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.
Position Of The Reflector. The object of the reflector is to reflect the direct light, throwing it into the shadows, illuminating them and incidentally shortening the exposure. The greatest care must be exercised in the use of this reflecting screen, as it is an easy matter to throw more light into the shadows than appears in the middle tones. Observe by referring to Illustration No. 11 (floor plan) that the reflector is placed at almost an angle of: with the side-light, instead of being parallel to it. Should it face broad-side to the light, the reflected light coming from this screen would be more powerful than the direct light, and instead of the shadows melting gradually away as they approach the rear of the head, they would be clogged with false light. The reflected light should simply be a continuation of the direct source of light, and because of this the reflector should be placed so as to permit the strongest reflected light being cast on the front of the face, and not on the rear of the cheek next to the ear. If the reflector is used at a distance of not less than three feet from the subject, and turned to partly catch the direct light, it will sufficiently illuminate the shadows. The light reflected from the screen will be so mild that it will not intrude on the shadows, but merely assist in producing the desired detail.
129, Watch the light on the face. Learn to see the effect that the light produces, remembering that you do not see the light, but the light enables you to see. When the reflector has been placed in proper position, turn it on its axis-the end nearest the camera being used as the axis-slightly one way and then the other, until the light is reflected more strongly on the front of the face, but never on the ear, or back of the head. The rear of the head and ear must be kept subdued. It is only by handling the lighting in this manner that softness and roundness will be produced, doing away with deep shadows on the nose and cheek bone on the shadow side.
PORTRAIT STUDY Study No. io J. E. Giffin.
Posing The Subject. At first little or no attempt at posing should be made, for, as a general rule, the subject on sitting down will adopt a pose more or less natural. If one having little experience in posing attempts to alter a position, there will be danger of a stiff, set position being maintained. (See Illustration No. 12.)
131. First seat the subject - figure and face toward the source of light - then slightly turn the face from the light, carefully watching the effect of the light as it falls upon the head and face. Never have the face and figure turned at the same angle. If the subject is a lady gowned in light drapery and the lines of the face are such as will permit, turn the face to the light and the figure into the shadow, in order to save the drapery and retain all the detail possible. In other words, turn the figure away from the light and the face toward the light. This rule will not always hold good, however, for frequently the angle of the neck and contour of the face are such that it will be necessary to reverse this order in order to obtain the most pleasing results of the face, which is most essential in portraiture.
132. If the skylight room is of such shape and dimensions that work can be done from either end of the skylight, arrange the subject at that end of the light where both portrait and drapery effects are best. In bust portraits carefully square the shoulders; never have one shoulder lower than the other. This is only admissible in a reclining position, where more of the figure is shown.
133. The most important consideration for the beginner is the securing of proper lighting. The greatest attention should be paid to this feature. Although there are many general principles with reference to the posing of a figure, it will be best to learn these gradually, for by first applying one principle and thoroughly practicing with it, and then taking up another one, they will be more firmly impressed upon you, and you will be able to pose a subject and make the various arrangements without having to give any special thought to them. Your eye, trained in this way to see the various forms, will easily detect anything that is unnatural or any arrangement which is not artistic.
134. It is essential that the expression of the face be as pleasing and as natural as possible, and your aim should be to secure the most effective portrait. This is best done by continually talking to your subjects, keeping their mind so occupied that they forget they are having their picture taken. Make the sitter feel as much at home as possible and forget his or her surroundings. The face is the principal part of the picture, and if you have secured a pleasing and natural expression little or no thought will be given to the remainder of the figure.