him to emphasize and bring it out 
clearly. This would be the theme of his picture, 
and the rest of the subject would be just the 
setting for the theme. He would select the point 

[26] 




Fig. 6. THE CAMERA CLUB SECRETARY 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

of view with due regard to emphasis, would pick 
out the best lighting conditions, and would do 
everything possible to make perfectly clear 
what was the main and important feature in his 
representation. His picture would be, not a 
record of a building, but a representation of the 
beauty of ; sunlight on white columns. He would 
make use of the mechanics of suggestion to con- 
vey his impressions to others, and the picture 
would be likely to have a more lasting interest 
and to make a stronger appeal than an archi- 
tectural record, because there would be, in addi- 
tion to the interest of the subject, the added 
interest given by an individual interpretation of 
the impressions of the artist. The picture would 
"convey a mood, rather than impart local infor- 
mation," and this would make it a picture rather 
than a record. 

Composition in picture-making is, to some 
extent, a matter of common sense. In making 
pictures we are dealing with impressions rather 
than with concrete facts. Composition is the 
application of common sense, with a due regard 
for the teachings of experience, to finding the 
best means of making our impressions clear to 
others. Composition, too, is largely a matter of 
instinct; the photographer will often be led to 
yield to an impulse and to arrange his pictorial 
material in a certain way just because he feels 

[27] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

that it is right to do so, although he may 
not always stop to reason it out. This psychic 
quality in the artist is something that is well 
worth heeding, but such an instinct for composi- 
tion will be more to be depended upon if it is 
backed up by a knowledge of the universally 
recognized rules and principles of pictorial com- 
position which will be enumerated, explained and 
illustrated in the following chapters. 

The would-be picture-maker must learn to 
think pictorially; he must try to regard a pic- 
ture as a pattern, as an arrangement of lines and 
shapes, making in themselves a pleasing and 
satisfying design, quite apart from the objects 
represented. The lines will form certain shapes, 
and the shapes will vary in tone; some may be 
light, some dark and some of intermediate shades 
of gray, which we call halftones. He must try 
to disregard the actual subject of the picture to 
some extent. He must think of it as a series of 
shapes and masses of varying tone, from which 
he can select and arrange the material to fill the 
picture space, so that the result will be pleasing 
in design and the space will be adequately filled. 
He must not take it for granted that because he 
is photographing a beautiful view or a handsome 
person his result will necessarily be pictorial. It 
may be, or it may not. That depends entirely 
upon the photographer, because he has the power 

[28] 




Fig. 7. SUMAC LANE, ROCKY NECK 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

to control his results and to make his interpreta- 
tion individual rather than mechanical. If all 
photographic representation were pictorial, nearly 
every photograph would be a picture; for no one 
would deliberately select an ugly object to photo- 
graph if the beauty of the picture depended upon 
the beauty of the objects in it. That this is not 
the case may, I think, be proved by calling to 
mind pictures which are beautiful, although they 
are representations of quite ordinary objects. I 
remember a picture by an English pictorialist, 
which was hung at the London Salon some years 
ago. It was a still-life study, and the objects 
represented were three or four onions on a dish. 
We do not usually think of an onion as a pictu- 
resque object, yet the picture was beautiful because 
the objects were pleasingly represented; the lines 
of the picture were good; the shapes and masses 
of tone were very interesting and made a pleas- 
ing pattern; the picture was well composed, and, 
therefore, it was a good picture, even though it was 
a representation of common and unprized objects. 
I do not by any means wish to imply that 
beautiful objects should be avoided in picture- 
making. Quite the reverse: if the objects repre- 
sented are beautiful, so much the better. I do 
want to make it clear that the success of the 
picture does not depend entirely upon the beauty 
of the subject, but mainly upon the manner in 

[29: 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

which the picture-maker uses his pictorial material. 

A study of Japanese art will show that the 
Japanese often care nothing for truthful repre- 
sentation, but sacrifice everything to composi- 
tion. In many Japanese prints we see represen- 
tations of objects that are like nothing which 
actually exists on earth, above the earth, or in 
the waters under the earth, but we always find 
good lines and interesting masses, and invari- 
ably the design is pleasing and satisfying, and 
well fills the picture space. Years ago Japanese 
art was thought to be grotesque and fanciful. 
People used to smile at it and think it queer, 
but now we realize that the artists knew what 
they were doing, and we accept as sound art 
many of their ideas and methods in pictorial 
representation. 

To repeat, the first thing the picture-maker has 
to do is to learn to think in terms of line, mass 
and tone; he must regard the subject, not as any 
specific object or several objects that he is to 
photograph, but as material with which he is to 
compose his picture so that the lines are decora- 
tive and pleasing and so that the shapes of the 
masses bounded by these lines are interesting in 
form and tone. The very word composition, 
defined as "the act of composing; putting to- 
gether; arranging in proper order," implies that 
the picture-maker must do something besides 

[30] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

setting up his camera and letting it photograph 
just what happens to be before it. 

In portraiture, genre pictures or figure studies, 
and in still-life pictures, flower studies, etc., the 
picture-maker can actually arrange and put to- 
gether the component parts of his picture; he can 
select what he wants and arrange it as he thinks 
best, and therefore the composition is entirely 
under his control. This is constructive composi- 
tion. There is another kind of composition, called 
selective composition, which is applied to such 
pictures as depend for their arrangement upon 
selection both of the subject and of the point of 
view. Landscape pictures and marine studies 
come under the head of selective composition, 
because in such pictures the photographer cannot 
actually arrange his material. He has to take 
what exists, and arrange his lines and masses by 
selecting the proper viewpoint from which good 
composition can be secured. 

When we study composition, we find that there 
are certain facts regarding the lines in a picture 
which we should know; that some lines are re- 
garded as being more satisfactory than others; 
and that we can suggest certain emotions, pleasur- 
able and otherwise, by means of lines. This is 
dealt with fully and practically in a succeeding 
chapter. We also find that we must be careful to 
give the halftones in the picture proper depth of 

[31: 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

tint. What we have to do and how to do it in 
this respect will also be discussed later. We shall 
also find that we can help to make a picture more 
pleasing by having only one main object of in- 
terest. This law of concentration of interest, and 
other equally important laws concerning balance, 
harmony, variety and simplicity, are all quite 
practical and rational means by which we can 
suggest emotions and impressions and in this 
way make our pictures interesting and beautiful. 
They are simply the obvious and common sense 
methods that govern the mechanics of sugges- 
tion. These laws and principles are quite defi- 
nite and should be thoroughly understood, but 
their application in practical picture-making must 
be guided by circumstances. Sometimes the laws 
may be modified and adapted to the occasion, 
but they cannot be entirely disregarded, for it 
will be found, when good taste and critical judg- 
ment have been developed by practical experi- 
ence, that a bad line, a false tone, or a lack of 
balance in a picture will be as noticeable to the 
cultivated eye as a false note or a wrong harmony 
would be to the trained ear of a musician. 



[32] 




Fig. 8. AN AMERICAN BOY 



CHAPTER II 

Spacing Lines, Horizontal, Vertical, Oblique Variety of Line 
The Triangle Curved Lines The S-shaped Curve 
The Unseen Lone Balance Tones The Characteristic 
Quality of Photography Key. 



simplest possible conception of a picture 
JL is an arrangement of lines cutting into a 
rectangular space in such a way as to make it 
interesting. It may be a conventional pattern 
or design, bounded by the edges of the picture- 
space, or it may be a representation of an object 
or a scene in nature. 

When the picture-space, instead of being blank 
and empty, has been cut into areas of varying 
shapes and sizes, our interest is at once aroused, 
and whether the shapes and areas represent 
natural objects or whether they form merely a 
conventional pattern, we have the elements of 
decoration. From this simple beginning we can 
go on to the elaboration of shading with half- 
tones and shadows to give a suggestion of round- 
ness and solidity, or we can use color to suggest 
as well as we can the colors of nature, but the 
fundamental element of picture-making is the 
cutting of the picture-space by lines or edges of 
tones, and this is what is known as "spacing." 

[33] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

In Chapter I, I urged the picture-maker to try 
to think pictorially and to regard a picture as an 
arrangement of masses and shapes, lines, curves 
and angles, rather than as a representation of a 
definite object or scene in nature, and now I 
would recommend the photographer to regard 
the focusing-screen of his camera as a space to 
be divided into a pleasing pattern, rather than 
as a glass on which a reduced fascimile of a scene 
or view or a miniature likeness of a person can 
be seen. The painter regards his canvas as a 
space to be decorated with a harmonious arrange- 
ment of lines and areas which will, in themselves, 
make a pleasing pattern or design; he uses natural 
objects merely as material with which to compose 
his picture, and the photographer should try to 
compose his pictures in the same way. 

If we take a rectangular blank space and cut 
it by a series of lines, we get a pattern which may 
be simple or complex according to the number 
and direction of the lines. On the disposition of 
the lines in a picture, and on the arrangement of 
the masses or areas of tone, depend the success 
of the result. The effective ways of dividing the 
picture-space by lines and masses are probably 
innumerable. The finest effects often present 
themselves as happy surprises. Rules and sug- 
gestions must necessarily be largely in the nature 
of what to avoid. 

[34] 




Fig. 9. - THE FENWAY, BOSTON 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

It will be obvious, I think, that a very regular 
arrangement or pattern will be less interesting 
than one in which the various parts differ in 
size and shape. A rectangular space exactly bi- 
sected by a straight horizontal line is less inter- 
esting than a similar space divided by a horizon- 
tal line above or below the exact centre, making 
two spaces of unequal size. When a vertical line 
is added, cutting the rectangular space in another 
direction, the interest is greatly augmented. 

This cutting of the picture-space into varying 
shapes or areas, some of which may be light and 
some dark in tone, is called spacing. The areas 
of tone are called masses and, whatever the sub- 
ject of the picture may be, its success as a picture 
depends very largely on the effectiveness of the 
spacing and massing. The pictorialist must re- 
member this, and must regard the picture-space 
as an area to be filled by decorative masses, rather 
than as a window or opening through which things 
are seen. The edges or boundaries of the picture- 
space play an important part in the arrangement 
of lines and areas within the boundaries and are, 
therefore, important factors in the disposing of 
forms and masses. 

This aspect of the subject; regarding a picture 
as a pattern or design rather than as a representa- 
tion of an object or objects, explains why an 
artist finds it necessary to select and arrange, 

[35] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

and is not always content to take a fragment of 
nature and transfer it to his picture. A slavish 
imitation of accidental facts is not always good 
art. The artist has to select and arrange in order 
to make the lines and shapes and space relations 
conform to his taste and his appreciation of a 
satisfying pattern. Thus he gets effectiveness 
and pictorial interest, as distinguished from mere 
map work or the scientific exhibition of details. 
In order to be able to select and arrange, we 
must learn to 'see things in terms of lines, shapes 
and masses. Then we can determine from what 
point of view to photograph our subject, if it be 
a scene in nature, so that its lines and masses will 
form fine, or at least agreeable, space divisions. 
The chief difference between drawing or paint- 
ing and photography is that the painter can build 
up his picture as he goes along; he begins with a 
blank space which he desires to fill in a pleasing 
manner. In landscape painting, the artist often 
alters the shape or position of the objects he is 
studying, such as mountains, rivers, or trees, and 
adapts them to suit his purpose. He seldom 
draws them absolutely accurately, or exactly as 
they are; he emphasizes some things and elimi- 
nates others, and his picture contains only those 
elements of the scene or view which he considers 
essential to suggest the impressions he received 
from that particular scene or view. In conveying 

[36] 




Fig. 10. PORTRAIT OF FREDDIE 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

his impressions, the artist makes use of the phy- 
siological and instinctive impressions conveyed by 
the "expression" of lines and the shapes of 
masses, by the modulations of tone, and by the 
pleasing sensations produced by the harmony and 
balance of the different elements of the picture. 

The photographer goes about his work in 
another way; his focusing-screen shows the 
scene complete in every particular, and some- 
times the effect of the picture is lost in the elabo- 
ration of detail. He has to simplify the picture, 
and to arrange and compose his lines and masses 
by a careful selection of the point of view. He 
has to choose carefully the right conditions of 
lighting and atmosphere to give the desired effect. 

The lines in a picture are of great importance 
in giving interest, and the sensations that may 
be conveyed by lines alone are many and varied. 
The lines not only determine the harmony of the 
parts, by fixing the relation of spaces and the 
forms of masses, but, by their direction, give the 
characteristic impressions of repose or agitation, 
gaiety or gloom, peace, grandeur, etc. The sub- 
ject of the picture will not express its sentiment 
truly and adequately unless it is made to do so 
by the language of lines. 

Lines have expression, and by the use of lines 
alone we can suggest impressions. The expres- 
sion of horizontal lines is that of repose and rest- 

[37] ' 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

fulness; the horizontal lines of the calm ocean or 
the long low clouds of a sunset sky are examples 
of this. Long horizontal lines must be used spar- 
ingly and carefully in pictures because such lines, 
with the possible exception of the horizon line of 
the ocean, act as barriers to the vision in going 
into the picture, and thus a level line continuing 
entirely across the picture would tend to sepa- 
rate the parts. Such lines may well be broken 
by vertical or oblique lines. 

A vertical line suggests dignity, strength and 
stability, typifying man, the only animal that 
stands upright. Very long vertical lines suggest 
grandeur and sublimity; the spires of a cathedral 
or tall, majestic pine trees convey such impres- 
sions as these in a picture. 

That vertical lines suggest height and slender- 
ness, while horizontal lines increase the effect of 
breadth, is a fact that is made use of by those who 
design fashions, and it is obvious that a very short 
and stout individual would do well to avoid hori- 
zontal stripes in the clothing. Vertical stripes 
would convey an impression of height and slender- 
ness, and would tend to make a rather short per- 
son look taller. 

Oblique lines suggest action and energy; they 
are lines of motion and lead the eye in the direc- 
tion which they take from the base-line of the 
picture. The lines which would exist in a picture 

C38] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

of a person running, seen from the side, would be 
mostly oblique lines leading the eye in the direc- 
tion in which he is going. Oblique lines can be 
balanced and their energy reduced by the opposi- 
tion of lines inclined the other way. 

That certain lines are more pleasing than others 
is well known, though the reason for this is not 
so commonly recognized. It is partly physio- 
logical, and partly due to the possibility of sug- 
gesting emotions by means of lines. From the 
physiological standpoint, an oblique or a curved 
line is more pleasing than an uninterrupted 
straight line, either horizontal or vertical, simply 
because the eye can follow the course of such a 
line more easily and with less muscular fatigue. 
To follow closely an uninterrupted horizontal or 
vertical line puts undue strain on a part of the 
muscular system of the eye, and the muscles 
used in this way easily become fatigued, whereas, 
in following the course of a curve or an oblique 
line, all the eye-muscles are used and no one 
particular set of them is overworked. 

This explains from an anatomical and practical 
point of view why it should be regarded as a rule 
of composition that curves or oblique lines are 
more desirable in a picture than a single straight 
horizontal or vertical line, and this leads to 
another consideration in composition; variety of 
line. 

[39] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

By means of variety in the lines of a picture, 
the muscular effort in viewing it is rendered less 
fatiguing. The concentrated effort that is needed 
to follow carefully the course of a single horizon- 
tal or vertical line is tiring because only a few of 
the eye-muscles are used, but variety is restful 
because it exercises without tiring the whole 
muscular system of the eye. 

A picture may well contain a number of hori- 
zontal lines or a number of vertical lines, all 
slightly different in length, such as might be 
found in a wood interior or in a picture of shipping 
with a number of vertical masts. This would 
be restful and pleasing, because the eye would 
not concentrate on any one single line, but would 
shift from line to line, noting, perhaps uncon- 
sciously, slight variations in length and direction. 
If in a picture containing a number of vertical 
lines, such as those suggested, there can be intro- 
duced naturally some strongly opposing line, 
horizontal or oblique, the variety thus obtained 
will be physiologically restful and pleasing, and 
will help toward good composition. All this goes 
to show that composition, fundamentally, is 
based on good common sense and is governed by 
distinctly practical laws. 

Variety, then, is a valuable quality in a picture 
and can be secured by introducing opposing lines, 
varying in direction. 

[40] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

One of the most pleasingly varied arrangements 
of straight lines is given by the triangle. Almost 
any triangular formation of lines, with the possi- 
ble exception of a very exact right-angled tri- 
angle, would be a good arrangement in a picture, 
because it would satisfy the physiological craving 
for variety. A very noticeable and exact right 
angle is not good, because it combines the phy- 
siological difficulties of the single horizontal and 
vertical lines. The effort required to turn ab- 
ruptly from the vertical to the horizontal, bring- 
ing into play a different set of eye-muscles, may 
be rather disturbing. A triangle suggests solid- 
ity and firmness; it is a form which embodies 
physical stability. It is also a good space-filler, 
for its outlines tend to suggest other triangular 
shapes in conjunction with the edges of the 
picture. 

This is exemplified in the portrait of Arthur, 
Fig. 3, in which the triangles formed by the 
entire figure, a smaller triangle with the knee as 
the apex, and the secondary triangles formed by 
the outlines of the figure and the edges of the 
picture, can all be readily discerned. 

When two lines form an acute angle it is easy 
to follow them both at once, and the gradual 
approach of the lines near the angle gives early 
notice to the eye of the coming reversal of direc- 
tion. The sharp effort of muscular performance 

[41] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

in reversing the direction conveys an impression 
of energy and action. That is why the spires of 
a cathedral, for instance, or tall, pointed pine 
trees, which form acute angles, are interesting 
and artistically satisfying. 

When the angle formed by oblique lines is ob- 
tuse, the muscular change from one direction to 
the other at the angle is performed slowly and 
easily, not as sharply or as completely as at an 
acute angle, and this gives an impression of easy, 
restful monotony, rather than of energy and 
activity. The valleys between low hills are often 
in the form of obtuse angles, and seem restful 
and peaceful when represented in a picture. 

Such impressions as these, induced merely by 
the direction of the leading lines, are very defi- 
nite, though, often, our sense of them is instinc- 
tive, because we do not stop to reason the matter 
out. Nevertheless the impressions are definite 
enough and important enough for us to make 
practical use of them in composing or selecting 
the subject of the picture. 

We can make one impression counteract 
another, and too many lines in one direction can 
be opposed and balanced by introducing lines in 
another direction. That is why a triangular 
arrangement is usually so satisfactory, because 
we get interest and variety in the lines, and one 
balances another. 

[42] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

In discussing lines, so far, we have referred only 
to straight lines, and have noted the impressions 
conveyed and the emotions suggested by such 
lines varying in direction. When we consider 
curved lines as well, we shall find that the possi- 
bilities are very much increased. A curved line, 
as a rule, will convey an impression of beauty 
more strongly than a straight line; a curve can 
be vastly more satisfying and pleasing than a 
tangent. 

From the purely physiological standpoint a 
curved line is necessarily more soothing and rest- 
ful, because, in following the course of a curved 
line, the different eye-muscles are alternately at 
work and in repose, and, therefore, there is little 
strain or fatigue. 

Probably the most completely satisfying curved 
line is the S-shaped curve which is known as 
Hogarth's "line of beauty." This line, in one of 
its many varieties, is often found in nature, as in 
the sinuous windings of a stream or river or the 
outlines of a mountain range, and it is exempli- 
fied very frequently in the lines of the human 
figure. In Fig. 4 the S-shaped curve starts in 
the extreme lower left corner of the picture and 
is carried up along the edge of the surf and back 
along the top of the rocks to the top right 
corner. In Fig. 5 we can trace this line, begin- 
ning in the left hand top corner, around the head 

C43] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

and face and up again along the hand to the 
flower. A little interest and stimulation to 
the imagination is afforded by a portion of this 
curve being trimmed away at the bottom of the 
picture. The S-shaped line contains the gist of 
balance and the essence of grace. It may be 
compared to a tongue of flame that winds and 
curves and stretches upwards. The S-curve is 
also found in a more angular form, more like the 
letter Z. This, too, is a good line. Both the S 
and the Z are excellent "space fillers"; one is 
the embodiment of grace, the other of energy. 
The introduction of such a line will usually give 
beauty and interest to a picture. A single curve 
alone is often beautiful, but the S-shaped curve 
is still more beautiful because of its variety and 
change in direction. Curved lines must be used 
sparingly, for a picture made up entirely of curves 
would be weak and flabby. Such lines require 
the association of straight lines to develop their 
full beauty. 

So far, in dealing with lines, we have con- 
sidered only actual, structural lines, outlines of 
objects or edges of tones, but there is another 
kind of line which plays an important part in 
picture-making of all kinds. This is the line 
which is not actually expressed, but which is, 
nevertheless, very strongly felt; the line by which 
the eye will instinctively connect prominent ob- 

[44] 




Fig. 11. THE HARLEM RIVER 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

jects, following the shortest route between two 
points, for the eye will always take the shortest 
path. As an example of this powerfully felt, yet 
wholly imaginary, line, we may consider the face 
and hands in the portrait of a person dressed in 
dark clothing, and posed against a dark back- 
ground, so that the face and hands are the only 
light accents in the picture (Fig. 6). We shall 
find that the eye will instinctively and instantly 
connect these three light spots, and we shall 
almost see a line going from one to the other. 
This often gives a suggestion of a triangular line- 
arrangement, and the influence of the unseen line 
may be utilized with advantage in forming a good 
line-arrangement in portraits and figure studies. 

In landscape work such a suggested line may 
frequently be used with good effect. The tops of 
a row of trees may suggest a line. A number of 
boats, small objects or figures in a landscape may 
be so grouped that a line connecting them will be 
pleasing and important in the composition of the 
picture. 

Natural objects, plants, and flowers all exemp- 
lify this suggested line to a marked degree. The 
eye notes at once that a circle will touch the ex- 
tended petals of a sunflower, and that the outer 
points of the compound leaf of the white ash 
would lie on an ellipse. It is the powerful influ- 
ence of these imaginary lines which makes the 

45] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

proper placing of accents so important in pictures. 
Even the smallest objects, such as birds flying in 
the air, or pebbles or rocks on the sea shore, 
might influence the direction of such a line. The 
roofs of distant buildings, the heads of a group of 
people, innumerable apparently unimportant ob- 
jects, must be considered with regard to this 
influence. 

Balance is a word often used in connection with 
pictorial composition, so let us try and find out 
what it means. Balance implies two forces act- 
ing on a fulcrum, and Mr. Henry R. Poore, in 
his well-known book, Pictorial Composition, com- 
pares pictorial balance with the mechanical bal- 
ance of the steelyard, where a heavy load on the 
short arm balances a lighter load on the longer 
arm. This is a perfectly practical and convinc- 
ing mechanical principle. 

Now, if we have the sole object of interest in 
our picture exactly in the centre of the picture- 
space, we get no balance at all. The eye rests 
on this central object and gets no relief, so that 
we soon feel a strain, and experience a desire to 
look away from the picture. If we introduce 
into the picture-space one or more objects of 
subordinate interest, the eye can get relief and 
rest by passing from the main object of interest 
to the secondary objects, and back in various 
directions to the principal interest. 

[46] 




Fig. 12. STARTING OUT 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

The main object of interest should not be in 
the exact centre of the picture-space, because 
that is where we imagine the fulcrum of the 
steelyard balance to be. In accordance with 
the principle stated above, an important object 
near the fulcrum is balanced by a smaller and 
less important object on the longer arm of the 
steelyard, that is to say, farther from the centre, 
and the mechanical balance gives a perfectly sat- 
isfying pictorial balance. An object exactly at 
the centre cannot be balanced by any other 
object at any distance. It must, then, stand alone 
in the exact centre, which is rarely satisfying, or 
else take its proper place at a proper distance to 
effect a balance with its subordinate interests. 

The main object of interest in a picture can be 
made evident by lines leading to it, or by being 
prominent in tone, that is to say, by being dis- 
tinctly lighter or darker in tone than other parts 
of the picture. Sometimes the important object 
in a picture is strongly emphasized by placing a 
light tone and a dark tone close together. In a 
well-composed picture the eye should at once be 
strongly attracted to some spot of predominat- 
ing interest, but should be able to get relaxation 
and relief by passing on to other, less important, 
points. If there is in the picture another object 
or point of equal importance, the balance will be 
destroyed, because there will be competition in- 

[47] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

stead of harmony, and the eye will jump from 
one object to the other in the effort to decide 
which is really the stronger. 

Fig. 7 is an example of balance and emphasis 
obtained by contrast in tones. The boy's white 
waist stands out prominently against the darker 
tone of the water, and it attracts the eye by 
being the only light spot in the picture with the 
exception of the sailboat, which is the secondary 
and balancing object demanded by the mechan- 
ical balance of the steelyard. This small object 
balances the larger and more important object 
very satisfactorily. 

On the principle of the steelyard, only a very 
small and comparatively unimportant object is 
needed, at a distance from the fulcrum, to bal- 
ance a large and important object nearer this 
point. Too many lines and too many objects of 
equal importance in a picture will cause confusion, 
discomfort and eye-strain. Sunlight seen through 
foliage, for instance, making a number of bright 
spots, is irritating and uncomfortable, and is, 
therefore, not conducive to good composition. 
A landscape picture showing two roads or paths 
of equal or nearly equal importance, branching off 
in different directions, would not be a well com- 
posed picture. The usual remedy in such a case 
is to cut the picture in two, giving a road to each 
part. 

[48] 







Fig. 13. PLUM ISLAND 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

Probably the most important consideration in 
dealing with pictures made with a camera is that 
of tones, for photography is preeminently the 
medium by which we can render tones. Every 
means of pictorial representation has its own 
peculiar characteristics, and an artist will use the 
medium best suited to the effect which he wants. 
Oil and water-color painting each have their own 
individual and distinctly different qualities; one 
is rich and oily, the other delicate and luminous. 
A wash drawing has characteristics that differen- 
tiate it from a pencil or charcoal sketch. Each 
different medium is recognized as having some 
special quality. So photography, having a place 
among artistic processes, has its own distinguish- 
ing quality which cannot be duplicated by any 
other medium. To know what this quality is, 
and how it can be controlled, is a necessary part 
of the pictorial photographer's technical training. 

