This section is from the book "Modern Photography In Theory And Practice", by By Henry G. Abbott. Also available from Amazon: Modern photography in theory and practice: A hand book for the amateur.
By taking advantage of the well-known law that the nearer an object is to the lens the larger it appears, some very ridiculous effects may be produced by means of a short focus lens and photographs. A reproduction of a portrait if viewed from one side distorts the length of the face while if viewed from the bottom or chin side the face will broaden out at the chin. The same effects are thus produced as one sees in convex mirrors.
While it is possible to take photographs by moonlight, by prolonged exposure, most of the so-called moonlight photographs that we see are simply day views. Many of these so-called moonlight views are the result of accident and overexposure but some are purposely taken for such effects. Views on lakes and rivers with the moonlight coming from behind a bank of fine clouds and the moonbeams shining across the water are favorite ones. These views are usually taken late in the afternoon when the sun is low and is just hidden behind a bank of clouds. The lens is pointed directly at the sun and the shortest possible exposure made. The result is a night view to all intents and purposes. Very pretty effects may be secured in moonlit wood views at about sun-down by slight overexposures. Select a piece of woods with open ground to the west for free admission of the sunlight, which will cast long dark shadows. The camera should be faced to the north or south so that the shadows appear and the exposure is prolonged so that the contrasts are considerable. The accompanying illustration is made from a genuine moonlight view taken with a five dollar camera on a winter evening. The camera was placed in position on the end of a long pier, extending out into Lake Michigan, at 7:45 and was left there until 9:45. The moon was full and about two hours from the zenith, being nearly in front of the camera but not enough so to allow the rays to enter the lens. The moon did not shine brightly, the atmosphere being somewhat hazy. This view was taken as an experiment by Mr. L. L. Northup, of South Haven, Mich.
An Imitation Moonlight.
A Genuine Moonlight.
Perhaps one of the most difficult tasks in photography is to get a first-class negative of a room showing not only the windows but also the landscape out of doors. While non-halation plates produce wonderful results in a way, there are cases in which even with their aid it is impossible to get a negative, the resulting print from which does not show a blur, which entirely destroys the beauty of the picture. The reader is invited to carefully study the accompanying illustration and guess how it was done.
It was taken on a Cramer Crown plate, unbacked, by Mr. Chas E. Jacoby, Sioux Rapids, Ia. Mr. Jacoby describes the taking of this picture as follows: I set up my camera and focused it for inside and out and stopped it down so everything would be sharp. I then went to my gallery and got a large piece of black felt with which I covered the two windows to be taken on the outside and then over this still spread another thick piece, which shut out all light, having the dead black next to the glass. Thus it would make no exposure on the dry plate where the outside view should come. I then went inside, drew my slide and made a thirteen minute exposure of the room, closed the shutter (I avoided putting the slide in the plate holder at this time for fear the camera would be moved a little before the second exposure, thus spoiling the outline of the window), went outside, took down the dark cloths, arranged the subjects out of doors and made another exposure on the same plate through the window. The second was a short exposure, which on account of the size of the stop was about one and one-half second in length and thus had no effect on the exposure of the room which was thirteen minutes. The plate was then developed in the ordinary manner. During the long evenings of fall and winter and even during summer evenings the amateur can devote his time to photography if he so desires. Aside from toning and mounting, making of Bromide, Velox and other developing paper prints, he can devote his time profitably. Even a stormy evening is not devoid of all interest to the amateur photographer, for if the conditions are right he can secure one or more lightning negatives. Select a window facing that portion of the sky in which the lightning is appearing. Set your focus for the point 100 feet or more away. Put in your plate holder, draw the slide, open the shutter and wait for the flash. As soon as the flash has appeared close your shutter at once, as a second flash might destroy the effect. Select a position where as little artificial light as possible is visible and use the largest stop. The accompanying illustration was made from a photograph taken at Island Lake, Mich., by Mr. George F. Sterling of Detroit and is wonderfully clear. Note the reflection of the lightning on the top of the shed and between the railroad tracks.
Lightning. G. F. Sterling, Detroit.