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.
Practice Work. For first experiments select an interior view of any convenient room - the office, studio, or any living-room in the home. The dining-room is a good room to select, if it is large enough. However, the simplest interiors to make are, usually, connecting rooms. For example, the library and living-room connected by either an archway or double doors. In such cases the camera can usually be satisfactorily arranged in the doorway of a third room, or in one corner of one of the rooms. When photographing a suite of rooms, the first room usually looks better taken from a diagonal position, or from one side, as better lines are thereby imparted to the view of the room. Observe the instruction regarding the illumination, also the general arrangement of furnishings. Generally furnishings are arranged to be viewed from the most conspicuous point. One should endeavor to photograph a room from this same point, thus practically reproducing the room with furnishings as it was intended to appear by the decorator.
Focusing. When focusing, see that the middle and front are sharp. The middle may be sharper than the foreground. If the foreground is slightly out of focus, carefully divide the focus between the front and middle, making the middle, however, the sharper. If the distance is not sharp, use a stop one size smaller than is necessary to sharpen the foreground and middle. This will give sufficient sharpness in the distance to produce satisfactory results.
88. Where a dining-room is to be photographed, the sideboard, table and chairs usually appear large, while the room seems small, and it is almost impossible to make such a view without pointing the camera directly toward the window. The first step is to place the camera in position. Endeavor to show one end and two sides of the room. If this is impossible, show a corner, one end, and almost all of one side. Remember, objects nearest the camera will be magnified in size. A child's small high-chair, if placed near the foreground, may in this way be made to appear like an arm-chair.
89. Remember, never place a piece of furniture closer to the camera than the portion of the floor showing on the ground-glass. Carefully turn the furniture so that you will produce most artistic lines and secure the best point of view. At the same time, bear in mind that you must not spoil the effect of the home surroundings. While it is permissible to move a chair, couch or table, it is always advisable to have grandfather's, or baby's chair in their accustomed places.
90. After other furniture has been placed in position, carefully consider the table, upon which, most likely, will be spread a white linen cloth, and a display of the family silver, chinaware, etc. Also carefully view the glass and chinaware on the sideboard and examine the pictures on the wall. In all cases be sure to see that there are no bad reflections.
91. While an ordinary plate can be used, either a non-halation or a backed plate will give better results, especially if the window is included in the angle of view. But, for your first experiments, we advise the use of ordinary fast plates, as they are easier to manipulate. After you have had some experience with plates of this class, the special plates should be employed, as you will then be able to manipulate them more intelligently.
92. The next point for consideration is the source of light, and also the light which enters the windows included in the picture space. Experiment by drawing the shades completely on the window toward which the camera is pointed. You may also find it necessary to partially draw some of the other shades. If there are bad reflections, they can often be overcome in this way. Remember, you should, in most all cases, endeavor to have the source of light come from behind the camera, as proper high-lights without deep shadows will thus be obtained, and reflections done away with. However, if the interior of the room is extremely light, such a source of illumination would tend to produce flatness. For that reason the light should enter in greater volume at the side of the camera than from the rear.
93. As stated in the lesson proper, if there are several windows, some of which must be shown, it will be advisable to draw all shades or blinds, except those necessary to give sufficient light for exposure. When the principal exposure has been made, with all of the shades coming within the angle of view drawn, close the shutter; then raise the shades and again expose for a second or two. In this way more illumination will be secured, resulting in added detail in the densest shadows; while the windows will not show that the blinds have been drawn at all, and there will be practically no halation. Sometimes opening the lens wide and exposing for a few moments will supply detail and improve the general effect. But this must be done cautiously or the camera will be moved, causing a double image in the picture.
94. After everything has been arranged satisfactorily and the image carefully focused, set the shutter, insert the plate-holder, draw the slide, and, again viewing the scene to be sure that everything is in the proper place, make the exposure.
95. Proof prints should be made from all negatives and filed in the proof-book or proof-file. On the back of these proofs make notes, of the lens used, stop used, exposure given, etc., including all data regarding the important features governing the method in which you proceeded to make the negatives. This data is extremely important, as it will furnish you with valuable reference material for future work.