It may help to make clear what has just been 
stated with regard to the characteristics of differ- 
ent mediums by which pictures can be produced, 
if we compare picture-making with music. There 
are many distinctly different musical instruments, 
just as there are many distinctly different methods 
of making pictures. Each instrument has virtues 
and limitations peculiar to itself, and we cannot 
successfully imitate one instrument on another. 
We cannot make a piano sound like a violin, and 

[49] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

similarly we cannot make a charcoal sketch look 
like an oil painting, or a photograph look like a 
pencil drawing. If a photograph looks like some- 
thing else, it is not a good photograph, and the 
artist has not made the most of the virtues of 
photography. Sometimes there may be a super- 
ficial resemblance. For instance, a delicate plati- 
num print or a bromide in a high key, such as 
Will Cadby's child studies, might resemble a 
silver-point or a wash drawing, but it would 
be a wonderfully good wash drawing that could 
imitate the infinitely delicate and subtle tone- 
gradations of photography. To set out delib- 
erately to imitate some other medium is decidedly 
unsatisfactory and futile. That is why I think it 
is a mistake for a photographer to make a print 
in one of the pigment processes, oil, bromoil or 
gum-bichromate, and exercise personal control 
with the idea of making his print look like a 
painting. If he is very clever, he might get an 
exceedingly interesting result, but it would be 
neither one thing nor the other, not a painting, 
for it would lack most of the characteristics ot a 
painting, and not a photograph, for the personal 
control would have destroyed the photographic 
quality. I believe that a gum-print that is allowed 
to develop automatically is capable of showing 
photographic quality, but when the artist at- 
tempts to control the picture by brushing away 

[50] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

highlights and by squirting water over the print, 
he usually destroys the very thing that makes 
the photograph worthy of serious consideration 
as a work of art. When the artist has grasped the 
fact that photography has a distinguishing and 
characteristic quality of its own, and when he 
desires, as an artist should, to utilize this quality 
and make the most of it, I believe he will modify 
his methods in making pigment prints. This is 
an important point and should be understood 
from the beginning. 

It is sometimes thought that the characteristic 
quality of photography is the facility with which 
it can render fine detail with amazing accuracy, 
but this is not strictly true, for the ability to re- 
produce fine detail is the distinguishing quality of 
a fine lens rather than of photography in general. 
A photograph can be made with an unconnected 
lens, or with no lens at all by making an exposure 
through a fine needle-hole in a thin metal disc, 
and the result may be a picture showing the char- 
acteristic virtue of photography, the rendering of 
infinitely delicate gradations of tone. This is 
where photography stands alone, and this is the 
distinguishing quality which has given it a place 
among the fine arts. Therefore an artist who has 
selected photography as the medium in which to 
express his ideas should make the most of this 
quality, and not try to make a poor imitation of 

[51] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

something else. The drawing of fine detail and 
the drawing of infinitely delicate tone gradations 
are not exactly the same, though one depends 
upon the other. The lens could not render fine 
detail if the dry plate were not capable of register- 
ing a long range of tones and delicate gradations. 
Strictly speaking, what we see when we look at 
an object is the light it reflects, rather than the 
object itself. If there were no light we could not 
see the object, though we might perceive it by the 
sense of touch. The lens "sees" things in very 
much the same way as the eye, and the light re- 
flected in varying degrees of intensity is what the 
lens transmits to the sensitive plate or film. What 
we mistake for the ability of the lens to render 
fine detail is the ability of the sensitive emulsion 
on the dry plate or film to differentiate and re- 
produce exceedingly minute variations in the 
strength of the reflected light transmitted to it 
by the lens. The lens draws fine shading rather 
than fine detail, and the sensitive emulsion, pro- 
vided the exposure and development are correct, 
can register fine shading in the negative. So it is 
more correct to say that the characteristic quality 
of photography, the distinguishing virtue which 
differentiates it from all other methods of pictorial 
representation, is its power to draw shading and 
to reproduce infinitely delicate gradations of tone, 
rather than the ability to render fine detail, for 

[52] 




Fig. 11. PORTRAIT OF A. M., JR. 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

this is within the scope of whatever kind of a 
lens is used, whether it is an uncorrected lens or a 
fine anastigmat, and is equally so when the ex- 
posure is made through a needle-hole instead of 
a lens. 

As soon as we accept this as a postulate and 
recognize the fact that a good and characteristic 
photograph is one that shows good tones rather 
than one that shows fine detail, we shall see why 
photography may rightly claim to be classed 
among the fine arts and why it may be regarded 
as a medium of self-expression. It is quite possi- 
ble to have both good tones and fine detail in a 
photograph, and such a photograph may well 
be considered a picture. It is possible also to 
make a photograph showing good tones, but 
with broad masses instead of fine detail, and such 
a photograph might also claim recognition as a 
picture. The drawing of fine detail is a mechani- 
cal quality, governed entirely by the amount of 
time and trouble expended by the optician in 
making the lens, and, as a matter of fact, the 
drawing of fine detail is a quality that the pictorial 
photographer sometimes has no use for. Fre- 
quently this quality in a lens which makes its 
construction very expensive is a nuisance. On 
the other hand, the drawing of shading and tone- 
gradations is a quality which can be controlled by 
the photographer, and whether or not the tones 

[53] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

in his picture are good depends upon his technical 
skill and on his artistic judgment. The artist 
can take some credit to himself for good tones, 
but for fine detail he must give credit to the 
optician who made his lens. Anyone with a little 
practice and a high-grade lens can get fine detail 
in a picture, but it takes an artist and, moreover, 
an artist with considerable technical skill and 
experience to get good tones. There are so many 
chances for error that only an unerring judgment, 
cultivated by long experience, and much tech- 
nical knowledge can overcome the inherent ten- 
dency of the photographic plate or film to render 
tones incorrectly. Errors in exposure and de- 
velopment, or lack of orthochromatism in the 
plate or film, will upset the tones. It is quite 
possible that a photograph might show a lot of 
fine detail, while at the same time the tones might 
be all wrong. 

But, what are tones? What we call tones in a 
picture are the shades of light and dark which 
represent the contrasts of reflected light and the 
color values of the objects photographed. The 
relation of these tones to one another varies 
according to the strength of the light by which 
the objects are illuminated. An outdoor scene 
would vary very much in regard to its contrasts 
of light and dark and its color values, according 
to the strength, direction and quality of the 

[54] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

light. In bright sunlight the contrasts would be 
stronger and the colors brighter than on a dull 
day, and the problem is to reproduce these con- 
trasts of light and shade and these color values 
as varying tones of monochrome, so that they 
will truthfully convey the desired impressions. 
Where light falls on an object and is reflected 
back to the eye, we see a highlight; where it 
strikes at an angle and is reflected back other 
than directly to the eye we see halftones; where 
no direct light falls on the object we have 
shadows: and these highlights, halftones and 
shadows are modified by light reflected into 
them by other objects and by other parts of the 
same object. The lens can see light-contrasts, 
highlights, halftones and shadows in just the 
same way as the eye, but in many subjects there 
is too long a range of tones, too much contrast 
between the lightest and the darkest tones, for 
us to be able to get them all in the picture; and 
when it comes to the reproduction of color values, 
unless proper precautions are taken, the plate or 
film will reproduce them all wrong. There is a 
great deal of difference between the actual tones 
in the subject and an artistically correct and 
pleasing representation of the tones in a picture, 
and we are very much handicapped by the fact 
that a photographic print can give only a com- 
paratively short range of tone gradations. We 

[55] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

can get a far greater range of tones in a negative 
than it is possible to reproduce by any method 
of printing on paper. Anyone who has had any 
experience in printing on developing-out papers 
will have noticed this. If we have a negative 
with a long range of tones and try to print it 
on this medium, we have to sacrifice some of the 
tones; if we print for the highlights, our shadows 
will be black and solid, while if we print for the 
shadows, the highlights will be harsh and lack- 
ing in gradation. Platinum papers have a longer 
range, with carbon tissue coming next, but no 
method of printing yet available will give as long 
a scale as it is possible to secure in a negative on 
a double-coated plate. It is, therefore, necessary 
for the pictorial photographer to recognize this 
fact, and to keep the range of tones in the nega- 
tive within the limits of the printing medium he 
intends to use. 

In a picture on paper we have a certain scale 
or range of tones, the lightest being the paper 
itself and the darkest being the blackest deposit 
of platinum or silver that our paper will give. 
Between these two extremes we have a number 
of varying shades or intermediate tones. In a 
photographic print these intermediate shades 
let us call them halftones are what we use to 
compose the picture, and our scale of halftones 
is limited by the printing process hi just the same 

[56] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

way as the tones and semitones of the composer 
of music are limited by the instrument for 
which he is writing. A piano has seven and a 
half octaves, and, therefore, a composer of music 
for the piano has a greater range of available 
notes than a writer of songs for the human voice. 
It is seldom that a composer uses the entire 
range of tones when composing music for the 
piano, and in writing songs he has to adjust the 
scale of tones to suit the voice. In writing for a 
bass singer he uses low notes, while for a colora- 
tura soprano he avails himself of the singer's 
ability to reach high notes. Songs, like pictures, 
are in different keys. The tones in a picture 
are not arranged in a definite sequence like the 
tones and semitones on a piano. They might 
better be compared to the slur of tones possible 
on a violin. 

Very closely connected with the matter of 
tones is the question of "keys," for the key of a 
picture is determined by the predominant tones. 
If the picture is composed mostly of light tones 
with, possibly, only a small touch of dark to give 
it strength, it is said to be in a high key; If dark 
tones predominate, with or without a light accent, 
it is in a low key. Will Cadby's characteristic 
child studies are usually in a high key. Every- 
thing is light in tone, white dress against a white 
background, with a darker accent in the eyes 

[57] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

and hair. A photograph taken at night which is 
all in dark tones except a lamp or two, would be 
an example of a picture in a low key. It is sel- 
dom that the whole possible range of tones is 
used in a picture, even though in some printing 
mediums the range is limited. Frequently most 
effective pictures can be composed of only a very 
few tones, and usually the artist should be spar- 
ing in the use of the extremes of black and white. 
The darkest shadows should show some detail, 
and there should be gradations in the highlights. 
When we take pictures by moonlight or by arti- 
ficial light we may make our shadows black, solid 
and empty, but shadows in daylight are very 
seldom devoid of all detail. 

While it is true that a photograph cannot re- 
produce the same range of tones as is seen in 
nature, and cannot reproduce light and shade as 
strongly contrasted as in actuality, it is possible 
to reproduce the tones in the same relative propor- 
tion. The actual highlights in the subject must 
be highlights in the picture, and anything that 
is really lower in tone than this actual highlight 
must be lower in tone in the print. Suppose we 
are photographing a landscape in which there is 
a barn painted white, or a whitewashed wall. 
If the sun is shining and there are no clouds in 
the blue sky, the sunlight on the white barn or 
whitewashed wall will make it look a good deal 

58] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

lighter in tone than the blue sky. So, if the sky 
in the picture were white and the barn or wall 
were also white, the tones would be wrongly 
reproduced and the picture would give a wrong 
impression. If we are making a portrait of a 
man wearing a white collar, the lightest portions 
of the subject will be the highlight on the collar 
and possibly the catchlights in the eyes and, if 
they were showing, the highlights on the teeth. 
These are the only parts that could correctly be 
reproduced as white in the photograph. The 
flesh tones, even the highlights on the skin, would 
be lower in tone than the highlights on the glazed 
white collar, so that if any part of the face were 
as light in the picture as the light part of the 
collar, the tones would not be true. 

So, even if our range of tones is shorter and 
we have to compress the tones into a shorter 
scale, we can preserve truth of value only by 
keeping the tones in about the same relative 
proportions. We should make our lightest tone 
light and our darkest tone dark, and then get in 
as many tones as we can in between. 

In Fig. 8 there is "tone" in the face. The 
only parts of this picture that are actually white 
are the light spots in the eyes and the highlights 
on the teeth. The face looks white, that is to 
say, there is no suggestion of any racial color, 
yet, in reality, it is not absolutely white. 

[39 ] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

The question of correct tone-rendering is not 
always a matter of simple contrasts of light and 
shadow. Usually we have to deal also with color 
contrasts, which makes it rather more compli- 
cated. For the present, however, we will ignore 
the question of color, and will take it up later 
when we are dealing with orthochromatic pho- 
tography. 

Practically speaking, the securing of true tones 
in a photograph depends entirely upon the ex- 
posure. Development has very little to do with 
it. Development determines only the key, and, 
by varying the time of development, we are 
enabled to lengthen or shorten a little the range 
of tones, and thus can adapt the negative to the 
printing process we intend to use. The correct- 
ness or incorrectness of the tones depends en- 
tirely upon the exposure. A. J. Anderson says: 
"Expose for the tones that are most desired." 
If light tones predominate in the subject and are 
what we desire to reproduce in our picture, we 
must adjust the exposure to give gradation and 
quality in these light tones. If we want shadows, 
we must expose for shadows. Overexposure will 
tend to block up the highlights and underexposure 
will give empty shadows without detail or grada- 
tion. Correct exposure will give the maximum 
gradation in both highlights and shadows. It is 
here that the artist can control his results and 

[60] 




Fig. 15. PORTRAIT OF L. W. 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

make the medium interpretative of his own per- 
sonality. He alone is responsible for the tones 
in his picture, and in order to render them cor- 
rectly he has to learn, first of all, to see them in 
the subject and then to reproduce them correctly. 
The tones in the subject, especially in the 
most distant planes, are affected to a large extent 
by the atmosphere, which tends to make light 
objects at a distance appear darker and dark 
objects lighter, so much so that under some con- 
ditions a dark object and a light object might 
appear to be of the same tone. This and other 
matters relating to tones will be dealt with more 
fully in the chapter dealing with orthochromatism. 



CHAPTER III 

Mass Notan Breadth Pictorial Balance The Uncor- 
rected Lens for Pictorial Work Accent Figures in 
Landscapes Genre. 

WHEN the surface of the picture-space is 
cut by lines into various shapes and areas, 
this is described as "spacing." The various 
shapes and areas, which may be light or dark in 
tone or of an intermediate shade, are called 
masses. The masses, together with spacing, 
govern, to a great extent, the pattern or design 
of the picture. It is the important masses that 
we see when we look at a picture through half- 
closed eyes, which is often done with the idea of 
eliminating detail, so that we can more clearly 
appreciate the pattern. If the masses are good, 
and form, in themselves, a pleasing and satisfy- 
ing design, we may be sure that the composition, 
as far as masses are concerned, is satisfactory. 

The massing of a picture is what we first notice. 
If it interests us at a first glance, it makes us 
anxious to investigate further and give the pic- 
ture more careful inspection. The masses are 
what attract attention when looking at a picture 
from a distance, too far off to be able to distin- 
guish details or even, perhaps, to make out just 

[62] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

what the subject of the picture may be. It is 
interesting when we go into an exhibition room 
where there are paintings or photographs, to stand 
in the middle of the room, glancing around casu- 
ally at the pictures. Those with strong and inter- 
esting masses will stand out from the rest; they 
will attract attention and create a desire for 
closer study. Good masses will give a favorable 
first impression. 

The desire to attract attention and make the 
picture noticeable, so that it will stand out among 
others, is often shown by making the picture very 
large and by placing it on a large mount, but, as 
a matter of fact, good masses and an attractive 
pattern are not in any way dependent upon size, 
and mere size will not make a picture attractive 
unless the masses are good and are well balanced. 
Even a small picture may be very strong, and 
may stand out among larger ones, if the masses 
are striking and attractive. Fig. 9 is a small 
picture, and a contact platinum print, 3Jx4J, 
is almost insignificant by the side of a 20x24 
gum print, yet such a print proved to be suffi- 
ciently strong to be accepted and hung at the 
London Salon in 1912. The strength of masses 
depends upon their own inherent qualities rather 
than upon their size, and they gain in strength 
and effectiveness by being very simple and by 
forming a simple, yet pleasing, design. 

[63] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

To describe the pattern or decorative aspect 
created by the disposition of the masses of a 
picture, Arthur Dow suggests the word "Notan," 
which is a term used by the Japanese to signify 
an arrangement of light and dark. In his 
book, Composition, Mr. Dow writes: "To attain 
an appreciation of Notan, and the power to 
create it, the following fundamental fact must be 
understood, namely, that a placing together of 
masses of light and dark, synthetically related, 
conveys to the eye an impression of beauty en- 
tirely independent of meaning. For example, 
squares of dark porphyry against squares of light 
marble, checks in printed cloth, and the blotty 
ink sketches by the Venetians, the Dutch and the 
Japanese. When this occurs accidentally in na- 
ture, as in the case of a grove of dark trees against 
a light hillside, or a pile of dark buildings against 
a twilight sky, we at once perceive its beauty, 
and say that the scene is 'picturesque/ This 
quality which makes the natural scene a good 
subject for a picture, is analogous to music. 
Truthful drawing and 'conscientiousness' would 
have nothing to do with an artist's rendering of 
this. This is the kind of 'visual music' which 
the Japanese so love in the rough ink painting of 
their old masters where there is but a mere hint 
of facts." 

Notan determines the pictorial balance of a 

[64: 




Fig. 16. THE EXPLORERS 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

picture, not so much the mechanical steelyard 
balance of objects or accents, as balance in a 
larger aspect, the balance of design. For the 
pattern of a picture, to be agreeable, must be 
well balanced; it must not be topheavy, or too 
large or too small for the space it fills. Whether 
or not the pattern is well balanced can be decided 
only by cultivated good taste and judgment. 
Some of Francis Libby's gum prints are good 
examples of bold and effective massing, and Wil- 
bur H. Porterfield's work shows that he has a 
keen appreciation of notan as well as the decora- 
tive line. The pictures of both these artists are 
simple, strong and attractive. Good examples of 
Japanese art might well be studied for the appre- 
ciation of notan and the skilful placing of 
accents. 

The picture-space should be filled, but need 
not be crowded, and it must be remembered that 
in judging balance, not only the masses of the 
subject, but also the shapes of the area remaining 
after being cut into by the outlines of these 
masses, have a bearing on the general design of 
the picture. 

A mass may be light or dark in tone. Some- 
times the striking masses are in light tones against 
dark. A nude figure or one dressed in white might 
form a light mass against a dark background. In 
the portrait of Freddie, Fig. 10, the child's figure 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

forms a triangular light mass against the dark 
background. 

In order properly to appreciate masses it is 
sometimes necessary to eliminate some of the fine 
detail in the picture, for a very highly corrected 
lens often will give too much detail. In such 
elaboration of detail the pattern of the picture is 
obscured, the bigness and impressiveness of it 
are lost. When we look at a tree, we cannot and 
do not want to distinguish all the leaves in sight 
or take in at a glance the labyrinth of boughs 
and twigs. We would rather have the twigs 
and branches compose into a general character 
of structure and direction, and the foliage into a 
mass or arrangement of masses. 

The best way to subdue detail is by the use of 
a lens that is so constructed that it will not give 
critically sharp definition. It can be done by 
making an enlargement which is just a trifle out 
of focus, by enlarging through bolting-cloth, and 
so on, but the most satisfactory way to get soft 
definition is by the use of a soft-focus lens. The 
proper use of such a lens will not destroy or 
obliterate detail, but will render it in such a way 
that it will take its proper place in the general 
scheme of the picture and not be too insistent. 
With a soft-focus lens properly used, a tree can 
be rendered as a decorative shape or mass instead 
of as a collection of innumerable leaves, twigs 

[66] 



Fig. 17. CRESCENT BEACH, GLOUCESTER 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

and branches; the texture of the bark and foli- 
age (like the textures of clothing, etc., in figure 
studies) can be adequately suggested, and the 
eye will not be distracted from the harmony of 
the picture as a whole by the insistent clamoring 
of fine detail for microscopic examination. This 
massing of fine detail will impart to a picture the 
much desired quality known as "breadth." We 
can have some detail in the masses and still re- 
tain breadth, provided the detail is properly sub- 
dued and does not attract undue attention. 

In advocating the use of the uncorrected lens 
for pictorial work, it must not be understood that 
no other lens is suitable, for, after all, a picture 
is a picture and, no matter what lens has been 
used in its production, the result is what counts. 
It is the arrangement or selection of the subject, 
as well as the disposition of lines, tones and 
masses, which determines the artistic merit, 
rather than the accidental charm of soft and 
pleasing definition. The end in picture-making 
justifies the means, and if the finished result is a 
picture, no one need bother himself as to the 
details of its production. 

I must confess, however, that the uncorrected 
lens is a great help and source of inspiration to 
the pictorialist. The image seen on the focusing- 
screen is so fascinating that there is a keen satis- 
faction in seeing a bit of nature so rendered by 

[67] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

the lens, and a great joy in striving adequately 
to transfer it to the print. With such a lens one 
can better suggest the vibrant quality of sunlight 
and render the transparent luminosity of shadows, 
I think, than by any other means. The lack of 
hard edges and the entire absence of that biting 
hardness of definition that is unavoidable with 
some lenses is just what the picture-maker 
wants. That is, in fact, just what he is striving 
for when he makes his enlargements through 
bolting-cloth, or prints on a paper with a very 
rough surface. Such methods can, at best, be 
regarded only as attempts to make the best of a 
bad job, and if we can get the desired quality in 
the original negative, it is far better. But it 
should be real quality, not merely softness. There 
is no artistic virtue in the mere obtaining of soft, 
hazy and uncertain definition. A picture is not 
necessarily a picture because it is blurred and 
fuzzy, though it may possibly be a good picture 
in spite of it. 

When the original negative is sharp all over 
and is softened by means of bolting-cloth or dif- 
fusion in enlarging, the softening is carried out 
to the same degree all over the picture. Every 
part of the picture is equally diffused: fore- 
ground, middle distance and distance are all the 
same; but with a soft-focus lens, properly used, 
the softening need not be universal. The fore- 

68] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

ground, for instance, may be more sharply fo- 
cused than the distance, and instead of a picture 
soft all over, with everything equally diffused, 
we can have the principal object standing out 
clearly against a subdued but perfectly coherent 
background. 

With a soft-focus lens one can make a picture 
that will "carry" better than one made sharp 
and softened in enlarging, for the picture closes 
up and becomes coherent at a little distance, like 
a good impressionist painting. 

In other respects, too, a lens of this type is 
eminently suitable for pictorial work. Such lenses 
as a rule are very much cheaper than fully cor- 
rected anastigmat lenses of the same focal length 
and speed. We shall see later, in Chapter IV, 
that for pictorial work a long-focus lens is de- 
sirable. Appreciating this fact, the makers of 
pictorial lenses have designed the mounts and 
flanges so that the lenses shall be as compact 
and as light as possible, and yet of sufficiently 
long focal length to assure good drawing and 
perspective. With regard to speed, which is 
commonly supposed to be an advantage possessed 
by the anastigmat alone, the semi-achromatic 
lens is not far behind. The Spencer Port-Land 
lens has an effective aperture of /: 4.5, the Verito 
doublet works at /: 4, the Smith lens (the original 
single lens, now known as the Series 1) usually 

[69] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

works at /: 6 and the Struss Pictorial lens at 
/: 5.5. The new Smith Synthetic lens works with- 
out halos at /: 5. For outdoor work such aper- 
tures are fully adequate for all work likely to be 
undertaken by a photographer who is interested 
primarily in making pictures rather than high- 
speed records. Another factor greatly in favor 
of the uncorrected lens is the tremendous amount 
of control in the quality of the image that is 
possible. Slight variations in focusing and in the 
size of the diaphragm will alter very materially 
the quality of definition. This, combined with 
the great apparent depth of focus of such lenses, 
makes them most satisfactory instruments to use. 
I say apparent depth, because such lenses are 
governed by the same inexorable laws of optics 
as are other lenses. Probably the effect of depth 
is due mainly to the fact that there is no sudden 
and abrupt change from sharpness to out-of- 
focusness, but, really, at times, it is almost un- 
canny. I have a picture taken with my single 
Smith lens at Revere Beach. In the immediate 
foreground is a group of boys playing on the sand. 
These boys are clearly focused, and yet the diving- 
raft and the people on the raft, far out in the 
water, are just as clearly defined as the group in 
the foreground. I have also a surf study, made 
with the Spencer lens, in which there is a vessel 
off on the horizon just as clear as the rocks and 

[70] 




Fig. 18. THE PAINTER 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

surf close at hand. An anastigmat lens, of course, 
will give depth of focus when it is stopped down, 
but the semi-achromatic lens seems to show re- 
markable depth at a comparatively large aperture. 

For portraits and figure studies such lenses are 
almost indispensable. It is possible to secure 
delightful textures, subtle modeling, and round- 
ness with the Smith or the Verito and other 
similar lenses. There is no insistent and irritat- 
ing detail, but just the personality, the character 
and individuality of the subject, with the essen- 
tials emphasized and the unessentials eliminated. 
When a generous exposure is given and the plate 
developed for softness and shadow detail, little 
or no retouching will be necessary on portrait 
negatives; in fact, handwork of any kind, how- 
ever skilful, will be apt to destroy the quality. 

Probably the greatest advantage of all in the 
use of such lenses lies in the fact that with them 
real picture-making can be accomplished, with- 
out any need for handwork or manipulation of 
any kind except purely photographic treatment, 
united to a proper appreciation of the principles 
of pictorial composition. By real picture-making 
I mean making pictures which conform to the 
ideals set up by the leaders of modern pictorial- 
ism, who believe that a space properly filled is 
more of an accomplishment than the exact repro- 
duction of actual facts. 

[71] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

Looking at things from this point of view, it 
does not matter at all what the subject of the 
picture may be, as long as it fills the picture-space 
harmoniously, and makes an agreeable and well- 
balanced pattern. The treatment of the subject 
is considered to be more important than the sub- 
ject itself. The late H. Snowden Ward had just 
such an idea in mind when he defined a picture 
as being "a thing beautifully photographed rather 
than a beautiful thing photographed." Many of 
our latter-day pictorialists consider a picture to 
have attained its purpose when it is nothing more 
than some decorative shapes or lines bounded by 
a mount or frame, some beautifully-shaped marks 
on paper. This viewpoint necessitates the posses- 
sion of unusual ability to select and arrange one's 
material, and calls forth the artist's constructive 
instincts in the creation of something which is 
indicative of his own personality, whereas the 
mechanical reproduction of what exists demands 
merely a certain amount of skill and technique. 

A semi-achromatic lens will help greatly hi 
enabling one to appreciate the design or pattern of 
a subject rather than the bald actuality. With 
it a tree can be rendered as a decorative mass, 
not as a collection of twigs and branches. Vari- 
ous small objects will take their proper places in 
the picture-scheme as spots and accents, light or 
dark, and will not by their fine detail demand ex- 

[72: 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

animation and conjecture as to their identity. 
They will be merely spots and, as such, will help 
the general decorative arrangement of the picture. 
A soft-focus lens is an instrument that needs 
to be studied and experimented with to some 
extent before its full capabilities are discovered, 
and in this study and experiment there is much 
joy for the conscientious artist. Such a lens 
improves on acquaintance; the more one uses 
it, and the more fully one understands it, the 
more one realizes that the maker of it has placed 
at our disposal an ideal instrument for the work 
in hand. Such control, such power of personal 
modification of the quality of the image, have 
never before been accessible in making the origi- 
nal negative. Hitherto one was forced to get the 
original negative more or less as the lens would 
make it, and depend upon subsequent modifica- 
tions for the production of pictorial quality, but 
now one can control the picture from the very 
beginning. I am a firm upholder of and a strong 
believer in the merits of the straight print, not 
that I disapprove of hand work, but because I 
believe that hand work carried too far will tend 
to destroy the very quality that makes photog- 
raphy worthy of being considered a fine art. 
Personal control is a different thing entirely, and 
should be freely used at every stage in the pro- 
duction of a picture, but not the hand work that 

[73] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

consists in altering the tones of a print by brush- 
ing away highlights and gradations, or darkening 
shadows by means of paint or pencil on the print 
itself. Photography, properly controlled, can 
render tones better than any other medium of 
artistic expression, and personal control of ex- 
posure and development will be all that is neces- 
sary to get good tones and truthful gradations, 
for the camera, properly guided and then left to 
do its own job in its own way, will take care of 
the tones of a picture very well. 

