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Peter Henry Emerson
Book review for P.H. Emerson "Naturalistic Photography" (New York: E. & F. Spon)
1889, 8 June
Anthony's Photographic Bulletin, Volume XX, No.II, June 8, 1889, p.349-350
Naturalistic Photography. By P. H. Emerson, B.A., Etc. New York: E. & F. Spon, Publishers.
This is a handsome small octavo volume of about 300 pages, well printed on fine paper and artistically bound in white linen wilh black lettering and red lines. These combinations of the bookmaker's art are entirely in keeping with the goodly contents of the treatise within.
In his introductory chapter the author says: "We propose in this book to treat photography from the artistic standpoint. We shall give enough science to lead to the comprehension of the principles which we adduce for our arguments for naturalistic photography, and we shall give such little instruction in art as is possible by written matter; for art we hold is to be learned by practice alone. * * * The photographic student, whose aim is to make pictures, will find in this book all directions, such as the choosing of apparatus, the science which must be learned, the pictures and sculpture which must be studied, the art canons which are to be avoided, the technique to be learned, including all manipulations," etc.
What the author states above has been most faithfully carried out. There are few books on photography that have appeared recently which are written as plainly and as carefully as the one before us. The author is not only an artist, but an indefatigable worker in the studio, field and dark room. He knows whereof he speaks, and his readers feel that they have a guide who knows the way from having personally followed the route which he indicates as best for others. The book is excellent in more ways than we can now express; and we can only give our readers a small idea of many good things it contains.
After several introductory chapters on such subjects as the terminology of art and photography and the phenomena of sight as applied to art, the author discusses: Photographic technique and practice, such as camera, tripod, lens, dark room, studio and furniture, focusing, exposure, development, retouching, printing, enlargements; together with mounting, exhibiting, etc. In the artistic part he speaks of educated sight, composition, out door and in door work, hints on art and decorative art.
In the above few lines we have indicated the scope of the work, and any photographer who cares anything about his art other than mere bread-winning will find the volume full of practical suggestions that will delight him, and show the steps to a higher level in artistic photography.