Edward L. (Edward Livingston) Wilson.

Wilson's photographics : a series of lessons, accompanied by notes, on all the processes which are needful in the art of photography online

. (page 5 of 45)
Online LibraryEdward L. (Edward Livingston) WilsonWilson's photographics : a series of lessons, accompanied by notes, on all the processes which are needful in the art of photography → online text (page 5 of 45)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

suitable to his sitters, and he may then, perhaps, be able to give less occupation to the eternal
book we see in. the hands of photographees almost as often as a roll of paper is represented
in the statues of statesmen. — H. P. Eobinson.

50. It is universally allowed that Raphael excelled all other painters in a graceful arrange-
ment of drapery, and a natural disposition of folds. By studying the principles of the ancients,
he learned to consider the figure as the principal part, and that drapery should be considered as
an accessory. That it is intended to cover and not to conceal. That it is employed not from ca-
price, but from necessity. Consequently, the dress should notbe so narrow as to constrain the
members, nor so ample as to conceal them, but suitably adapted to the size and attitude of the
figure represented. His ample draperies had no useless folds, and were bent at the articulations.
The form of the figure indicated the form of the folds, and on the great muscles he formed great
masses. "When any limb was foreshortened in the drawing, he covered it with as many folds as
if it were extended, but crowded them in proportion to the foreshortening. By the folds of his
draperies, it is easy to determine the attitude of the figiire previous to the one in ^hich It
appears. Por example : whether the arm were extended or reposing Immediately before the
action in which it is represented. This was an expression he carefully studied on all occa-
sions. When the drapery was to cover the leg or the arm but partially, he made it out the
member obliquely. His folds were of a triangular form. The. reason for this is found in
nature ; for all drapery, after being extended and then falling again under the pressure of
the atmosphere, is naturally formed into triangles. His whole practice demonstrates the
theory that the movements of the figure cause the peculiar form and position of the folds
exhibited in the drapery that covers it. — M. A. Dwtght.



Fig. 14.

51. Many artists, when composing on this principle, especially in
landscape pieces, so arrange the cloud lines that they form a balance by

running counter to the lines
in the composition proper,
as shown in this very beauti-
ful example, " The Harvest
Wagon," by Philipp Wou-
werman, which hangs in the
Leuchtenberg Gallery. We
may almost see the forms
of the figures repeated in
outline in the clouds, by re-
versing the picture. The
story is well told, and the
artist was true to the princi-
ples of his art.

62. Something- more di-
rectly in the line of j)ho-
tographic portraiture will
be found in the picture
of " Master Lambton," by
Sir Thomas Lawrence, that
wonderfully successful por-
trait painter whose works are always worthy of study. Many painters,

^ 51. The sky requires careful study and arrangement to produce the right effect. The lights
formed by the clouda must be arranged in such a manner as not to lose their force. Small
clouds seldom have a good effect, and betray a feebleness of manner in the artist, excepting
when they are so arranged as to form a single object. Clouds give expression to the character
of the scene represented ; for instance, as they gather for an approaching storm, or breali away
tomakeanopeningforthe welcome sunbeam, after having deluged the earth with water. And
again, they may express the beautiful repose of a quiet summer afternoon. — M. A. Dwight.
62. The first condition of a good attitude is, that it should be in harmony with the age,
stature, habits, and manners of the individual ; secondly, that it should express the greatest
beauty of which the model is susceptible. As we have already stated, the perfect knowl-
edge of the individual is the sole guide for a suitable choice of the position ; the defect to
be most guarded against is that caused by borrowed and studied attitudes. The photogra-
pher must, therefore, observe attentively, reflecting on his subject, and try, by all possible
means, to engage the attention of his model, and to endeavor to make him cease to think of
the portrait for which he is come, seizing and noting the natural movements which are visi-
ble during these short intervals of forgetfulness. — M. Bisdbri.



Fig. 15.

in adopting the angular form of composition, have so arranged the
leading lines and points in their pictures as to form a diamond, and an
examination will serve to show they
have done so to good purpose, as groups
so arranged have a very pleasing effect
upon the eye. The " Master Lamhton "
requires but little filling in of a line to
make it of diamond form. Turn it side-
ways and we have a pyramidal form,
of which method what follows will tell
more particularly.