In outdoor work, a good way to judge the 
masses of a picture before making the exposure, 
is to rack the lens in or out a good deal, so that 
the image on the focusing screen is entirely blurred 
and out of focus, and all detail is obliterated. 
This will leave only the shapes and forms of the 
masses, which can then be studied purely on 
their merits as a pattern, for it will be almost 
impossible to tell what they represent. If this 
study shows that the notan is interesting, if the 
masses are properly balanced and fill the picture 
space without appearing to be too crowded or 
too meagre, if the pattern or design is agreeable, 
that view may be considered as promising ma- 
terial for a picture. 

Broad, simple masses and long, flowing lines 
are very desirable in pictures, but all pictures do 
not contain large and impressive masses. Some 

[74] 




Fig. 19. WlNGAERSHEEK BEACH 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

may consist of quiet, restful tones, light or dark, 
with only a very small patch or two of contrast- 
ing tone. A small but noticeable patch of con- 
trasting light or dark tone would more correctly 
be described as an accent than as a mass, and it 
will be found that, as a rule, an accent is needed 
to prevent a picture from becoming monotonous 
and uninteresting. 

In another chapter we refer to the desirability 
of keeping the tones in a picture quiet and simple, 
and of avoiding too great contrast of light and 
dark or too long a range of tones, but if this is 
carried to extremes the result may be weakness 
and monotony. If a picture is composed of only 
a few tones, a definite accent is usually needed to 
pull them together and make the picture interest- 
ing. If the prevailing tones are dark, the accent 
may well be light, while if light tones predomi- 
nate in the picture, a dark accent will be needed. 
As examples of accent, light and dark, we may 
refer to The Harlem River (Fig. 11), in which a 
light accent is seen in the puff of steam against 
the low tones of the sky, and to Starting Out (Fig. 
12), in which we see a dark accent in the hull of 
the sailboat. Without such accents the pictures 
would be dull, lifeless, and lacking in interest. 
Very often the accent is used to emphasize the 
main object of interest in the picture. Some- 
times the main object itself may present suf- 

[75] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

ficient contrast to make it stand out promi- 
nently from its surroundings, as is the case in 
Plum Island (Fig. 13), where the child, the main 
object of interest, is the only dark accent in the 
picture. 

When the accent itself forms the principal ob- 
ject of interest in the picture, as is the case in 
Fig. 11 and Fig. 13, its position in the picture- 
space must be carefully considered. It will be 
found, as a general rule, that a point about one- 
third of the width of the picture-space from the 
top or bottom of the picture, and about one-third 
from one side, will be a strong position for such 
an accent. These points may be found by imagin- 
ing that your picture-space is divided both ver- 
tically and horizontally into three equal strips by 
lines that will cross each other at four points. 
Each of these four intersection points will be a 
strong position, and an accent at any one of these 
points will be well placed in the picture-space. 
It will not matter at all what the shape of the 
picture may be, whether it be an upright or a 
horizontal rectangle, or a square, these four 
points, each of them one-third of the width of 
the picture-space from top or bottom and one 
side, will be strong points. So, in trimming the 
print, or in arranging the picture on the focus- 
ing-screen, it is a good plan to get any promi- 
nent accents as near one of these strong points 

[76] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

as possible. Many landscape workers have the 
ground glass of the focusing-screen ruled with 
pencil lines, as in the diagram, and this is a very 



good idea. If it is not possible to get the accent 
in the right place in the original negative, its 
position can often be modified by proper trim- 
ming of the enlargement or the print. 

Sometimes a portrait in which there is a com- 
paratively short range of tones needs an accent 
to pull the tones together and make them look 
right. In Fig. 14, the black necktie is needed to 
prevent the flesh tones from looking too flat and 
weak. Without this dark accent the face would 
look too dark in tone, by reason of the contrast 

[77] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

with the light background. Cover up the neck- 
tie, and you will see how much the touch of black 
improves the picture. The same effect is seen in 
Fig. 15, in which the light accent of the white 
collar helps to keep the tones of the face in their 
right relation, and prevents the contrast with 
the dark background making the face look too 
white. A similar use of such an accent may be 
observed in The Fair-haired Boy (Fig. 24), and 
in other illustrations. 

In a landscape picture, a small figure care- 
fully placed in the picture space may often serve 
as an accent. This is just what has been done 
in Plum Island. The child in this picture is not 
merely an accent of contrasting tone; it is the 
main object of interest in the picture, and gives 
it the needed touch of human interest. 

Whether figures shall or shall not be included 
in a landscape or a marine picture depends en- 
tirely upon whether they are needed to carry out 
the idea. If they help the picture to tell the re- 
quired story, they should be put in, and their 
size and importance should be regulated by the 
importance of the part they play in the composi- 
tion. Mere size does not always determine the 
importance of figures in a landscape. They may 
be quite small, and yet acquire considerable im- 
portance by reason of their placing in the picture- 
space and their contrast in tone. 




Fig. 20. AT THE CLOSE OF A STORMY DAY 



c f r f e c r ^r c rrt- r 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

The arguments in favor of including figures in 
landscape pictures are these: they increase the 
range of emotions that may be expressed in the 
picture; they help to accentuate the important 
features; they often provide the vertical or diago- 
nal line that is needed to balance horizontals in 
the landscape; a figure is sometimes helpful in 
suggesting scale; and unusual height of build- 
ings or trees may be indicated by the compari- 
son with figures. In genre pictures figures are 
nearly always needed to tell the story. Against 
the use of figures are the facts that they are some- 
times difficult to harmonize with a landscape as 
regards form and pose, expression and costume, 
and that many emotional qualities such as wild- 
ness, ruggedness or desolation are lost in their 
presence without the most careful treatment. 
The artist must decide for himself whether the 
landscape or the figures can be made the more 
interesting. 

The laws of principality and unity, harmony 
and balance, must always be observed. The pic- 
ture should tell one story, and only one. So, in 
every case, we must decide whether figures are 
needed or not. If we decide that figures are 
needed; if we decide that the figures are more 
interesting than the landscape and that they are 
to form the main object of interest in the picture, 
we must try to make the landscape subordinate 

[79] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

to the figures, so that it will serve merely as a 
setting and a support for them. A painter, by 
the skilful use of color, can make idyllic pictures 
in which a figure or a group of figures is not 
the dominant thing in the picture, but for a 
photographer this is more difficult. When there 
is only one figure and it is intended to be the 
dominant item, it should be placed in the picture 
space in accordance with the general laws of com- 
position. When there are two or more figures, 
one must dominate the others, or they must be 
grouped together so that the interest will not be 
scattered. They may well be engaged in some 
common occupation which will provide a reason 
for the grouping. 

If the idea of the picture is romantic, in the 
sense that it is a picture that tells a story, figures 
may be needed, but a safe rule is to omit figures 
when there is any doubt as to whether they add 
to the picture or not. There may, of course, be 
figures in a landscape that are merely quite unim- 
portant accessories; they may help to develop 
the landscape and not detract from its importance. 
On the other hand, if the figures tell the story, 
the landscape must be subordinated as much as 
possible. In The Explorers (Fig. 16) the story 
is told by the figures, while the landscape merely 
provides an appropriate setting, but in Crescent 
Beach (Fig. 17), the little figures in the foreground 

[80] 




Fig. 21. A HOME PORTRAIT 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

are entirely subordinate, yet add a touch of 
human interest. 

The subject of figures in landscape pictures 
naturally leads to the consideration of genre 
work, for when the figures are the important part 
of the picture and the landscape is subordinated 
to them, the picture comes into the class of genre 
rather than landscape. Genre subjects often pro- 
vide good material for the photographer, and this 
is a branch of artistic work that can be handled 
very adequately by the camera. Such pictures 
come under two general heads: some are planned 
and arranged by the photographer, and some, 
occurring naturally, are seen and seized upon 
by the photographer without any preliminary 
arrangement on his part. In other words, the 
composition may be either constructive or selec- 
tive. In building up such pictures, the impor- 
tant principles of art should always be observed. 
Unity, balance, simplicity and harmony must all 
be considered. 

A genre picture, as distinguished from a por- 
trait group, should emphasize the occupation of 
the persons rather than the persons themselves, 
and, therefore, it is often permissible that some 
of the figures may be turned away from the 
camera, either entirely or partly, if arrangement 
and idea are thus best served. In The Painter 
(Fig. 18) all the figures are turning their backs, 

[si: 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

and in The Explorers, none of the boys are ren- 
dered in such a way as to show the features clearly, 
but in both cases the story is told clearly and 
that is the main requirement. Both these ex- 
amples were obtained by seizing the opportunity 
as it occurred and making the exposure without 
any preliminary posing or arrangement of the 
figures. In fact, I do not think, in either case, 
the people shown in the pictures were aware that 
they were being photographed. I think that this 
is the best way to secure the naturalness and lack 
of self-consciousness that are so important hi such 
pictures. 

In building up genre pictures with models who 
are fully aware that a picture is being made, the 
main difficulty is to avoid showing evidence of 
conscious posing. The difference in the use of 
the model by the painter and the photographer is 
at this point made manifest. To the one he 
appears as a suggestion, to the other he is the 
fact. The photographer must, therefore, be en- 
dowed with such distinguished gifts or conver- 
sant with such clever devices as will make the 
model forget himself. This can be done and often 
has been done with entire success by photograph- 
ers. Perhaps the best examples I can refer to 
are the supremely perfect photographs of posed 
models by Guido Rey of Turin, each in its way a 
little masterpiece of composition and arrange- 

[82] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

ment, and without a flaw technically. But it 
seems to me that the photographer would do 
better to avail himself of the peculiar facility 
offered by photography for making the picture 
almost instantaneously when the figures are 
either totally unaware of what is being done or 
are not making any conscious effort to adopt a 
preconceived pose. 



[83] 



CHAPTER IV 

Linear Perspective Focal Length of the Lens with Relation to 
the Point of View Aerial Perspective The Effect of 
Atmosphere on the Tones of a Picture Theory and Prac- 
tice of Orthochromatic Photography When to Use a 
Color Plate Full Correction Sometimes Unnecessary. 

T)ERSPECTIVE is a science of which the 
iL picture-maker should know something, for, 
though it is usually taken for granted that the 
lens will, automatically, render linear perspec- 
tive correctly, it is often the case that correct and 
scientifically accurate perspective is not the most 
pleasing from the artistic point of view. It is 
quite true that the lens will, if it is properly 
manipulated, draw objects in correct perspective, 
but if this correct perspective looks wrong it will 
not be at all satisfactory to the artist. 

The apparent truth of the perspective given 
by the lens is governed entirely by the point of 
view from which the picture is taken. If we are 
using a short-focus lens and get very close to our 
subject, in order to make it large enough properly 
to fill the picture space, we shall be apt to get 
violent perspective or what an artist would call 
"bad drawing." The perspective is not wrong. 
According to the laws of optics, it may be abso- 

[84] 




Fig. 22. A SUMMER CAMPER 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

lutely correct, but it is not pleasing or natural, 
for the eye does not naturally see at once as wide 
an angle of view as can be included by a short- 
focus lens. The eye is, practically, a long-focus 
lens. It covers only a comparatively narrow 
angle, and in order to see as much as can be in- 
cluded in a picture made with a short-focus lens 
we have to move the eyes a little and look at the 
various objects in succession. 

For purely decorative or pictorial photogra- 
phy, a lens of comparatively long focus should 
usually be selected, because such a lens will pro- 
duce an image that more closely approximates 
what is seen by the eye. The use of a long-focus 
lens will also obviate the necessity for getting too 
close to the subject and thus obtaining violent 
and unpleasant perspective. Distortion and exag- 
geration are not the result of using a short-focus 
lens, but of selecting a wrong viewpoint. 

The focal length of the lens determines the size 
of the objects photographed. A short-focus lens 
will show everything smaller and will include 
more of the surrounding objects than a lens of 
longer focus used at the same viewpoint. The 
size depends upon the distance between the lens 
and the objects photographed. Suppose we are 
making a portrait, and are using a nine-inch lens 
and a 5 x 7 plate; if the camera is about ten feet 
from the sitter we shall find that the figure is 

[85] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

quite small in the picture. A full-length average 
standing figure would be only about four or five 
inches high and the head, of course, would be 
quite small, only about half an inch or so in 
diameter. If we want to make the head larger, 
so that it will nearly fill the plate, there will be 
two courses open to us. We can either move the 
camera nearer the subject, or we can use a lens 
of longer focus from the same viewpoint. 

Unfortunately, the first is what is usually done, 
with the result that we get unsatisfactory per- 
spective, not because we are using a short-focus 
lens, but because we have selected too near a 
viewpoint. The lens is not at fault; the bad 
drawing is caused simply by its being too near. 
This is true not only of portraits but of all kinds 
of pictures, but it is more noticeable in por- 
traits because a much foreshortened hand, arm 
or shoulder usually is very prominent. Suppose 
we are photographing a landscape, such as a tree 
with some hills in the background. With a ten- 
inch lens on a 4 x 5 plate we can get a very satis- 
factory arrangement, with the tree in the fore- 
ground of the proper size, and the distant hills 
about as large as they ought to be. Now, sup- 
pose we substitute a five-inch lens for the ten- 
inch lens, and photograph the same view from 
the same standpoint. We shall get just the same 
relative proportions in the size of the tree and 

[86] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

the distant hills, but both will be smaller, only 
half as large as in the picture made with the ten- 
inch lens, and more of the surrounding country 
will be included on the plate. But we want the 
tree to be large enough to show up well in the 
picture, so we proceed to move the camera closer 
to the tree, until we can get it about the same size 
on the focusing screen as it was in the picture 
made with the ten-inch lens. The tree may now 
be all right, but what about the distant hills? 
They will be very small and the whole distance 
will appear to be dwarfed and insignhicant, so 
that anyone who knows the locality will see that 
they appear to be only about half their proper 
height, while the foreground and middle distance 
will seem too large and flat. 

This effect is caused by the wrong viewpoint 
having been selected. If we were to enlarge the 
portion of the negative made with the five-inch 
lens from the same viewpoint as the ten-inch 
picture, and to make the tree just the same size 
as it was in the ten-inch picture, everything else 
would be just the same size, and the two pictures 

the direct print from the ten-inch picture and 
the enlargement of part of the five-inch picture 

would be exactly alike. 

So, when using a short-focus lens (and, for pic- 
torial purposes, anything less than nine or ten 
inches for a 4 x 5 plate would be considered short) 

87] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

we must be satisfied to take our pictures small and 
subsequently enlarge only the part we want. 

It must be understood, and perhaps it is un- 
necessary to mention, that the characterization 
of the focal length is relative to the size of the 
plate for which it is used. A 10-inch lens when 
used for a 4 x 5 plate would be considered a long- 
focus lens, but the same lens if used for an 8 x 10 
plate would be a short-focus lens. So, if we trim 
a 4 x 5 print until we have a little picture measur- 
ing only, say, an inch by an inch and a half, and 
if we had used a five-inch lens to make this 
picture, we could consider it a long-focus lens, 
because for a plate that size it would be, rela- 
tively, a long-focus lens. 

Sometimes it is roughly estimated that the sum 
of the length and breadth of the plate is about 
right for the focal length of the lens. That would 
give twelve inches for a 5 x 7 plate, nine inches 
for a 4 x 5, and so on. In any case a lens with a 
focal length measuring less than the diagonal of 
the plate is not advisable for picture-making ex- 
cept for specific purposes. The diagonal of a 
4 x 5 is 6.4 inches, of a 5 x 7, 8.6 inches, and of 
a 6J x 8, 10.7 inches. 

The amount of view that can easily be seen 
without moving the eyes or turning the head 
includes about 25, whereas the angle of view 
included by a five-inch lens on a 4x5 plate is 

[88] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

about 65. A fourteen-inch lens used on a 4 x 5 
plate would include just about the same angle 
of view as is seen by the eye, but a nine- or ten- 
inch lens, for a plate of this size, gives quite 
agreeable perspective. Sometimes, in architectural 
work, a short-focus lens, or, as it is sometimes 
called, a wide-angle lens, has to be used in order 
to include enough of the subject when it is not 
possible to select a sufficiently distant viewpoint 
to get it all in with a long-focus lens. Hence we 
get rather abrupt and not the most pleasing per- 
spective. So, if you want large pictures, as when 
you want to photograph a head and shoulders on 
a comparatively large scale, you must use a long- 
focus lens or enlarge a small image, rather than 
get the size by going too close to the subject. 
As a general rule, it is advisable never to place 
the camera nearer than seven or eight feet when 
photographing a person. At seven feet, to make 
a head four inches high a lens of twenty inches' 
focal length will be needed. 

Those who possess a symmetrical rapid recti- 
linear lens might try the effect of using only a 
single component of the lens, either the front or 
the back combination. This will give a single lens 
of about twice the focal length of the combined 
lenses, which will be found to give sufficiently 
good definition for portraits and for landscapes. 

For outdoor work, landscape and marine pic- 

[89] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

tures, a long-focus lens is usually more satisfac- 
tory, because with it we can more easily isolate 
and emphasize the principal object of interest, 
and make it large enough without having to get 
too close. Of course, no very definite rules can 
be given with regard to this, for each worker 
must be guided by circumstances. I might per- 
haps state that most of my own outdoor pictures 
are made with an eleven-inch lens (a Smith single, 
semi-achromatic) which I use on a 4x5 Reflex 
camera. The focal length of the lens and the 
type used must be determined by individual cir- 
cumstances, depending upon the size and type 
of the camera and other details. Sometimes one 
of comparatively short focal length must be used 
in order to include all of the subject required, but 
when there is any choice, the longest possible 
focal length should be selected, so that a more 
distant viewpoint can be taken, with the corre- 
sponding advantage of more natural and more 
agreeable perspective. 

If the pictorial worker will bear in mind the 
fact that the viewpoint rather than the focal 
length of the lens determines the perspective of 
the picture, he will prefer to get his original image 
small and get the required size by enlarging from 
part of the negative, rather than to get the image 
larger by getting too close. 

This is about all a pictorial worker really needs 
[90] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

to know about linear perspective, but there is 
another kind of perspective that is of great im- 
portance in picture-making. This is known as 
aerial perspective, and this kind of perspective 
imparts "atmosphere" and depth to a picture, 
and gives a suggestion of space and distance in 
an outdoor view. It suggests atmosphere in a 
picture because it is caused by the presence of 
invisible particles of dust and moisture in the 
air. By means of aerial perspective we can make 
distant parts of the scene seem remote, and can 
get a satisfactory separation of planes. 

As the different objects in a landscape recede 
farther and farther from the eye, they lose their 
intensity of color and their contrasts become 
softened. This is caused by atmosphere. 

Atmosphere must not be confused with mist 
or fog, for on days on which there is no mist there 
is still atmosphere, and this the particles of 
dust and moisture alters both the contrasts 
and the local colorings of distant objects. 

In Leonardo da Vinci's Note Book we find this: 
"Objects being at a distance from the eye . . . 
and when this is the case there must of necessity 
be a considerable quantity of atmosphere between 
the eye and the object, and this atmosphere inter- 
feres with the distinctness of the form of the 
objects and consequently the minute details of 
these bodies become indistinguishable and un- 

[91] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

recognisable." Again we find: " Shadows become 
lost in the far distance, because the vast expanse 
of luminous atmosphere that lies between the eye 
and the objects . . . etc." 

Let us suppose that there are a white house 
and a dark oak tree far off in the distance. The 
"vast expanse of luminous atmosphere that lies 
between the eye and the objects" might reduce 
the white house and the dark tree to the same 
shade of gray, for the tree, seen through the vast 
expanse of atmosphere, would look gray instead 
of black, and the brilliant rays of light reflected 
from the white house, in passing through the 
atmosphere, lose so much of their brilliancy that 
the house appears to be gray instead of white. 

There are occasionally days in the summer 
when the atmosphere is very clear and dry, when 
there is presumably very little moisture in the 
air, and on those days the distance is unusually 
clear, distinct and dark in tone. I have seen 
such days in New Hampshire, toward the end of 
summer, when the hills across Lake Winnepe- 
saukee look almost black, and one can almost 
distinguish individual trees and houses many 
miles away. A photograph made on such a day 
would be entirely lacking in atmosphere. The 
distance and middle distance would be just as 
dark, and would appear to be just as close as 
the foreground, and only the diminished size 

C92] 




Fig. 23. PORTRAIT OF A PAINTER 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

of objects in the distant planes would suggest 
perspective. The effect would be much the same 
as is seen in photographs that are underexposed. 
There would be no separation of planes, and the 
whole scene would look flat, like the conventional 
design on a willow-pattern plate. 

It is often stated and commonly believed that 
the use of an orthochromatic plate and a deep 
color-filter will cut out atmosphere, but this is 
not strictly true. The orthochromatic rendering 
simply does not exaggerate the atmosphere, but 
the ordinary plate with no color-screen, being 
very readily affected by the blue, violet and 
ultra-violet rays in the atmosphere, really exag- 
gerates and increases a little the appearance of 
atmosphere in the picture, while the orthochro- 
matic plate with the color filter represents it 
more as it really is. On days, therefore, when 
there is already a good deal of visible atmosphere, 
it might be better to employ orthochromatic 
methods, unless even more mist and fog were 
wanted in the picture. 

The problem of adequately rendering the con- 
trasts of light and shade in a photograph is a 
difficult one, but when we add to it the compli- 
cations of color contrasts we increase the diffi- 
culty. Some years ago it was thought to be 
inevitable that certain colors would photograph 
too dark and others too light. This was regarded 

[93] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

as an unavoidable limitation of photography, but 
scientists have been investigating and working on 
that problem and now, by using a panchromatic 
plate and a properly adjusted ray-filter, we can 
render colors according to their true visual in- 
tensity. This is very desirable in many branches 
of photographic work. White light, as we know, 
is made up of all the colors of the spectrum, those 
that we can see being red, orange, yellow, green, 
blue and violet. There are also invisible rays 
at both ends of the spectrum, the infra-red and 
the ultra-violet. An ordinary photographic plate 
or film is abnormally sensitive to the light rays 
at the violet end of the spectrum and is strongly 
affected by the ultra-violet rays, which are in- 
visible though they are present in sunlight, but it 
is practically insensitive to red and to the colors 
at the red end of the spectrum. Therefore, 
an ordinary plate sees red as black and is 
affected only very little by orange and yellow, 
so that those colors appear very dark while, 
on the other hand, being so sensitive to blue 
and violet, these colors are made to appear too 
light. That is why we can use a red light in the 
darkroom, as the plate is affected, practically, not 
at all by red light. 

"Through the thick corn the scarlet poppies peep 
And 'round green roots and yellowing stalks I see 
Pale blue convolvulus in tendrils creep: 

[94] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

And air-swept lindens yield 

Their scent, and rustle down their perfumed showers 
Of bloom on the bent grass where I am laid, 
And bower me from the August sun with shade; 
And the eye travels down to Oxford's towers." 



There is much color in nature, and unless the 
colors can be properly rendered in a photograph 
the tones and values will be incorrect. With a 
plate that sees blue as white and red as black 
and other colors more or less incorrectly, how 
could we picture scarlet poppies, the greens and 
yellows in roots and stalks, and pale blue con- 
volvulus? 

* Yellow is often a very bright color; its visual 
intensity is very high, but its actinic value is 
low. Blue may be a dark blue, of low visual in- 
tensity, but it would be very actinic. When 
colors are mixed, when we have brown, green, 
purple and so on in a landscape, it is hard to tell 
just what is going to happen. 

If things worked out strictly according to 
theory; if, in an ordinary outdoor scene, the 
colors were pure colors; if a red object reflected 
only red light, a green object only green light and 
so on, it would be quite impossible to photograph 
such a scene with an ordinary plate and get the 
colors so that they would look right. An ordi- 
nary plate is blind to yellowish green, orange and 
red, and, therefore, according to theory, it would 

[95] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

be impossible for an ordinary plate to photograph 
grass or flowers except those that were blue or 
white, but, as a matter of fact, practically all 
objects reflect more or less white light as well as 
their predominant color, and when they are 
objects like grass and leaves which have com- 
paratively shiny surfaces, they probably reflect 
an immense amount of white light and blue light 
from the sky. More especially is this the case 
when they are wet. Then, too, just because an 
object looks yellow or red or green, it does not 
necessarily follow that it absorbs all the blue and 
violet light-waves. Some time ago I made a 
darkroom lamp, using a piece of ruby glass and 
a piece of orange glass. The ruby glass looked 
red and the orange glass looked orange, but the 
two together were able to pass enough white light 
to fog plates and films with great ease and rapid- 
ity. And do we, for pictorial purposes, always 
desire to reproduce colors absolutely correctly? 
We want them to look right; we want the shades 
of tone to suggest the original colors; but do we 
always want absolute and scientific accuracy? 

The ordinary plate, as we know, renders colors 
incorrectly. Blue comes out too light, and yellow, 
green and red too dark. A panchromatic plate 
exposed correctly through a perfectly balanced 
and accurately matched color-screen will render 
every color and every shade of color with abso- 

[96] 




Fig. 24. THE FAIR-HAIRED BOY 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

lute accuracy. Yet with proper exposure and 
soft development, which will prevent the sky 
from becoming too dense in the negative, the 
ordinary plate will often give a far more pleasing 
and more restful picture; the sky will be simple 
in tone and we will get the full effect of haze, 
mist and atmosphere to soften and simplify the 
distant planes. We shall get detail mostly in 
the grays and bluish greens, while the rest will 
be simplified. Full correction is rarely needed 
in pictorial photography. The simplification of 
the picture and the elimination of unessential 
details are more easily accomplished by the 
thoughtful and rational use of just so much color 
correction as is needed for the special subject. 

For all practical purposes I believe that an 
orthochromatic plate, used sometimes with a 
screen and sometimes without, will enable a 
photographer to exercise some control over his 
results, for he can use the screen or not accord- 
ing to the effect he wants to get and the tones he 
wants to emphasize. Personally I have seldom 
used a ray-filter that multiplies the exposure 
more than four times for outdoor work. When 
used without a ray-filter, any first-class, rapid, 
orthochromatic plate will do everything that an 
ordinary plate can accomplish, and, with a ray- 
filter, it is capable of much of a most desirable 
type of work that is quite beyond the possibili- 

[97] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

ties of ordinary photography. The orthochro- 
matic plate, being blind to red, can be safely 
developed by a good red light, whereas a pan- 
chromatic 'plate has to be developed in the 
dark. 

