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IT IS rather amusing, this tendency of the wise to
regard a print which has been locally manipulated as
irrational photography—this tendency which finds an
esthetic tone of expression in the word faked.
A MANIPULATED print may not be a photograph.
The personal intervention between the action of the
light and the print itself may be a blemish on the
purity of photography. But, whether this intervention
consists merely of marking, shading and tinting in a
direct print, or of stippling, painting and scratching
on the negative, or of using glycerine, brush and mop on a print, faking has
set in, and the results must always depend upon the photographer, upon his
personality, his technical ability and his feeling.
BUT long before this stage of conscious manipulation has been begun,
faking has already set in. In the very beginning, when the operator controls
and regulates his time of exposure, when in the dark-room the developer is
mixed for detail, breadth, flatness or contrast, faking has been resorted to.
In fact, every photograph is a fake from start to finish, a purely impersonal,
unmanipulated photograph being practically impossible. When all is said,
it still remains entirely a matter of degree and ability.
SOME day there may be invented a machine that needs but to be wound
up and sent roaming o’er hill and dale, through fields and meadows, by
babbling brooks and shady woods — in short, a machine that will
discriminatingly select its subject and by means of a skilful arrangement of
springs and screws, compose its motif, expose the plate, develop, print, and
even mount and frame the result of its excursion, so that there will remain
nothing for us to do but to send it to the Royal Photographic Society's
exhibition and gratefully to receive the " Royal Medal."
THEN, ye wise men; ye jabbering button-pushers ! Then shall ye indeed
make merry, offering incense and sacrifice upon the only original altar of true
photography. Then shall the fakers slink off in dismay into the " inky
blackness ” of their prints.
Eduard J. Steichen.
IT is an error common to many artists, strive merely to avoid mistakes;
when all our efforts should be to create positive and important work.
Better the positive and important with mistakes and failures than perfect
FOLLOWERS manage to make of the foot-paths of a great man a wide road.