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The Bookshelf

WE HAPPY FEW, by Helen Howe. Simon and Schuster, $2.75


THIS year's U.S. Camera has its quota of unaesthetic nudes, meaningless pattern designs, and pretty pictures, which constitute too large a part of the book; but after wading through it, there are several photographs which make it a worth-while volume--top honors going to Edward Steichen, Bradford Washburn, Martin Munkacsi, Dorothea Lange, and Edward Weston.

In attempting to include as many pictures as possible so as to appeal to a growing audience, several pages contain more than one photo and in one place there are a dozen shots mashed together. These little two-bit jobs hardly do justice to some of the pictures, which often deserve more space than was allotted to them. The reproductions of the monochromes are well done, but a few of the color plates, especially the advertisement on page 220, are below par.

As is the case with so many modern American pictures, a large number of these prints suffer from the Life influence. Journalistic photography is attractive in a newsmagazine, but it is rarely documentary or artistic, and the pages of this spiral-bound U. S. Camera are crammed with the work of Life's staff or their imitators Nevertheless, it is heartening to record the absence of the so-called "arty" pictures of a few years back. Those remarkable results of the fusion of bad lenses, drastic retouching, abrasion processes, rough paper, and bromoil have finally been laughed out of exhibitions; it only remains to do the same now with the candid-camera men.

One of the best features of the book is the listing in the appendix of photographer, camera film and paper used, but as usual, the least important ones are the most profusely annotated.

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