Without a screen an orthochromatic plate is 
very similar to an ordinary plate, except that it 
is more sensitive to yellow and green. It is still 
abnormally sensitive to blue, violet and ultra- 
violet, just like the ordinary plate, and there is 
practically very little difference between a good 
ordinary plate and an orthochromatic plate used 
without a ray-filter, but as soon as we use even 
a pale color-screen and begin to cut down the 
intensity of the blue and violet, we notice a dif- 
ference at once. The screen allows the greens, 
yellows and reds to pass through unchecked, while 
it stops the ultra-violet and reduces the intensity 
of the blue and violet rays. The cutting out of 
the ultra-violet and the checking of the violet 
and blue allow of a longer exposure being given, 
and this extra time gives the greens, yellows and 
browns a chance to catch up and get themselves 
more strongly impressed on the plate. There 
are times when we can produce a picture that is 
pleasing and not obviously untruthful by using 
an unscreened plate, and again there are times 
when the violet and ultra-violet rays are too 
strong, or when the delicate tints of the landscape 

[98] 



Fig. 25. CHABLIE 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

are so beautiful that it would be a serious error 
not to translate them as accurately as possible, 
and then the screen should be brought into play. 
A panchromatic plate, absolutely corrected, is 
seldom necessary for pictorial work unless the 
subject depends for its truth and effectiveness 
upon the correct rendering of red (scarlet poppies, 
yellow stalks and blue convolvulus, for instance). 
For all ordinary purposes an orthochromatic 
plate used intelligently, with or without a screen, 
as occasion demands, will give such negatives as 
the pictorialist can best make use of. 

It must not be thought that there is any desire 
on my part to depreciate orthochromatic methods 
or to advise against taking advantage of the un- 
doubted benefits to be derived from the proper 
use of orthochromatic plates and ray-filters. For 
certain kinds of photographic work they are in- 
dispensable; for copying paintings and all colored 
objects, and for commercial photography of many 
kinds, a panchromatic plate and a properly ad- 
justed ray-filter are absolutely necessary for the 
best results, but we are dealing in these chapters 
with the purely pictorial and artistic aspect of 
photography, and the artist who knows when 
and how to use a screen, and who knows also 
when and how to obtain certain desired results 
without a screen, is the skilled craftsman, whereas 
the man who works by one fixed plan, whether 

[99] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

he adopts orthochromatic methods or whether he 
refuses to do so, is working mechanically. 

It needs some experience to decide just when 
and under what conditions a screen is needed and 
when it would be better not to use it, for there 
are times when a more pleasing, a simpler and 
more interesting picture can be made with an 
unscreened plate. Of course, when Nature hap- 
pens to be just right (and that does happen quite 
frequently, in spite of Whistler's assertion that 
"Nature is very rarely right") he who tries to 
improve upon panchromatic methods plus a 
screen is making a mistake. Very frequently, 
however, the desired effect can be better secured 
without a screen; the dreary stillness of a gray 
day can be emphasized, or the mystery and charm 
of gleams of sunlight breaking through an early 
morning mist with a hazy and atmospheric dis- 
tance can be enhanced. When working in a big 
city we frequently need to soften and subdue an 
uninteresting and prosaic background, and often 
we can do it by using an unscreened plate that 
will tend to increase any fog, haze or smoke that 
may be present, whereas if we used an ortho- 
chromatic plate or a panchromatic plate with a 
screen all the commonplace and uninteresting de- 
tails in the background would be brought out 
distinctly. 

Another reason why I think full correction of 

[100] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

color values is often unnecessary is because as 
was mentioned in Chapter I the camera is 
essentially a "copying machine," and our aim 
in pictorial work is to interpret nature rather 
than to reproduce things exactly as they are. 
When a panchromatic plate is used with a cor- 
rectly adjusted filter, the efficiency of the camera 
as a copying machine is much increased. The 
camera can then reproduce not only the correct 
light and shade contrasts, but also correct color 
contrasts. 

Full color-correction demands approximately 
correct exposure and development of the plate, 
for the more nearly correct is the exposure, the 
more truthfully will the color contrasts be re- 
produced in the negative, so, by reason of the 
necessity for scientific accuracy, we lose the 
possibility of varying the effect by varying the 
exposure and development. We cannot play 
with the tones as we can with an unscreened 
plate; we cannot expose for the tones that are 
most desired, and modify the scale of tones in, the 
picture by giving a full exposure arid: .^topping .. 
development when the tones are wjiarfc* w *want. 
With a panchromatic plate and a*jy^,:thpjc6rr;.*; ; J J ; \ 
rect normal exposure must be given, and* tne 
plate must be developed to the proper normal 
density, otherwise the tones and color contrasts 
will be wrong. The operation is purely scientific 

[101] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

and mechanical; there is no opportunity for per- 
sonal control, nor is any modification possible or 
desirable. So, when conditions are such that the 
artist can get the effect he desires by copying 
nature, and by reproducing as accurately as 
possible the color contrasts in the subject, he 
should use an orthochromatic or a panchromatic 
plate with a proper compensating filter, and 
should do all in his power to avail himself of the 
wonderful efficiency of the camera as a copying 
machine, but when he wants to modify the tones 
in the subject, he is perfectly justified in doing 
so by any possible means as long as, in doing so, 
he merely emphasizes, eliminates, or modifies cer- 
tain aspects of the subject, and does not actually 
and obviously falsify the tones. 

The tones may be simplified without being falsi- 
fied by using an unscreened plate, so that, instead 
of having every color and every shade of color 
accurately differentiated, they may be massed and 
rendered less complex by exaggerating instead of 
truthfully rendering the atmospheric effect. The 
pietcri^list is not bound by the rules of the expert 
copyist, '"who, is more concerned in reproducing 
;t|ie'^rkiii,;Textiire and high finish of the rosewood 
case of a grand piano than in rendering the grace, 
beauty and airy lightness of a group of silver 
birches against a background of pine trees. The 
beauty of a picture and the message we want to 
C1023 



Fig. 26. PORTRAIT OF JACK 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

convey may depend upon the correct translation 
of tones and color contrasts, or they may depend 
upon the emphasis of certain aspects of the sub- 
ject. The artist must decide whether complete 
orthochromatism is desirable, or whether modifi- 
cation and simplification of the tones and con- 
trasts will better enable him to get the effect he 
wants. In this he can be guided only by experi- 
ence. 

For snow scenes, whether there is sunlight or 
not, a screen is nearly always desirable, for other- 
wise it is almost impossible to suggest the color 
of snow and to get the proper tone-relation be- 
tween the snow and the sky. 



103] 



CHAPTER V 

Simplicity Sympathy Restraint The Law of Principality 
Emphasis. 

of the most important qualities a picture 
can possess is simplicity. This is true not 
only of photographic pictures but also of draw- 
ings, paintings or etchings. By being simple a 
picture gains enormously in strength and effec- 
tiveness; it wears well; one can live with it and 
enjoy it without getting tired of it. 

Simplicity is especially valuable in photographs 
because it is so fatally easy to include in a photo- 
graph too many interesting objects; to make it 
so crowded with lines, masses and tones that it 
becomes irritating and far from restful. 

Every means of pictorial expression has its own 
inherent difficulties; each art, painting, music or 
poetry, is shackled with material fetters. The 
impartiality with which the camera records every- 
thing in the field of view is the greatest difficulty 
which the artist who uses a camera has to guard 
against, and he must do all he can to curb the 
lavishness and prodigality of the lens. The eye 
of the camera, the lens, is mechanical, it has no 
accommodating brain behind it, and it records 

[104] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

everything it sees in a manner very different 
from what our eyes see. Just because it can take 
in more detail at one time than the human eye, 
the accuracy of the lens is often regarded as in- 
fallible, whereas, from the artistic standpoint, a 
lens is less accurate than the trained eye. 

Simplicity of line is essential in a photographic 
picture, because, if there are too many prominent 
lines, actual or suggested, they lose their force 
and fail entirely to have any expression or to 
convey the desired impressions. Simplicity of line 
does not necessarily imply that there must be 
only one or two different objects in the picture, 
but, if there are many different objects, they 
should be massed together so that the lines of 
the masses are prominent rather than the lines of 
each individual object. The picture may repre- 
sent, for example, a number of trees or a crowd of 
people or a group of shipping, but if the different 
objects are well massed, the lines of the picture 
will still be simple, for the outlines of the masses 
will be the ones that are strongly felt rather than 
the outline of each tree, each person in the crowd, 
or each spar or mast in the shipping group. 

Simplicity of tone is necessary in a photograph 
on account of the limitations of photography, 
which can reproduce only a comparatively short 
range of tones. So the tones have to be simplified, 
because the range of tones in the subject is often 
Lies: 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

far greater than the range of gradations possible 
with any pointing process yet available. We can 
get a long range of tones in the negative by using 
a thickly coated or double-coated plate. There 
might then be small portions that are bare glass, 
together with gradations increasing in density to 
those which were quite opaque, but we could 
never print all these tones. If we had such a 
negative and tried to make a print from it, we 
would have to sacrifice some of the tones, either 
at the top or at the bottom of the scale. If we 
printed until the gradations in the highlights 
were visible we would find the shadows much 
overprinted, very black, solid and empty, and if 
we printed for the shadows, the highlights would 
be harsh and chalky and would be entirely lack- 
ing in gradation. Therefore it is evident that a 
very long range of tones is not desirable in the 
negative, for the negative is merely a means to 
the end and the picture is what we are working 
for. So the artist, in making his negative, will 
develop until the highlights have just sufficient 
density to print out without blocking the shadows, 
and he will expose so that the shadow detail, or 
as much shadow detail as he wants, can be de- 
veloped without overdevelopment of the high- 
lights. This means full exposure and careful 
development, not carried too far. 

If the subject is one in which there is a full 

[106] 




Fig. 28. PORTRAIT, MR. B. 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

range of tones, it will sometimes be necessary 
to sacrifice some of the middle tones and compress 
the scale, so that we can get in the print the 
darkest and lightest tones in proper relation, and 
as many tones between as possible. If the high- 
est light and the darkest shadow are approxi- 
mately correct the highest light in the print 
being white paper and the darkest shadow being 
the blackest deposit of silver or platinum our 
print is capable of giving the tones will look 
right, even if some of the middle tones are miss- 
ing. If it is necessary for us to shorten the scale 
of tones, we must do it by compression, rather 
than by leaving out any tones at the top or 
bottom of the scale. 

In our attempts to secure simplicity of tone 
we shall often find that we do not need to use 
even the full range of the printing paper. A 
picture can often be adequately suggestive when 
very few tones are used. In Wingaersheek Beach 
(Fig. 19), there is no black and very little pure 
white; the whole picture contains only a few 
tones, yet it suggests the scene under the condi- 
tions at the time the picture was taken. The 
artist usually should be sparing in the use of 
absolute black and white, and these should be 
used, if at all, only in very small areas. An 
accent of black or white will often strengthen a 
picture and pull the tones together. 

[107] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

In Fig. 20, At the Close of a Stormy Day, the 
light in the sky is the accent that strengthens 
the picture, just as the dark line at the horizon 
is the accent in Wingaersheek Beach. Without 
these accents, one light and one dark, the pic- 
tures would be monotonous and lacking in 
strength and interest. This same principle is 
often exemplified in Will Cadby's delicate studies 
in light tones: there is invariably one dark accent 
in the picture that pulls the tones together. 

Simplicity of tone must not degenerate into 
monotony and an accent, black or white, will 
prevent this. It will provide a standard to which 
all the other tones will correlate. As an example 
of this let us refer to Fig. 14, and imagine what 
this would be like without the dark accent pro- 
vided by the necktie. The flesh tones would then 
appear I too dark in comparison with the light 
tones surrounding the face, but the black tie cor- 
rects this tendency and, by its contrast, makes 
the face appear to be of about the right tone. 

Simplicity of subject is, to a great extent, a 
matter of selection. Simple subjects with good, 
definite lines are the ones that make the most 
attractive pictures, and such subjects can be 
found very readily by one who has learned to 
see them. The selection of the point of view also 
affects, to a great extent, the simplicity of the 
final result. Simplicity of subject, being so largely 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

a matter of selection, is almost entirely under the 
control of the picture-maker. Each worker will 
necessarily have his own choice in the matter of 
subjects; to some, landscape pictures will make 
a strong appeal, others may be interested in 
marine subjects, harbor and shipping scenes, surf 
and rocks, while some will find a great attraction 
in human nature and may devote themselves al- 
most exclusively to figure studies, genre and por- 
traiture. But, though the choice of subjects may 
be varied, each in his own particular line should 
take care that the subject of the picture, what- 
ever it is, is simple. There is a tendency among 
"advanced" pictorialists to neglect the choice of 
an interesting subject and to trust to an effective 
pattern to make their pictures interesting. Such 
pictures are often interesting, but they are inter- 
esting more as studies in artistic technique than 
as pictures. 

In striving to convey impressions in a picture 
an artist must have a certain amount of sym- 
pathy with and understanding of his subject. 
There must be a thorough grasp of the subject so 
that the artist can enter into the spirit of it. If 
you consider the work of leading pictorialists, 
such as Mortimer, Cadby, Day or Mrs. Kasebier, 
you will find that each is specially interested in 
a special subject, in each case a thoroughly 
worthy one. Subject is important in picture- 

[109] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

making for, even if a picture is "the expression of 
a theme," there can be no theme if there is no 
subject, and the subject should have sufficient 
interest and importance to be worth expressing. 
It should have sufficient character to merit close 
and intimate study. It should be one that in- 
terests the artist so that he will be thoroughly in 
sympathy with it. There should be sympathy 
between the artist and his subject for, if it inter- 
ests him, he cannot treat it in an uninteresting 
manner. Each worker must choose his own sub- 
jects. Often an artist will be sufficiently inter- 
ested in many things to express them well in 
pictures, but, usually, there will be one thing 
one type of subject that makes a stronger 
appeal to him than any other. Mortimer has 
made many landscape pictures and figure studies, 
and good ones too, but it is pictures of the sea 
that specially interest him. It is a mistake, I 
think, to imagine that a picture needs no subject, 
that it can be merely a record of impressions, for 
there must be a subject before there can be 
impressions. 

The importance of simplicity must be kept in 
mind at all stages, from the selection of the sub- 
ject to the mounting of the finished print. Some- 
times certain conditions of atmosphere are needed 
in order to simplify a subject; a background or 
distance that is too busy and too full of compli- 

[110] 




Fig. 29. GEORGE, THE SCOUT 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

cated detail can frequently be blotted out and 
the picture simplified by choosing for the expo- 
sure a day and a time of day when there is a slight 
mist or haze over the distance. Sometimes a 
picture can be simplified by liberal trimming or 
by enlarging from only a small portion of the 
negative. : 

One of the greatest obstacles a photographer 
has to overcome in making his pictures simple is 
the propensity of the lens to render detail with 
absolute impartiality. It necessarily makes no 
discrimination between the essential and the un- 
essential. Everything in the field of view is de- 
picted with equal emphasis, so it is necessary for 
the photographer to modify this as far as possi- 
ble by selective focusing and by careful selection 
of the most suitable conditions of light and 
atmosphere. Selective focusing means getting the 
important parts of the picture a little sharper and 
more clearly defined than those that are less 
important. This can often be done in outdoor 
genre pictures and figure studies by focusing on 
the figures and letting the background be slightly 
diffused and out of focus. This must not be 
carried too far, because the difference in sharp- 
ness, if carried to extremes, is irritating and dis- 
turbing to the eye and thus defeats the object in 
view. So, in striving to get breadth and to elimi- 
nate fine detail, many ingenious dodges have 
[1113 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

been resorted to, such as enlarging through bolt- 
ing-cloth or throwing the entire picture a little 
out of focus in making the enlargement. Possi- 
bly the best way to get breadth and carrying 
power without destroying detail is by the proper 
use of a semi-achromatic lens. Such a lens will 
render detail clearly, yet without the insistent 
and biting harshness of an anastigmat. It will 
give a more gradual blending of definition with- 
out an abrupt change from sharpness to absolute 
lack of sharpness, which is unnatural and disturb- 
ing. There are none of the disconcerting halos 
and grotesque distortions of out-of-focus objects 
which are sometimes seen when using a fully 
corrected lens at a large aperture. 

In portraiture and figure studies there is very 
little excuse for lack of simplicity, for the subject 
and its arrangement are almost entirely under 
the control of the artist. If the background is 
not sufficiently simple, he can make it so, either 
by a change of position or location in an outdoor 
picture, or by removing unneeded objects from 
the background if he is working indoors. Often 
a picture on the wall or an ornament or piece of 
furniture comes'in the wrong place in the picture, 
but it is usually possible to remove it. The pose 
of the sitter and the disposition of the leading 
lines can be arranged by the photographer to a 
very great extent, either by suggestion or by 
[112] 




Fig. 30. BUILDING THE FIRE 




Fig. 30A. YOUNG ARTISTS 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

actual manipulation. The arrangement of the 
train and veil in a picture of a bride is an example 
of such manipulation. 

Simplicity in a portrait adds very much to its 
interest and charm. The face is usually the 
main object of interest in such a picture, and if 
the face can be seen easily and without having 
to search for it carefully among a number of 
equally prominent, though far less important, de- 
tails, the picture will make a stronger and more 
direct appeal. A study of the works of the great 
painters will show that they fully appreciated 
the importance of simplicity. Most of Velasquez' 
famous figure pictures are extremely simple and 
so are Rembrandt's. Whistler's portrait of his 
mother and the very similarly arranged portrait 
of Carlyle are both quite simple in arrangement, 
and in line and tone, and both are wonderfully 
effective. Whistler and other great artists real- 
ized not only the importance of simplicity, but 
also the fact that it needs considerable thought, 
care and skill to get this quality into a picture, for 
nothing is so difficult of achievement as simplic- 
ity. The gift of reproducing it is rare; the gift 
of appreciating it is less so, but is still far from 
universal. There are many photographers who 
have not learned to appreciate the strength, 
effectiveness and restfulness obtained in a pic- 
ture by ruthless elimination of the unessentials. 

[113] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

Profuse ornamentation, overadornment, "fussi- 
ness" of every kind is easy to accomplish; but 
simplicity stands as the desirable and difficult 
of attainment. Take as an example not only 
pictures, but anything from a frock to a marble 
palace. Restful simplicity is the hardest note to 
strike. The propensity of the lens to include too 
much is one of the important things to guard 
against, and the photographer has to curb this 
propensity in every way possible. 

In using a semi-achromatic lens to subdue 
detail, it must be kept in mind that detail as 
such is not detrimental to the success of a picture, 
and that clear definition is not antagonistic to 
pictorial results. Detail is not detrimental unless 
it destroys simplicity, and clear definition is 
eminently desirable. Some of the best examples 
of painting, especially miniature painting, show 
exquisite detail and this is considered to be a 
special merit, but in such works of art the draw- 
ing of detail is done with discrimination; the 
important parts are clearly drawn, the unim- 
portant parts either slurred over or suggested, 
and the unnecessary parts and redundant detail 
are left out. The lens draws fine detail every- 
where, the unimportant parts being treated with 
the same care and precision as the important 
parts, without discrimination, and this is its weak 
point. The artist does not object to fine detail, 

[114] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

but to the lack of discrimination of the lens in 
drawing it. Stop down an anastigmat lens and 
everything is sharp; use it at a large aperture, 
focusing the point of interest, and the streak of 
definition runs right across the picture from edge 
to edge. Both methods are undesirable, and the 
nearest approach to discrimination in the draw- 
ing of detail is provided by the soft-focus, semi- 
achromatic lens, which, if used intelligently and 
with a due appreciation of its limitations, will 
give the artist something approaching the quality 
he desires. With such a lens one can get clear 
definition that is not sharp or hard, for there is 
a difference between clearness and sharpness. 
Clear is defined as "pure, bright, undimmed, with- 
out blemish, transparent," as, for example, a 
clear day, clear-cut features, clear water, clear 
definition. The word sharp means, "having a 
thin cutting edge, affecting the senses as if 
pointed or cutting, severe, keen, barely honest, 
shrill." Examples: a sharp wind, sharp words, 
sharp practice, a sharp, shrill voice, sharp 
definition. 

The quality of definition obtained by the use 
of a soft-focus lens should never be allowed to 
degenerate into fuzziness; there should always 
be firmness and certainty in modeling and tex- 
tures. The clearness and coherency of a picture 
depend to some extent upon the tones and grada- 

[115] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

tions as well as upon the quality of definition, 
and the degree of softness in the definition must 
be governed a good deal by the size of the picture. 
Clearer definition is demanded in a small picture 
that is to be examined closely than in one that 
would be large enough to hang on the wall, not 
to inspect at close quarters. As long as the pic- 
ture closes up and becomes clear and coherent 
at a little distance, it cannot rightly be stigma- 
tized as "fuzzy." 

Closely allied to simplicity is a quality that we 
can best describe as restraint. Personal restraint 
avoids over-elaboration and over-expression; so- 
cial restraint leads the artist to avoid subjects 
and methods that might be displeasing to others, 
and artistic restraint never oversteps the limita- 
tions of the medium. 

I was out on a tramp one day with a troop of 
boy scouts. One of the boys was a little more 
energetic, a little more alert and more observant 
than the others, and he was very much in evi- 
dence on this trip. George is very much inter- 
ested in scouting and all that is connected with 
it, and he has the happy knack of making the 
most of his opportunities. On this walk George 
discovered a woodchuck's hole when no one else 
saw it. He knew what it was and looked around 
for the other hole, for he knew there would be 
two of them. The result was that George at- 

[116] 




Fig. 31. READY FOR THE PARTY 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

traded more attention than any other scout, and 
my recollections of that trip are chiefly con- 
cerned with George's energy and enthusiasm, and 
the pleasure and profit he derived from the out- 
ing. In a symphony or concerto or other musical 
work there is usually one theme or motive that 
runs through the entire composition. In a melo- 
drama there is usually one scene that forms the 
climax of the play, and in a well-constructed 
short story there is one incident or one situation 
that holds the interest and attention. All these 
things are examples of the law of principality, 
and in picture-making we find the same principle 
used to secure unity of interest and to provide 
a point of focus for the eye to rest upon. 

We have seen that it is essential to have only 
one principal object of interest in a picture. 
Without it the picture is not completely satisfy- 
ing, for the eye is apt to wander over the surface 
of the picture, seeking rest and finding none. 

If the principal object of interest in a land- 
scape is not sufficiently prominent to take its 
proper place in the picture as the point of focus 
for the eye to rest upon, it may be necessary to 
emphasize it, so that it will be unmistakably evi- 
dent that it is the principal object in the picture, 
and to make it so by any legitimate means at our 
disposal. Sometimes there are so many different 
things in a landscape that it is hard to tell just 

[117] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

which is the principal object, and it is necessary 
to emphasize one in the picture. Another reason 
why emphasis is often necessary is that the human 
vision is stereoscopic and the object we are look- 
ing at stands out from its surroundings, but an 
ordinary camera with only one lens sees every- 
thing without any stereoscopic relief, and objects 
are sometimes apt to sink into the background 
and not appear as prominent in a picture as we 
thought they were. The lack of color sometimes 
robs an object of much of its prominence. Then, 
also, the eye sees only a very narrow angle com- 
pared with an average lens. When the eye is 
fixed on one particular object in a landscape, it 
will see only about 2 or 3 clearly, while the lens 
can see about 45. The eye, unlike the lens, 
has a human brain behind it and sees just what 
the brain is interested in, ignoring everything else. 
When the eye is fixed on one object, everything 
else is blurred and out of focus. It is really re- 
markable how differently two people can see the 
same things when their interests are different. 
George, the scout, for instance, would probably 
see all kinds of things that I would not see, if we 
were out together, and perhaps, if I were think- 
ing about pictures, I would see some things that 
he would not notice at all. Our interests would 
be different, and different messages would be 
telegraphed from the brain to the eye. 

[118] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

Therefore, it will be obvious that in order to 
make an object sufficiently prominent it is some- 
times necessary to emphasize it in a picture so 
that it will unmistakably be the chief point of 
focus. 

Emphasis can be obtained in many different 
ways; by isolation, by the elimination of every- 
thing else that might compete with the principal 
object, by the position of the principal object in 
the picture-space, by the radiation of lines lead- 
ing the eye directly to the principal object, by 
contrast of tone, and so on. The little child in 
Plum Island (Fig. 13) is obviously the chief ob- 
ject of interest in the picture. He is the only 
human being in sight, he is placed in a strong 
position in the picture-space, the line of the surf 
leads the eye directly to him and he is strongly 
emphasized by contrast in tone. Thus we have, 
in this picture, a definite object to provide a 
resting place for the eye and to prevent it from 
wandering outside the picture margins, and a 
feeling of unity is established. 

In a portrait the face is usually the chief point 
of interest and it is sometimes necessary to subor- 
dinate everything else to this one thing. That is 
one reason why it is always necessary to con- 
sider very carefully the position of the face in 
the picture-space. We can subordinate the rest 
of the picture because, when we are looking at 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

a person's face, we can see very little else and 
are only dimly aware of the details in the clothing. 
In a landscape in which there are many differ- 
ent objects, the one thing that we are looking 
at and thinking about is the thing we must em- 
phasize, because we shall find that, though this 
object appears to be quite prominent when we 
are looking at it, in the photograph everything 
that is in the same plane will be rendered im- 
partially and with equal emphasis. When the 
eye is fixed on one particular object in a land- 
scape, the highlights and shadows acquire an 
importance that makes them appear stronger 
than they really are and, unless the principal 
object is already sufficiently differentiated, like 
the child in Plum Island, it may be necessary to 
strengthen a highlight or a shadow in order to 
make it so. Of course, if the object is already 
quite prominent, if it is something that would 
naturally stand out from other objects, like the 
puff of steam in The Harlem River (Fig. 11), or 
the white sail in Starting Out (Fig. 12), no modi- 
fication of the highlights or shadows is necessary, 
as they are already strong enough. When addi- 
tional emphasis is needed, it can often be obtained 
by a slight modification of the negative or by 
control in printing. This must never be over- 
done, and it will be found that just the very 
least darkening of a shadow or the slightest rais- 

[120] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

ing of a highlight will be all that is necessary. It 
is in this respect that the pigment printing proc- 
esses offer great facilities, though in some re- 
spects this very facility is a disadvantage. It 
is so easy to modify such prints that the hand- 
work is often overdone, with disastrous results. 
Manipulation of this kind may be regarded as 
being perfectly legitimate, for it is only carrying 
out the idea of the mechanics of suggestion in a 
reasonable way. Such actual manipulation as 
this is not needed in many pictures, for selective 
focusing, skilful placing in the picture-space, and 
the selection of an already prominent object will 
give quite sufficient emphasis. Often, in land- 
scape pictures or figure studies outdoors, we can 
emphasize our principal object or figure by hav- 
ing it clearly focused and the rest of the picture 
slightly less sharp. In some pictures, such as, 
for instance, a flower study, where there are 
several similar objects in the picture, one of them 
may need to be emphasized by strengthening the 
light and shade contrasts a little. 

