Principality - Tone Rendering - Orthochromatic Plates - Colour Photography

This chapter should be carefully read, but its full value will possibly be more fully appreciated when some progress in photographic practice has been made. The desire may then arise to produce more thoughtful work than is generally the case in the early stages.

Before proceeding to describe the various operations in Practical Photography, a few hints on the treatment of the subject may be helpful. Rules are for guidance and not necessarily to be slavishly followed. Much depends upon the individual tastes of the worker. Let it always be borne in mind that Simplicity is the keynote to success.

The rules are, first: -


There should be one special or chief object to claim attention. This is called the "Motif" It does not necessarily follow that it should consist simply of one person or thing only, but if more than one they should be brought together or grouped to form one item of interest, which will command first attention. Take the view in Fig. 33: the house and church form two distinct items of interest, and the eyes naturally skip from one to the other; this should not be, therefore the position of the camera or, in other words, the view-point, should be altered until the two are brought together to form one group as in Fig. 34.

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Fig. 33.

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Fig. 34.

Every picture has its strong and weak points. The centre is the weakest, whilst the strongest is where the lines would cross each other if the picture were divided into three equal portions, long-ways and cross-ways. Therefore it is on one of these points that the principal object should be placed. In Fig. 34, taken as a whole, the group is too central - if the portions outside the lines are covered up the difference will be at once noticed. A second object may - with benefit - be introduced into the picture for the sake of balance, it must not, however, be too large to compete with the chief; its place would be at or near the opposite cross-line. The smaller portion of Fig. 34 would be improved in this respect by a rustic cart or something near the gate. The focussing screen of a stand camera may be ruled into the nine divisions as above suggested; this will materially assist the grouping of the objects. The final treatment may, however, be carried out when trimming the print before mounting it. In portraiture one or three objects may be more easily handled than two. If a group of three is to be made it is best to have one standing, one sitting in a chair on one side of the standing figure, and the third on a stool on the other side. This forms a more or less pyramidal arrangement, with the faces or chief points at different heights, but at the same time not too severely uniform.

Lights And Darks

There should be one principal light in a picture. There may be others of equal brilliancy, but not of the same size, neither too many, otherwise the picture will appear "spotty" when looked at from a short distance away. The above remarks apply equally to the darks,, which should support the lights, connecting both by means of the half-tints. In landscape the strongest lights are generally in the sky and the darks in the subject. In portraiture they will naturally fall in the group; if two of the sitters are dressed in light or dark they should be brought together for unity.


The planes of a picture should be observed. The strongest accents come in the fore-part, where the definition- - that is, the outline of the objects - should be sharpest, and gradually get weaker or less sharp the farther away it gets, until it is practically lost in the distance, there being a gradual gradation. This, in other words, constitutes the perspective of the picture. In landscape, the effect is materially assisted by what is termed "Atmosphere," that is when there is some haziness in the air. The planes then gradually pass one into the other, until all the detail is lost in the silvery greyness of the haze.