53. The Pteamidal Form of Compo-
sition, in many respects, closely resem-
bles the angular, the only difference
being, that although the angular may,
and often does, contain within itself
many pyramidal parts, yet the angular
form predominates, and vice versa, in
pyramidal. And while there may be
much in the composition or arrangement that would be apt to have it
classed as angular, yet the impression given, when viewed as a whole,
or when the leading lines are analyzed, will be that it partakes most of
the form ol a pyramid. This form is particularly adapted to groups.

54. It is, therefore, thought best to mark the distinction, as the pyram-
idal will be found to be the most generally useful in composing single

\ 53. Now what we want, good fellows, is less reality and more idealism ; less completeness
and more suggestions ; less of the actual and more inference in our work. This intensity
of truthfulness amounts to deformity and disfigurement, and is a dangerous fault hecause of
its negative merit. It is a rare requisite, this thing we lack. A coy, shapeless, almost inde-
scrihable quality ; better told in what it does not consist than in what it does. An ethereal,
atmospheric quality — fleeting and full of feeling ; a quality not so much of hrains as soul, and
yet plainly with hrains to back it.

To be literal and practical in this matter submit to the rules, although seemingly incon-
sistent to apply rules to idealizing photography. — J. H. Kent.

i 54. Our chemical effects may be faultless, our pictures ever so sharp, but without proper
pose, lighting, and expression, our resulting' pictures will only be stiff, hard, soulless images.
Without this soul and lifelike animation that proper care can obtain, and may always be
found in every face (be it ever so dull), we fall far short of what our art is capable of pro-
ducing, and the good to which we all should aim, and to which we all can reach, if we only
apply the means placed before us. — Alexander Hesler.




figures, particularly ladies — in fact, three-fourths of the portraits pro-
duced by photography will be found, on examination, to partake of this
form. It is hoped that its study will lead to perhaps a better appreciation
of where, and in what manner, to introduce complementary lines. In
arranging groups of figures, a regard to and application of this form of
composition will often be found useful. Remember, then, the very great
importance there is for having a graceful or pleasantly fiowing line,
either internally or in that which constitutes the leading outline. This
will apply to all the leading forms of composition.

55. It is not intended to advocate anything like a close approximation
in any composition to the lines forming a pyramid, but rather as in listen-
ing to any well-known air with variations we have no difficulty in tracing •
the air itself running through them while the piece is being performed,
so in the necessarily varied lines of a drawing or photograph, if there is
art or design in its construction, the educated eye can discover the method
of composition, and thus more readily enter into and understand the
motive or intention of the artist. From the author's collection of photo-
graphic portraits, six examples of the angular and six of the pyramidal
form of composition have been selected and photo-engraved, as proofs
of how these principles may be carried daily into practice.

56. To explain this point more fully, an example is given, " The Expul-

55. This art of composition is a part of photography, just as it i:i of music or architecture,
or of any other of the fine arts. It enters into the construction of the simplest picture.
One view of a face, unless it Is well chosen, is often of little value as a likeness. Suppose
we catch a swift glimpse of a stranger's profile ; it is very little we know of his face and
character until we have seen more of him. But a momentary glimpse — one look of the
face — is all that a photograph likeness gives us. The moment you hegin to arrange your
sitter to get the most of him before the camera, you are studying the art of composition.
Every change of position, every object you introduce, every bit of light and shade aug-
ments or diminishes the value of the picture. It must conform to the ancient law of variety
and unity, and the more variety introduced the harder the problem of unity becomes. It
seems reasonable that the study of the masters in pictorial and plastic art would be of ad-
vantage in photography as it is in the other arts. I need only suggest among the many
the names of Turner and Eembrandt as great masters of composition. Tintoretto is another
who has hardly an equal ; but I cannot understand why his work in any form is almost
inaccessible to us. — Charles Akbks.