The strength of a highlight or a shadow depends 
very much upon the surrounding tones. It is 
possible to demonstrate this very easily and 
very clearly by cutting from a sheet of gray paper 
two small squares or circles. If one of them is 
placed in the middle of a sheet of white paper 
and the other in the middle of a sheet of black 

[121] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

paper, the one surrounded by white will look 
darker than the one surrounded by black, al- 
though we know that they are both exactly alike. 
We can make use of this illusion to modify a 
tone or an accent. Sometimes emphasis can be 
secured by placing the lightest tone and the 
darkest tone close together, as in the hull and 
white sail in Starting Out. 



[122] 



CHAPTER VI 

Line Composition Applied to Figure Studies The Vertical Line 

Repetition of Line The Curved Line The Lost Edge 

The Triangle The Rectangle The S-Shaped Curve 
The Figure 8 The Hands in Portraiture The Placing of 
the Head in the Picture Space Groups The Back- 
ground. 

IN applying the principles of pictorial composi- 
tion to portraiture and figure studies, we shall 
be working very much along the same lines as 
when dealing with outdoor subjects, such as land- 
scape and marine pictures, but as we have more 
plastic material to work with, we have far more 
scope and can do more in the way of arrangement 
than when using inanimate objects. The artist 
can arrange the lines and masses in such pictures 
according to his own ideas, and should have a 
definite theme or motive in the arrangement that 
will help to make the picture interesting apart 
from the interest in the person or the persons 
depicted. Instead of selecting his pictorial ma- 
terial from nature, which requires him to take 
what he can find and make it conform to his 
ideal to the best of his ability, the portrait pho- 
tographer can, in much the same way as the 
painter, arrange and build up his composition, and 
[125] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

construct the pattern of lines, masses and tones 
more or less as he wants it, and when everything 
is right, he can photograph it. Thus the com- 
position in portraiture and figure studies may be 
constructive rather than selective, though it will 
be found that selective composition also plays 
an important part in portraiture. 

The lines of the picture in a figure study may 
often be determined by the placing of the "ac- 
cents" and are then unseen lines such as were 
referred to in Chapter II, that is to say, not 
actual outlines and edges of tone, but the imagi- 
nary lines by which the eye will instinctively 
connect any two prominent objects in the picture. 

In order to be able to build up and construct 
a picture the artist should know the rules and 
recognized formulae in pictorial arrangement. 
He need not always adhere strictly to rules, but 
he should know them so that he will know what 
he is doing when he breaks them. 

The function of composition is to make a pic- 
ture interesting, and the disposition of the lines 
in the picture, the opposition of lines, and their 
placing in the picture-space will all help in giving 
the desired interest. Such things as this, depend- 
ing as they do upon the pose of the figure and the 
selection of the viewpoint, are to a great extent 
under the control of the photographer, and a sug- 
gestion from him as to the general pose, together 

[124] 




Fig. 32. AN OUTDOOR HOME PORTRAIT 



, c e c . ,;. 

. ' , r 9 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

with the proper placing of the camera at the right 
distance and at the right height, will often give 
a line arrangement that is satisfactory. 

The simplest pose of all is the full-length, stand- 
ing figure. This has great possibilities, because 
the most attractive and commanding line in art 
is the vertical. The full-length standing pose is 
an obvious and natural one for the human figure, 
because in this position it occupies almost double 
the space it would if seated. There is, however, 
a serious objection to this method of represent- 
ing the figure. This is the monotony and regu- 
larity, as well as the suggestion of the picture- 
space being divided into strips, caused by the two 
oblong spaces on either side of the subject. This 
can be overcome very simply and easily by the 
introduction of an opposing horizontal line or 
oblique line to tie the figure to the edges of the 
picture-space and give a suggestion of a cross or 
a triangle. 

This principle is illustrated in the two portraits, 
Figs. 21 and 22. In both cases we have a full- 
length standing figure strongly contrasting with 
the background, and a very similar line arrange- 
ment may be observed in each. The extended 
arm with the hand on the doorknob in Fig. 21 
makes a strong enough line and, similarly, in 
Fig. 22 the boy's arm has the same effect. The 
placing of the figures, a little out of the exact 

[125] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

centre of the picture-space, gets rid of the effect 
of similar vertical strips on each side of the figure. 
In Fig. 23, the extended palette furnishes the 
opposing vertical, as an accent rather than as a 
line, and in this instance the merging of the out- 
line into the background also helps to lessen the 
force of the vertical line. 

The repetition of a line in another part of the 
picture dissipates the force of such a line. In 
both Fig. 21 and Fig. 22 we see this exemplified 
in the edge of the door and in the light tree trunk. 
Without some balancing influence of opposing 
lines or prominent accents, a vertical composition 
is apt to be weak and far from interesting. 

Sometimes a suggestion of a simple curve 
makes a pleasing line arrangement. In Fig. 24, 
we can feel a curve from the head to the hands. 
The head, because of its placing in the picture- 
space, is obviously the main object of interest, 
and is adequately balanced by the hands, which 
form the only other light mass in the picture. 

The device of losing the outline is one that is 
often employed by painters to lessen the insist- 
ence of lines. It is simply a method of simplifi- 
cation by elimination; by merging the contour 
into the background we make the substance of 
the body a part of the tone which envelops it. 
The line then becomes the unseen line rather than 
an actual, structural outline. By careful selec- 

[126] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

tion of a background of the right tone, and by 
creating shadows on the background, a photog- 
rapher can often avail himself of this device as 
has been done in Figs. 23 and 24 and in some 
others. 

In the effort to make the subject fill the space, 
the artist often has recourse to another of the 
fundamental forms of construction, the triangle. 
This is in many ways one of the easiest arrange- 
ments to secure in a picture, and it has the merit 
of being not only an excellent space-filler, but 
also one that is capable of almost unhmited 
variety. It may take the form of a long upright 
pyramid, as in Fig. 25, or of a more stable tri- 
angle with a broader base. In any case it affords 
a shape endowed with physical stability, and it 
allows the lines of the subject to tie with the sides 
of the picture. This does away with the difficulty 
of dealing with the spaces left at the sides of the 
figure, for these spaces, instead of being rectangu- 
lar, become triangular. Thus we get the relief 
experienced by the introduction of similar, echo- 
ing shapes; repetition with variety. Ah* that is 
necessary to secure such a scheme of lines is to 
broaden out the lines of the figure in some natural 
way at the bottom of the picture. In a seated 
figure, as in Fig. 6, all that has to be done is to 
get one hand as far forward and the other as far 
back as possible, thus getting three accents indi- 

[127] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

eating the angles of the triangle. Other variations 
of the triangular arrangement are shown in Figs. 10 
and 3. In Fig. 10, the light mass of the child's 
dress forms a very definite triangular area, and 
Fig. 3 is all triangles. 

Another frequently used line arrangement is the 
rectangle, of which an example is shown in Fig. 
26. This differs from the cross and the triangle 
in that it has not in itself the qualities necessary 
to give the required balance, and so depends for 
balance upon some object within the angle, which 
can usually be supplied by something in the back- 
ground. In the example given, the balance is 
supplied by the light spots on the background 
and the little strip of white below the collar. 
These are comparatively unimportant in them- 
selves, yet, without them, the composition would 
be somewhat lacking in balance. They furnish 
the needed attraction within the angle and be- 
cause of their unobtrusiveness they do not pull 
too much. 

In portraiture, just as in landscape work, a 
curve has in itself greater possibilities for beauty 
than any arrangement of straight lines. A simple 
curve, or the more complete S-shaped curve, 
which is, as we have seen, an excellent space- 
filler, often can be incorporated in the lines of a 
figure picture. Such a line, either the curved 
S-line or the more angular Z-form, not only fills 

[128] 




Fig. 33. IN THE STUDIO 



,-, :s ;:.:: 

c c c c 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

the space satisfactorily, but also ties the subject 
very well to the sides of the picture-space. With 
either of these forms there is very little depend- 
ence upon the background for balance, for both 
have sufficient balance in themselves. As a line, 
the letter S is so complete that the feeling among 
artists is, when possible, to let it alone. Such a 
line can often be used for full-length standing 
figures, and it may also be found in pictures 
showing only the head. In Fig. 5 we have an 
example of the use of this line, which can easily 
be traced in the outline of the head and face and 
up to the hand and flower. This line has the 
valuable quality of suggesting movement and of 
giving a semblance of life and energy. In this 
respect it differs from the simple curve, which is 
essentially a line of repose. It also conveys an 
idea of unity and completeness. 

Sometimes we can get an elaboration of the 
S-shaped curve, taking the form of a figure eight, 
such as is seen in Fig. 27 (Frontispiece). This is 
a scheme that might easily be worked out iri 
portraits of ladies in evening dress. 

We have spoken of the use of the hands in a 
portrait as accents and points of direction for 
the unseen line. Though it adds to the difficul- 
ties, I think it is advisable to show one or both 
hands in a portrait, provided they can be treated 
naturally and gracefully. A really natural hand, 

129] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

one that has not been obviously arranged by the 
photographer, is a valuable asset in showing 
character. If the self-consciousness of the sitter 
is such that the hand is not entirely natural, it 
is better to leave it out altogether, for a bad hand 
will rum an otherwise attractive portrait. Some- 
times it is necessary to give the hands something 
to do or something to hold, as in Figs. 23, 5 and 6. 
In Fig. 23, the hand holding the paintbrush shows 
considerable energy and is obviously natural. 
Sometimes the photographer has to change the 
position of the hand a little to make it photo- 
graph better, and with some people the necessary 
changes can be made without loss of naturalness, 
provided it is done tactfully and without drawing 
too much attention to the hand. Making the 
sitter conscious of the hand usually results in 
awkardness, and a stiffness and woodenness in 
the pose that is very disagreeable. 

As a rule a hand will photograph better, and 
without giving cause for the complaint that it 
looks too big, if it is turned with one side towards 
the lens, not showing the full width. If a lady is 
photographed with her hand in her lap, turn the 
hand so that it is lying with the palm upwards 
and it will look more graceful. The fingers should 
not be folded, which will make the hand look like 
a clenched fist, neither should they be too much 
spread apart. Just as a suggestion, it is often a 

[130] 




Fig. 34. JIMMIE 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

good plan to rest the thumb against the second 
finger and have the other fingers curved a little, 
but not too much. This will give an arrangement 
that will look well from almost any position. 
Sometimes the hand can be used to support the 
head, but this should not be done unless the 
pose is quite natural and characteristic. Never 
deliberately arrange such a pose, but if, during 
the proceedings, the sitter should happen to 
adopt such a position quite unconsciously and 
naturally, photograph it just as it is, provided it 
looks well. The hand supporting the face should, 
if possible, be on the shadow side, away from the 
camera, though, as is the case in Fig. 28, this is 
not an infallible rule. In this the obvious na- 
turalness of the hand offsets its possible lack of 
grace. Personally I think that a portrait in 
which the hands are not shown is incomplete, 
unless of course it is a large head, and, although 
it sometimes adds to the difficulties, it is always 
worth while to make an effort to include a natural 
and well-drawn hand, or both hands, in the 
picture whenever possible to do so. 

There is a distinct tendency in modern por- 
traiture to devote the greater part of the pic- 
ture space to the head and face. Certainly a 
large-sized head will command more attention and, 
as the likeness is mainly though by no means 
entirely shown by the face, a large head will tell 
[131] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

its story plainly, and will give greater opportuni- 
ties for showing the features in clearer and more 
perfect detail. It might be thought that a pic- 
ture that includes only the head and shoulders 
would be easier to make and would demand less 
skill in posing, but I think that just as much 
thought, care and skill are needed to pose for a 
head as to pose for a full-length or three-quarter 
figure. Possibly the composition is simpler, but 
the problems of filling the space adequately and 
of getting a suggestion of character, personality 
and likeness are practically unchanged. 

Unless the head is set naturally and easily on 
the shoulders, there will be a suggestion of con- 
straint and stiffness in the pose, which will de- 
stroy likeness. Let us look at Fig. 29. The 
forward-leaning position is characteristic and 
natural, thoroughly typical of this young sitter. 
Other examples of natural and characteristic poise 
of the head are shown in other examples. 

In making a large head, we may select a point 
of view that will show the full face, a three- 
quarter view, or a profile, and of these three, 
probably the three-quarter view is the most ex- 
pressive and the most agreeable, on account of 
the variety it introduces in the lines of the neck 
and shoulders. The full-face view gives less 
agreeable lines with less variety and balance than 
the three-quarter view, but sometimes the direct 
[132] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

gaze results in a more forceful and more compel- 
ling picture, while the profile often gives an op- 
portunity to get a very interesting continuous 
line. Fig. 14 is regarded by the boy's friends as 
a good likeness, and the outline of the head and 
face is decidedly interesting. 

The placing of the head in the picture-space 
must be carefully considered. In a direct profile 
picture, it is always well to have more space in 
front of the face than behind the head. In any 
picture showing only the head and shoulders, if 
the sitter is leaning forward, it is necessary to 
leave sufficient space at the top to make us feel 
that there is enough room for him to raise his 
head and straighten up without hitting the top 
edge of the picture. A very erect and upright 
pose needs only a very little space at the top, 
above the head. The trimming of the print and 
the amount of space around the head will be 
taken up in detail elsewhere, but in making large 
heads there will be a loss of dignity and impor- 
tance if the face is too low in the picture-space. 
Too much space at the top will be apt to give 
the impression that the sitter is sliding out at 
the bottom of the picture. 

Another reason why the head should be kept 
well up near the top is that the eyes in a portrait, 
being the centre of interest, must not be too low 
in the picture-space. They should always be 

[133] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

well above the middle and, if too much space 
were left above the head, the line of the eyes 
might coincide with, or even be a little below, a 
horizontal line through the centre of the picture- 
space. It is not generally known by those who 
have not studied drawing that the eyes are, 
normally, exactly in the middle of the face, and 
that the space below the eyes to the point of the 
chin is equal to the space above the eyes to the 
top of the head. So, if the head be represented 
as an egg-shaped area, the eyes will be situated 
on a line exactly bisecting the area in a horizontal 
direction, and there will be just as much space 
above the eyes as there is below. Therefore, if 
the eyes are to be above the middle of the pic- 
ture, as is generally desirable, to give them force 
and prominence, the head must be well raised in 
the picture-space and, if held erect, may well be 
quite near the top. 

Sometimes, and especially when the sitter is 
wearing a hat, it is necessary even to cut into the 
head or the hat to prevent the eyes from being 
too low. This has been done in Fig. 28. Trim- 
ming like this, which actually cuts away a part 
of the image, must be done carefully, and only 
when there is a perfectly good reason for it, as 
in the example shown. The tendency to imitate 
the methods of other artists must always be 
governed by a careful investigation as to the 

[134] 




Fig. 35. THE DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS . 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

reasons why they do certain things. It is a mis- 
take to chop off part of the head in a picture, 
just because Coburn or Diihrkoop have done it 
in certain instances, unless you are sure that 
your reason for doing it is just as good as theirs. 
The dissatisfaction often voiced in regard to what 
is known as artistic photography is usually due 
to the fact that many of the pictures in ques- 
tion are really anything but artistic, copying, as 
they do, perhaps, some of the mannerisms asso- 
ciated with the photographs of a true artist, but 
lacking the qualities which formed the basis of 
the real worth of the pictures. To make pictures 
that are fuzzy and blurred, just because some 
photographers sometimes use a soft-focus lens in 
order to get a certain desired effect, and then to 
label them artistic photographs, when they often 
possess little or no artistic merit, is as foolish as 
it is futile. So, if the trimming of the picture or 
the arrangement of the subject in the picture- 
space is in any way unconventional, it is neces- 
sary that there should be a good and satisfactory 
reason for such departure from the beaten track. 
In making large heads, if direct prints are 
wanted rather than enlargements, a long-focus lens 
must be used in order to get the required size, 
rather than a near viewpoint. This point is dealt 
with in Chapter II. If a lens of sufficient focal 
length is not available, the artist must be content 

[135] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

i 

to make the head small on the negative, and 
then enlarge the portion he wants to the required 
size, for the viewpoint should rarely be closer 
than seven or eight feet. 

In making group pictures, the same principles 
regarding lines and spacing must be applied. 
Sometimes, if there are three or more figures in 
the group, they can be arranged in such a way 
that a line connecting the heads, hands or other 
accents will form a triangle, a circle, an ellipse, 
or some other agreeable shape that fills the space 
in a pleasing manner. 

In Fig. 30, the four boys at the left of the pic- 
ture give a suggestion of a triangle and easily 
hold the attention, the little fellow on the right 
being a secondary object of interest necessary to 
give good pictorial balance. 

You will notice I said in a preceding paragraph: 
"If there are three or more figures in the group," 
and this is an important point, for a group of 
two is very hard to handle pictorially. If both 
are equally prominent, there will be competition 
and a constant effort to decide which is more 
important. In order to get principality in a 
group of two, one of the figures must be unmis- 
takably more important and must dominate the 
picture. In a group consisting of a mother and 
child, the mother should be content to occupy a 
subordinate position in the picture, in order that 

[136] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

the interest may be concentrated on the child. 
One of the most charming of Sargent's paintings 
shows a boy being read to by his mother. The 
mother sits, behind and to the side, so that the 
interest is centered on the child, who sits gazing 
dreamily out of the picture, completely absorbed 
in the story. Such a picture as this might more 
correctly be classified as a genre than as a por- 
trait, and this seems to be the solution of most 
problems of two-figure arrangement. 

If both figures can be interested in something 
in the picture, this will solve the problems of 
principality and subordination, for then the thing 
they are looking at, or their occupation, will 
dominate the picture, and both figures will be 
subordinate. In the group shown in Fig. 30 A, the 
occupation of the boys is the dominating interest, 
and the lack of principality is not strongly felt. 
There is unity, due to the fact that neither figure 
appears to be striving for prominence and prin- 
cipality. 

The background in a portrait or a figure study 
must be carefully considered, for the background 
not only serves as a support, but also helps to a 
large extent in carrying out the motive of the 
picture. It can very materially influence the im- 
portance of the figure, and can make or mar the 
composition and artistic unity of the picture. 
The extent or area of the background in relation 

[137] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

to the size of the figure is a point that is some- 
times hard to decide. Just how much sur- 
rounding space does a figure needP This can be 
determined only by the good taste and cultivated 
judgment of the artist, for it is quite impossible 
to give any hard and fast rules. All that can 
be said is that there should not be too much 
space, or it will be apt to dwarf the figure, and 
there should not be too little, for then the figure 
will look cramped and crowded. Somewhere be- 
tween these two extremes the background will 
look right, and it looks right when it is least 
noticeable, when it becomes subordinate to the 
figure, and does not attract attention to itself. 
In the illustrations to this chapter it will be 
seen that in nearly all of them the background 
is quite plain and quiet in tone, and that there is 
nothing at all in it to attract the eye. In these 
instances the background serves merely as a sup- 
port for the figure, and plays no part in carrying 
out the motive. In Fig. 23, the canvases on the 
wall, like the palette and paintbrush, help to tell 
the story, and to make it plain that the picture 
is a portrait of a painter. Therefore they have a 
definite meaning and are a necessary part of the 
picture. There are times when a more extensive 
background and one that is not quite plain will 
help the picture. One of the interesting aspects 
of home-portraiture is the opportunity it affords 

[138] 








Fig. 36. SWAPPING PICTURES 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

to introduce into the picture some of the home 
interest. This can be done by including in the 
portrait a part of the home, in the shape of inti- 
mate surroundings that will be instantly recog- 
nized by those who are familiar with the home in 
question. If a setting can be found that is inter- 
esting and attractive by reason of good lines or 
decorative masses, it will add much to the value 
of a home portrait if it can be used as a back- 
ground for a single figure or a group. Examples 
of the use of such backgrounds are seen in Figs. 
31 and 32. Both are fairly extensive; that is to 
say, there is a considerable area of background in 
relation to the size of the figures, and this tends 
perhaps to make the pictures look a little theatri- 
cal, but in both cases they "belong" and are not 
in the least out of keeping. In Fig. 31 the line 
of the staircase is interesting, and the little figure, 
in full light, has sufficient "pull" easily to domi- 
nate the picture and not be overpowered by the 
background. The little table in the corner gives 
the necessary balance. In Fig. 32, the rectan- 
gular shapes of the windows fill the space, but 
are subordinate in interest to the group. 

In selecting or arranging a background, the 
photographer must always keep in mind the im- 
portance of simplicity. This is one of the main 
difficulties in home-portraiture, for, unless great 
care is taken to keep the background simple, 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

there is danger of the sitter becoming merely 
an item in an arrangement of bric-a-brac. Any- 
thing that does not definitely help the picture 
should be removed. If that is not possible, a 
plain background of some kind should be 
substituted. 

Another example of a background that helps 
to tell the story and explain the motive of the 
picture is given in Fig. 33. This is a plain back- 
ground, but there is a good deal of it; the idea 
here was to show a characteristic pose of the 
artist and a habit he had of putting his canvas 
on the floor. As the building was about to be 
demolished, he was anxious to have a memento 
of the interesting crack in the plaster on the wall. 
The background must always be appropriate, and 
in keeping with the subject and with the char- 
acter of the picture. Nothing should be intro- 
duced into the picture that would not naturally 
be there. The days of the marble pillar and the 
velvet curtain have passed, and there are en- 
couraging signs of the recognition of the impor- 
tance of simplicity. 

The tone of the background is an important 
point, and it must be carefully considered, es- 
pecially in pictures showing a fairly large head, 
for the tone of the face is influenced very much 
by the tone of the background. The flesh tones 
appear light or dark according to whether the 

[140] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

prevailing tone of the background is dark or light, 
for tone is very largely a matter of contrast. A 
small area of gray on a white ground will look 
considerably darker than it would appear if sur- 
rounded by dark tones, as was pointed out in 
Chapter V, page 121. The tone of the background 
influences the tone of the face in a portrait, and 
a face seen against a white background will 
appear darker than it would if a darker ground 
were used. This of course is very largely a 
matter of exposure, development and printing, 
and depends also upon the lighting of the face 
when making the exposure. The question of 
tones in portraiture will be discussed more fully 
and at greater length in the following chapter, 
but the point to observe is that if your sitter is 
naturally dark, or is unnaturally dark by reason 
of exposure to the sun, and you desire to make 
the face appear as light as possible in a picture 
you should use a dark background, and then the 
contrast will give an impression of light flesh- 
tones. To get good tones against a white back- 
ground, and to get sufficient modeling without 
causing the face to appear too dark, is a task 
that calls for the utmost nicety of adjustment 
of exposure and development in making the 
negative, and correct timing in printing. 



C141] 



CHAPTER VII 

Tones in Portraiture Roundness and Solidity Brought out by 
Lighting Ordinary Lighting Outdoor Portraits Home 
Portraiture Unusual Lightings The Outfit for Home 
Portraiture. 



is as much difference in the meaning 
JL of the words tone and tones as there is in 
the words nerve and nerves. When for instance, 
we speak of the tone of a private school being 
good, we mean that the members of the faculty 
are refined and cultured gentlemen and ladies, 
and that they inculcate refinement and good man- 
ners in the pupils. Refinement, then, is a char- 
acteristic of good tone, and the tone of a photo- 
graph may be considered satisfactory if it is quiet 
and refined, not crude or startling, not vague, un- 
certain or muddy. There should be no very vio- 
lent contrasts and no spottiness of light and shade, 
and, above all, the tones must be right. The tone 
of a photograph depends very much on its tones, 
that is to say, on the correct rendering of the 
gradations of light and shade. In portraiture and 
figure studies, just as in outdoor work, it is im- 
portant that the rendering of the gradations 
should be correct, or at least appear correct. 

[142] 




Fig. 37. PORTRAIT, F. S. H. 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

The tones on the face in a portrait should suggest 
the color for black and white can suggest 
color and in order that this may be so, the 
tones should correctly reproduce, not only the 
general tint and gradations of color, but also the 
gradations of light and shade necessary to give 
modeling, roundness and solidity. 

Let us deal first of all with gradations of light 
and shade, ignoring for the present the general 
color or tone of the face, for the latter is modified 
to a large extent by the key of the picture and 
by contrast with the background. In a portrait 
with a predominance of dark tones, dark clothing 
and dark background, the face and hands, being 
the only light areas, will appear lighter by reason 
of the contrast with the dark tones. On the 
other hand, if the prevailing tones are light, for 
instance, white clothing and white background, 
the contrast will tend to make the flesh tones 
appear dark. This is more a matter of exposure 
and development, and of correct timing in print- 
ing, than of lighting, but the modeling of the 
face, the gradation of highlights, halftone and 
shadow which indicates the shape of the fea- 
tures, is purely a matter of lighting. 

The head is round and solid, and the aim in 
lighting should be to suggest its roundness and 
solidity by means of highlights, halftones and 
shadows, so that it will look round instead of flat. 

[143] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

Sometimes in pictures taken outdoors, with light 
falling on the face with equal intensity from all 
sides, we get merely a map of the features; the 
face looks like a flat disk, with eyes, nose and 
mouth in then* proper positions, but entirely lack- 
ing, in roundness and indications of shape. We 
may get enough to give a recognizable picture 
but, without the third dimension, the likeness is 
not complete. An egg, equally illuminated from 
all sides, would look flat, and there would be no 
modeling to indicate its spherical shape. The 
object of lighting is to bring out the roundness, 
modeling and individuality of the features. The 
draftsman can suggest relief by the skilful draw- 
ing of lines, but the photographer depends upon 
shading for the relief and modeling of the features. 

The first and most important thing to do, then, 
is to learn to see lighting. This sounds obvious, 
but there are really very few people who can see 
shadows and halftones on the face, unless they 
have cultivated the ability to do so. When light- 
ing, or perhaps, more correctly speaking, shading, 
can be perceived and appreciated, the adjustment 
of the light to get pleasing relief and roundness 
is a very simple matter. 

An egg or a round ball, lighted from one con- 
centrated light-source, would have one highlight 
just at the spot where the maximum light is re- 
flected back to the eye, and around that high- 

[1443 




Fig. 38. SUNLIGHT EFFECT 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 







DIAGRAM SHOWING ORDINARY REMBRANDT AND LINE LIGHTING. 
C1453 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

light would be halftones and gradations of tone, 
merging gradually into shadow. If there were no 
light reflected into the shadows, they would be 
quite dark on the side away from the light. 

