Reports and Awards of the Jurors
By New Zealand Exhibition, Dunedin (N.Z.)
PHOTOGRAPHIC APPARATUS AND PHOTOGRAPHY.
W. M. HODGKINS, Chairman
PHOTOGRAPHY, especially the branch devoted to Landscape, occupies a prominent position among the New Zealand exhibits; and it is owing, no doubt, to the magnificent Alpine scenery - the grand picturesque views of mountain, lake, and river - in New Zealand, that the taste of the photographer, as well as the appreciation of photographic art by the public generally, have resulted in so many excellent specimens as are exhibited. On an examination of the numerous specimens of photography which are produced in New Zealand, there can only be one opinion - that some of them fall little, if at all, short of the excellence obtained in the Mother Country. In nearly every department of the Exhibition Building there occur exhibits of this class, which, in addition to reflecting praise on the artists, are invaluable as illustrations of the magnificent character of New Zealand scenery, as well as the variety presented by its animal, mineral, and vegetable kingdoms.
Taking the exhibits in the order of their catalogue numbers, the first is a Case in the Auckland Department, of Views and Portraits by Fairs and Steel (38). Four of them are Groups of Natives, one a Portrait of a Maori Chief, and there are four plates of Landscape Views of North Island scenery. Beyond illustrating what might be termed the home scenery of the Maori population, to the first of these no great merit can be attached in an artistic point of view. The dark landscape views, however, are more than mediocre, but those of lighter tints are hazy and dull, and betray a want of cleanliness in working which would destroy pictures of a far more pretentious character.
A Book, intituled The Last Cruise of the Wanderer, by John Webster, contains a collection of Photographs of Water-color Sketches, which, while possessing no particular merit as photographs, are useful in indicating a class of book illustration which will be, and no doubt is at this time, extensively used in Europe.
The Province of Hawke's Bay contributes numerous Photographs, more varied in their subjects than the Auckland exhibits, but, with scarcely an exception, possessing the same fault as those in the Auckland Department.
The photographic exhibits in the Wellington portion of the Building, consisting of three large frames of Views and Portraits, are of a far better class, and do credit to the artist, L. E. Richards (213). The pictures are very clean and sharply defined, and possess all the qualities of good photographs. Among them may be specially mentioned a little picture of "Thorndon Flat," as deserving of great praise for the delicate manipulation and care bestowed on it. The photograph of the "Queen's Wharf" is also very good. Numerous Album Pictures, with portraits of Maoris, possessing equal merit, are amongst the exhibits by Mr. Richards.
214.- Swan & Wrigglesworth's exhibits, although not so good as those of Mr. Richards, are of a far better class than those exhibited by them in the Napier Department, and shew an absence of the fault which pervades the whole of their works in that collection; but, at the same time, in two or three of their pictures, there is an evidence of imperfection in the manipulation of the plate, a dulness, that might have possibly been avoided.
The only other Exhibits consist of Photographs of Wm. Jenkins and family, of Porirua, evidently good portraits.
320. - The pictures by A. Fletcher, of Nelson, are without doubt the finest productions in the Exhibition and represent some of the moat picturesque portions of that picturesque Province. They are four in number, viz.:-
1. The Sources of the Wairoa.
2. The Wairoa Saddle, Dun Mountain Railway.
3. View from the Wairoa Saddle.
4. View looking towards the Dun Mountain.
The wild character of the forest scenery of this part of New Zealand has been faithfully depicted by Mr. Fletcher in these pictures. A frame of Stereoscopic views in this department also deserves great praise for the really excellent manner in which they have been taken. Some of the views are taken apparently by the instantaneous process, and are very successful. Others of them are views of different parts of the town and suburbs, the quays and harbor, and, as a whole, they may be considered to rank as tfrst-class specimens of the photographic art.
Two pictures, presenting a panoramic view of the town of Nelson, and (two others of Nelson College, are also very good; as is also a photograph pf the Matai Valley.
In the Canterbury Department are twelve views of the country, by James Elsbee, about Christchurch, which are very good specimens. Among those particularly deserving of notice are "Entrance to the Tunnel, Heathcote Valley;" an "Evening Scene;" "Kowai;" "The Club House and Government Buildings;" also, a "Winter Scene" at Christchurch, and a " Stormy Effect" in Lyttelton Harbour. There is, however, a want of sharpness in some of the other pictures in this frame, which detracts from their otherwise good character as photographs. They are, however, on the whole, exceedingly good specimens of photography, and admirably represent the scenery that surrounds Christchurch and Lyttelton.
A most extensive exhibition in the Photographic Department of Art is to be found among the Otago contributions. It comprises views of the City of Dunedin from various prominent stations; Queenstown and the Wakatipu Lake; some of the finest scenery of the interior of the Province; numerous album and other portraits, and photographs of natural objects and productions.
A series of views of the City of Dunedin by W. Meluish, taken at various periods from 1860 to 1865, are pictures possessing great merit. They are exhibited by the Committee of the Dunedin Athenaeum (616a); by Meluish also, many of the principal streets are admirably photographed.
