For our subject in this chapter we have selected plain lighting, and it is our purpose to show a few errors into which a number of operators have fallen, and it seems next to impossible for them to extricate themselves. To better explain the point we wish to bring out, we will use a number of unretouched photos of a sitter, and drawings of our skylight, showing the manner in which our light was curtained and the direction in which light was falling on our sitter in each particular lighting. We wish to say just here, that the idea of this article was suggested to us by a number of photos which have been sent to us from various , operators from nearly every part of the United States, for criticism.
When one speaks of plain lighting, we at once understand that they have reference to that particular style of lighting where there is more light on the face than shadow, and at that same time the light must be properly distributed over the face, or we have an abortion. To begin with we must know that plain light is composed of both side and top light falling from the front, at an angle of 45 degrees to secure the proper distribution. The amount of illumination on your sitter must be governed by the particular type of sitter you have. We must know that too much side light or light falling from the side out of proportion to that of the top light, gives strong contrast. The high lights are chalky and the shadows are harsh. Too much top light gives "spotted" lighting. By this lighting you will have heavy shadows in the eyes, under the nose and chin, while the whole face will be angular. All front light gives flatness. The whole face is evenly illuminated, leaving no lines and shadows, while a combination of side, top and front light will yield just the lighting you want.
We will call your attention to illustration No. 1. In this photo I have used only side light. You will by a glance at a drawing number la see just the way in which my light was curtained. You will see by this lighting that we have one side of the face strongly illuminated, while the other side is in deep shadow. Notice how strong the line from the nose and the shadow at the corner of the mouth, also the lines under the eye are brought out. This we know is not right. We have no top light with which to bring out the other side of the face, and no front light to give softness. For this lighting we place the sitter about six feet from the side light and the camera at about the same distance. The mistakes in this sitting are: First, not enough top light; second, sitter too close to the side light. Should have been about nine feet from the side light; third, camera too far from the side light; should have been about four feet.
In illustration No. 2 we have all top light. Drawing No. 2a will show you the way in which the curtains were arranged in this lighting. Here we have such hollow eyes, and deep shadows under the nose and chin, as to make the young man appear almost half-starved. For this lighting we place the sitter directly under the centre of the skylight. The mistakes in the lightings are: First, the sitter was too far under the light; he should have been placed near the corner of the skylight. Second, not enough front light to illuminate the eyes. Third, not enough side light to light up the shadows under the nose and the chin.
Illustration No. 3 shows us the effects of all front light. Drawing No. 3a shows our light with no curtain higher than four feet from the floor.
Illustration No. 1. Effect of Side Light Only.
Illustration No. 2. Effect of Top Light Only.
Illustration No. 3. Effect of all Front Light.
Illustration No. 4. Effect of Top and Side Light Correctly Placed.
We have here a face with not a trace of character left in it. Every line and shadow has been removed by reason of the fact that the light was falling directly into all the lines and illuminating them just as much as it was the points where the highest lights should be. In this lighting the sitter was placed about twelve feet from the side light and facing directly towards it. The mistakes here are: First, too much illumination; the light should have been curtained closer. Second, the sitter was placed too far from the light, unless he had been turned further away from the light, and the camera moved around further away from the light. By this means we would have secured a very nice lighting.
In illustration No. 4, we have tried to place the lights on the face as it should be for a correctly lighted negative. Drawing No. 4a will show you our light at the time the sitting was made. The sitter was placed about nine feet from the side light. The camera was about five feet from the light. By placing our sitter in this way and arranging the curtains in the manner indicated, we secure the highest light on the face on the left side of the forehead. This light grades down to the cheek bone. Our next point of light is on the lobe of the nose, next on the left side of the upper lip, and next on the chin. We have the shadow cheek in a soft illumination which grades off into shadow. You will notice the labial furrow of the lip is well lighted up and the shadow from the nose falls off to the side. It will also be noticed that the eyes are full of life. We have a good strong catch light in them, and they were not put there by the retoucher's pencil either, as is too often the case. After these comparisons we feel sure that almost anyone can, with a little practice under their lights, very easily determine the trouble they are afflicted with. It may be that the construction of your light is such that it is giving you one of these troubles. If so, you must try your light with different methods for curtaining and adopt the one that gives you the best results.