Francis Hopkinson Smith c. 1903 Courtesy of the Library of Congress via Wikimedia Commons, LC-USZ62-98127
Francis Hopkinson Smith, author, artist and engineer, was a contemporary and intimate of many of the art masters of the 19th century and witness to the rapid development of 19th century through early 20th century art.
In 1914, Smith gave four lectures at the Art Institute of Chicago, where he talked about his methods, his views on realism (“detailism”) versus capturing one’s first impression, and art criticism of the day.The lectures, compiled in a book called Outdoor Sketching, is available for free download at Project Gutenberg.
Smith is at turns poetic, humorous, self-deprecating and insightful, although his take on Winslow Homer’s The Cotton Pickers is jarring to the 21st century reader.
Artists and art lovers alike will enjoy reading these lectures.
Artistically, I most admire photos with a shallow depth of field.The focal point of the composition pops because visual background noise has been minimized. When I get the depth of field right, my photos look more professional.
Here, I got lucky using my auto settings. At the time, I hadn’t learned how to consciously use depth of field to my advantage.Now, I keep my digital camera set to Aperture Priority so I can change the f-stop settings on the fly.Occasionally, I even bracket several shots, using different f-stops to help get the shot I’m looking for.