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.
264. The enormous extent of the piano industry is barely realized by the average person, but it is safe to say that there is no city of any size in the country which does not boast of one or two piano factories, while every large department store has its own brands of pianos, known in the trade as "stencil pianos." Each and every one of these concerns publishes, usually annually, more or less elaborate catalogs and price-lists, for which photographs of all the various styles are needed. The advertising of pianos, too, which is more extensive than that of any other commodity, requires a large assortment of photographs of pianos and piano parts. Thus it is clear that the commercial photographer has here a large field in which to exercise his talents.
Pictures Usually Made In The Factory. The size and weight of pianos entirely precludes the possibility of taking the instruments into the work-shops of the commercial photographer, many of whom have specially fitted skylights for furniture and similar objects. Consequently, the photographer has generally to do his work within the confines of the factory, and under more or less serious difficulties. Not the least of these is the lack of room or distance at which one can place the camera from the object.
Going Over The Ground. The best plan, when called upon to do work in a factory, is to first visit the factory or shop and note the position of the windows in the room which has to be used, whether facing north or west, etc.; also the size of the room, so that the needed focal-length of lens can be estimated; also the possibilities of working without interfering with the workmen. Usually the pictures must be made in the assembling-room, or polishing-room, both, as a rule, well lighted, but crowded with instruments and workmen.
Best Time To Work. If possible select the noon hour for the work. At that hour, the men are out of the building and the machinery shut down, so that vibration and interference need not be reckoned with. All pianos being on easy running castors, no outside help is needed to move the instruments about to the required position.
Locating The Piano. The pianos should be placed well back from the light, with the camera at a slight angle. As a general rule the photograph of a piano should show one end of the piano case and the full front. In other words, not quite a front view. (See Illustration No. 58.) The key-board should be left open and the music-rest drawn out. With the lens wide open, focus on the name-plate over the key-board and then stop down until both the near and the far end of the piano are in absolute definition. In all cases use a long-focus lens, so as to get as perfect drawing as possible.
270. The background material is of no consequence, as the negative is blocked out, yet a light canvas ground will aid in supplying a clear outline for tracing when blocking the negative. The level of the camera should be just above the key-board, as the top is not generally shown. The light being usually none too good, great care must be taken, during focusing, to observe that the end of the nearest leg or extended base of the piano is not cut off by the edge of the plate.