PICTORIAL HERITAGE: THE PHOTOGRAPHS OF GERTRUDE KASEBIER, by William Inness Homer (Delaware Art Museum, $7). Gertrude Kasebier was America's first professional woman photographer, and, by the turn of the century, one of the finest -- and perhaps the highest paid -- portrait photographer in the world. Her subsequent obscurity illustrates the cruel tricks that time can play on artists, for when the sharp focus image became the preferred style of art photography, Kasebier's romantic, misty pictures all but disappeared from museum and gallery walls. This handsome catalogue reclaims Kasebier's place in art history, and also illustrates not only her portraits but some of her celebrated mother-and-child studies as well. HENRI CARTIER-BRESSON: PHOTOGRAPHER, foreword by Yves Bonnefoy (New York Graphic Society/Little Brown, $49.95). Thumbing through this retrospective of Cartier-Bresson's 50-year career, the reader discovers the essence of his work: no fancy technique or elaborate conceptions, just an instant caught in a snapshot. But then a paradox presents itself. Mundane moments -- the ordinary street scenes that Cartier-Bresson loved and found everywhere, in Greece, Mexico, Ireland, America -- take on greater significance and exhibit a striking loveliness of form and composition. Yet the great events and people that he recorded -- Gandhi's cremation, the final days of the Kuomintang, Ezra Pound, Colette, Matisse -- are more intimate, as though their scale and grandeur have been reduced in order to place them in a personal context. Nothing human is alien or insignificant to Cartier-Bresson. YOSEMITE AND THE RANGE OF LIGHT, by Ansel Adams (New York Graphic Society, $75). Is there an American anywhere who doesn't know of Ansel Adams' love affair with Yosemite?In fact, for most of us, our mental image of the Sierra Nevada is an Adams photograph, clear and perfect, with light and air as palpable as earth. This is Adam's chronicle of his encounters with this valley, a romance begun in 1916 when the photographer was 14. Altogether some 116 spectacular images are reproduced, along with some recollections of Yosemite visits by Adam and a history of the region by conservationist Paul Brooks. IMOGENE CUNNINGHAM: A PORTRAIT, by Judy Dater (New York Graphic Society, $19.95). All the pieces that make up the puzzle of Cunningham's life are here: the tension and joys of combining child-rearing and housekeeping with photography, the professional rivalries, her talent for friendship and, above all, the pictures, 60 in all, some never before reproduced. Author Dater, better know for her photographic portraits, succeeds in drawing direct and insightful interviews from 40 Cunningham friends, family members and colleagues. Ansel Adams recalls that her dark-room work was sloppy; Brett Weston says that Imogene was a greater personality than she was an artist. Most of the memories are more positive, but Dater has succeeded in creating a balanced and believable picture. THE PHOTOGRAPH COLLECTOR'S GUIDE, by Lee D. Witkin and Barbara London (New York Graphic Society, $32.50). This is an essential book for serious collectors of photography. Far from the standard "how to make a million in the art market," it takes a detailed and serious look at pictures and the issues surrounding their purchase and care. A glossary of photographic terms, a chapter on conservation and restoration, and a compendium of key bits of information on the work of 234 photographers are included. All facets of picture-making, from daguerreotypes through the most up-to-date technology, are covered, and both scholarly and commercial concerns are presented fairly. In fact, so much is crammed into this book that even the most informed collector will probably find some new and important piece of information in these pages. ONE OF A KIND: RECENT POLAROID COLOR PHOTOGRAPHY, edited by Berlinda Rathbone (Godine, $25). Color has held an ambivalent position among serious American photographers. Early on the advertising world usurped its use, and pictures shining with glossy color, no matter how beautifully composed, always seemed tainted by commercialism. Enter Polaroid's SX-70 in 1972, and suddenly a world of color opened to photographers that had nothing to do with magazine ads. The tone of an SX-70 snapshot is distinctive, its flexibility appealing, and so a number of artists began to experiment. This book is a catalogue of the range of that experimentation, from Ansel Adams' twilit landscape to Lucas Samaras' fetish-like collages. In the hands of each artist, the SX-70 is a most personal and evocative medium, proof again that technology and art can be most productive partners. RECOLLECTIONS: TEN WOMEN OF PHOTOGRAPHY, by Margaretta R. Mitchell (Viking, $25). Fortunately, the craze for finding a female imagery in art is over. Women artists work in as many different sytles as their male counterparts, as this book is clear proof. The ten photographers whose work is presented here display a panoply of approaches to their work, from the soft-focus gentility of Nell Dorr to Toni Frissell's no -nonsense journalism. What holds these biographical sketches, with accompanying photos, together are the subjects' age -- all were born around the turn of the century -- and the circumstances under which they labored. As women each had to overcome prejudice and convention to pursue their independent visions. Only three -- Berenice Abbott, Lotte Jacobi and Barbara Morgan -- are famous, but all produced powerful work worthy of greater popular and scholarly attention. ATGET'S GARDENS, by William Howard Adams (Doubleday, $19.95; paperback, $9.95). Eugene Atget is one of the history of photography's great curiosities -- a poor, self-effacing Frenchman whose enormous body of magnificient pictures was virtually unknown during his lifetime. Born in 1857, Atget spent his early years as an actor, playing minor roles and making a meager living. When he turned to photography at the age of 40 it was a pragmatic decision based on the need to support himself. Atget's photos of Paris were intended simply as documentation for archives or for painters seeking raw material for their work. What resulted, however, far exceeded these modest goals. Atget's honest eye created many fine images, so natural that they seem to have no style at all and yet, for their very directness, moving and memorable. This is the first time a selection of his views of 17th-century French parks has been collected. The american image: photographs from the NATIONAL ARCHIVES, 1860-1960 (Pantheon, $10). Most of the five million photos in the collection of the National Archives were "accumulated in the course of government work." Nothing could sound like a drearier body of images. But the surprise of this selection from the Archives' holdings is the discovery that, over the last century, the federal bureaucracy has employed a considerable number of superb photographers and generated documents of lasting historical and esthetic significance. So much of quality is here: pictures from the first geological survey of Yosemite, the construction of the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, intimate scenes of the Civil War and the two World Wars, Americans in every imaginable domestic, social and professional situation. Not only are major figures like Mathew Brady and Lewis Hine well-represented, but a number of anonymous photographers acquit themselves splendidly as well. FANTASTIC PHOTOGRAPHS, by Attilio Colombo (Pantheon, $17.95; paperback, $8.95). From its invention, the camera has been perceived as an instrument in support of reality. However, a number of photographers have realized that this naive faith in photography's probity makes it, ironically, the perfect medium for deception. Stratagems have been devised to make the picture lie: multiple exposure, fish-eye lens, photomontage, altered emulsions, manipulated negatives. The results of these and many other types of photographic discovery are here illustrated -- bizarre transmutations of familiar scenes, some beautiful, all provocative. VOGUE BOOK OF FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY: 1919-1979, by Polly Devlin (Simon and Schuster, $29.95). When fashion photographs are first published, it's hard to see them as much more than a shopper's guide to the current styles. But, with time, these images of high living take on a certain patina. They come to speak in a general way about the values of their era, and, in particular, about the changing status of women in society. A few -- very few -- enter the realm of art. This survey of Vogue's illustrations spans the careers of the great fashion photographers -- De Meyer, Steichen, Beaton, Penn -- and includes a number of interesting selections from the work of lesser talents.