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.
Selection Of Accessories. Simplicity should be the main object in all pictures. The introduction of figures should be done sparingly. Now and then they add a touch of human interest, but they should not be obtrusive, as they scatter the interest and tend to confuse the picture. Never take a blank sky as a background for a figure study. The face is sure to be black, even though the sun is behind the camera. Place the figure a short distance from some dark object, with an unobtrusive background. If you wish the figure in greater prominence, let the background be slightly out of focus. Then if the figure is posed in a stooping attitude, be sure that there is space in the picture for the figure to stand erect, in one's imagination; otherwise the sense of proportion is destroyed. With rapidly moving objects, when negatives are being made for later enlargement, one must be very careful in adjusting the speed of the shutter so that the blur in the enlargement will not exceed 1-50 of an inch. The best time for pictures is when the streets are fairly open and when the light is good. When the light is poor, or when the sun is low on the horizon, or when figures are in the shade, the hand camera cannot be used successfully and the tripod must be employed. In making any picture, five things should always be remembered - first, the idea to be conveyed; second, the principal point of interest; third, the accessory points, or figures; fourth, the setting or background, etc.; fifth, the play of light and shade. This is the way to think out any picture.
Exposure Meters. The exposure of the plate to the action of light in the camera is of the greatest importance, and most of the failures in negative making are due to incorrect exposure. It depends upon many conditions such as:
The speed of the plate;
The time of the day and the season;
Quality and strength of the light;
Nature of object to be photographed.
641. For instance, clouds, snow scenes, marine or far distant views require the shortest exposures, while groups in the shadow of dense foliage and dark objects must be exposed longer. Interiors of buildings, etc., usually need still more prolonged exposure, so that the same plate may be worked in 1-100 part of a second with large diaphragm and strong light, that requires from ten minutes to perhaps an hour's exposure to photograph a dimly lighted interior.
642. There are ingenious exposure tables gotten up by different parties to give the time required, considering all these circumstances, but, while they may be of some value and assistance to the operator, a great deal depends on his judgment and experience, which can only be acquired by continued practice.
643. In exposing a plate, probably the best guide is the image upon the ground-glass, as seen under the focusing cloth. By examining the strength of the image, the operator will be able to judge the necessary exposure if he knows the sensitiveness of the plate he is using.
644. It will require but a few trial exposures to determine the one sufficiently accurate for good results, and in determining future exposures the results of preliminary exposures may be taken as a basis. The time of year, time of day and general conditions of light must be considered.
645. The old adage, expose for detail in the shadows and let the high-lights take care of themselves, is a good one, but like most other good things, must be used with discretion.
646. Exercise your best judgment in determining exposures, and keep a record of each exposure made, as this will be a great help in determining future exposures.