This section is from the book "Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography", by J. B. Schriever. Also available from Amazon: Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography.
Placing The Background. Properly illuminating the background is almost as essential as lighting the subject. Place the background at least 3 feet from the subject, and turn the end of the ground furthest from the window slightly toward the source of light. If the ground is graded - or clouded - have the lighter section directly behind the shadow side of the face. This procedure will bring the dark portion of the background back of the illuminated side of the face, which is nearest the window. If the ground is placed too near the subject there will be excessive sharpness, causing the portrait to lack atmosphere. By turning the ground from the source of light a darker background is obtained; by turning it toward the window a far lighter effect is secured.
Upper Illustration No. 13 - See Paragraph No. 214 Lower Illustration No. 14 - See Paragraph No. 216.
LADY AND CHILD IN OPEN DOOR Study No. 8 - See Page 402.
J. H. Field secure the best effect in photographing this subject the figure was turned away from the window, and the face turned toward the light until the tip of the shadow cast by the nose just touched the shadow of the cheek. For Plain Portrait Lightings you will need to work with the camera closer to the wall than the subject is to the window; in fact, the best position of the face is secured when the head is turned so the shadow ear is just out of range of the lens. The illustration shows a two-thirds view of the face and a side view of the body. The side view of the figure turned from the light gives softness to the drapery and the face turned towards the light supplies strength and roundness to the head.
Proper Height Of The Camera. As a rule, the camera should be placed on a level with the mouth of the subject, except in the case of standing figures. Much depends, however, upon the subject. For instance, if the subject is a fleshy, short-necked person, lower the camera. It is well, in such cases, to have the subject lean forward a trifle, with the head slightly erect, thus showing as much neck as possible. Usually a view of the shadow side of the face will avoid the double chin effect, yet the handling of subjects in order to secure special effects should not be attempted at this stage. There are no fixed rules governing these points, so the photographer must be largely guided by the character of the subject and the surroundings.