The Work of Atget: Modern Times, by John Szarkowski and Maria Morris Hambourg (New York Graphic Society/Little, Brown, $45). On the dawn streets of Atget's Paris, an early breeze blurs the fluttering pages of Le Matin. Families of mannequins perch behind glass, reflections from the boulevards melting through their stout cloth shapes. Carrousel rabbits and elephants wait silently for the music to begin. Glass doors catch slivers of silvery light that seem to tremble on the page. The fourth and final volume in this definitive Atget series contains 116 plates, including some of Atget's most familiar images. Superb three-impression reproductions and extensive documentation make this gorgeous book a treasure for both bibliophiles and Francophiles. The 50s: Photographs of America, by Eve Arnold, Cornell Capa, Bruce Davidson, Elliott Ewritt, Burt Glinn, Ernst Haas, Erich Hartmann, Bob Henriques, Costa Manos, Wayne Miller, Inge Morath (Pantheon Books, $25). This informal, newsy picture book by photojournalists from the top-ranking Magnum photo agency takes us back to the baby boom, the space race, the Civil Rights struggle, and the cold war. John Chancellor provides a breezy introduction to images of high and little importance: desegregation at Little Rock High School, Korean War veterans, hula hoopers, Mrs. Khrushchev in Hollywood, Jayne Mansfield's wedding, the first Boeing 707, and a slew of politicians and also-rans. This is the book they'll reach for on Christmas morning. Bill Brandt Behind the Camera: Photographs 1928-1983, introduction by Mark Haworth- Booth, essay by David Mellor (Aperture, $25). Born in Hamburg, Bill Brandt came to England in the early '30s. His fondness for using dark masses of black, low-key lighting, distorted figures, and empty landscapes often refers back to German expressionist film and graphic arts. But it's hard to categorize an artist as complex as Brandt, who later depicted, so tellingly, The English at Home and Literary Britain. The text by Mark Haworth-Booth (of the Victoria and Albert Museum) and David Mellor places these fascinating photographs within a complex net of esthetic and social intersections. The reproductions are superb. The Lives of Lee Miller, by Antony Penrose (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, $29.95). In Paris during the 1930s, American photographer Lee Miller modeled for Picasso, acted for Cocteau in Blood of a Poet, and was the student, lover, and colleague of photographer Man Ray. She was also the subject of many of his finest photographs (see the nudes in L'Amour Fou, reviewed above). Miller later married surrealist painter and photographer Roland Penrose and served as a war photographer in France during World War II. The book, written by Miller's son, contains many of her finest images and provides a dispassionate account of a passionate life. Lee Friedlander Portraits, foreword by R. B. Kitaj (New York Graphic Society/Little, Brown, $60). Lee Friedlander's black and white photographs sneak up on reality when it's not looking; his images combine relentless calm with intricate disorientation. Things are seldom what they seem. In this sumptuous volume, for instance, what is Walker Evans doing in bed with scraggly beard and messed- up hair? Why does the topless Blaze Starr's hair seem to "blaze" into the painted forest above her head. Whose bare foot thrusts up huge and white into Jim Dine's face? It's a tribute to Friedlander's skill that he makes the knowns as mysterious as the unknowns. Common Ground: An American Field Guide, by Gregory Conniff (Yale University Press, $35). These calm, formal black and white images of alleys and backyards exude a confident lism. Marks of habitation have been subdued into line and form: clotheslines tie buildings together, a cinder block is placed, just so, to close a shed door. This book is the first volume of a four-part American Field Guide which will survey workplaces and water sites, as well as people and places. Conniff's photographs elevate ordinary exteriors into sites where space and light make sense. Minor White: A Living Remembrance (Aperture, $25). Almost too reverential in tone, this beautiful book is nonetheless inspiring. It's a memorial gathering of words and images in honor of Minor White, a guiding spirit of American creative photography and the founder of the photography journal Aperture. The late Ansel Adams writes, "His photographs will be like a golden thread between ages of darkness and light." Other contributors include: Paul Caponigro, John Yang, Edward Ranney, Frederick Sommer, Robert Adams, Brett Weston, and William LaRue. All American, by Burk Uzzle (St. David's Books, $30). Gosh! Gee! Look at that!! This is a book for collectors of outrageous Americans. Uzzle is a fast- shooting, humorous photographer who makes pictures of tattooed bikers, masked roller skaters, fat people in flag suits, and other oddities. His compositions juxtapose people with painted walls, animals, or roadside junk, and the closeups of painted faces and costumed Mummers are arresting. Here is carnival America -- with and without costumes. Eisenstaedt on Eisenstaedt (Abbeville, $19.95). The cover shows a young, dumpy Marlene Dietrich moping at a nightclub table. Inside, there's a glowering Goebbels, a tiny, dapper Toscanini, a skating waiter, Hitler meeting Mussolini, beribboned ladies of the DAR, fat ladies in corsets, and the famous VE-Day sailor kissing the nurse. No doubt about it, the eminent Eisenstaedt has covered a lot of territory, and the book gives us most of it. Eisenstaedt's brief, explanatory comments personalize this album of notable people and moments. Henri Cartier-Bresson Photoportraits, preface by Andre Pieyre de Mandiarques (Thames and Hudson, $50). This huge collection of 255 eminent images is a smorgasbord of sights -- rich and famous faces interspersed with urchins, cotton pickers, prostitutes, beggars, and ordinary folks. Somehow the individual images -- though many are well- known -- are lost in such a collection. The faces blur under the weight of so many encounters. A few stand out: the young Langston Hughes (misspelled "Langstone" here); a pensive Marilyn Monroe; a hard-faced Coco Chanel. Most of his famous sitters avoid looking at the camera -- they gaze off to one side as if waiting to be released by the shutter. But the anonymous ones, on the other hand, stare out into the lens. Margot Kernan is a Washington photographer and videomaker.