56. Make it a constant practice, before removing the cap from the lens, to first give a
rapid glance at the sitter, to see whether the outline of the figure composes well, that the
light and shade are massive and round, and that there appears some indication of the expres-
sion you desire on the face of the sitter. If there is a lack of either of the?e qualities, do
not waste your plate until you have got them before your lens. — H. P. Robinson.



Fig. 16.

sion of Hagar," by G. Flink, with the pyramidal lines running through It.
An examination will show the play and variety of the outlines. While a

graceful outline is obtained, do nol
overlook, but be very careful in ar-
ranging and composing, the internal
lines of the composition.

57. Ifothing should be considered
too trivial ; every part should receive
a due amount of care. At times,
simply the fold of a dress, or the
proper position of an otherwise in-
significant accessory, will put the
whole picture in harmony.

Euskin, in speaking of arrange-
ment in the smallest detail, takes notice of some leafage in the foreground
of one of Turner's paintings, and says: "Unless every leaf and every
visible form or subject, however small, forms a part of some harmony, it
has no business in the picture. It is a necessary connection of all the
forms and colors, down to the last touch, which constitutes great or in-
ventive work, separated from all common work by an impassable gulf."

58. , Also note, that whether it is a single figure or group that is being
arranged, it is of great importance to have variety in the flow of the lead-

• 57. In taking the portrait of a aitter, I generally decide at a glance the best point of view
of the face and the kind of lighting required to suit, securing a graceful pose, and quietly
making all the arrangements without hurry and bustle, keeping up a quiet conversation till
the critical moment of exposing the plate. To secure a happy expression on the features of
our sitters, so that their photographic counterpart shall represent animate instead of inani-
maifi beings, is the most difficult part of the portraitist's art. In this, more than any other
point, is seen the difference between the works of an art-photographer and those of the
merely mechanical one.

In posing avoid straight lines and right angles in the figure ; and try to secure flowing
line, hut not to overdo it, as I have seen posing run mad of late — sitters taken in the most
extraordinary attitudes. I know a photographer who, on seeing a fine posed portrait by me
or any of his friends, will rush home with it and take all his sitters for a month in that
pose, until a fresh idea crops up from another friend, and then, but not till then, does he
give his sitters a change. This I think rather too bad, and I often tell him to manufacture
his own. It is much better to invent one's own style of portraiture than to be continually
copying another photographer's work. — E. Slingsby.

J 58. Variety in our work has not been sufficiently insisted on. We go on year by year in
the same old grooves ; we make the same old cartes and vignettes ; the same front elevations
of houses and public buildings. Not that we are not fond of variety ; on the contrarv, we



Fig 17.

ing outlines. Take, for example, a single figure, and suppose it to be
photographed, front figure, front face. You might draw a line down the
centre and find each of the halves exactly alike, symmetrical, if, you
choose, from being alike, but certainly not graceful. Turn either the
head or the figure, however slightly, giving a trifling bend or inclination
to the head, and you need not to be furnished with a drawing to prove
which gives the best effect.

59. Likewise with a group, do not have each figure placed at equal
distances, nor all look-
ing in the same direc-
tion, unless, indeed, to
tell the story, and even
then variety can be ob-
tained by varying the
pose of the heads. But,
as a good illustration
will enforce the idea
much better than any-
thing that can be writ-
ten, carefully study the
engraving, for exam-
ple, of "Family Devo-
tion," by Jean Baptiste
Greuze. A better one
could not be given, both

as to the flow of the outlines and the various inclinations of the heads.
Or a similar study may be found in Wilkie's "Blind Fiddler." The

like it well enough when we can get it cheap, without any trouble, ready made. If one,
with a little more ingenuity or imas;inn,tion than his fellows, traces out a new tract, he is
first allowed to test its fruitfulness, and if it ii found successful, there is a rush of all his fel-
lows to scramble for the nuggets oa his claim. Why don't photographers prospect for
themselves ? They are pretty sure to find some artistic or technical mine or other that will
pan out well, and bring them fame or fortune, perhaps both. — H. P. EoBiifSOif.

