MOTION, PHOTOORAPHINO.—The representation of motion by photography is by no means an easy task. Artists manage to give us pictures in which we get motion depicted, yet some will tell you that these are wrong en tirely.
The artist has made a horse galloping; it ap pears to our ey e to be perform ing this action, yet the instan taneous photog rapher will come forward and say: " No! that is ut terly wrong ; a horse never as sumes that posi tion ; here are the motions he goes through," and that we see a number of pho tographs taken one after the other and repre senting the vari• ous phases of movement per formed by the animal in galloping or jumping. But with none of these do we seem familiar. The horse in all these has an ungainly look, differing very much from the graceful movement we believe in. Why is this ? Again we see instantaneous photo graphs of a man walking. He is caught by the camera with one leg in the air and the other on the ground. Does he look as if he is walking ? Not a bit of it. He appears to be practising the goose step with the body motionless. Take another example—an express train going at the rate of fifty miles an hour. Look at an instantaneous photograph taken in the— goodness knows what—fractional part of a second ? Does it look as if the train is traveling at that speed or at thirty miles an hour, or twenty, or ten, or one ? Does it look as if it is moving at all ? Sometimes it occasionally happens that we find a photograph giving us some idea of action, but we must admit that such are but rarely seen.
In a book entitled " Action in Art," by William H. Beard,* the author says : " What the latter has chiefly to learn is the difference between the eye and the camera.
Many articles have been written upon the likeness of the eye to the camera, but these two differ in one essential point, and upon this point rests to a very large extent the cause of instantaneous photographs not ap pearing to give us that idea of motion which we see, or imagine we see, with the eye.
Objects before the camera have their image thrown upon the dry-plate.. If they are mov ing we are obliged to give a very short exposure, in order to secure a sharp image. Thus.we get a picture illustrating one phase of movement. Now this may, and most often is, an unfamiliar one, and why ? For this reason : Objects before the eye have the image thrown upon the retina and the sensations are conveyed to the brain. Now the longer an object appears, or the greater the number of times that we see it, the more familiar we become with its appearance. Therefore we become most familiar with that phase of movement which we see most often, or for the greater length of time ; for instance, in a galloping horse there are many movements performed which, having no prolonged periods or any distinctive characteristic, leave no impression on the mind. If in our instantaneous photograph we have
secured one of these, the picture appears to us to be false, and gives us no idea whatever of motion, or of the horse in the act of galloping." " The functions of an artist," says Mr. Beard, "are to find the various points in an action that leave their impress, and so combine and arrange them in a single form that the sense of movement shall be maintained." This the artist of ability can do, but with the photographer it becomes a far more difficult matter. The exposure is required to be so quickly performed that where the motion is rapid no selection can possibly be made, and he is required to work entirely without power of selection and take his chance on the result.
There are a few points, however, where a study of the methods employed by artists in the depicting of motion would be of considerable advantage to the photographer.
We have already instanced the difficulty in obtaining a photograph of a railway train in motion. Let us see how an artist works. In the accompanying illustration (Fig. 286) Mr. Beard gives us a locomotive which we cannot imagine otherwise than to be traveling at a high rate of speed. On examining the picture carefully we see that his idea is represented not so much by the image of the train itself as by the surroundings. He says : "The smoke and dust raised by the rapid train are essential features in the matter of movement, and the more useful because so much within the artist's control. Either or both may be formed into impenetrable masses as they are carried back by the pressure of the air, and made entirely to conceal or partially obscure obdurate lines and angles as the artist deems best for his purpose, and finally mingling together for a misty background from which the engine and train seem to emerge with unex pected suddenness." In the illustration the boy and dog running at their utmost speed, and the frightened horse galloping away, all are there to help the idea of motion. Turner, in one of his great works, places a little hare on the track flying for its life, and this gives us what is intended.. Thus we see that the artist, by building up his picture, and making these additions, which, although apparently trivial, are essential features to preserve the idea of motion, gives us what we wish to represent. The photographer can do little, if anything, in this direc tion, so that we may as well give up the idea of ever obtaining a photograph of an express train which will really appear moving at a high rate of speed.