Much the same thing is seen in lighting the 
face, but it is complicated a little by the irregu- 
larities of the features, and the individual fea- 
tures, the forehead, the nose, the cheeks, the 
mouth and chin, each have their own individual 
lights and shades. There should be one principal 
highlight on the face, and if only one source of 
light is used, the side away from the light will be 
in shadow. To get the maximum modeling and 
the full range of tones, the face should be lighted 
from one side and slightly from the front, so that 
the light falls on the face at an angle of approxi- 
mately forty-five degrees. With the sitter in the 
position indicated in the diagram we shall get 
what is known as "ordinary lighting." When we 
have acquired the ability to see lighting, we shall 
observe that under these conditions there is a 
highlight reflected by the ridge of the nose, and 
since the skin of the nose is close in texture and 
somewhat tightly drawn, this highlight is usually 
rather strong. 

There is another light reflected from the dome 
of the forehead; another from the curve of the 
chin, and sometimes a fourth from the cheek- 
bone. Brilliant little catchlights are also re- 

[146] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

fleeted from the eyes. Around these highlights 
are halftones, merging gradually into shadow on 
the parts of the face that recede from the camera, 
and on the side away from the light there will be 
shadow, relieved more or less by light reflected 
from the side of the room or from other adjacent 
surfaces. If the window is small and the sitter is 
placed close to it, the lighting will be very strong 
and the shadow dark, but if the sitter is placed 
at some distance from a large window, the light- 
ing will be softer and the shadows relieved by 
reflections from the opposite wall. 

Of course we may place our camera where we 
wish and can take the picture from any point of 
view, as indicated in the diagram. The sitter is 
supposed, in this diagram, to be facing towards 
the camera marked Cl, so that a picture taken 
from C3 would give a profile view of the face. 

This is the method of arranging the lighting 
to give the maximum of modeling, and a full 
range of gradation from highlights to deep shadow. 
The only problem is to photograph it with suffi- 
cient technical skill, so that the gradations of 
tone and the modeling will be correctly rendered 
in the picture, and this is merely a matter of 
correct exposure and proper development and 
printing. The tones are correctly rendered in the 
print only when the gradations of light, halftone 
and shadow are reproduced in their proper rela- 

[147] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

tion to each other. The technical problems of 
reproducing gradations of light and shade in their 
proper relation, and the influence of exposure on 
the truth of the gradations will be taken up in 
more detail later. I want now to point out what 
the artist should look for in the subject. 

There is often a tendency to make the general 
tone of the face in a portrait too light, so that 
the highlights are not apparent. The lightest 
tone we can get in a print is represented by the 
white paper. The lightest tone in a portrait 
subject, lighted as described, is the bright catch- 
light in the eyes and possibly the highlight on a 
starched white collar. These are only very minute 
areas, therefore there can be only very minute 
areas of white paper in a print, if the tones are 
correctly rendered. Next we have the highlights 
on the face and the whites of the eyes, slightly 
lower in tone, and, therefore, not white paper, 
and then, in turn, the lesser lights, the halftones 
and shadows on the face, hair and clothing, the 
darkest shadow being represented (if we are using 
a full range of tones) by the blackest deposit of 
platinum or silver on the printing paper. To 
represent any part of the face as white paper, 
except the catchlights in the eyes and highlights 
on the teeth, is absolutely wrong, not only on 
account of the light and shade gradations but 
also on account of the color of the face. 

[148] 




Fig. 39. THE COMPOSER 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

In this connection I would ask the reader to 
turn back and carefully observe the lighting on 
the face of the boy in Fig. 8. In this portrait 
there is absolutely no white paper except the 
very small catchlights in the eyes and the high- 
lights on the teeth. The teeth are not even 
dead white; there is in the original print a quiet 
perceptible difference between the tone of the 
teeth and the highlights on them, and in Fig. 34 
there is very subtle and delicate gradation of 
tone on the face. In both instances the faces 
appear to be white, but truth of tone is preserved 
by the sparing use of the lightest possible tones. 

If the face or any part of the face, except the 
highlights, were to be represented in a picture 
as white paper, we should have nothing lighter 
in tone to represent a white collar or anything 
really white. So we would be forced to make the 
face and the white collar exactly the same, which 
would be far from truthful. We can make the 
face look white, that is to say, white enough to 
show that the subject is not negroid, and still 
preserve truth of tone, by means of contrast with 
dark tones in the rest of the picture, as in the 
case of Fig. 15, or by means of very delicate and 
subtle gradations, as in Fig. 34. In each case 
we have modeling and gradations of light and 
shade, and the suggestion of color and flesh tints. 

When we have a full and comparatively long 

[149] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

range of tones, such as we can get with the ordi- 
nary 45-degree lighting, it is not difficult to get 
the proper suggestion of color in the face, because 
we can use plenty of halftone and shadow, but 
when we shorten the scale of tones and use a 
flatter lighting so that we lessen the effect of 
contrast, we have to be even more careful to pre- 
serve truth of tone and the suggestion of flesh 
tint. If the background is light, as in Fig. 34 and 
in Fig. 14, the color in the face can be suggested 
by making the gradations very delicate and only 
barely visible, for the contrast of the flesh tones 
with the background will tend to make the face 
look too dark if the halftones are too strong, but 
if the background were dark, the modeling would 
have to be a little stronger to avoid a suggestion 
of flatness, because the contrast of light flesh 
tones against dark would tend to make the face 
appear too light and lacking in color. 

When we have a softer and flatter lighting, with 
the highlights less strongly accentuated, as in 
Fig. 35, the tones suggest color rather than con- 
trasts of light and shade, and the problem then 
is somewhat analogous to the problem of ortho- 
chromatism, so that we have to try and indicate 
by the varying shades of gray the visual inten- 
sities of the colors in the subject. The Day 
after Christmas represents a rather dark-skinned 
Italian child with black hair and dark eyes, wear- 

[150] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

ing a light blue blouse with white stripes. The 
background was light gray. In this picture the 
lighting is very soft and flat, and there is only 
just sufficient modeling to suggest roundness. 

When the face is in shadow against a white 
background, the flesh tones will look compara- 
tively dark, and they must be so represented in 
a picture to preserve truth of tone. In Fig. 36, 
the faces of the boys, seen against the sky, are 
quite dark in tone, but still are in correct rela- 
tion to the other tones in the picture. 

In portraits taken outdoors, in the shade, we 
usually get softer modeling, and the highlights 
are not accentuated as much as in indoor pictures. 
This is because the light is more diffused and 
illuminates the shadows. Of course, if portraits 
are made in sunlight we get stronger contrasts, 
but this is another story and will be taken up 
later. 

Portraits outdoors in the shade have usually 
less contrast of light and shade, by reason of the 
diffused lighting, but they should show color con- 
trasts, and this will preclude the face being 
rendered too light. The correct rendering of 
tones in outdoor portraiture is very similar in 
many ways to the correct rendering of tones in 
landscape pictures, which was dealt with in a 
preceding chapter. The use of an orthochro- 
matic plate and a color-filter will help in ren- 

[151] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

dering tones correctly. When the increased 
exposure is not a serious obstacle, the ray-filter 
should always be used, for the problem is one of 
reproducing color values correctly and is not, as 
in landscape work, the problem of reproducing 
color values modified by atmosphere, which is 
altogether different. When working indoors, a 
color-screen is rarely practicable, but outdoors, 
in good diffused light, it may often be used with 
advantage. Figure 37 was made on a Cramer 
Instantaneous Iso plate with a three-times filter, 
and the tones suggest color very adequately. A 
full exposure and careful development, as was 
pointed out in Chapter IV, will give good tones 
and color values, provided the highlights and 
gradations are not blocked up by overdevelop- 
ment. Underexposure must be guarded against 
at all times, or the tones will be irremediably 
ruined. 

The main difference between indoor portraits 
and those made outdoors in diffused light is that 
in the former case the lighting, because the light- 
source is comparatively concentrated, is apt to 
be too cbntrasty and give too long a range of 
tones from highlight to shadow. Therefore, we 
have to do all we can to lessen the contrast 
(diffusing the light with cheesecloth screens, 
using a reflector, or placing the sitter back in 
the room almost directly facing the window, are 

[152] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

all methods of lessening contrasts) whereas, in 
making portraits outdoors in the shade or on a 
dull day, the lighting is apt to be too flat and 
we have to try and increase contrasts. This we 
can often do by placing the sitter in the shade of 
a tree or a building, so that the light is a little 
stronger on one side than on the other. 

Having arranged the lighting so that the con- 
trasts are about right in the subject, we have to 
expose, develop and print so that we shall get 
the contrasts about right in the picture. Thus 
the correct rendering of tones becomes a matter 
of exposure and development and also, to a great 
extent, a question of orthochromatism. The 
purely technical side of the problem will be taken 
up later; we are concerned now only with truth 
of tone as indicated in a picture. The artist 
must always bear in mind the fact that flesh- 
tones can only very rarely be as light as the tones 
of white clothing, and that there can be only 
very small areas of white on the face in a por- 
trait, only, as we said before, the catchlights in 
the eyes and the highlights on the teeth, for the 
tones on the face must suggest color and we 
should always be able to teU from the tones of 
the picture whether the complexion is naturally 
light or dark, for then and only then will the 
tones be true. 

When we come to deal with sunlight in outdoor 

C153] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

portraits, we have to overcome the tendency to 
get too much contrast of light and shade. We 
must have a certain amount of contrast to pro- 
duce the right effect, but we must get it rather 
by leaving out some of the middle-tones than 
by making the highlights too white and the shad- 
ows too black. There will be a tendency to get 
very dark shadows and it is quite right that 
they should be dark,-but we must always try and 
preserve detail in the shadows, and not make 
them too black and solid. This also is purely a 
matter of exposure and development. Full ex- 
posure will give detail in the shadows, and proper 
development will give gradation in the highlights. 
By getting both the highlights and the shadows 
about right, we can get the effect of sunlight, 
even though we may have to compress the scale 
of tones and leave out some of the middle tints. 
Harsh, chalky highlights and dense, black shadows 
do not suggest sunlight, but only suggest under- 
exposure and overdevelopment. The suggestion 
of sunlight is conveyed by the fact that the cast 
shadows have a definite edge and outline, and 
that there are patches and spots of light on the 
face, rather than a gradual blending of light and 
shadow, but the patches and spots of light must 
be luminous rather than dense and chalky, and 
we must still be able to see color and flesh tints 
both in the light parts and in the shadows. In 

[154] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

Fig. 38 there is gradation and tone in the high- 
Lights; we can see the color and texture of the 
skin and the suggestion of freckles. The only 
really black shadows are the very small areas in 
the mouth and under the chin. The whole secret 
of success in sunlight effects is full exposure, 
followed by not too much development. This 
will usually give a satisfactory negative and one 
that will give a good print. The tendency to cut 
down the exposure because the light is very 
bright must be avoided, because we have to 
expose for the shadows, which are comparatively 
dark, and must allow for the fact that the subject 
is "close up," and that the shadows are, there- 
fore not modified to any great extent by the 
atmosphere. 

The photographer who is anxious to put into 
practice his artistic ideas and ideals would do 
well to devote some attention to one of the most 
fascinating branches of picture-making with the 
camera, home portraiture. This is a field which 
is as yet by no means exhausted, and in which 
there are many possibilities for real picture- 
making. Although home portraiture at the pres- 
ent time has come to be recognized as a branch of 
professional portraiture and is undertaken very 
extensively purely as a means of making money, 
the first home portraits were made by amateur 
photographers, and even now the best work of 

[155] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

this kind is produced by amateurs. Such workers 
as Mathilde Weil and Eva Watson-Schiitze opened 
the eyes of the professional to the money-making 
as well as the pictorial possibilities in home por- 
traiture, and now it is so widely exploited that 
there is a tendency to make home portraits in a 
conventional and stereotyped way. The home- 
portrait photographers are getting into a rut in 
much the same way as the studio workers, and 
many of them are trying to make home portrai- 
ture conform to the traditions of professional 
studio work. The practice of hanging up a strip 
of black cloth behind the sitter and then working 
in on the negative a path, a gate and some highly 
improbable foliage, or a lattice window, which- 
ever happens to be in style at the moment, raises 
such pictures only a very little above the level 
of those made in front of a painted background, 
which were necessarily all very much alike except 
for the fact that a very elaborately carved chair 
or settee was sometimes added to the rural land- 
scape. There are certain recognized conventions, 
and the professional home-portrait operator has 
a set of poses on which he rings the changes until 
he has used up all his plates. TheOise of artificial 
light has added one or two more possibilities, and 
now there is usually a negative or two made at 
the fireplace, with an almost-convincing fire 
worked in afterwards to hide the electric lamp. 

[156] 




Fig. 40. JOHN 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

But although home portraiture has been taken 
up so extensively by professional workers, its 
possibilities in the way of really artistic results 
are still practically untouched. Who is more 
eminently fitted to investigate these possibilities 
than the amateur who can begin in his own home 
and branch out in the homes of his friends and 
acquaintances? The very fact that there are 
many difficulties to overcome makes the work all 
the more interesting. Every picture offers fresh 
problems, and each different subject, according 
to the age, sex and temperament of the sitter, 
has its own special difficulties, so that there is 
practically no end to the opportunities for 
experiment. 

And home portraiture is so entirely rational 
and appropriate, for most people, more especially 
the interesting people, can only be thoroughly 
at home when they are literally at home. Many 
people leave a large part of their personality 
behind when they pose for a picture amid the 
elaborate furnishings and the barbarous and 
complicated accessories usually associated with a 
professional studio. The massive and imposing 
studio camera and stand are alone almost suffi- 
cient to inspire awe in all but the most sophisti- 
cated, and, in any case, even a simple studio will 
inevitably deprive the picture of much that is 
natural, interesting and artistic. A musician or 

[157] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

a painter would naturally feel more at ease in his 
own music room or studio, and what could be 
more fitting than to photograph a musician at 
his own piano, or a painter surrounded by his 
own pictures (Fig. 39)? This applies even more 
strongly to children, who are very sensitive, as 
a rule, to environment. It will be obvious, I am 
sure, that John, curled up in the window seat at 
home, reading his own Book of Knowledge, ex- 
plaining and pointing out that the sixth star in 
the top row on the American flag is the star of 
Massachusetts, is more likely to be the John that 
luV family and friends know, than if he were pos- 
ing in a strange and interesting looking room 
that he has never seen before, and having to sit 
still instead of being allowed to wander around 
and ask questions about everything he sees 
(Fig. 40). 

Unconventional but entirely natural lighting 
can often be used in making home portraits, 
though, if it is thought to be more desirable it 
is quite possible to use a plain, straightforward 
"ordinary lighting," such as is illustrated and 
explained by the diagram on page 145. All kinds 
of fancy lightings are possible, and not at all 
hard to get, in almost any ordinary room, includ- 
ing the so-called "Rembrandt" lighting, and the 
rather hackneyed "line" lighting of the studio. 
The artist will probably try to avoid these things, 

[158] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

and will photograph his subjects lighted in the 
way their friends are accustomed to seeing them. 
He will use the light to emphasize the character- 
istics that he wants to bring out clearly, and if 
the lighting is unusual and unconventional and 
totally opposed to the canons of professional 
practice, that need not matter, as long as it is 
what he considers suitable and proper for that 
particular picture. 

A picture is not necessarily artistic just because 
it is unusual, unconventional or startling in light- 
ing or arrangement, and there is ample scope for 
the display of artistic perception and feeling even 
in a simple picture such as, for instance, Fig. 8. 
Simple, straightforward lighting, such as the 
"ordinary lighting" of the diagram, will often 
bring out the character and personality of the 
sitter far more truthfully and more convincingly 
than a freakish and startling scheme of lighting. 
But, in order to be able to use any lighting effec- 
tively, the artist must have a sound knowledge 
of the elementary principles. 

At the beginning of this chapter I have given 
a diagram and have explained a method of getting 
what is known as "ordinary lighting." This is 
so called because it is the method of lighting fre- 
quently used in the professional studio, and it is 
the basis of good, normal, everyday lighting. 
This method of lighting is the result of many 

[159] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

years of study and experiment, and it has been 
found to bring out likeness and the shape and 
modeling of the features very simply and easily, 
so it will be well for the artist to study and master 
it before he experiments with the unusual and 
unconventional. With ordinary lighting, the 
maximum of modeling and gradation of light and 
shade can be secured, and the artist must learn 
to see modeling and gradations before he can 
use lighting to the best advantage. I am urging 
the reader to master this conventional scheme 
of lighting, not because I consider it to be always 
the best or the most suitable method, but because 
I think it is necessary for him to know what it 
is and how such a lighting can be obtained. It 
may be regarded as a foundation on which to 
base experiments and departures from the 
usual. 

The lighting in home portraiture need not and 
should not be copied from the methods of the 
studio, for the principal characteristic of such 
work should be originality and the interpretation 
of individuality, but experiments and originality 
must be based on knowledge of general principles 
and on an appreciation of the important part 
played by lighting in suggesting the third dimen- 
sion, the roundness and modeling that convey 
likeness. Just blind groping in the dark will not 
accomplish very much. With the sitter in the 

[160] 




Fig. 41. ANNISQUAM BRIDGE, SUNLIGHT 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

position indicated in the diagram, facing towards 
the camera at Cl, we can get a full-face picture 
with very effective lighting. There will be a full 
range of gradations on the face, highlights on the 
forehead, nose, cheek and chin, halftones on 
those parts of the face that recede from the 
camera, and shadow on the side away from the 
light. There will be more light than shadow on 
the face, roughly about three parts light to one 
part shadow. This is ordinary lighting. By 
taking the camera around to C2, without chang- 
ing the position of the sitter, we can get a three- 
quarter view of the face on which we shall see 
more shadow than light. This is the arrange- 
ment sometimes described as "Rembrandt" light- 
ing. Then, still leaving the sitter in the same 
position, we can take the camera further around 
to C3 and can get a profile with a very effective 
"line" lighting. If we are careful, when photo- 
graphing from these last two positions, to give 
sufficient exposure to get proper detail in the 
shadows, such pictures should be very interesting. 
In The Artistic Side of Photography, A. J. Ander- 
son writes: "As soon as the photographer has 
learned to see modeling by means of its high- 
lights, shadings and shadows and not by his 
stereoscopic vision, he will find that all the 
world's a studio and all the men and women 
merely sitters. As soon as he has learned to see 

[161] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

in this manner, he may be certain that when a 
person looks well, he will photograph well." 

The very nature of home portraiture precludes 
hard and fast rules. Every worker must carry 
out his own ideas in his own way. He should 
understand lighting thoroughly, so that he can 
use it to get any effect he wants. 

The outfit for home portraiture need not be 
at all elaborate or extensive. Good work can be 
done with practically any kind of outfit, though 
there are certain features in the apparatus that 
are desirable and helpful. If large heads are 
wanted, a long-focus lens must be used, and often 
the rear combination of a rapid rectilinear lens 
will do very well. Personally I have found a 
lens of the semi-achromatic type better adapted 
for this kind of work than an anastigmat, though 
sometimes the crisp definition of the anastigmat 
is more suitable. This is a matter for each to 
decide for himself. Possibly it will be helpful to 
some of my readers if I describe briefly my own 
outfit, not that it is necessarily any better or 
more satisfactory than others, but because it has 
been found to be entirely adequate for my pur- 
poses. I use an ordinary 6| x 8| view camera 
and a rather solidly built tripod. A specially 
designed "home portrait" tripod is convenient 
but not an absolute necessity. I have an extra 
back that can be used on this camera to accommo- 

[162] 




Fig. 42. SURF AT BASS ROCKS 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

date 5x7 plate holders. The lens I use most 
frequently is a 14J-inch Verito, which is fitted 
with a Studio shutter. I also possess and occa- 
sionally use an old fashioned Voigtlaender Eury- 
scope Portrait lens of about 10 inches focal 
length. This has Waterhouse stops that slide 
into a groove in the lens barrel. As it has no 
shutter, I use a lens cap. I have a piece of stout 
wire bent in such a way that it fits into screw- 
eyes on the camera front and projects over the 
lens, and over this I hang a dark cloth for a lens 
shade. I never use any kind of artificial back- 
ground for home portraits and only very rarely 
a reflector. By so placing the sitter in relation to 
the light that there are no very heavy shadows 
on the face, the need for a reflector is done away 
with. I use either glass plates or Eastman Por- 
trait Films, as is most convenient. The films 
save weight when it is necessary to carry the 
camera any considerable distance. I have never 
used any kind of artificial light for portraits, 
except for occasional experiments in my own 
home. 



163:1 



CHAPTER VIII 

The Definition of Art The Need for Cultivated Good Taste 
Picture-making Largely Instinctive Landscape Photog- 
raphy Imagination The Selection of Suitable Condi- 
tionsThe Illusion of Relief The Illusion of Distance 
The Illusion of Movement Underexposure Fatal to Suc- 
cessNight Photography Still-life and Flower Studies. 

IN preceding chapters I have endeavored to 
point out some of the principles of art which 
are observed by painters, sculptors, photographers 
and all whose aim is to produce a work of art. 
Art has been variously defined by different 
writers. The most satisfactory definition, per- 
haps is this: "The production of beauty for the 
purpose of giving pleasure." When applied to 
picture-making by photography or otherwise, a 
better definition would be: "The beautiful repre- 
sentation of nature for the purpose of giving dis- 
interested pleasure." Either definition is applic- 
able to photography, for we must keep in mind 
H. Snowden Ward's definition of a photographic 
picture: "A thing beautifully photographed, 
rather than a beautiful thing photographed." 
So the aim in picture-making is to represent 
nature beautifully, in such a way that the repre- 
sentation will give some pleasure to those who 

C164] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

are capable of appreciating beauty. Nature, in 
this respect, must be held to include human 
nature, for in picture-making we can use both 
animate and inanimate objects. Portraiture, 
genre studies and all pictures including human 
beings are in one class, and landscape or marine 
pictures, with still-life studies, comprise the 
second. There are, thus, broadly speaking, two 
classes in picture-making; those that include the 
human figure and those that do not, and there 
is a distinct difference in the possibilities of beauty 
in these two classes. In the representation of 
inanimate objects, as in a landscape, we are 
limited to the arrangement of things that are 
expressionless in themselves. The beauty of a 
landscape picture depends only to a small extent 
upon the beauty of the actual objects photo- 
graphed. It has been said: "The nobler human 
attributes and passions, as wisdom, courage, 
spiritual exaltation, patriotism, cannot be con- 
nected with a landscape and so it is unable to 
produce in the mind the elevation of thought and 
grandeur of sentiment which are the sweetest 
blossoms of the tree of art" (Govett, Art 
Principles). 

A landscape picture is distinguished from a 
topographical record in that it affords a sugges- 
tion of some emotion, and the beauty of the 
picture depends upon the truthfulness with which 

[165] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

an interesting aspect of nature is represented. 
Truthfulness of representation does not neces- 
sarily mean microscopically sharp definition and 
a profusion of fine detail, but, rather, the exact 
interpretation of a mood of nature. Grace of 
line, interesting spacing, truthful tones and the 
attributes of beauty that are understood to be 
experienced in the contemplation of a pleasing 
pattern or design, are the qualities that are essen- 
tial in a work of art. The production of a land- 
scape picture, considered as a separate branch 
of art, is regarded by some as being on a lower 
plane than the making of pictures which include 
the human figure, because in a landscape picture 
the artist can produce only sensorial and not 
intellectual beauty and, furthermore, because 
some of the highest qualities of beauty in nature 
grandeur and sublimity can be suggested 
only to a very limited extent in a picture on ac- 
count of the necessity for representing the scene 
on a very much reduced scale. Actual magni- 
tude is required to produce either of these 
qualities in any considerable degree; the actual 
element of space can be suggested only very 
slightly. 

Suggestion is a most important element in 
picture-making. In landscape pictures, in which 
we will include also marine and still-life studies, 
the success of the picture depends entirely upon 

[166] 




Fig. 43. ROCKY NECK, EAST GLOUCESTER 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

the effectiveness with which certain emotions and 
sensations of beauty are suggested. Composi- 
tion, the mechanics of suggestion, is the means 
by which we achieve beauty in a landscape pic- 
ture. We cannot improve upon nature, but we 
must curb the prolixity of nature. We must 
condense and simplify, must select just what will 
give a suggestion of the emotions which led us 
to think that the material before us would make 
a satisfying picture. 

Emphasis of one particular feature is usually 
necessary; it may be a graceful line, or it may 
be an interesting mass, but for the proper enjoy- 
ment of a picture, this one predominant feature 
should be given full sway, and should not be 
weakened in force by the introduction of other 
interests. 

In landscape work the need for broad and 
impressionistic treatment is strongly indicated. 
The softening of obtrusive detail, the massing of 
light and shade, are often necessary for the pur- 
pose of simplification. There is a sense of free- 
dom and satisfaction to be derived from long, 
flowing lines and broad, simple masses. Such 
pictures wear well and are easy to live with. So 
we cannot too strongly emphasize the importance 
of simplicity. 

Both the accompanying pictures are simple, 
and in both there is some evidence of the at- 
C167] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

tempt to interpret a mood of nature. In Fig. 41 
the theme is "sunlight," the hot, blazing sun- 
light of an August afternoon. The picture was 
simplified by trimming off the sky in making 
the enlargement. In Fig. 42 the never-ceasing 
surge and swell of the ocean is the motive of the 
picture, and everything has been subordinated 
to this. 

In a broad sense all artists are impressionists; 
they do not picture the objects themselves, but 
only what they are conscious of seeing. There 
is no virtue in elaboration. The artist, and more 
especially he who uses a camera, must endeavor 
to be, not a mere recorder of external facts, but 
one who forms a vivid mental impression and 
tries to make us realize his impression. The 
interpretation of a mood is more to be desired 
than a bald statement of fact. 

The simplification of a picture begins with the 
selection of the subject. We feel by instinct, or 
we have learned by experience, that a certain 
arrangement of line will induce certain emotions. 
In a portrait or still-life study, we can actually 
arrange such lines as we feel are needed in the 
picture, but we cannot thus arrange the lines 
of a landscape we can only select. The same 
impulse that suggests arrangement will also 
suggest selection. 

A certain amount of mechanical construction 

[168] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

and ingenuity is needed in composing a landscape 
picture. The artist must try to see lines and 
masses as forming part of a pattern, not as actual 
objects. The line arrangement, the pattern or 
design of the picture, can be modified very con- 
siderably by changing the point of view from 
which the picture is taken. We aim to produce 
certain illusions capable of stimulating the in- 
voluntary sensation which we name pleasure, and 
these illusions, as we have pointed out in pre- 
vious chapters, are produced very largely by the 
arrangement or selection of certain lines, tones, 
and distributions of light and dark. 

There are certain mechanical principles under- 
lying the production of such illusions. These 
principles are what we strive to understand when 
we study perspective, both linear and aerial, and 
when we consider the advisability or otherwise 
of using orthochromatic plates and ray-filters. 

There are laws and rules governing the pro- 
duction of a picture, as of all works of art. The 
musician must understand and obey the rules of 
harmony and counterpoint, the writer must study 
the correct use of words and the proper construc- 
tion of sentences, and the picture-maker, whether 
he be a painter or a photographer, must keep in 
mind the principles governing the mechanics of 
suggestion, on which his pictures depend for their 
effectiveness. 