59. A great improvement can be made in posing (at least in some cases) ; some photogra-
phers, or would-be photographers, treat their subjects in a manner which is perfectly horri-
ble. Por instance, even in a bust picture, the head is turned to one side about a three-quar-
ter view, just enough for the tip of the nose to come even with the outline of the face,
thereby giving an unnatural appearance to most faces ; and, again, in Rembrandt lighting,
posing the head so that the ear of the sitter will on the right side be just visible, or a part of it,



Fu;. 18.

latter will be remembered by the readers of the Philadelphia Photographer
for 1879, page 331, and it may be also seen, with remarks, on page 65
of Eobinson's admirable Pictorial Effect in Photography. ISTo one at
the present day can say he has no opportunity for studying art, for by
the cheapness of the press it is brought within the reach of the humblest,
in magazine and book illustration. Our news-stands are full of studies.
60. When you have practised this habit for awhile, you will find your-
self measuring every picture you see
by the rules of art; and the study of
art will become an unending pleasure
to you. As another excellent example
of this form of composition, an engrav-
ing is given here of " The Empty Jug,"
by A. Von Ostade. Take these figures,
individually or collectively, and you will
find the pyramidal lines carefully ob-
served by the artist. How capitally the
story is told, too, not only by the atti-
tude ; but by the expression of the mem-
bers of this disappointed and curious
trio. It is a picture, too, not hard to
repeat by means of photography, for
such groups are no longer beyond the capabilities of our wonderful art.

just enough of it that when yott-look at the picture you will not be able to tell whether it is
an ear or a wart, or what it is. Kow I claim that such small things should not be over-
looked, no matter how good otherwise the negative may be. It will pay to make it over, for
your customer will not be satisfied with such work ; and how could you expect him to ? The
sooner photographers learn those lessons which go to make up in a large degree the success-
ful photographer, the better it will be for them, and the day is coming when those cheap
Johns; who care nothing about good artistic positions, well-lighted and manipulated effects,
must of a necessity take a back seat. Our citizens are learning how to appreciate good
work, therefore we must be alive to our own interest. Should you complain that your cus-
tomers are leaving you, and are patronizing the larger cities, just take a good square look at
yourself and yoJr work, and see if you are not behind the times. — P. M. Wells.
J 60. Some photographers pay too much attention to the dress of their customers, forgetting
they have a face ; this far too common habit must be changed by those who would make a
reputation with the general public.

In the now fashionable large head on the card size, always draw the focus well forward ;
if not, the back hair will be too sharp, the whole elTect inartistic, the picture lacking round-
ness | also, for the reason that, if too far back, the features will be out of proportion, the



Surgical Operation," by Adrian

61. Permit another example — "A
Brouwer, from the Stadel Gallery
at Frankfort. Here, too, it will he
observed how the artist has been
constrained by the form of com-
position in question. The diagonal
form is also well represented in it,
amid the internal lines, and the
whole is in most excellent harmony.
When the study of light is under-
taken, this excellent picture may
be again referred to with profit. It
is a wonder in that line, showing the
abihty of the master in a high de-
gree. The interest in the picture is
all derived from circumstances actu-
ally present, truly expressed on the
canvas. The girl who

"... Never told her love,'
But let concealment, like a worm i' the bud.
Feed on her damask cheek," etc.,

would have been much more difficult to represent in a picture.

nose, mouth, and chin will he distorted and enlarged, thus the drawing will he faulty.

Charles Waqek Hull.

It will be readily seen that the study of costume is of great importance to the artist, yet
he must be careful not to go too much into detail in regard to time, place, etc. The promise
of art allows him a certain latitude, of which he must avail himself if he would make a
pleasing picture ; on the other hand, he must be careful not to err in taking too much, be-
tween the two extremes he will be guided by his taste and judgment; rejecting what is un-
necessary to truth, and admitting all appropriate beauties and characteristics.

There is, perhaps, no department of art where taste and propriety are so requisite, yet
many instances occur among the works of the great masters where they apparently attached
no importance to the costume of a picture. These the student must not take as a guide.
For instance, a picture of Eve, having her hair tied with blue ribbons ; or the Israelites, rep-
resented with ihuskets, as in Tintoretto's picture of ' ' The Falling of Manna. " — M. A. Dwiqht.

