This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
Beautiful hammered iron, in the form of hinges, latches, bolts and scroll work, are general on west and south doors; there are also railings around private chapels,. Chancel Screens, Altar Railings, Candelabra, Lecterns, Brackets for the suspension of Font Covers, and Grilles enclosing private pews.
With open iron work, such as Chancel Screens, a general view may be taken, but the detail of panel or scroll will require much more consideration. We would recommend the use of a neutral tinted background, mounted on rollers; it is cheap and portable. It must be carefully suspended behind the section of the screen to be photographed, care being taken that in the actual photograph neither top, bottom, nor sides are seen. It will also be well to keep the background a short distance away from the back of the screen, so as to avoid the possibility of a shadow.
Set up the camera so that the lens is central with the piece of work to be photographed. See that it is perfectly level, and that the back and front arc-quite plumb. The desire is to obtain a detail photograph and reproduction of the subject on as large a scale as the limits of the plate will permit. With an ordinary R.R. lens it is quite easy to photograph a panel measuring 18 by 12 inches one-third the actual size on a half-plate negative, and, provided the bellows has sufficient extension, a subject 12 inches high and 9 inches across may be photographed one-half the actual size.
The wider the angle of the lens the larger the field of view; but for detail work such a lens cannot be recommended, because a wide angle lens exaggerates perspective and causes distortion of objects in the immediate foreground. The great aim in such photographic work as we are suggesting must be the rendering of the subject in correct proportion.
There should be very little difficulty in setting up the camera when photographing a panel of, say, a Chancel Screen; at times some ingenuity will have to be exercised in order to operate the camera at close quarters. To secure detail photographs of any real value, it may be necessary to gel within two or three feet of the object, and in such a case the focal length of the lens is a matter of supreme importance. Messrs. Beck & Andrews, in their excellent book upon "Photographic Lenses,"say: "No one length of focus can be recommended; it is difficult to select an ideal position for the camera. Oftentimes it is impossible to get close to some pieces of detail or carving without the use of scaffolding. Therefore, to be ready for any emergency the architectural photographer must have lenses of different foci. One should be of short focus, 5 or 6 inches; this lens will be found particularly useful for detail work. Another should have a focal length of, say, 6 inches; such a lens should be used for general views, either exterior or interior." These lenses are for use with a half-plate camera. We would suggest that the camera be fitted with Unicum or Automat Shutter, because lenses can be obtained of different foci which will screw on the back and front of these shutters. Quite a battery of lenses could be carried in the waistcoat pocket or a small case. Such a set may be purchased for 5 5s., consisting of shutter and six Busch Aplanat lenses, which, used in combination, will give foci of 4 3/4, 5 1/2, 6, 7, and 8 inches. If used singly the equivalent foci will be 9 1/2, 12, and 16 inches. These lenses will cover quarter, 5 by 4, or half-plate.
A rapid lens - one having a large aperture - is desirable, because it is often difficult to see detail when focussing, so that the large opening of a rapid lens is of very material help. Before actually making the exposure, the lens should be stopped down so as to assure the required definition. This stopping down will increase the time of exposure, but in such work as we are suggesting that is a matter of no moment.
In ecclesiastical photography the difficulty is to isolate the subject, and a considerable amount of ingenuity will often be necessary in order to succeed. The proportions and detail of a pulpit or lectern would be greatly accentuated if a photograph could be obtained without the inclusion of chairs and benches, which are always obtrusive and of necessity out of focus. Distant objects can as a rule be put sufficiently out of focus as not to attract attention, but the handling of the foreground is much more difficult. It can often be overcome in the composition of the picture upon the focussing screen by the careful selection of the point of view and the setting up of the camera. Photographers are too wedded to the regulation tripod, and seem always to think that the height at which the camera can be used must be limited to the height of the tripod. It may oftentimes be discarded altogether, and a pair of steps, or three or four chairs stacked on top of one another, used in its place.
For instance, suppose we want to photograph a pulpit hour-glass, such as the one in the church of St. Mary-at-Cliffe, near Hoo. The ordinary tripod would be useless, hut the housemaid's steps, borrowed from the rectory, would probably bring the camera in line with the hour-glass; making it possible to secure a detail photograph, about one-third of the actual size, and, with the aid of our portable background, all surroundings, except a part of the ledge of the pulpit, could be eliminated. For be it remembered that we set out to photograph an hour-glass and nothing more.
Hour-glasses would form a good subject for specialising. They are usually fixed to the pulpit, but not always. Examples are to be found suspended in wrought-iron brackets; there is such a one. we believe, at Compton Bassett, Wilts. In the church of St. Alban, Wood Street, Cheap-side, an hour-glass is fixed on a stand by the side of the pulpit. In the parish church at Greenwich there are, we understand, no less than four hourglasses.
Reverting again to wood-carving, we would specially call attention to the photographing of Misereres. To some of our readers it may be necessarv to explain that the Miserere is the underside of the seats, frequently found in choir stalls. When the seat is turned back the carved work projects, and the ledge, it is supposed, formed a rest for the aged and infirm during the long periods of standing; another and quite as reasonable and far more practical explanation is that the seats were made to turn back in order to give more room for kneeling during the recital of litanies or penitential psalms. Be this as it may, the old men delighted in carving the underside or ledges of these seats, and some most quaint subjects are to be found. In Rochester Cathedral the old stalls will provide any number of examples, and the Dean's verger, an old soldier - a Scotsman - can tell you the history of many of them.
Remember as long as you live that a purchaser always likes a picture better alter he has paid for it than before.