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.
Setting Up Tripod. Assuming that you have selected the proper location from which to make the view, next place your tripod and camera in this position. The tripod should be so placed that one leg is squarely in front of the camera, the others at the sides. In this manner the operator while focusing is in no danger of striking one of the legs, as would be the case if one leg were placed directly back of the camera. In photographing in a narrow street or when making interior pictures, placing the one leg in front of the camera in place of back of it will save at least three feet space, and will enable the operator to not only perform his work much easier but gives him more distance from the object which he is photographing.
52. Many times when one is cramped for room, a foot or two gained in distance makes a marked difference. There are other advantages in placing the odd leg in front of the camera. The leveling of the camera is more easily accomplished, as it can be tilted up, down or sideways by simply moving this center leg in front. In the case of exterior pictures made under a heavy wind, there is less liability of the camera moving, as the operator can stand behind it and break the principal force of the wind.
Focusing. By correct focusing is meant the obtaining of good, clear outlines of the image on the ground-glass of any object being photographed. This is obtained by the racking out of the bellows until the image appears entirely sharp on all parts of the ground-glass. This is not always possible, because there are times when views contain objects at different distances from the camera which cannot all be focused with perfect sharpness at once. One object gains in sharpness at the expense of another. This is especially noticeable in architectural photography. The building being of considerable length, the rear end, which is farther away from the camera than the front, will not be in the same line of focus. To obtain a sharp focus on the front of the building the rear would be out of focus (not as clear and sharp as the front part).
54. In order to obtain a sharp focus of the entire building the difference between the front and rear must be divided. This is what is termed dividing the focus. By racking the bellows forward a trifle the front will lose a little of its sharpness, but the rear will appear much clearer and sharper, and after the lens is diaphragmed down to a small opening the entire image will appear sharp. Care must be exercised that you do not rack the bellows forward too far and throw the front of the building out of focus, for while the stopping down of the lens sharpens the rear, it has only a slight effect on the sharpening of the foreground, or front. It is advisable, therefore, to always note the appearance of the image on the ground-glass after stopping down, and see that the foreground is sufficiently sharp.
55. It is a good practice to adjust the tripod first and see that it is perfectly level, and then attach the camera to it. By being careful that your camera is placed level, it will facilitate the obtaining of rectilinear lines of the building. If the building is a high one the swing-back must be brought into use.