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.
Conditions govern night as well as day photography, although the same rules do not apply in both cases. Halation and reflection are, however, prime factors in night photography and must under all conditions be considered if we wish an artistic picture. This will perhaps be made clearer by a study of the accompanying night views. These views were both taken on State street, Chicago, during the Peace Jubilee, when the street was lighted by means of incandescent lights strung from one side to the other. It will be noted in the first picture that the foreground is absolutely devoid of all detail. The night was clear and dry and the consequence was there was no reflection from the sidewalks or pavement. The streak of light at the right hand side of the picture was caused by the headlights of the cable cars which passed regularly every three minutes. The halation around the electric lights is considerable, showing clearly that a non-halation plate should have been used. This picture was taken on a medium isochromatic plate, stop f 45, time 35 minutes. If you will now turn to the next picture a marked difference will be noted. This was taken on a rainy night and the wet side walks and stone paving blocks reflected the light so that the details of the foreground are nearly as good as though the picture was taken in the daytime. The negative was taken by Mr. J. W. McCaslin, Chicago, on a non-halation plate, f 22 stop and 1 1/4 hours exposure. Development 50 minutes. The cable cars were constantly passing and it was necessary to shut off the light repeatedly while they passed. In this way the streak of light which appears in the other view was avoided and the only indication of it that we can see is the reflection on the windows on the right. About half way down the block, on the fourth story of the building, was a large sign made of red, white and blue incandescent lights, which read, A. M. Rothschild & Co. The A. O. S. I. and & were in red lights and these are entirely lost in the picture, while the white and blue letters come out distinctly.
A Perfect Night Scene. Copyrighted by J. W. McCaslin, 1898.
The next illustration was made from a photograph of one of the Peace Jubilee arches taken at 9 o'clock in the evening. This also shows great halation and the want of a non-halation plate, although the small portraits of the army officers come out nearly as distinctly as in the day view directly under it. The latter is a splendid negative taken by a Chicago amateur, Henry G. Mohr, on a Cramer Crown plate, f 32 stop, time 1 second. The night scene of the arch was taken on a medium isochro-matic plate, with f 32 stop, in 15 minutes. It is somewhat difficult to give more than a rough approximation of the time required for night photography, much depending on the number and power of the lights but the fol-lowing exposures may be a clue to approximate exposure;
Gas & Elec.
Fair - no Moon.
Seed 26 x.
Interiors, portraits, etc., may also be taken in the evening by the aid of oil and gas light, with very artistic results. For a portrait the subject will have to be posed in a very comfortable position, for the exposure required is lengthy, for it will vary from three to seven minutes, depending on the amount of light. A lamp with a silk shade may be introduced and adds materially to the effectiveness of portraits taken at night. The lamp should be turned down low in order not to fog the plate and the shade should cover the flame. The figure should be so lighted that all the light apparently comes from the lamp in view, while in reality it comes from one or two lamps placed outside the angle of view of the lens. Care must be exercised, however, to have the light face in such a way that there will be no cross lights. Should it be thought necessary to have a naked light appear in the picture, as a candle, fire in the grate, etc., the actual exposure should first be made before the candle or fire is lighted and the lens capped. The lighting can then be done and a second or two seconds further exposure will be sufficient to introduce the light. Wels-bach lights will be found very useful for night photography and owing to the intense white light, they materially shorten the exposure.
The Arch By Night.
The Arch by Day.