COMPARISON OF DIFFERENT ACTINICITIES We have but to observe at any time that which confronts our eyes to comprehend that the field of vision is filled with a miscellaneous assortment of objects and that the nearest ones outline their edges against the surfaces of those next beyond them, etc. One may take careful note of all the objects which confront the eyes and find that each one has its observable and mea surable value or rather values, since it is rare indeed that the whole surface of any single object is of equal intensity throughout. There are considerably more than a dozen easily de finable causes of actinic contrast in the visual field and the study of these causes in connection with the effects which they pro duce should develop the powers of observation to a great extent and it seems to the author that such a study would be as beneficial in pure art instruction as in the study of photography.
Entirely aside from the purpose mentioned in the preceding paragraph the photographic worker must study actinicity and actinic con trast since this alone is the cause of the grada tion in the negative upon which he must depend for the tone scale of the finished photograph. Actinicity is both the foundation and the key stone of the photographic arch; the foundation because it is the active energy upon which the process rests and the keystone because the study of it sharpens the conception of light effects in nature by making their definite cause under stood. Through a knowledge of this energy the photographic worker may obtain with certainty those effects which as an artist he may conceive and wish to produce (pp. 102, 139, 141).
The author believes that too small a per centage of those who pass through the art schools are ever heard from as artists of merit and it is recognized by all teachers of art that there is a point in the progress of the student beyond which no teacher can help him. This is when the pupil has learned all that he can of technique as taught and must go out into the presence of nature and develop his own powers. At this point art education needlessly ceases to help and there are sent out from the schools hosts of students who are unable to understand the exact cause of the simplest light and shade effects in nature and in whose minds therefore cannot be developed that direct connection with nature which is the one thing now needful. These students cannot grow in the direction in which true artists must develop and they usually either cease their art endeavors or drift into the work of copying. From such students are sup plied the army of copyists which fill the present day "enlarging houses." The author has known
copyists of real merit who, working on their own account, obtained high prices for their products but who were entirely dependent upon photographs from which to paint. To see a painter thus dependent upon photographs, usu ally gross conventionalities made by a work man without the least artistic conception, arouses in the writer a conviction that there is something quite fundamental entirely lacking in art education. In spite of his undoubted higher abilities such an artist is, in a sense, by the ignorance of certain truths of nature, de graded to a point below that of the photographic artisan.
The author's first inquiry into the methods of the art schools was induced by the desire to know why these artists, or copyists, who had studied in the art schools could not place a sub ject by a window and through a knowledge of light values, construct a "living picture" which might serve, for example, as an artistic tableau or as a subject for photographic the result of which exposure might be an artistic or at least a photograph of correctly graduated tones. As a comparison it may be said that the knowledge of harmony never made a musician. But is it not also true that it has helped thousands of students with a natural talent for music to discover themselves and to grow? What could have hindered musical growth in the past more than the lack of the discovery of the octave, the different scales and those laws of harmony, which form the basis of the study of music? Science is nothing more than classified truth and the quantitative character of actinicity and the possibility of making exact measurements of it provides us with a scientific basis for the establishment of a system of study whereby the student of art may arrive at a somewhat full knowledge of the actual causes of the beautiful effects of "light and shade" in nature, since under ordinary conditions actinic grada tion in any subject is usually accompanied by a visual gradation and the two may for the most part be traced to the same source or cause. To know the cause of a beautiful light effect and to be able to reproduce it at will cannot but in crease the interest of the painter or photographer, leading him to a closer observation and appre ciation of nature which is the true source of his inspiration. The author cannot develop in this book his system for the study of the light effects of nature through the analysis of their causes but hopes to do so later in another volume.