61. In the posing of the model, it should be our first care to see that each and every part
of the figure is natural, and that the muscles of the body, and especially the neck, are relaxed
and easy. Avoid sharp angles and straight lines, and, as a general thing, the head and body
should turn in difTerent directions, and a gentle curve of the neck will frequently give ease
to the whole position. — Frank Jewell.



62. In the Dresden Gallery is an admirable painting of the studio of
Adrian Van Ostade, whose "Empty Jug" you have just looked upon.

Fig. 20. It is 80 wonderfiiUy full of suggestion

that it is given here as a study, more
especially in the arrangement of acces-
sories. Look into it well, and see how
wondrously the artist has been influ-
enced by the form of composition now
under contemplation. It is full of pyr-
amids and diagonals, and yet how beau-
tifully harmonious it is in every partic-
ular, and how true to nature.

63. Should you desire to farther ex-
ercise in the study of this style of
composition, take prints from your own
negatives and study them, taking note
of where you have erred and where
you have preserved the proper form.
Draw pyramidal lines if you will, as in the figure above, and then invent
improvements agreeable to the subject and the accessories you may pos-
sess. As has been said, it is not intend-
ed that a rigid following should always
be observed of the form of composition
chosen by you for your picture in hand.
Only let it mjkwn.ce you, as the sun and
the clear air do when you walk. How
even the ancients worked pyramidally
is shown by " The Goat and Faun,"
taken from a mural painting at Herculaneum. These illustrations par-

63. If you would have success, you must work for it. Look at the example of Mr. W.
Kurtz, the artist-photographer. Let us look into the cause of his great success. In the
first place, he is the very hardest and most faithful worker in the whole establishment.
Every pose is made either hy him personally or under his immediate supervision 4 the
lighting especially claiming his entire attention. I sometimes think he knows exactly what
he is about. The features of every individual undergo close scrutiny, and the most is made
of his or her points. Nothing is "all right" until he has thoroughly examined it, and
every negative taken is carefully studied by him before he says it is "all right." Again,
he examines every "proof" before it is shown to the sitter, and such as do not come up to
the mark of "all right" are destroyed. — Elbert Andeeson.







take rather of the grotesque, sometimes, but such are believed to be
most easily remembered. They are all impressive works of art.

64. Circular Composition. — Having now endeavored to explain and
illustrate the angular and pyramidal forms of composition, it is desired
to draw your attention to the circular form. It will be found the style
of composition to some extent applicable to photography — ^particularly in
grouping. Before attending to the examples given below, note, for your
guidance, a few things which it is necessary to attend to when grouping.

65. The story must be well told ; that is, one figure must be so linked
to the other that the spectator has little or no difficulty in discerning the
purpose or designs of the photographer; see that the parts assigned to each
figure be appropriate and natural ; that the general outline be graceful
and pleasant to look on ; that the grouping afifords an opportunity for a
judicious arrangement of light and shade ; and not only should the lines
of the group so run that the eye is led to the principal figure or figures
composing it, but the principal focus of light should also be so managed
as to assist in doing this (see Fig. 19). Use all the appliances at your
disposal to reach the highest point of excellence; and, to tliose who have
not yet tried a camera with a swing-back, be it said, if you can affiard it,
by all means get one, and see that the arrangement is such as to swing
both horizontally and perpendicularly.

66. To succeed in photographing groups, the photographer must not
only possess quickness of perception, but promptness in decision, and

J 65. The art of posing (for it is an art) should he studied hy photographers as carefully, as
any other part of their business, as in this direction lie important aids to success. Gentlemen,
look into and study this subject. Discard the methods so long in use which have led to the say-
ing, " As stiff as a photograph. " It is too horrible for you to go on putting people into stocks
and pillories, and then making pictures of them in their torture. What will our grandchildren

Online LibraryEdward L. (Edward Livingston) WilsonWilson's photographics : a series of lessons, accompanied by notes, on all the processes which are needful in the art of photography → online text (page 5 of 45)