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.
Principal Considerations. The first and most important consideration in making pictures amid home surroundings is proper illumination. The room and accessories desired in the view should be well illuminated.
See Paragraph No. 12I
Second, the subject or subjects should be placed in a position where they will receive the strongest light. Whenever possible, they should face the source of light sufficiently to supply lights and shadows to the face or faces. Third, the subject should not occupy the center of the picture space, but must always be placed a little to one side. Fourth, the surroundings must be in keeping with the character of the subject, or the subject must be dressed to conform with the surroundings. The finished picture should truthfully represent the individuality of the subjects.
131. In Illustration No. 5 is presented a picture of a business man in his private office. The picture tells its own story. The surroundings indicate a private office. The desk is one likely to be found in a well furnished private office. Such an office is seldom furnished with a large roll-top desk, having an array of papers and books surrounding it, neither is there likely to be a typewriter in the room. On the contrary, such an office should present a quiet appearance - a place where the occupant may quietly plan and lay out work and give private counsels without interruption. This picture well portrays the character of the man himself. The expression is truthful, the pose characteristic. Observe the light as it falls upon the face in true Rembrandt style, which assists in bringing forth the real individuality of the subject. Observe the excellent balance to this picture. To the right we have the desk and the figure. While the lines of the figure run at an angle through the picture, the face is sufficiently to one side of the view to give it prominence. The chair to the left and the pictures on the wall balance the make-up of the entire picture. This photograph was made in a room 14 x 18 feet, with the subject and desk placed almost in the center of the room. One window supplied all the illumination.
132. In Illustration No. 6, Fig. A, is represented a-group picture amid home surroundings. While the group is arranged some distance from the light, still the illumination is of sufficient strength to fully light the entire group as well as the surroundings. Observe the group arrangement and its conformity with the furnishings and surroundings. The picture balance is excellent; the grouped subjects occupying a position to the right, the space to the left being balanced by the small table. Observe that instead of the chandelier holding a prominent position in the center of the room, it is inconspicuously located to the left. Also, observe how the view was executed at right-angles to the light, thus supplying shadows to accentuate the high-lights. To have worked at an angle with the light, or, in other words, with the light directly back of the camera, would have produced a very flat effect.
133. The following are the conditions under which the picture was made: The strongest light came from three windows situated at the end of the room, opposite the group. The shadows were slightly illuminated by light coming through folding doors, which were almost at right angles with the group. The windows supplying the strongest light had the shades drawn down about half way. This was done in order that the reflection of light would not be too strong on the fireplace back of the group.
134. In arranging the subjects for this group, the point near the fireplace was selected to add coziness and home atmosphere to the picture. The child leaning on the mother's knee, observing attentively the pictures being described, and the third subject sitting on the settee, apparently listening to the description, assist in carrying out the story of the picture. While the group is sharp, it is not wiry, yet the surroundings, it will be observed, are slightly diffused and out of focus, supplying atmosphere. While there are no great contrasts, high-lights and shadows are present throughout the arrangement. The camera was placed 11 feet from the subject, between folding doors, being pointed toward the group at a slight angle. The exposure was made on a bright clear day, at 3 o'clock in the afternoon. The lens used was a Goerz; stop, U. S. 4; exposure, 4 seconds.
135. In Illustration No. 6, Fig. B, we present a photographic shadow portrait, made in the bay window of a home. The illumination was obtained from the bay window, the camera being directed toward the source of light. The subject seated to the right, in the large chair, makes up one end of the picture, while the balance is obtained with the jardiniere and the dark space between the windows at the left. The subject was posed near the center of the middle window, at a distance of two feet from it. The camera was placed about 5 feet from the subject, aimed directly toward the window. The strongest light - actual sunlight - just touched the window at the extreme left of the picture, with a little of the illumination slightly falling upon the jardiniere. The sunlight produced the strong light on the cheek. A Goerz lens was used, with stop U. S. 4; exposure 3 seconds. The plate employed was "Seed 26 X," the negative being developed with Pyro.
See Paragraph No. 136
Illustration No. 8. At-home Portraiture - Window Portraits. See Paragraph No. 137.
136. Observe in Illustration No. 6, Figs. C and D, that quite a strong light is falling upon the back of the gentleman's head. Both of these pictures were made under identically the same light conditions - only one window supplied the illumination for the room. For this reason the lace curtains were arranged to afford sufficient diffusion to supply general illumination throughout the picture space. The two figures occupying the principal position to the right of the picture space are balanced by the sofa pillow on the stool at the left. The wall decorations, being simple, do not detract from the general appearance of the room, but give a fair idea of the surroundings. The pictures being made in a very small room accounts somewhat for their being crowded. More particularly is this the case in Figure D than in Figure C. Trimming of the picture has had much to do with this feature. The upper picture in Illustration No. 7 is another excellent example of At-home Portraiture.