643 Bellefonte Avenue Lock Haven, Pa.
I am not a professional photographer and no expert at taking pictures. I have read considerable on the subject and have secured a few good pictures myself; therefore, I am willing to give to the clan any experience that I may have in order that they may secure better photographs.
You can get good pictures with a $2.00 camera and poor pictures with a $200.00 camera. The securing of good pictures depends more on following a few simple rules rather than on the cost of the ma chine. The first thing I would do before taking pictures would be to read and understand the instruction book and al so how to apply those instructions to my camera. Sometime ago I bought a new camera and in reading over the instruction book I found that there were a great many words I did not understand. I went to the dealer who explained them to me and on rereading the book the second time I found it much easier to understand. Your camera dealer is willing and anxious to help explain the workings of your camera to you.
Rather than set up some rules to follow let us take the July-August, 1951 edition of THE IRON MEN ALBUM and look at some of the pictures in it.
I think the picture on the cover page is an exceptionally good one. It shows a man at the controls of an engine and that is all it is supposed to show. Many times we include too much in a picture just to show one small part. How much better this picture is than if it had been taken at 40 feet! You will also notice that there is no distracting influence in the background.
The picture of the 110 Case at the bottom of page three is a good picture though it may have been better if the photographer had been just a little closer. The picture is well centered and the background is such that the main object stands out in clear cut relief.
The Northwest Thresher on page 4 is poor on several counts. First, the photographer was too close. Second, if the two men had been in the center of the picture it would have been better. Third, what is that stuff growing out of the top of the thresher? In other words, the background is poor. The same thing is true of the Minneapolis on page 7. Here the background is terrible. The engine blends in with the background and there are very few clear cut lines. I looked at this picture a long time before I discovered the water tank in front. This engine is under steam and it would have taken only a few minutes to move for a good photograph.
The picture of the 20th Century on page 10 is very good. I think I would have alerted the engineer and had him in better position.
I like the series of pictures on page 8. They show progress and tell a story. The composition in each case is good.
My 21-75 Baker No. 15744 preparing to pull my 20-75 Nichols and Shepard out of a tough spot. The front axle, as you can see, is almost to ground. My father, Rex Johnson, is putting boards in front of the drive wheels and my uncle, Johr Freers, is helping. The Baker wouldn't budge the load hooked direct, so the fly wheel hitch. Robert L. Johnson.
The pictures on page 9 also tell a story, but. I believe, they tried to include too much in the second picture. Why show the wheels twice?
Now, the picture on page 11. Apologies to J. C. Cobb. The picture of the Stanley Steamer is not centered. The main subject in the picture is the car; therefore, it should have been in the center of the picture. The man standing in front of the car covers too much of it. I know it is very difficult to keep spectators out of the picture on occasions of this kind-I took several pictures at this reunion-but if they will not move I politely ask them to move over until I get a picture. The picture at the bottom of the page has too many rear ends exposed! There just doesn't seem to be a central theme in it. There is too much in the picture and nothing outstanding. The worst picture I took at the reunion was a picture of the old Springfield that was running this separator.
The picture of William Campbell's engine on page 12 is well composed al though, I believe, a very old picture. My criticism is Harold standing on the gears. You don't run engines with boys in that position. In the picture of Mr. Campbell's saw mill on page 13, the center of interest is in a little spot in the upper left hand corner of the picture. Here the photographer did not study the best angle from which to take his picture. Many times I will spend several minutes looking at the object from different angles to get the best position. Then if I cannot get a good picture, I do not take it.
Now, you look at the pictures on the top of page 14 and the bottom of page 15. What is wrong with these pictures, and how would you improve them?
I hope that you have followed my discussion through with a copy of the July-August edition of IRON MEN and from it you are able to get better photographs.