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.
Focusing Scale. Another point worthy of attention by the earnest hand camera user, especially if the camera is a new one, is to carefully test the focusing scale before starting on the holiday. Bear in mind that the brilliant light of the seashore is very misleading in judging distance, and if the snap-shotting of groups or objects on the seashore is attempted, the preliminary test will not only be useful for the sake of the camera, but will greatly aid in training the eye.
Selecting Subject Material. The best subjects to photograph must be left to the individual taste, but we would urge upon you not to waste plates and material on the common things which you are able to purchase as souvenir postcards in any of the news stands. It is well to aim at something that will please you for more than the time being. Don't be afraid of waiting half an hour, or even two or three hours, for a suitable figure to come along just to fill the space. Study the different effects of lighting at the various hours of the day; notice the difference in the effect of the morning, noon and evening shadows. If you are in some fishing village look out for quaint corners and odd appearing houses. If the sea is calm and the local fishing vessels show broad reflections, take a boat and go out and photograph them from the level of the water. There are also scores of figure studies which will be available by watching and waiting. Always take particular pains to see that the groupings and the composition arrangement are the best possible. Be careful, for instance, to avoid including others than the fishermen in the view.
Figure Studies. In figure studies a good distance to stand away will be about 15 feet. This is near enough, as a rule, to get the whole of the figure on the plate, and far enough away to make the exposure before the individual is conscious of what you are doing. The subject should never appear to be looking at the camera, but should be interested in some feature of the scene. If you are not sure of your distance, always err on the side of getting the focus at a point nearer than you estimated the distance to be. This will insure your figure being sharp and will agreeably diffuse the distance.
OYSTER BOAT Study No. 24 - See Page 313 By Dr. A. R. Benedict.
Estimating Distances. As an example: With a lens of 6 inch focus, suppose you estimate the distance of the main object at 24 feet using stop P. 8; then everything from 14 1/2 feet to 66 feet will be in focus. Now, supposing you think the object is 24 feet away, but you are not sure of it; then, if you set the pointer at say 18 feet, everything from 12 to 34 feet will be in focus, and if the object really was 24 feet away there would be still 10 feet beyond that point that would be in focus, a result that is very desirable in almost every case.