Camera Work: A Photographic Quarterly — 1905 (Heft 9)

Page: 38
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only I suppose I must not. I will not name it or its author, or give its
number; the maker will easily enough recognize it and have a sufficiently low
opinion of me hereafter. The lower half of the print has a vague margin
showing it is meant to indicate a sea-beach; it is of a formless and textureless
light gray, meaning nothing but a tint; there is nothing at the top to signify
a sky ever having been there, merely a sort of tone to differentiate it from
white paper; in the middle, in the exact middle, there is an upright stick, of
a darker gray, evidently a common telegraph-post in all its native hideousness;
here it is quite meaningless, as no wires are seen, and so it conveys nothing
but that it is an ugly post obtruding itself on one’svision; it is followed by
other posts in sharp perspective, and these, with an ill-defined boat or stage
and an ugly stick stuck into the ground at an angle, constitute the picture (?).
The principal post, however, was felt to be weak in tone-value, and has con-
sequently been scored down its full length with a charcoal or rough pencil
line to darken it, as obvious and unphotographic a bit of added hand-work
as I ever saw, and as conscienceless. Why has this been thought fit to sub-
mit to the wonderment of a public audience, amongst whom there will be
very many only too ready and willing to find material for scoff and jeers ?
There are other things here, also emanating from America, that afflict my
vision and temper in a like manner, and considering the wonderful and
supremely beautiful things the camera and lens can help us to it seems to me
that a much more vigorous condemnation should be meted out to such
formless, textureless, meaningless things, not even entitled to respect on the
ground of being partially successful experiments. I do not ask, of course,
for superabundant detail, but I do ask for some suggestion of surfaces, and
I do resent such being added in lead-pencil when the worker’sskill has failed
to let him get it by his lens. In the case of two of the American con-
tributors, one an old leader and one a quite young leader, the work shown
seems very distinctly in advance; I refer to the pictures by Mr. Steichen and
by Mr. Coburn. In Mr. Steichen’s work we see all the old beauty of
motive and design and invention, but with a greater ease and certainty in
execution. His color-work is a revelation indeed, full of true beauty, such
as only an accomplished painter could produce. Whether it sufficiently, in
the landscapes, suggests the paternity of the camera is a matter for further
discussion; anyhow, it is exceedingly beautiful and sure, and it gave me
intense pleasure to hang it as sympathetically as possible. The evening
piece, No. 114, is very noble and impressive in design and carrying out,
fully convincing all through, dignified and most suggestive of the feeling of
the rising moon on a dark evening. Its somber beauty fills with joy and
satisfaction and will give me occasion for many repeated visits to the gallery
to reënjoy it. No. 116, Mr. Steichen’s Big Cloud, Lake George, is a most
effective arrangement, strong and fine in color; the great mass of cumulous
cloud is gloriously modeled and lit, but I am afraid I can not accept its light-
ing as also explaining the superbly rich black bank over which it appears.
Can the time of day and strength of light that give us the cloud be also
taken as giving the impenetrable black of the shadowed bank ? The water
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