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.
Holding The Hand Camera. Never point the camera directly at the sun, or the result will be a flare spot on the negative. The direction of the light should be from over the shoulder, as you stand with your back partly to the sun. When photographing a house, for instance, never take a full broadside view, but show a portion of the front and one side. The lighted side is preferable in most cases. Sometimes the position of the camera relative to the objects to be taken may make all the difference between a good and bad picture. A point of view that is low down compresses the ground planes and emphasizes the object in the foreground. This is how reeds, long grass and shrubs are given importance in the foreground of some pictures. On the contrary, a high view-point tends to cut out the foreground which may not always be pictorial. In a general way, the further we are from the subject the higher the camera must be held. Thus for groups 10 or 15 feet distant hold the camera about level with the waist-line; 15 or 30 feet distant, chest high; and for more distant objects, on a level with the chin. The beginner will probably not be able to hold a camera quite still for more than one twenty-fifth of a second. By practicing, it can be held still for a quarter of a second, when conditions are favorable. Never take a snap-shot of a moving object while it is in the shade, as the light is not sufficient to permit of a short exposure. In fact, there is but one good rule with regard to exposure, viz., to expose for the shadows and let the high-lights take care of themselves. To this we add - make no exposure unless you are sure that your subject is worthy of it, and that all the conditions are right for the securing of good results. 636. Choice of Subjects. - The novice should never attempt subjects showing strong light and shade contrasts. By strong contrast we mean a snow scene with an inky black river; a narrow street with one side in strong sunlight, the other in sharply defined shadow; a brightly lighted landscape as seen through an open doorway; black and white costumes, etc. Unless the light is good and ample exposure can be given, nine times out of ten such subjects will be failures. Oftentimes unnatural effects are rendered in the picture, due to too rapid exposure. The pictorial effect is gone because the picture was made so rapidly that the motion of the scene which makes the picture beautiful is lost. All such, if made with a slow exposure - say one-half second - enhance the view.
637. For figure studies in narrow streets where the light is poor, a wide aperture lens is needed. If a lens of this character, working say at f/6, be used, exposures of 1-25 of a second may be given with rapid plates. If the light is very dull a moving object cannot be taken, as sufficient exposure would cause a blurred image.
638. For buildings and architectural work, generally, the lens of a hand camera should be of fairly short focus, and there should be an ample rise to the front of the camera. It is better also to use a tripod when photographing objects of this character. Whenever the exposure is more than 1-25 of a second, set your camera on a tripod, to steady it.