In this chapter we have a subject to handle that is so wide in its scope that we almost hesitate to start on it. But nearly all who have read the Good Book know that passage which runs something like this, "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread." But as we only intend suggesting a few points, and as we intend using a few illustrations for the purpose of explaining our ideas better, we feel that we can make ourselves fairly well understood. It is frequently the case that we see a picture, and our first thought is, "well, why didn't the operator light his subject differently?" or "why was that position made of that subject?"
Had it ever occurred to you that anyone in this wide world can criticise a picture? And had it occurred to you again that it is but a very small percentage that can criticise intelligently? When we say intelligently we mean one that can tell you how to make that mistake better or how to correct it perfectly. It is easy enough to look at a picture and say, "Oh, that is not lighted or posed correctly." But suppose the critic were called upon to tell how to light or pose the subject. We feel safe in saying that in nine times out of ten he would be at a loss to give expression to his ideas, and the reason would not be so much his inability to work under the skylight as it would be his inability to place himself in the place of the operator who made the picture criticised. In fact the critic has no way of telling under what conditions the operator criticised was working. When we say "the other side of that subject's face would have looked better," we do not speak intelligently, for we do not know what was on the other side of that face. But the operator who made the sitting had the opportunity to judge, and it was he who should know best. But the points which we will endeavor to bring out this time are only to be those that can be seen by any one when viewing the illustrations. We wish to show what a wonderful effect light and shade will have on the face, so far as point of age in the subject goes. By using certain lightings and positions of our subjects we can either make them look too old for their actual years, or, in some cases, we may give them the appearance of being too young. This question should be carefully considered when we are photographing our lady patrons especially. In illustration No. 1, we have a front view of the face, and it can be seen that the lighting is what is known as bold in its nature. The subject was placed about three feet under the skylight, and we made what we will call a Rembrandt front view of the face. By this we mean there is no touch of light on the shadow side of the face. The camera and the subject were both about eight feet from the side light. Now we would say that this lighting and position of this subject was not the best we could do. The reason is this: The line from the nose running down to the corner of the mouth, and the line from the mouth down to the chin, also the line from the inner corner of the eye running down under the eye were all too pronounced. And in trying to make a Rembrandt lighting front view of the face, we had to turn the head too far away from the side light, which caused us to get the light falling too much from the rear of the subject. This being the case it was impossible to get the light into these lines enough to bring them out properly. Now suppose we try putting a soft touch of life on the shadow cheek, and see if we can't improve matters. In illustration No. 2 we left the subject in the same place under the skylight, and the only change that was made was to move the camera nearer the side light, it being at the time of exposure about four feet distant. The subject, it will be remembered, was eight feet. Now have the subject turn the head toward the camera until the front view of the face is obtained. The result is seen in No. 2. It can be seen that the lines from the eyes, the nose, and the mouth have been reduced in strength ten times over, with the pleasing result that our subject looks from five to ten years younger than in No. 1. We therefore draw our conclusion that where our subject has prominent lines about the face, as indicated, that we want a lighting that will modify them; this being so, we further conclude that a "strong lighting," such as Rembrandt front view, would not be the best lighting for them. Now, aside from the lighting, we have still another criticism on the sittings, and that is on the view of the face chosen. We do not consider the front view as good as it might be. The cheek-bones are full, not angular, but are prominent, and the front view gives the face a "blocked" look, or too square.
Illustration No. 1. Posing and Lighting. (Incorrect.)
Illustration No. 2. Posing and Lighting. (Incorrect.)
Illustration No. 3. Correctly Posed and Lighted.
But, as we are considering the subject as presented to us, we would say that the front view of the face would not be just that which was wanted. In Figure No. 3 we have a profile Rembrandt, and consider this a more pleasing view of the face and also a better lighting. The reason we prefer it as a lighting is that it has enough light on the face to give good illumination, and at the same time give good strength to the face. There are two reasons why we like the profile better than the front view. One is the general outline is more pleasing. The prominence of the cheek-bones are done away with, and the shape of the whole head is in better harmony. We at the same time preserve the youth of our subject, both by using this position and this lighting. The other reason we have for preferring the profile is, there are so few subjects we get that will stand a profile picture that we like to use one every time we have the opportunity. It gives us a change.
Figure No. 1.
Figure No. 2. Posing and Lighting.
Figure No. 3.
Figure No. 4. Posing and Lighting.