[169] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

It must not be understood, however, that 
picture-making of any kind, whether it be paint- 
ing, drawing or photography, is a matter of exact 
compliance with hard and fast rules; this is not 
the case at all. There are certain recognized 
methods in making pictures that have been uni- 
versally adopted by artists of all times, and thus 
have become crystallized into principles of com- 
position, but it will be found that picture-making 
is almost entirely a matter of good taste, and 
that it is largely instinctive when the taste has 
been trained and cultivated. If a photographer 
can compose at all; if he can make pictures that 
are pleasing to himself, and that are regarded by 
competent judges as being interesting; if he can 
make pictures that suggest to others the impres- 
sions that he himself felt when he arranged or 
selected the material, he will do so even if he has 
never heard of any rules. When he has made the 
picture, he will find that, on analysis, a reason 
can almost invariably be given to explain why a 
certain impression is conveyed, and why the 
picture makes the appeal it does. It may be 
because there are graceful or forceful lines in the 
picture; it may be on account of decorative 
masses or a delicate nuance of tone; it may be 
that the picture starts a train of thought and 
appeals to the imagination; but it can appeal 
only to those whose tastes and instincts are 




Fig. 44. SUNRISE ON LAKE WINNEPESAUKEE 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

similar to those of the artist. If some people can 
see nothing in a picture, if it means nothing to 
them and makes no appeal, it does not necessarily 
follow that the picture is at fault. They may 
not have the requisite imagination or taste to 
understand the picture. It is just the same in 
music. Some can enjoy a Tschaikowsky sym- 
phony, while others can appreciate only a jazz- 
time quartette. 

I have selected as illustrations of the various 
principles referred to, pictures that I have made 
myself and, in nearly every instance, have been 
able to pin to the picture a rule or principle that 
has been discussed in these chapters. It might 
be imagined that I had this rule in mind at the 
time, and made the picture to fit the rule. As 
a matter of fact, I do not remember being con- 
scious at all of any rules or text-book instruc- 
tions. In making the picture Plum Island, for 
instance, I did not stop to think at all about the 
dark accent made by the child against the deli- 
cate light tones, or the direction of the line of 
the surf. When making the portrait, The Fair 
Haired Boy, I did not consciously consider the 
fact that a curve running through the picture, 
from the head to the hands, would be a pleasing 
line arrangement, and when photographing The 
Painter, I do not think that the idea of the steel- 
yard balance occurred to me at all. I felt that 

[171] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

these selections were right and, on the strength 
of that instinctive feeling, I just went right ahead 
and made the exposures. Then, after the pictures 
were finished, I discovered that they conformed 
with certain recognized formulae, that the child 
in Plum Island formed a necessary and agreeable 
accent, that the distant vessel balanced the group 
in The Painter, and so on. 

I think most pictures are made in this way, 
entirely by instinct, and that the rules and prin- 
ciples can be tacked on afterwards. This probably 
will explain why there are pictures that we like, 
but that seem to conform to no rules. To "study 
up" on composition and then go out with the 
camera and a set of rules, with the idea of making 
pictures, does not seem to me to be at all the 
way to do it. It is, of course, very necessary to 
read and assimilate the rules and principles of 
picture-making, but when you are actually mak- 
ing pictures, forget all about the rules and prin- 
ciples, and rely on your own good taste and 
judgment. 

I do not believe that the ability to compose 
successfully can be learned entirely from books; 
it is a matter of good taste and judgment, cul- 
tivated and improved by the study of good 
pictures, and by the habit of looking for and ex- 
pecting to see beauty in every phase of nature. 
The natural and inherent good taste of an artist 

[172] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

is possibly an unconscious knowledge of the prin- 
ciples of composition. As soon as we become 
conscious of this knowledge, the good taste and 
instinctive feeling become judgment and selec- 
tion. But the good taste must come first, for, 
unless an artist can compose by instinct, I do not 
believe he will ever learn to do it by rule. Learn 
all you can from the study of a large variety of 
good pictures. If a picture appeals to you par- 
ticularly, try to analyze it and find out the 
reason why it impresses you as being beautiful 
or interesting. 

To learn to see pictorially is the first essential 
duty of the would-be picture-maker. It would be 
no use to learn from a book that the S-shaped 
curve, for instance, is a desirable line, if one 
cannot see and appreciate such a line in nature. 

Good taste and judgment can be cultivated, 
as are other faculties, and the foundations of 
success as an artist are good taste and an appre- 
ciation of beauty. These must come first, and 
the ability to record impressions of beauty will 
follow later. 

In landscape photography, the photographer 
must learn to see his subject as a pattern; he 
must look for lines and masses, and must learn 
to see them as parts of his design. The suggestion 
that is often given, to study the subject through 
a rectangular frame of blackened cardboard, is 

[173] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

a very good one, especially for the beginner. 
The amount of subject included in the frame can 
be varied by changing the distance between the 
cardboard and the eye. In order to eliminate 
color, and to get an idea as to how a subject will 
appear in monochrome, it should be studied 
through blue glass. Another way to study the 
subject with a view to ascertaining the decora- 
tive quality of the masses is to throw the image 
out of focus on the focusing screen, so that all 
detail is lost and only the important masses can 
be seen. A tree is useful to the artist only when 
the direction of its lines is good, and the shape of 
the mass is satisfactory. The line of surf along 
a sandy beach may be a good line or a bad one, 
and the judgment and good taste of the artist 
will enable him to decide whether it is good or 
bad, just as his taste and judgment enable him 
to decide as to the shapes of the masses. The 
good taste must be cultivated until it becomes 
instinctive and reliable. The only way to do 
this is by studying and analyzing good pictures. 
Rules and laws of composition will not develop 
taste and judgment, they will only explain why 
certain shapes and certain directions of line are 
preferable to others, and give some assistance in 
establishing a criterion. If a study of composi- 
tion were all that is necessary, every photographer 
and every painter could be an artist. 

[174] 




Fig. 45. THE WASHINGTON STATUE AT NIGHT 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

The quality of imagination is another very es- 
sential attribute of the artist. He conceives an 
idea and puts it into such form that it can be 
recognized by others. This is true of painting 
or photography, music or poetry. He does noth- 
ing more. The greatness of the picture, the 
music, or the poem is governed by the quality of 
the imagination shown in its conception. Imagi- 
nation is a natural gift that can be strengthened 
by study, and a photographer, gifted with a vivid 
imagination, who, by diligence and application, 
has acquired skill in the manipulation of his 
tools, can make pictures that will express to 
others just what he intends them to express. 
Imagination alone will not suffice to produce 
great pictures; there must be sufficient facility 
of execution to carry out the ideas in the artist's 
mind. Technical facility can be acquired by 
careful and intelligent practice. Imagination can 
be cultivated by the study of good pictures, and 
by the cultivation of the mind. Hard work is 
the secret of success in art as in everything else. 
The great painters acquired their excellence by 
study and application. According to his biog- 
raphers, the triumphs of Claude were due to his 
untiring industry, while Reynolds held that noth- 
ing is denied to well-directed labor. And so with 
many others down to Turner, whose secret, 
according to Ruskin, was sincerity and toil. 

[175] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

Knowledge and experience are the foundations 
upon which imagination can build. Years of hard 
work are necessary, but it is unfortunately hard 
to convince some students of the necessity for 
long and hard study. Many seem to be under 
the impression that inspiration will come to their 
assistance, and that genius will enable them to 
dispense with much of the labor which others, 
less fortunate, must undertake. Some mistake 
eccentricity for artistic merit, and think that a 
picture that is weird and unusual in subject or 
treatment is a worthy achievement. The uncon- 
ventional, or, as Mr. W. H. Downes calls it, the 
"unexpected pattern," often makes a picture 
interesting, but eccentricity carried too far is 
annoying. 

Probably landscape work is more often the 
first choice of the budding pictorialist than any 
other branch of photographic picture-making, and 
it offers a wide field for the exercise of imagina- 
tion. Nature's moods are many and varied, and 
there is ample scope for individual treatment. 
The chief point to bear in mind is that a simple 
subject is usually more permanently pleasing than 
one that is too complex. The selection of suitable 
atmospheric conditions is of great importance, for 
the "interpretation of a mood" can only be 
effected when there is obvious evidence of the 
existence of the particular mood. There can be 

[176] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

no definite rules given as to what these condi- 
tions are to be. Nature is interesting at all times, 
but, as a general rule, very harsh and glaring 
sunlight, when the sun is high in the heavens, 
should be avoided, because at such times there 
is often an utter lack of relief, roundness and 
modeling in the trees and other objects. 

The reason why we can see things stereo- 
scopically is because we have two eyes, just like 
a stereoscopic camera. The two slightly different 
images are merged into one, and we get the sug- 
gestion of solidity, roundness and relief. This 
stereoscopic vision also enables us to gauge dis- 
tances, to judge the flight of a tennis ball, and 
to place things in their proper relative positions, 
one behind the other. The ordinary camera has 
only one lens, and sees everything as if it were 
flat. Therefore the relief and roundness of the 
objects represented by it must be suggested by 
shading and by perspective. Thus shading is of 
great importance, and good shadows can best 
be secured when the sun is low, and when one 
side of all objects is more strongly lighted than 
the other. Sunlight coming from one side gives 
the maximum of relief, and the long shadows of 
the early morning or late afternoon are often very 
beautiful and decidedly interesting. 

In picture-making the eye has to be considered 
before the mind, and it is of immense importance 

[177] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

that the brain should have the least possible work 
to do in assisting the eye to interpret a picture. 
The aim of the artist is to produce an illusion, 
and the more nearly a picture corresponds to 
nature, the more complete the illusion. Exact 
imitation of every detail will not produce as 
striking an illusion as will a picture in which such 
things as relief, distance and movement are 
vividly suggested, and in which the artist has 
generalized these essential qualities. The illu- 
sion of relief, as we have seen, can best be pro- 
duced when the lighting is such that one side of 
an object is more strongly illuminated than the 
other, as when the sun is low and towards one 
side. The illusion of opening distance is sug- 
gested when the atmospheric conditions are such 
that the distant planes are less clearly seen than 
those near at hand. 

In Fig. 43 the distance looks distant, not only 
because the houses are small compared with the 
fence in the immediate foreground, but because 
they are less distinct and are grayer and lighter 
in tone than the objects close at hand. The 
veil of atmosphere between the eye and distant 
objects tends to make them uniform in tone, as 
explained in Chapter IV, and it is this atmos- 
phere that makes distant objects less clearly seen 
than those close at hand, like the distant houses 
in Fig. 43. 

[1783 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

In a landscape picture there should usually be 
at least two distinct planes represented; often 
there are three, the foreground, the middle-dis- 
tance and the distance. Sometimes there is no 
extreme distance in a picture, but only foreground 
and middle-distance, while occasionally the fore- 
ground may be merely a silhouette of a portion 
of a tree or a branch projected into the upper 
part of the picture, or rushes by a river bank at 
the bottom edge of the picture. 

The illusion of distance is a matter of selection 
of suitable conditions of lighting and atmos- 
phere. Early morning or late afternoon in the 
summer is usually a more suitable time for pic- 
ture-making than those times of the day when 
everything, near and far, is equally distinct and 
clear-cut. The slight haze or mist that is often 
present early or late in the day is very helpful in 
differentiating the different planes in the scene. 
Full exposure and careful development, not 
carried too far, will preserve truth of tone in 
distant planes. Sometimes a suggestion of depth 
and space is given by the introduction of an open 
doorway or the arch of a bridge in the foreground, 
with a distant view seen through it. Distance 
may also be suggested by a river, a stream or a 
road winding away into the background, and 
thus linear perspective will help in creating the 
illusion. Occasionally such an effect is produced 

[179] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

in a snow scene by a track of footprints going off 
into the distance. Linear perspective, the di- 
minution in the size of objects as they recede into 
the background, will give a suggestion of distance, 
but this, in itself, is not sufficient, and the effect 
must be increased by the illusion of flattened 
tones and less decided contrasts. 

Another illusion that can only b suggested in 
a picture is the movement and sound of nature. 
"In nature there is always movement and sound. 
Even on those rare days when the wind has 
ceased and the air seems still and dead, there is 
motion with noise of some kind. A brook trick- 
les by, insects buzz their zigzag way, and shad- 
ows vary as the sun mounts or descends. But 
most commonly there is a breeze to rustle the 
trees and shrubs, to ripple the surface of the 
water, and to throw over the scene evidence of 
life in its ever charming variety. The painter 
cannot reproduce these movements and sounds. 
All he represents is silent and still as if nature 
had suddenly suspended her work stayed the 
tree as it bent to the breeze, stopped the bird in 
the act of flight, fixed the water, and fastened the 
shadows to the ground. What is there then to 
compensate the artist for this limitation? Why, 
surely he can represent nature as she is at a par- 
ticular moment, over the hills and valleys, or 
across great plains, with sunlight and atmosphere 

[180] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

to make the breadth and distance and so produce 
an illusion of movement to delight the eyes of the 
observer with bewitching surprise" (Govett, Art 
Principles). 

Occasionally it is possible to suggest violent 
movement by having some parts of the picture a 
little blurred, thus showing evidence of motion 
during the exposure, but this rather drastic 
method should be used only to suggest an un- 
usually impetuous agitation, such as would be 
occasioned by a wind storm. A more subtle and 
more pleasing means of suggesting movement is 
by the general sweep of line in the representa- 
tion of trees. A decided inclination of the branches 
and twigs in one direction will suggest the idea 
of their being blown by wind. It is possible to 
give an impression of a landscape before rain, by 
catching the moment when the eddying wind 
turns up the silver lining of the black poplar 
leaves. Movement in water, such as falls and 
breaking waves, can be suggested by avoiding 
too short an exposure, which is always apt to 
give what is termed a "frozen" appearance to the 
water. A breaking wave photographed so that 
there is just a little blurring in the parts that 
are moving very rapidly will give a more realistic 
impression of motion than if every part of the 
picture were absolutely sharp and clearly defined 
(Fig. 42). Waterfalls and rapids can sometimes 

[181] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

be just a little blurred, but not so much as to 
lose form and character. 

As was pointed out in Chapter II, oblique lines 
and acute angles have a tendency to suggest 
motion, while long horizontal lines convey an 
impression of restfulness. There is another point 
that might be noted in the representation of 
moving objects, such as ships, animals or people 
walking, and so on, and that is their position in 
the picture-space. There should always be plenty 
of space in front of a moving object to suggest 
that there is room to move without running out 
of the picture. Motion of animals, such as sheep 
on a dusty road, can be suggested by a cloud of 
dust behind them. Motion of ships sailing 
rapidly will be indicated by the swirl or wake 
behind them. The pictorialist will do well to 
study all such things as these, so that he will be 
able to analyze impressions quickly and make 
his pictures convincing. 

For the past two years I have had the privilege 
of examining each month many hundred photo- 
graphs sent to one of the leading photographic 
magazines for competition and criticism, and the 
conclusion has been forced upon me that by far 
the most common failing in photographic picture- 
making is underexposure of the negative. The 
manufacture of ultra-rapid plates and "speed" 
film has tended to foster the idea that the shutter 

[182] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

can be speeded up more and more until less than 
the minimum of exposure is often given. Plates 
and films possess great latitude, it is true, but too 
short an exposure always has a tendency to cause 
a loss of atmosphere. 

Of all photographic failings underexposure is 
the most serious, for it cannot be remedied in 
the darkroom, and an underexposed negative will 
never give the delicate tonal gradations that are 
so necessary from the artistic standpoint. The 
differentiation of the planes in the picture always 
suffers when the negative is underexposed, in 
spite of the utmost skill that may be exercised 
m printing. So the pictorialist must always 
watch the shadows, and must be sure to expose 
for the effect he wants. The success of the 
picture depends entirely upon the exposure; very 
little can be done in development to correct errors 
in timing, and it is the shadows that must be 
considered in judging the exposure. 

There are very few shadows in nature that are 
absolutely black, except, possibly, in India or 
Egypt or other places where the air is very clear 
and the sunlight is very bright and glaring. 
Possibly the entrance to a dark cavern might 
truthfully be represented as black in a picture, 
but, as a general rule, there is detail and grada- 
tion throughout the shadows. In a subject 
lighted by electric arc-lamps, the shadows would 

[183] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

be hard, black and solid, and should be so repre- 
sented in a picture. This would be quite correct. 
But the same subject in daylight would have 
entirely different shadows. 

Moonlight scenes, so called, that are made by 
underexposing in daylight show their unreality 
by the hardness and blackness of the shadows. 
The shadows in moonlight are empty and lack- 
ing in detail, but they are never very dark. The 
contrast between the shadows and the lighted 
parts is much less in moonlight than under any 
other conditions. 

The reason why there is this difference is that 
in daylight the shadows are illuminated by dif- 
fused light, in moonlight or electric light they are 
not. The contrasts in moonlight are very soft, 
whereas the contrasts given by electric light are 
very harsh indeed. This is why a much under- 
exposed picture taken with the sun behind clouds 
can never be passed off successfully as a moonlight 
scene. The shadows are wrong. The under- 
exposure has made them empty and lacking in 
detail, but it has also made them too dark, and 
the contrasts are too great for a real moonlight 
effect. 

Pictures taken at sunrise or sunset, facing the 
sun, should be sufficiently well exposed to give 
some shadow detail and should be printed so that 
the detail is preserved in the print (Fig. 44). 

[184] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

The tendency usually is to give a short exposure 
with the idea of preserving detail in the sky, but 
the highlights must be left to take care of them- 
selves, and the exposure should be sufficient to 
give as much detail in the scene as can be per- 
ceived by the eye. 

A sunrise or sunset picture is very rarely true 
to nature in values and contrasts. Almost in- 
variably there are signs of underexposure, and 
they are often overprinted so that parts of the 
sky are rendered as black. Sometimes parts of 
the sky at sunrise or sunset are dark in color, 
dark purple, perhaps, or dark gray, but never 
black. Black clouds in a photograph never can 
be correct. Such subjects need full color-correc- 
tion and full exposure. From a practical stand- 
point as well as an artistic one, it will be found 
that a sunset and water combination is better 
than sunset over land. Exposure is difficult at 
that time of day on land, but the increased reflec- 
tion of the water shortens the necessary time, 
and the reflection may add pictorially to the 
result. 

With regard to night photography, the secret 
of success lies in giving just as long an exposure 
as will render as much detail as can be seen. Too 
long an exposure will register detail in the shad- 
ows that is not ordinarily visible, and the true 
night effect will be lost. In such pictures, any 

[185] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

lights that may be included in the view will be 
very much overexposed, and they are liable to 
cause halation in the negative. This is one of the 
technical difficulties that must be overcome. 
Films are much less subject to halation than 
glass plates, but if plates are used they should 
be backed or double-coated or both. Soaking 
in water after a preliminary application of 
developer will often bring out shadow detail 
without blocking up the highlights, but with 
double-coated plates quick development with a 
fairly strong developer will often develop the 
surface image before the developer has time to 
penetrate through to the bottom coating. Night 
photography is an interesting branch of work 
and the possibilities for artistic results are great. 

Figures 45 and 46 were both made after dark 
in a city park, the only light being that derived 
from electric arc-lamps. In both, the effect of 
the light rather than the light itself is seen, and 
thus technical difficulties of halation and over- 
exposure of the lights are avoided. 

There are many interesting effects to be obtained 
at dusk, when the lamps are lighted and before 
it is quite dark. This is an interesting phase of 
night photography that has not yet been fully 
investigated. It seems to offer great possibilities 
and might do away with some of the difficulties 
that are experienced after dark. 

[1863 



* IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

In making still-life and flower studies the artis- 
tic worker has plenty of scope for the display of 
good taste, judgment and artistic feeling. The 
entire credit for the success of such pictures is 
due to the artist, for the arrangement of the 
picture from start to finish is absolutely under his 
control. In pictures of this kind the composi- 
tion is wholly constructive. The photographer 
can build up the picture as he goes along, very 
much in the same way as a painter. He can 
select the material for the picture and can ar- 
range it as he likes; he can study the effect on 
the focusing screen, and can make any changes 
he thinks are desirable until he gets it right. 
When he has everything as he wants it, he can 
photograph it and can use all the technical knowl- 
edge and skill at his disposal. 

In Fig. 47 simplicity was the keynote. There 
is nothing in the picture except the principal ob- 
ject, placed towards the top and on the left hand 
side, and the secondary balancing object, placed 
a little lower and towards the right. The re- 
flections in the shiny surface of the table top 
give interest by means of repetition with variety. 

In arranging flower studies the artist will do 
well to keep in mind some of the principles of 
pictorial composition referred to in the preceding 
chapters. He should strive to secure unity, 
harmony, balance and completeness. He should 

[187] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

make his picture simple. He should endeavor to 
obtain good lines, decorative masses and a pleas- 
ing pattern or design. The rendering of tones 
and color-contrasts must be carefully considered, 
and the technical work should be without blemish. 
The simplicity of treatment shown by Japanese 
artists might be studied with advantage. In 
their pictures we usually find all the above men- 
tioned qualities, especially simplicity and grace 
of line. 

In order to secure graceful lines, only such 
specimens should be selected as possess this 
qualification, and only a few specimens should be 
used in the picture, otherwise the grace and 
beauty of each one will be lost. Grace and beauty 
of line are what the photographer must chiefly 
rely upon to make his picture beautiful, for he 
will lose the beauty of color. It will be found 
that hi nature grace of line and sumptuous color- 
ing are seldom found together. The photog- 
rapher should utilize the quality he can best 
render in his picture. 



[188] 



CHAPTER IX 

The Technique of Pictorial Photography Developer for Nega- 
tives Intensification Reduction Printing on Plati- 
num and Other Processes Bromide Enlarging Mounting 
and Framing Retouching Trimming. 

IN the preceding chapters, I have considered 
abstract pictorial principles, and the impor- 
tant part played by the imagination in the en- 
joyment of pictures. I have given, so far, very 
little information that is distinctly practical, and 
have taken for granted that the necessary tech- 
nical skill and experience are already possessed 
by my readers. There are, however, many to 
whom a few practical hints may be helpful, and 
so, in this chapter, the abstract will give way to 
the practical. 

As to the best developer for negatives, any 
reliable developer properly used may be con- 
sidered to be the best, and any worker who has 
experimented at all with developers will have 
found one that he likes and is satisfied to use. 
Jumping around from one formula to another is 
unnecessary and futile, for there really is no dif- 
ference to speak of. Edinol, metol, duratol, 
amidol, are all good. I have used them all, and 

[189] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

others besides, and have not been able to dis- 
cover that any one of them is better than another. 
Here is one formula that I have used for a long 
time and have found to be very satisfactory, con- 
venient and reliable: 

Amidol 180 grains 

Sodium sulphite crystals 3 ounces 

Water 80 ounces 

I have never found it necessary to be absolutely 
exact in photographic weighing and measuring, 
and in compounding this formula I usually take 
a wide-mouthed bottle that holds twenty-five 
ounces of water. I add to this one ounce of 
sulphite with a spoon that I know holds just 
about one-quarter ounce. This, when stirred up, 
will dissolve very quickly, and, when dissolved, 
I add to the solution a spoonful, which is just 
sixty grains, of amidol. This developer has to 
be mixed just before using as it does not keep 
very well in solution. Amidol gives soft results 
and good halftones, and it is particularly good for 
bromide enlargements, giving prints of good color 
and fine gradation. 

The development of negatives for pictorial 
work should not be carried too far. What we 
need is a soft, rather thin, negative with good 
gradation and no extreme density. There should 

[190] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

be very few or no parts that are bare glass. Even 
the deep shadows should show some slight light- 
action, and the dense parts should not be so 
dense that the gradations in the highlights can- 
not be printed. The negative must be adjusted 
to the printing process that is to be used, and 
only experience will enable the worker to judge 
this correctly. For platinum printing, a little 
more density is needed than for bromide enlarg- 
ing. Overdevelopment must always be avoided. 
It is easier to intensify a negative that is too 
thin than to reduce one that is too dense. In 
case intensification is needed, the following form- 
ula will be found to be very satisfactory. 

The negative is first bleached in the following 
saturated solution: 

Mercuric chloride (corrosive sublimate) 1 

ounce 
Hot water 16 ounces 

After cooling this solution and pouring off from 
the feathery white crystals thrown down, add: 

Hydrochloric acid 30 minims 

This gives the bleaching solution, which will 
keep well, and which can be used repeatedly until 
it is exhausted. It should, therefore, be returned 
to the bottle after use. 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

After washing well the bleached negative is 
blackened in any one of the following three 
solutions: 

A. Ammonia (0.880) 20 drops 

Water 1 ounce 

(This gives great intensification and good 
black color.) 

B. Sodium sulphite, 10% solution, made 

slightly acid with citric acid. 

C. An alkaline developer, such as hydro- 

chinon. (This gives about double the 
intensification of B.) 

For reduction of negatives, either ammonium 
persulphate or Howard Farmer's reducer can be 
used, according to the result that is desired. The 
former will tend to lessen contrasts by reducing 
the highlights more than the shadows, and the 
latter will have the opposite effect and will reduce 
the shadows without affecting the highlights very 
much. 

Development is very largely an automatic proc- 
ess; the quality of the negative is determined 
by the exposure, and very little can be done to 
remedy errors in exposure. If the negative is 
known to be overexposed, the addition of a little 
extra bromide to the developer before beginning 
development will help a little, while an under- 

19211 




Fig. 46. THE LITTLE BOY IN THE PARK 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

exposed negative should be developed in a very 
dilute solution, so that the shadows will have a 
chance to develop up a little before the highlights 
become too dense. For a subject in which there 
is likely to be halation, such as portraits made 
against the light, or outdoor pictures, contre-jour, 
quick development with a fairly strong developer 
will be found to be best, for the halation is on 
the under side of the sensitive coating, next to 
the glass, and if the surface of the emulsion is 
developed quickly and the action stopped before 
the developer can penetrate through to the glass, 
the halation will not be very apparent. Films 
are much less liable to give halation than glass 
plates, but if plates are used for such subjects, 
they should be double-coated or backed. 

With regard to printing, there are many good 
processes, each possessing its own possibilities 
and limitations. Platinum is undoubtedly the 
process for the pictorialist, for it will reproduce 
gradations and halftones more delicately and with 
a longer range than any other similar printing 
process, but it demands a good negative to do it 
justice. It will reproduce all the defects as well 
as all the beauties in the negative. A limitation 
of platinum is the fact that it is a contact method 
and, therefore, if large pictures are wanted, an 
enlarged negative must be made if the original 
one is too small. This is not a very difficult 

C193] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

matter, and good working instructions will be 
found in technical hand books. Carbon, gum, 
oil and bromoil all have individual and distinc- 
tive qualities, and are all very interesting proc- 
esses for artistic work. There are several good 
textbooks dealing with each of these, such as the 
Photo Miniature series, and these should be studied 
for complete working instructions. 

