Frequently we have been requested by mail to give our method or rule for making the different lightings, as we have practiced them for years past. This, we feel sure, our readers will understand is a very difficult thing to do. It is a difficult matter to lay down a rule for lighting a face, and it is especially hard to put one's ideas into writing, so that all may understand just what the writer wishes to convey.
Where we have our audience in front of us, and have the use of a skylight and a subject to demonstrate on, it is much easier, as we can then point out the different phases of lighting in a way that the on-looker may see for himself, just the effect we are striving for.
Again there is the problem of pleasing all operators. There are no two that can agree on all things, and few that will agree on anything; and yet we are all working toward the same end - to secure a perfect negative. In many, many cases where two operators are at loggerheads, as to their methods, after the plates are developed from each, the work from one can not be distinguished from the other, and yet these men may be calling each other anything but pet names.
We all, of course, think we are right, and it may be that we are all right. The same with one operator preferring one brand of plates, while his competitor prefers another, and yet they are both right from the fact that they are using that which they are familiar with. It reminds us of the Irishman who was making a trip on the ocean. Being a new man at ocean travel, he was kept busy the first few days trying to get everything off of his stomach that had been placed there for days before. Just at the time he, as well as the other passengers, were busiest, the captain came along and said: "Pat, your stomach seems to be rather weak." Pat delayed operations long enough to look up and say: "Be jabbers, Oi don't know about that; Oi seem to be throwin' about as far as the nixt one." So it is with operators - each seems to be "throwin' about as far as the nixt one."
Our method for getting different effects in lighting may not be that of others, but our object is to give directions for lighting the subject as we have followed them for years, and we confidently believe if these directions are carefully followed, they will prove of benefit to many, who perhaps have not had the opportunity for studying this subject as closely as we have.
When an operator accepts a place in a strange studio, where the light is perhaps differently constructed to what he has been in the habit of working, the first thing he should do would be to try the light and ascertain the nature of it. All lights are not the same, consequently all lights can not be worked the same. This is one of the reasons why it is so difficult to give directions in writing for working under the skylight. Naturally the writer will fall into the habit of writing as he works, under his light. This method is just as likely not to suit the reader as it is to suit him. It may be that the writer has a light that has a tendency to give negatives of a harsh nature, while the reader may have a light that will render negatives of a flat nature. This being the case, it will readily be seen that the writer and reader are not in harmony, unless the writer can so couch his remarks as to make them interesting in general. There are, however, certain rules to follow, which will be of assistance to all workers, and which will not vary under any circumstances.
In testing a light it should be done thoroughly and every effect in lighting that we are capable of making should be tried. All of these effects should be made in as many "keys" of light as possible, from the highest to the lowest. Then the negatives should be carefully developed and a comparison made so that we can see which "key" our light works best in.
In our operating room we have both the single and double slant lights, and the directions for getting the different effects in lighting as laid down in the succeeding chapters of this book, may be applied under either style light, with equal ease.
We will here give a description of our lights, as to size and curtaining, and then take up each effect to be secured under them, allowing a chapter to each effect of lighting.
Our double slant light is 16 feet wide. The side light begins four feet from the floor, and runs up six feet, where it is joined by the skylight, which extends up sixteen feet. Both top and side light are of heavy ground glass. On both the top and side lights we have a set of opaque curtains. The curtains on the top light run on Hartshorn metal 1 1/2 inch spring rollers from the top down to the side light. Those on the side light run on rollers from the bottom up to the top light, and in both instances the curtains lap one over the other, so that all light may be closed out should occasion require it.
In addition to the opaque curtains we have a set of diffusing curtains on each, the top and side light, but these run across the lights.
It is not always that we need the diffusing curtains, but we believe in having them, so that should an occasion arise whereby we could improve our lighting by their use, we will be prepared for it.
The single slant light is ten feet wide and fourteen feet high, and drops into the room at the top, five and a half feet. This is also of ground glass, and curtained in the same way, only the top curtains are of such length that they may be drawn all the way to the bottom of the light and the bottom curtain may be drawn to the top, thus affording the opportunity to throw the light on the subject at any angle desired.
On the skylight of the double slant we have four curtains, each being four and a half feet wide. There is the same number on the side light, and they are of the same width. Each curtain laps three inches over its neighbor.
Those on the single slant are the same in number, and are three feet wide, which allows a liberal lap.
With these explanations, we are ready to enter upon a description of what is known as "plain lighting."
An Example of Plain Lighting.