There is a remarkably good picture also of Dunedin as seen from Cargill Street, executed by M'Gregor and Co. (618). These pictures possess a great value as faithful records of the enormous rapidity with which the City has sprung up, as well as the vast improvements that have taken place in the construction of the most prominent edifices.
The photographs of various public edifices, such as Knox and St. Paul's Churches, by M'Gregor and Co., as well as that of the Cargill Monument, may be regarded as excellent productions; while to the architect and sculptor they are suggestive of the importance of the photographic art in a professional point of view.
Portrait Photography is very well represented in the Otago Exhibits. Among those Calling for special notice, are the portraits taken by the Sennotype process, and exhibited by Peyman & Irving (619)-; they are really excellent likenesses, and have a softness of tone and general good effect which entitles them to a first place among the portrait contributions to the Exhibition. The collections of Cartes de Visits portraits are also excellent specimens of their class.
The Panoramic Views of Queenstown, by Price & Pain (621), exhibit a want of care in manipulating, which has quite destroyed their value as Photographs, although they are faithful representations of the locality. This is to be regretted, as good views of the magnificent scenery in the vicinity of the Wakatipu Lake, would prove very attractive.
The views of various parts of the Province exhibited by Joseph Perry, are, some of them, admirably chosen. The subjects are various portions of the Horse Range; a view of Blueskin Bay; and the town of Hawkesbury. These views have many points of general merit about them, but are on the whole inferior to those recently exhibited by the same artist, consisting of views of the Manuherikia Junction; the Rough Ridge j Oamaru Town and Beach; the Maniototo Plains; and Upper Taieri, the Shag Valley, and Hamilton. These are undoubtedly his best productions, and are the best specimens of Landscape Photography in the Otago Department.
The last and only other photographic contributions calling for notice are some Stereoscopic Views of Queenstown and its vicinity, the Shotover River, Maori Point, and other gold-working localities in that neighbourhood and the Jury would remark that it is very much to be regretted that this, the wildest and most interesting part of the inland scenery of Otago, is so poorly illustrated. Mr. Wright, by whom these views are taken, deserves credit for the pictures he has sent, which, although deficient in some ot the conditions necessary to photographic excellence, are nevertheless, allowing for the difficulties under which he must have worked, very good pictures.
2433.—Anson & Francis, Adelaide, contribute some very good small Photographs of various points of interest chiefly taken in the immediate neighbourhood of that City.
The exhibits by Clifford of Hobart Town (2836), consist of several large views of Hobart Town, &c., and a large number of very excellent Stereoscopic Views of the same locality; among which are some very good pictures of Mount Wellington, Cora Lynn, North and South Esk, Fern Tree Valley, and other objects of interest in that beautiful and picturesque Colony.
In concluding these remarks upon the photographic exhibits in the New Zealand Exhibition, it will be interesting to mark the great value of Photography to every branch of science. It assists the medical science in many forms of disease, the anatomist, the archaeologist, the antiquarian, the historian, the virtuoso, in all their widely different researches; the botanist, the geologist, naturalist, architect, engineer, and every other profession, in their various pursuits. These latter remarks are verified by an examination amongst others of the photographs produced from the various fossil and other shells that occur in New Zealand, as well as those of the gigantic Moa and its bones, specimens of which are to be seen in the Geological Department of the Exhibition. In reference to their remarks, in this report, upon some of the inferior photographic exhibits, the Jurors wish to impress upon the exhibitors of those works the absolute necessity of complying with the primary conditions of Photography in care and manipulation in taking pictures; as they feel sure that had those conditions been complied with, the pictures alluded to would have deserved more highly at their hands. The Colony of New Zealand is particularly rich in subjects for the photographic artist, and the Jurors trust that the next New Zealand Exhibition will show specimens of the art, not only superior in quality to some of those now exhibited, but greater in number.
320. A. Fletcher, Nelson - Photographs of Nelson Scenery (great artistic and general excellence in landscape and stereoscopic photography.)
619. Peyman & Irving, Dunedin - Photographs (the general excellence of their sennotype and carte de visits portraits.)
1088. Wm. Meluish, Dunedin - Photograph Panoramic Views of Dunedin (a valuable series, showing the progress of Dunedin from 1861 to 1865.)
1087. Jos. Perry, Dunedin - Photographs of Otago Scenery (general excellence of his landscape photographs.)
618. John McGregor, Dunedin - Photographs (general excellence.)
2836. - Clifford, Hobart Town - Photograph Panoramic View of Hobart Town (also excellence of his stereoscopic views.)
2433. Anson & Francis, Adelaide - Photographs of South Australian Scenery (general excellence)
445b. James Elsbee, Christchurch - Photographs of Canterbury Scenery (general merit)
213. E. L. Richards, Wellington - Photographs of Hawkes Bay Scenery (general excellence)
214. Swan & Wrigglesworth, Wellington - Photographs of Hawkes Bay Scenery (general excellence)