Another process used by many prominent pic- 
torialists is bromide enlarging. There are great 
possibilities for personal control in this method 
of printing, and the control can be and should 
be purely photographic. Handwork on negatives 
or prints should seldom be tolerated, for it is 
very apt to falsify tones and gradations and thus 
destroy the very quality that makes photography 
worthy of being considered a fine art. I have 
seen gum prints in which highlights have been 
put in and halftones brushed away. The results 
were rather striking and effective, but not really 
satisfying as pictures. Bromide will give good 
halftones and gradations, and will preserve pho- 
tographic quality very much in the same manner 
as a good platinum print. There is, too, a wide 
choice of surfaces and textures, and many inter- 
esting effects may be obtained by enlarging 
through bolting-cloth or bond paper. The quality 
of this medium, and the worker's absolute con- 
trol over the size of the picture, make bromide 

[194] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

an adequate process for the pictorialist, and it 
should not be lightly discarded for the more 
showy but less worthy attractiveness of the pig- 
ment processes. Very few can attain the fault- 
less technical skill and the unerring artistic judg- 
ment required to make really worth-while gum 
prints, and a good bromide enlargement is better 
than a poor gum print and has more real merit. 

A picture is made by the selection of the sub- 
ject and by the disposition of the lines, masses 
and tones rather than by manipulation in print- 
ing, and the qualities that make a photograph 
pictorial can be secured by purely photographic 
means without manual manipulation of the nega- 
tive or print. The artist in photography must 
be a sound technician, and should rely upon 
purely photographic means. If he wants to use 
pigments and brushes, there is no reason why 
he should not do so, but he would do better to 
use them on a blank canvas than on a photo- 
graphic print. 

My purpose here is not to teach technical crafts- 
manship, but rather the application of technique 
and the principles of art. I am taking for granted 
that the photographer can so control his medium 
that the picture will, in the finished result, tell 
the character and purpose of the photographer 
himself. It should express his thought and 
meaning, and be so individualized that it could 

[195] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

not be mistaken for the work of any one else. 
A photographer must have as sound a knowl- 
edge of picture-making as a painter, and he must 
have such control over his chosen medium that 
he can put personal expression and his own 
individuality into his pictures. In picture-mak- 
ing, as distinguished from photographic record- 
making, the artist aims to clothe the bare facts 
in such a manner that their force will be aug- 
mented but still truthful. The making of a 
picture is "a human activity consisting in this, 
that one man consciously, by means of certain 
external signs, hands on to others feelings he 
has lived through, and that other people are 
affected by these feelings, and also experience 
them." 

The artist who uses a camera should rely upon 
means purely photographic, upon those which 
grow out of and belong to the technical processes, 
but, at the same time, he should practise the 
fullest control. The point of importance is that 
the picture, whether it reflects the feeling of the 
artist or whether it embodies the impersonal 
poetry of nature, shall still be able to affect us 
with some recognizable emotion, that it shall not 
be a bare inventory of facts, but that it shall 
express something of the relation between those 
facts and our own lives. It will be found in 
practice that straightforward photographic tech- 

[196] 




Fig. 47. ALMOST HUMAN 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

nique is ample to take care of individuality, and 
that freakishness is neither necessary nor desir- 
able. Just because a picture is unusually low in 
tone, it is not necessarily pictorial. Too often 
the attempt to secure low tones results in muddi- 
ness and a vagueness that is very displeasing. 
Gradations must at all times be preserved, what- 
ever the key of the picture, and purity of tone 
and good gradations are to be secured only 
through faultless technique. 

When the picture is printed, there still remains 
a very important matter to be considered before 
it can be regarded as being quite finished. It 
must be mounted and perhaps framed. 

In the matter of mounting a picture there are 
two important points to decide; the color of 
the mount and the size. The color or tint should, 
as a rule, harmonize with the general tone of the 
picture, that is to say, a delicate, light-toned 
print usually looks best on a light mount, while 
a dark print with a predominance of low tones is 
best mounted on a dark mount. The color should 
correspond with the color of the picture; a warm- 
toned print, sepia or red, should be placed upon 
a mount of a corresponding color, and a gray print 
on a gray or white mount. Grays and browns 
should never be combined on the same mount. 

Multiple mounting, a style that was much 
used some years ago, has now fortunately become 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

obsolete, and less elaborate and distracting 
mounts are generally used. Many of the promi- 
nent and well-known exhibitors use almost ex- 
clusively a large white or very light cream-colored 
mount with no decoration or embellishments of 
any kind except, in some instances, a title and a 
signature. 

The function of a mount is to separate the 
print from its surroundings, to isolate it from 
other pictures, so that its beauties may be easily 
appreciated. The mount must, therefore, be 
quite unobtrusive and must not force itself upon 
the attention, or it will defeat its own end. Sim- 
plicity is the keynote in mounting, as it is in 
making the picture, and instead of the half- 
dozen or more various tints that were often used 
in the early days of multiple mounting, one 
single tint of a corresponding tone, a little lighter 
or a little darker than the mount, is all that need 
ever be used between the print and the mount. 
Even this is often unnecessary, unless the con- 
trast between the print and the mount seems to 
need softening. Sometimes, if the print is on a 
light mount, the mount may be decorated with a 
pencil line drawn around the print, but such a 
line, with perhaps a title and a signature, is all 
that should ever be placed on the mount besides 
the picture. Often the signature can be placed 
on the print itself. 

[198] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

The choice between a light or a dark mount 
depends upon whether the print is light or dark. 
It is possible to modify the appearance of a print 
to a slight extent by varying the tone of the 
mount. If the print is just a trifle too light, it- 
may be strengthened a little and made to appear 
darker by mounting on a very light mount, and 
if it is too dark, it will appear a little lighter if 
placed on a dark mount. This effect is the same 
as was referred to in Chapter VI, where we 
noted the effect of the surrounding tone on a tint 
of gray. Surrounded by light tones, the same 
tint would appear to be appreciably darker than 
if it were surrounded by a tone darker than 
itself. 

The size of the mount and its shape must also 
be considered. The size must be governed to 
some extent by the purpose for which it is in-* 
tended. If for exhibition purposes, a larger 
mount may well be used than would be necessary 
if the picture were kept in a portfolio or shown 
apart from other pictures. On the walls of an ex- 
hibition room, the need for isolating and separating 
the print from others is more urgent than if the 
print is seen only at home, and, therefore, a 
larger mount is called for. The shape of the 
mount depends entirely upon the shape of the 
print, and the position of the print on the mount 
is a question that is often puzzling. Here is a 

[199] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

good rule that may safely be followed. Make 
the top and side margins equal in width and the 
bottom considerably wider. Eccentric placing on 
the mount is very seldom advisable; it only 
serves to draw attention to the mount, which is 
just what should be avoided as much as possible. 

In the matter of framing their prints, photog- 
raphers have shown themselves to be more 
artistic than painters, who are only gradually 
realizing the inappropriateness of the gilded 
abominations in which they frame their pictures. 
As a general rule the frames that painters use 
are not specially designed for the pictures. Only 
a very few painters consider this to be necessary, 
but photographers usually take some pains to 
select a frame that is appropriate in tone and 
design. In some respects it is easier for a photog- 
rapher to decide on a suitable frame, because his 
prints are limited to one color and, in choosing a 
frame, he can obtain variety and harmony by 
playing upon gradations of that color. Here, as 
before, simplicity must be the chief considera- 
tion, and the frame should never be obtrusive 
either in color or design. 

Careful, skilful craftsmanship is essential in 
picture-making, and strict attention must be 
paid to every detail. A picture can be spoiled 
by careless workmanship, just as a great composi- 
tion in music can be spoiled by faulty execution. 

[200] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

Technical details must be thoroughly mastered 
before the soul of art can be discovered. 

Those who are attracted by figure work and 
portraiture sometimes feel that they cannot take 
up this branch of picture-making without master- 
ing thoroughly what is commonly supposed to be 
a very difficult accomplishment the art of re- 
touching. Retouching really is not difficult at 
all for the pictorial worker, because it never is 
necessary or desirable for him to "finish" the 
picture as is commonly done by the professional, 
and the mysteries of "stipple" and "cross- 
hatching" and other such conventionalities do 
not concern him at all. In fact, such things 
should be strenuously avoided. 

It is absolutely essential that the artist should 
do any necessary retouching himself, for it would 
probably ruin the picture to send it to a pro- 
fessional retoucher to be "finished." He must 
carry out his own ideas, and do everything in 
his own way from beginning to end. 

The aim of the artist should be to bring out 
as much as possible the character of the face by 
the lighting and by the proper selection of the 
point of view. These having been considered, 
the next essential is to select the most pleasing 
and the most characteristic expression. Re- 
touching should never be relied upon to correct 
faulty lighting or to change the expression. 
[201: 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

We have seen that a picture is largely a matter 
of suggestion rather than the representation of 
actual facts, and that the suggestion is conveyed 
largely by means of emphasis and elimination. 
Retouching is one of the most useful methods of 
emphasis and elimination, and as such it is of 
tremendous use to the artist who can use it intel- 
ligently. It is sometimes necessary to strengthen 
highlights on the negative, in order to emphasize 
the modeling, and it is occasionally desirable to 
soften wrinkles or blemishes in the skin, which 
are apt to be far more noticeable in a picture 
than they are in real life. A fully-corrected lens, 
as we have seen, renders everything with abso- 
lute impartiality, and a line or a wrinkle per- 
manently recorded on the photographic negative 
appears to be more prominent than we think it is. 
The camera does not create these lines and 
wrinkles: they are really there, but, owing to 
the constantly changing lighting and the vary- 
ing expressions on the face in nature, we scarcely 
notice them until they are ruthlessly and merci- 
lessly depicted with unimaginative and mechani- 
cal accuracy by the lens and dry plate. Some 
lines and wrinkles are part of the character of 
the face; some of them are only the temporary 
accompaniment of a fleeting expression, but, 
whatever they are, a fully corrected lens, focused 
sharply, will render everything with startling 

[202] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

vividness and without discrimination. From 
motives of charity, as well as for the sake of 
artistic truthfulness, it is sometimes necessary to 
smooth out a wrinkle or two, or to remove a few 
disfiguring freckles. 

A soft-focus lens will aid very materially in 
rendering the essentials in portraiture. A lens 
of this kind seems to do away with the irritating 
mechanical quality of photography; it seems to 
possess an almost human power of selection, and 
discriminates in a wonderful way between the 
essential and the unessential. The fact that the 
lens gives soft focus because of incomplete chroma- 
tic correction helps very much in the case of 
freckles. Chromatic aberration in a lens means 
that the different colors of the spectrum are 
brought to a focus in different planes, at differ- 
ent distances from the lens. Thus, when the 
blues and violets are clearly focused, the yellows 
and reds are out of focus. So, in the case of a 
sitter with blue eyes, yellow or red hair, and 
freckles, if the eyes are focused clearly, the hair 
is massed and the freckles softened, so that they 
are not any more noticeable than in real life. 
The red in the lips is also out of focus, and little 
cracks and wrinkles on the lips are obliterated. 

The boy shown in Fig. 48 has blue eyes and 
yellow hair, and the chromatic aberration in the 
lens has caused the eyes to appear sharper and 

C203] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

clearer than anything else in the picture. This 
portrait, made with a 16-inch Smith lens, Series 
I, the original single lens, was made as an experi- 
ment with a very large aperture, and the effect 
of chromatic aberration, as described, is quite 
apparent. 

Much can be done to minimize the need for 
retouching by the proper use of the right kind of 
lens, and by care in focusing. All such methods 
as this should be employed to the fullest extent, 
and the lighting and posing should also be con- 
sidered as a means of avoiding the necessity for 
actual handwork on the negative, but when such 
handwork is found to be requisite, it should by 
all means be used to aid the artist in his repre- 
sentation. 

A retouching desk can be easily made at home. 
A few pencils that have very long, fine points 
and a small bottle of retouching medium are 
all that are needed for the work. The pencils 
may be sharpened on a piece of fine sandpaper. 
The points must be very long and very fine, 
rather like a darning needle. The artist should 
avoid copying the methods of the professional 
retoucher, who usually does far more than is 
necessary. The fact that the picture has been 
retouched should never be apparent. The fine 
"stipple" and finish all over the face that is so 
often seen in professional portraits is entirely 

[204] 




Fig. 48. GORDON 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

unnecessary, in fact, it simply destroys the 
modeling of the face and the texture of the skin. 
If the pictorialist will confine himself to a little 
softening of wrinkles or freckles, and perhaps 
slight strengthening of some highlights, if that 
seems to be really needed, he will have done all 
that should be done. The modeling, texture and 
character of the face must be shown by the light- 
ing, the pose and intelligent focusing, rather than 
by the crude method of retouching, which never 
can approach the delicacy of pure photographic 
technique. 

In actual practice, such retouching as the 
artist needs will be found to be comparatively 
easy. A little medium should be rubbed on the 
negative, over the place to be retouched. Only 
a very little is needed, and it should be rubbed 
over smoothly, so that there is no hard line 
where the medium stops. The wrinkles, if there 
are any, should be softened with very light, 
gentle strokes of the pencil. These strokes 
should never be made so that they show as actual 
pencil marks. Only the effect of the pencil 
strokes should be seen, just as when a delicate 
drawing is being finished. It is almost impossible 
to work too lightly, but any one with a delicate 
touch should have no trouble in making the 
strokes so that they blend into the surrounding 
tones. 

[205] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

There are certain lines and wrinkles that may 
be softened more than others. The vertical fur- 
row often found between the eyebrows may 
be softened considerably without destroying the 
likeness, and this will greatly improve the expres- 
sion. The drooping shadows at the corners of 
the mouth, and the lines from the corner of the 
mouth to the nostril, known as the labial furrow, 
often need working over. Wrinkles at the cor- 
ners of the eyes should rarely be tampered with; 
they are part of the character of the face, and 
their removal would spoil the likeness. Freckles, 
if they show very plainly in the picture, may be 
softened a little, but they should not be removed 
altogether. 

Only a very little work should ever be done 
in the way of strengthening highlights. They 
should be looked after in the lighting and posing, 
but sometimes a little fine and careful work on 
them may be a means of emphasizing character. 

Very often it will be found that no retouching 
at all is needed. This is usually the case when a 
soft-focus lens is used, and especially when the 
sitter is young and has a smooth skin. 

The art in retouching lies in knowing when to 
stop. Contrary to the ideas held by the average 
commercial professional, retouching is not an 
added beauty or a method of making pictures 
more attractive. It is merely a rather clumsy 

[206] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

method of eliminating some otherwise unavoid- 
able defects, which are the inevitable consequence 
of using an undiscriminating lens. Retouching is 
not to be commended for its own sake; it should 
be regarded merely as a means of correcting the 
inherent tendency of the lens to record both the 
essential and the unessential. It is not a photo- 
graphic process, but an after-treatment of the 
negative. It is a method of drawing on the nega- 
tive with a lead pencil in order to obtain certain 
effects in the print. 

In the matter of trimming a print, the prin- 
ciples of composition must often be observed. The 
size and shape of the picture are entirely matters 
of artistic judgment, and the artist should feel 
perfectly justified in cutting down a picture if it 
can thereby be improved in any way. As an 
exercise in space-filling, it is interesting to see 
how near one can come to making a satisfactory 
composition that will just fill the plate or film 
that is being used, without any trimming. This 
is often hard to do, especially if the picture-maker 
has a keen appreciation of spacing. Even if the 
makers of plates and films are obliged to make 
their sensitive material in certain sizes, so that 
they will fit certain cameras, the artist is bound 
down by no such regulations, and can make his 
pictures any size he pleases, being guided only 
by considerations of artistic arrangement. Often 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

we find that the subject we select will occupy 
only a portion of the plate, and then it is better 
to make the picture small and take it from the 
right point of view, rather than make it bigger 
by getting too close. 

In trimming a print, the artist must be guided 
to some extent by the position of the main object 
of interest. This, as we have seen, should usually 
be placed about one-third of the width of the 
picture-space away from one side and the top or 
bottom of the picture. Often it improves a pic- 
ture to trim off part or all of the sky. Some- 
times the foreground is bare and uninteresting, 
and may well be dispensed with. Such things as 
these should always be considered to be of greater 
importance than trying to make the picture a 
certain shape so that it will fit a certain-sized 
mount. The mount must be made to fit the 
picture rather than the picture to fit the mount, 
and, therefore, the use of stock mounts with 
borders is rarely practicable. 

In trimming portraits, the position of the head 
in the picture-space must be carefully considered, 
for the apparent height of the sitter can be varied 
by trimming close or by leaving space above the 
head. When the head is near the top of the 
picture, we get the impression that the sitter is 
tall, and a certain dignity and importance is sug- 
gested. When the head is low in the picture- 

[208] 



IN PHOTOGRAPHY 

space, it conveys a suggestion that the sitter is 
small. Another way in which dignity and height 
can be added in a portrait of a full-length stand- 
ing figure is by cutting off the feet. This gives 
the impression of added height by the fact that 
it is difficult to tell just how much has been cut 
off and we can imagine it is more than it really 
is. This is a matter of placing in the picture- 
space, rather than trimming, but the same effect 
can be obtained by trimming, if necessary. 

In picture-making a good deal of practical 
common sense is needed, and the rules and prin- 
ciples should be regarded as guides, to be observed 
or disregarded as seems best. When a rule is 
broken, there should be a good reason for doing 
so, and the artist should know what he is doing. 

It must be understood that in picture-making 
the methods used by one photographer may be 
entirely unsuited to another. This must be so, 
or there would be little or no individuality in 
pictures by different artists. The principles re- 
ferred to in this book are merely some of the 
fundamentals, and each artist must develop his 
own individuality, while still adhering more or 
less closely to these basic principles. I have en- 
deavored to make clear to those interested in 
the artistic side of photography how the me- 
chanics of suggestion can be applied in picture- 
making. Such things as line, spacing, mass, 

[209] 



PICTORIAL COMPOSITION 

balance, perspective, and so on, are just so many 
cogs in the machinery. How they are put to- 
gether depends upon the ingenuity and skill 
of the individual. The old-fashioned hand-brake 
on a trolley car is an arrangement of cogs and 
wheels, and so is a lady's watch. Both use the 
same mechanical principles, yet how different are 
the results! There is much to learn in making 
pictures. Only a little can be gathered from 
books. The greater part of the knowledge must 
consist of actual experience. 

I am only too well aware that much has been 
omitted and that many important points have 
been but lightly touched upon, yet I hope that 
there may be enough in this book to stimulate the 
desire for further investigation along the lines of 
pictorial composition. 



[210] 



INDEX 

PAGE 

Accent 75, 107, 124 

Anderson, A. J 25, 60, 161 

Angle of view, that can be seen by the eye 88, 118 

included by a 5-inch lens 88 

included by a 14-inch lens 89 

Appreciation of beauty, the 4 

Art, not always creative 7 

definition of ;, 164 

At the Close of a Stormy Day 108 

Atmosphere 91 

lack of , 92 

Background 137 

Balance 128 

of the steelyard 46 

Beauty, the attributes of 23 

depends upon truth 23 

Blake, A. H 22 

Breadth 67 

Bromide enlarging 194 

Cadby, Will 10, 50, 57, 108, 109 

Center, main object of interest should not be in the 47 

Characteristics, of different mediums 49 

of photography 51 

Claude 175 

Coburn, Alvin Langdon 10, 22, 135 

Color, lack of, a source of disappointment 20 

Composition, can become a habit 6 

what is 8 

exercise of the power of selection in 13 

the mechanics of suggestion 9, 13, 20, 27, 32 

appropriate action following a careful analysis of 

impressions 15 

C 211 3 



INDEX 

~ . A . PAOE 

Composition, 

very largely common sense 16, 27 

an impulse 27 

a matter of instinct 27, 170, 172 

definition of 30 

constructive and selective 31, 124 

the function of 124 

Concentration of interest 22 

Copying machine, the camera a 9, 101 

Crescent Beach 80 

Curve, simple 126 

S-shaped 128 

figure 8 129 

Day after Christmas, The 150 

Day, F. Holland 109 

Detail, not detrimental to the success of a picture 114 

Developer for negatives 189 

Development of negatives 190 

largely automatic 192 

Diagonal of plates 88 

Difference between painting and photography 36 

Dow, Arthur 64 

Duhrkoop, Rudolph 135 

Echo Bridge 15 

Eickemeyer, Rudolph 18 

Emotions are what concern the picture maker 16 

Emphasis 117 

by isolation 119 

by elimination 119 

by radiation of lines 119 

by contrast in tone 119 

of one particular feature necessary 167 

Explorers, The 80 

Exposure, full, will preserve truth of tone 179 

under, a common failing 182 

Fair-haired Boy, The 78, 171 

Fenway, Boston. Museum of Fine Arts 23 

Figure-8 curve 129 

C 212 ] 



INDEX 

FAOB 

Figures in landscape pictures 78 

Flower studies 187 

Focal length, determines size of objects 85 

characterization of 88 

estimation of 88 

Framing 200 

Full-face portraits 132 

Full-length standing figure 125 

Fuzziness 68, 115 

Genre 81 

Good taste, needed in picture making 170 

can be cultivated 173 

Govett, "Art Principles" 165, 180 

Groups 136 

Gum prints 50 

Hands in portraits, the 129 

Hand work carried too far will destroy photographic 

quality 73 

Hard work the secret of success 175 

Harlem River, The 75, 120 

Home portraiture 155 

outfit for 162 

Illusion, aim of the artist to create 178 

of relief 178 

of opening distance 178 

of movement and sound 180 

Imagination, an important factor 19 

an attribute of the artist 175 

Impressionists, artists are 168 

Individuality of the artist 10 

Instinct, pictures made by 172 

Intensification 191 

Japanese Art 30, 65 

Kasebier, Mrs., human documents 19, 109 

Key 57 

[ 213 ] 



INDEX 

PAGE 

Landscape pictures, the need for broad and impressionistic 

treatment in 167 

often first choice 176 

Large-sized heads 131, 135 

Lens, draws shading 52 

soft-focus, for pictorial work 67 

Spencer Port-Land 69 

Verito 69 

Smith 69 

Smith Synthetic 70 

Struss Pictorial 70 

soft-focus, needs to be studied 73 

long-focus, should be selected for pictorial work 85 

rapid rectilinear 89 

does not discriminate Ill 

semi-achromatic 112 

Libby, Francis t 65 

Lighting, the ability to see 144 

diagram of 145 

Limitations, hi representation 19 

lack of color 20 

representation of depth and space 20 

reduction to a small area 21 

Lines, the expression of 37 

of great importance 37 

language of 37 

horizontal 37 

vertical 38 

oblique 38 

possibly of suggesting emotions by means of 39 

triangular formation of 41, 127 

curved 43 

S-shaped, of beauty 43 

Z-shaped 44 

the unseen 44 

repetition of, with variety 126 

rectangular arrangement of 128 

Lost edge, the 126 

Mass 62 

strength of 63 

[ 214 ] 



INDEX 

Mass, 

may be light or dark in tone 65 

appreciation of 66 

massing of detail imparts breadth 67 

how to study 74 

McKnight, Dodge 22 

Mechanics of suggestion, the 9, 13, 20, 21, 27, 32 

Meyer, Baron de 19 

Monet 11 

Moods, in individuals 13 

in nature . . 14 

Moonlight scenes 184 

Mortimer, F. J 109, 110 

Mounting 197 

Night photography 185 

Notan 64 

Ordinary lighting 145, 159 

Orthochromatic plates, use of, does not exaggerate at- 
mosphere 93 

will enable a photographer to exercise some control 

over his results 97 

without a screen 98 

not always indispensable 96, 99 

desirable for snow scenes 103 

for portraiture 151 

Outfit for home portraiture 162 

Panchromatic plate, use of, desirable in many branches of 

photographic work 94 

seldom necessary for pictorial work 99 

Personal control 73 

Perspective, linear 84 

truth of, governed by point of view 84 

agreeable, given by long-focus lens 89 

viewpoint rather than focal length of lens determines . 90 

aerial 91 

Photograph, nothing but an arrangement of varying shades 

of monotone 19 

pictorial 8 

C 215 ] 



INDEX 



Photographer, pictorial 26 

Photography, a fine art 53 

Picture, what is a 22 

should be regarded as a pattern 28, 34, 173 

Picture making, the aim in 164 

two classes in 165 

Placing of the head in picture space 133 

Planes 179 

Platinum printing 56, 193 

Plum Island 76, 78, 120, 171 

Poore, Henry R 46 

Porterfield, Wilbur H 10, 65 

Portraits, composition in, constructive rather than selective 124 

the hands in 129 

the eyes in 133 

the background in 137 

the tones in 143 

the tendency to make the face too light in 148 

outdoor 151 

in sunlight 153 

in the home 155 

Principality 117 

Profile 102, 147 

Reduction 192 

Refinement 142 

Rembrandt, 113 

lighting 145, 158 

Repetition with variety 24 

Representation, what we can do in the way of actual, is 

limited 12 

Restraint 116 

Retouching 201 

Rey, Guido, of Turin 82 

Reynolds 175 

Schutze, Eva Watson- 156 

Selective focusing Ill 

Semi-achromatic lens 72, 112, 114 

Shadows 183 

[ 216 ] 



INDEX 

PAGB 

Simplicity 104 

of line 105 

of tone 105 

of subject 108 

the importance of 110 

in portraiture 113 

importance of, in landscape pictures 167 

Smith lens 69 

Synthetic lens 70 

Snow scenes 103 

Soft-focus lens, for pictorial work 66 

for portraiture 71 

needs to be studied 73 

Spacing 33, 35, 62 

Spencer Port-Land lens 69 

S-shaped curve 128 

Starting Out 75, 120, 122 

Steelyard 46 

Steichen 10 

Stevenson, R. L., "Ordered South" 7 

Stieglitz 22 

Still Life 187 

Strong positions in picture space 76 

Struss Pictorial lens 70 

Subject, choice of 109 

Suggestion, in representation 12, 21 

an important element in picture making 166 

Summer Landscape, A 15 

Sum of breadth and length of plates 88 

Sunrise and sunset pictures 184 

Sympathy 109 

Theme of a picture 26 

Tones, the most important consideration in dealing with 

pictures made with a camera 49 

what are 54 

the characteristic virtue of photography 51 

depend upon exposure 60 

may be simplified 102 

apparent strength of tone may be modified by sur- 
rounding tones 121, 141 

[ 217 ] 



INDEX 

PAGE 

Tones, 

in portraiture 142 

truth of, in portraiture 148 

Trimming 207 

Truthfulness of representation 166 

Turner 175 

Underexposure a very common failing 182 

Unity 22 

Variety of line 40 

Velasquez : 113 

Verito lens 69 

Vinci, Leonardo da, note-book 91 

Ward, H. Snowden 72, 164 

Weil, Mathilde 156 

Whistler 100, 113 

Wingaersheek Beach 107, 108 



C 218 





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