All the operations in the early stages of photography are carried out with the intention of producing what is called "The Negative" on the plate or film. The negative - see Frontispiece No. I - shows a reversal of the relative lights and darks of the subject; thus, light things come dark, and darks are represented by nearly clear glass or celluloid. The deposits in the negative resist in varying degrees the action of the light, and in the printing processes the relations of lights and darks are corrected, producing "The Positive" - Frontispiece No. 2.
It is now supposed that the reader has a camera and has read up and considered that portion of this book which relates to its class; that all the necessary sundries have been obtained, and all things are ready for a start.
The first thing to do is to load the camera with plates or films. This must be done in the dark-room, except in the case of daylight-loading cameras. Light the dark-room lamp and leave it open for a short time, as previously suggested under "The Dark-Room." Put up the window-shutter, close the door and shut up the lamp. In the course of a minute or so the eyes will become accustomed to the somewhat subdued light of the room. A glance round should be made to ensure that all stray light is shut out; if not, cover up any crevice with a curtain.
Open and lay it flat upon the work-bench. Now take the packet of plates and remove the wrapper. Upon opening the box the plates will be found to be further wrapped in sets of four each, or two pairs with their films facing each other. The film side is recognised, when held to the light, by being dull in appearance as compared with the brilliancy of the glass side, or it may be recognised by being slightly rough to the touch whilst the glass side is smooth. Carefully take a plate and with a soft duster or a plush pad lightly wipe it to remove all traces of dust, then put it face downwards into the well of the dark-slide (Figs. 7 and 8, B). Next place in the opaque partition and upon it the other plate, film upwards. Close up and secure the dark-slide.
Take out all the sheaths and place them that the numbers are in order, 1 to 12. Open the box of plates and put one into each sheath, being careful that the film side is outwards. When all the sheaths are filled, notice if the number of the plate recorder of the camera is at No. 1. Put No. 1 sheath into the camera, seeing that it works freely upon its catches along the stage, otherwise a stoppage may result, when the sheath should fall on being liberated after the exposure. All the sheaths having been properly replaced, the camera is closed up.
The back of the camera is taken off and an empty spool placed on the pivots in compartment B, Fig. 19. A spool of films is now placed upon the pivots in compartment A in such a manner that the tapering portion of the black paper is as shown in the illustration. If placed the reverse way the film will come on the wrong side of the paper when unwound. The pivots are held in place by springs. When the spool is in proper position the binding label is broken and the end of the black paper is pulled along, passed under the flat piece of wood C and over the metal roller D, across the back of the camera, over the opposite roller D and under the wood C, then threaded through the slot in the empty spool. Two or three turns should now be given to the winding key E. The back is replaced and the winding key turned until the figure appears behind the little red glass window at the back. Some spools of films have a sign which appears as a caution immediately before the figure I.
When the Magazine or the Folding Camera has been loaded, great care must be taken to avoid accidental exposure by inadvertently opening the lens.
All things being ready for action a subject of a very simple character should be selected for first attempt, as a simple scene, cottage or stile. Don't begin photography by taking the portraits of your family or friends - the result may be satisfactory so far as the operator is concerned, but it may prove a somewhat difficult matter to please the other party.
After selecting the subject - if the camera is of the stand type - the tripod is fixed up and the camera opened and arranged that the worker can stand comfortably between two of the legs, to examine the focussing screen. The lens will then be over one of the legs and point at the object to be taken. Further, the camera must be so placed that the sun shall not shine directly into the lens tube, or a "flare" spot will result on the negative. The sun should shine obliquely on the camera from one side or the other - this will give greater relief in the lighting of the subject.
The body of the camera and the head of the worker are now covered with a focussing cloth - which can be made by sewing together two thicknesses of black lining and lined with red material. It is intended to shut away as much light as possible, in order that the image on the focussing screen may be more readily seen. The screen should be examined from a distance of six inches.