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.
113. The most natural and characteristic features of an individual are best reproduced by having them fully illuminated. For this reason, the best of results in portraiture are obtained when that form of lighting is used which will show the majority of the face in light rather than in shadow.
114. With the exception of a few portrait painters who have worked for special effects, the majority use what is known as Plain Portrait or Broad Lighting. Especially is this true when the most characteristic likeness of the individual is desired. The photographer copies, to a greater or less extent, after the Old Masters and, therefore, has adopted this form of Plain Portrait Lighting, which is used almost universally in regular commercial work.
115. Not only is Plain Portrait Lighting adapted to the great majority of individual subjects, but it is also the easiest to handle, so one should strive to master it before attempting any of the other styles of lighting.
116. The first and most important consideration before placing the subject under the light, is to note which end of the room supplies the strongest light. By observation you will learn that in the forenoon one end of the room will be much more strongly lighted than the other, while in the afternoon the opposite end may be more strongly illuminated. You will also observe, by glancing at the floor of the skylight room, that the strongest light is not always the same distance from the side-light at different hours of the day. Therefore, exactly the same spot should not be used for all lightings of the same class, at any time of day.
117. Choice of location should be governed by the light conditions. The position occupied by the subject depends much upon the features of the individual, but generally it is advisable to place the subject in that portion of the room supplied with the strongest light This will require some shifting about during the day, but will make you more familiar with every portion of the skylight room and prevent the production of stereotyped results
118. Notice where the light is strongest on the floor. Then place the subject a trifle nearer to the light, so the strongest illumination will fall on the face, instead of on the feet, as would be the case if the subject were placed in the exact spot where this light falls. Should you work farther away from the side-light than the center of this strongest light, too much side-light will be introduced. The shadow cast by the nose will fall across the check instead of slanting toward the corner of the mouth. On the other hand, if sittings are made too near the side-light, there will be too much top-light, which will produce an effect similar to that seen on a building in bright sunshine, at the middle of the day. At this time the sun, being directly overhead, gives long perpendicular shadows, which are most displeasing in portraiture.
119. The proper way to judge the correct angle of light is to observe the shadow cast by the nose. If the shadow is directly underneath, covering the center of the upper lip, then too much top-light is used. If the shadow shows straight across the cheek the angle of light is too low and there is too much side-light. A mean between these two extremes will give you the correct angle, which is one of 45°. The shadow from the nose should follow the labial furrow, or in other words, extend directly toward the corner of the mouth.
120. Practically all of the skylight is employed when making the Plain Portrait Lighting, as will be observed by referring to Illustration No. 10. It is advisable to place the subject as far away from the side-light as possible, yet well under the top-light. Notice the position of the shades in this view of the skylight room. The first opaque shade directly over the subject is drawn down about half way, the second shade about one-third, the third a little less, the fourth being only a foot from the top. The object of having the first shade drawn down so far is to obtain the correct angle of light on the subject, while the remaining shades are only drawn far enough to retain this angle and yet permit the light to fully illuminate the room and supply roundness to the shadows. The skylight directly over the camera is almost entirely open. If these shades were drawn down as far as the shades directly over the subject, extremely strong high-lights and heavy shadows would be produced, and the portrait would lack roundness or atmosphere.
PORTRAIT STUDY Study No. 9- See Page 576, Vol. VIII Homeier & Clark.
Upper Illustration No. 9 See Paragraph No. 127 Plain Portrait Lighting-Portrait.
Lower Illustration No. 10 See Paragraph No. 120 Plain Portrait Lighting-View of Room.
Illustration No. 12. Examples of Plain Portrait Lighting.
See Paragraph No. 130.
121. The shades on the side-light, or the lower shades of either a single-slant or perpendicular light, should be arranged, to a certain extent, in the same manner as the upper ones; yet, as a rule, the lower part of the skylight should be more open than the upper, for the light there is not as strong as on the upper part of the skylight, nor does it directly strike the subject. Therefore it is permissible to leave the shades more open. To avoid decided contrasts the shades should be arranged according to the above instruction.