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.
Cameras. The first consideration of the photographer, especially the professional, should be his camera and lens, as in architectural photography it is necessary for the proper photographing of the different kinds of architecture to have different lenses, and sometimes even special cameras.
Professional Cameras. The proper camera for a professional should be equipped with square bellows, swing-back, rising and falling front, and rack and pinion movement for focusing. The bellows should be attached to a rigid front frame. This front frame ought to be equipped with two rising and lowering attachments, one for raising or lowering the bellows, the other for regulating the front board to which the lens is attached. The front frame should be high enough to allow the front board to be raised or lowered independently of the bellows, which should remain stationary, except when photographing very high buildings. With a large square bellows, no matter how high the front board is raised, or how short the focal length of the lens may be, there is no danger of the bellows sagging and cutting off any of the rays of light on their way to the plate.
Hand Cameras For Architectural Work. Buildings of the ordinary height, such as houses, barns, two or three-story buildings, may be successfully photographed with the ordinary hand or film camera. However, the hand camera equipped with the swing-back attachment, rack and pinion focusing movement, rising and falling front, and reversible ground-glass is very much superior to the stationary or fixed focus instrument. For all ordinary purposes, one may accomplish with the improved hand camera results almost equal to those obtained with the professional view camera. The only time you will be at a disadvantage is in photographing high buildings located in close quarters. Even then, the use of an extra wide angle lens will easily conquer such an emergency, and if the building is not too high nor too closely confined good results may be obtained. With this outfit any ordinary building can be photographed successfully. But with the fixed focus cameras, such as are generally used by beginners in photography, there is apt to be distortion, unless you work at a sufficient distance from the object to avoid tipping the camera in admitting the entire building into the view. Fixed focused cameras known as snap-shot cameras like all hand instruments must always be held perfectly level for all kinds of work, otherwise there is sure to be distortion. Those having such cameras who meet with failures will readily recognize the cause when they read and understand the advantages of more improved instruments. (See illustrations 14, 15, 17 and 18, showing the use of the swing-back, rising and falling front, division of focus, etc. Pages 55 and 56.)
Swing-Back. A swing-back is an attachment at the rear of the camera permitting the ground-glass to remain perpendicular, regardless of angle at which the instrument is tilted.
12. Cameras without swing-backs or swing-beds cannot be used for extremely high buildings for the reason that, in order to obtain rectilinear lines, the ground-glass must be absolutely perpendicular. If the building is very high you cannot photograph all of it and hold the camera level. Should you tip the camera to admit the entire building in the view, the picture would be distorted and the building look as if it were falling over. For such high buildings you will find it necessary to tip the camera and raise the front board, which slides in the groove. It can be raised or lowered to admit the entire building into the view. In order to have the lines perpendicular and an undistorted image of the building, you will need to make free use of the swing-back. Every time you tip the camera out of level you must use the swing-back to straighten the building on the ground-glass.