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.
How To Expose. Perhaps in your photographic work you have been led to believe that if you have a bright sunny day you will be assured of splendid results. On the other hand, if the day be at all dull you were inclined to think that extraordinary exposures would be necessary, and that poor results would invariably follow. As a matter of fact, the true rendering of sunlight in landscape is one of considerable difficulty, for it is no easy matter to secure in bright sunlight proper gradation and absence of harsh contrast. The great difficulty lies in the fact that with the correct exposure for the highlights the shadows will almost always be under-exposed. On the other hand, if we hold to the old rule, "expose for the shadows, leaving the highlights to take care of themselves," the sunlight portions will come out extremely hard and dense. In work belonging to this particular class of landscape photography, you will find the most satisfactory method is to follow a middle course in the matter of exposure; i. e., expose for neither shadows nor highlights, but strike a mean between them.
Rest Time Of Day For Sunlight Effects. The best time for securing sunlight effects is early in the morning and late afternoon, for at this time you will secure the softer rendering of the light and not obtain the full strength of the piercing rays. In the middle of the day, when the sun is clear and comes down harshly upon the scenes, your negatives, made under such conditions, will give very unpleas-ing prints. Be up and into the woods or fields before breakfast. If you do not at first secure superb pictures, you will at least enjoy the freshness and beauty of the morning; and further, learn to appreciate delicate tones and charms of softly rendered distance in the landscape.
Protect The Lens From Direct Sunlight. Be sure to guard against the sun shining into the lens. In taking pictures in the woods, you are particularly liable to have a good plate spoiled in this way; for you may have such a keen intent on securing the sunbeams that you will forget that a fluttering leaf may admit a full ray of sunshine just at the critical moment of exposure. Take care, therefore, that the lens is well protected from direct sun rays when the sun is in front of the camera, as it may be when attempting to produce odd effects.
View-Point. Choose, if possible, a point of view that includes the least number of scattered highlights. Of course there will be one pre-eminently suitable spot for the effect you desire, but before making your exposure, be sure that you have fixed on that spot and that this is the best position from which to view the scene to best advantage.
272. In the morning the sunlight glancing through the trees is reflected by the bright green or moist surfaces of the leaves. Where considerable foliage is included, it comes out as extremely irritating white spots, which seldom fail to destroy the main effect unless you spend a laborious amount of time on the negative retouching them out. In taking pictures of this particular class nine amateurs out of every ten go wrong. They are deceived by the glittering foliage and their prints turn out as masses of formless white and patches of equally formless black. Even exerting the greatest amount of care and taking every precaution possible, you will find in many cases the strong highlights will need some reduction if you wish to emphasize the main effect. It is right here that your backed or non-halation plates will render you a great amount of assistance.