But whatever may be the class of work we are engaged in, let us above all things be sincere, and never represent a thing or palm off anything as representing what it is not. There are times when it is comparatively easy to make up or manufacture subjects; let us from the very commencement steadfastly set our faces against any " faking " of this kind, and although we ought to do so because we value the truth above everything, it is as well to remember that those who are once found out in an attempt to palm off a " fake " will be sure to find, henceforth, their work will always be doubted. In our attempts at honest work disappointments are sure to occur. Plates exposed with every prospect of success will be found, sometimes, on development, to turn out failures; but we must be prepared for this and accept the failures as the necessary road to successes which are bound to come if we persevere. Remember the story of Bruce and the spider, which is an excellent one for any Nature photographer.
Another Natural History story with a moral is one which may interest the reader, and is as follows: Two frogs accidentally fell into a pan of milk, and after swimming round for a long time, unable to get out, one gave up, sank to the bottom and was drowned. The other would not give up, and after a time, by continued efforts, he had the satisfaction of sitting on a pat of butter and was able from thence to jump out! The moral is obvious.
The field of work in Nature Photography is endless, and no one individual during his life would have sufficient time to enable him to arrive at the end of its possibilities. Therefore, although so much work has already been done, a great deal more remains, in whatever branch the worker is particularly interested in, and no one need feel that any section has been exhausted by the results already obtained.
The great advances made in the construction of lenses and other appliances, and the improvements in the quality and speed of plates, etc., have made results possible to-day which could not have been obtained a few years ago; and these improvements are still in progress. One of the latest developments is a simple means of obtaining glass positives in colour by the " Autochrome " process, invented and placed upon the market by the well-known firm of Messrs. Lumiere Bros., of Lyons, France; and there is no doubt this process will be still further simplified and improved before very long. Another development, more recent still, is a method by which the ordinary cinematograph film can be thrown upon the screen in the colours of Nature. This is the invention of Messrs. G. A. Smith and Charles Urban of London.
I do not intend to discuss the practice of photography at any great length, owing to the fact that many excellent and cheap handbooks already exist, dealing much more exhaustively with the subject than could be done here. To one of these, therefore, I would direct the beginner who has no practical knowledge, at the same time advising him to become as proficient as possible in producing a good average negative of the ordinary landscape type before specialising in Nature Photography. In this branch of work one's apparatus has to be used at high pressure, as it were, and it is therefore advisable to know by means of a little previous experience what the limitations are, beyond which it is either impossible or inadvisable to go.
Some of my readers may already have certain apparatus which they wish to make use of; while others desire advice to enable them to purchase the kind likely to be of the greatest service. To the former I would say, almost any camera that can be used on a stand, and which is provided with a focussing adjustment, may be used; to the latter, any camera specially chosen for the purpose should be well constructed, of a substantial pattern, with double extension, and a rigid front, as the class of work for which it is to be used will entail a certain unavoidable amount of rough usage. The saving of a few ounces of weight, although desirable, is not advisable in this class of work, if at the expense of rigidity. But those who desire to purchase suitable apparatus will do well to read carefully the following chapters, which deal more fully with the necessary points to be considered. In any case, the photographer will be almost certain to require little modifications in his apparatus, after his first season's work, and from his own practical experience will be in a better position to decide on those likely to suit his individual requirements.
One cannot refrain from expressing the hope that the increased knowledge gained by a closer study of Nature may, amongst other things, prevent any wilful destruction of wild life through ignorance. For instance, the Owl is a bird most useful to the farmer, and yet it is often shot in the mistaken idea that it does more harm than good, and that it is best to get rid of it. The same remarks apply to the Kestrel, which feeds principally upon insects, while the food of the Owl consists of mice and field voles. Several instances are on record of plagues of the latter rodents on account of the needless and wilful slaughter of all the Owls in the district.
The Englishman has a character which I am afraid is not altogether undeserved. It has been expressed in the following words: "It is a fine day, let us go out and kill something" To this class of individual I would fain reply, by all means. If you find time hang heavily on your hands, kill time by taking up the study of Nature Photography.