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.
293. Certain difficulties present themselves in photographing small objects which do not make themselves apparent in the photographing of large objects, such as furniture. Aside from the manufacturers who need good photographs of their products for catalog illustrating, magazines devoted to fashions depend, to a great extent, upon the commercial photographer for illustrations of lace patterns, embroideries, and all kinds of lace-work. The instruction which follows, as to the methods to employ, will prove of material assistance in overcoming reflections, etc., in silver and glassware and the obtaining of pleasing results with lace-work and other fabrics.
Camera And Lens. Any ordinary view camera, 5x7 or larger in size, is suitable for this class of work. A rigid tripod should, however, form a part of the outfit, for frequently prolonged exposures are given, especially where colored embroidery work is being photographed, which requires a color screen over the lens. The ordinary rapid rectilinear lens will suffice for this class of work and the rough focusing accomplished with the lens wide open. In making the exposure the lens should be stopped down to at least U. S. 32. No harm will be done in using even a smaller aperture, for the smaller the diaphragm opening the finer the definition.
Lighting Laces And Embroidery. There are various ways of lighting these objects. In the majority of cases, however, it will be found necessary to use the light coming from one direction, or from one source, but where possible it is advisable to have the light fall on the subject broadly, but not harshly, so as to give soft, even illumination throughout. In the studio the object may be arranged almost opposite the source of illumination, cutting off all of the lower portion of the light with opaque curtains, and using all top light on the object. In the home, where there are two windows on one side of the room, the camera may be set between these, with the subject directly opposite. If the room has a window in each of two adjoining walls, then the camera should be arranged in the corner of the room between these two windows, with the subject arranged near the center of the room directly opposite, thus permitting of a broad and even illumination.
296. It is not necessary to have the light diffused to any great degree; in fact, it is desirable to have strong but not harsh illumination. The relief or detail in the lace is produced by little catch-lights on the heavier portions of the design of the lace, followed by minute shadows on the outline. To obtain this relief the light must fall on the lace at a slight angle, yet the object must be evenly illuminated. Therefore, when working in the studio, by using all top light you obtain this result. Where two ordinary windows are employed the desired effect may be produced by cutting off the illumination from one window during a portion of the exposure. A very even illumination should be given during the first half of the exposure by using both windows, after which, by lowering the opaque curtains on one window, the light is shut off from this source, and the remaining illumination, coming from the other window, supplies a sufficiently even illumination, also a correct angle of light upon the object, which creates catch-lights with enough shadow to cause the lace to stand out in bold relief, resulting in snap and roundness in the photograph.
297 Background. - For white or cream-colored laces a black background should be employed. This may be of black velvet, or better still, common table oil-cloth (cloth side out), stretched over a drawing-board, the cloth side being painted with two coats of dead black shellac.
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