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.
Illuminating The Subject. While this is one of the chief obstacles to overcome when making portraits amid home surroundings, yet the average illumination in residences is considerably more diffused, and consequently, stronger, than one realizes. Where a large room has but a small amount of illumination, work near the window. It will even do no harm to admit a portion of the window in the view. Frequently the picture value is improved by admitting a large portion of the window, and under such conditions you get all the light you want.
Obtaining Real Effect Of Home Surroundings. Where a large expanse of room surrounding the subject is required, work as far distant from the subject as possible. For that work a short focus lens should be employed. When photographing in crowded quarters, small negatives should be made by employing a small camera. If larger prints are wanted, negatives may be enlarged. With a small camera you can generally cover more space than with the larger instruments usually employed for this class of work.
General Appearance Flat On The Ground-Glass. This will be the case when working with the light back of the camera, the source of light falling directly in front of the subjects, thus supplying no shadows. For portraits always work across the light, with the subjects placed in such a position as to supply shadows and high-lights.
The Resulting Picture Flat. If the lighting is correct, this is evidently caused from under-development. Pictures taken in the interior of a home should be carried to full strength in the development. Owing to the fact that the plate develops slowly, one is apt to misjudge the strength of the negative and remove the plate from the developer before it is completely developed. A little practice will enable anyone to judge very accurately the depth of development necessary.
Results Contrasty. Usually due to under-exposure.
Where the shadows are heavy, expose longer. Remember, always expose for the shadows, paying no attention whatever to the highlights. When the shadows are fully timed the plate will develop with proper value, showing the high-lights and shadows in the same relation as they appeared on the ground-glass. It is advisable, when developing negatives made amid home surroundings, especially where the window is included in the view and full exposure has been given, to apply a normal developer with one or two drops of Bromide added. The very small amount of Bromide will prevent fog, so the plate will develop clear and crisp. Should the plate show signs of contrast, dilute the developer with an equal amount of water. The two drops of Bromide added will not cause this contrast, as that is not enough to produce such a result. If more than that amount were added it would restrain the developing and produce contrast. This is not the intention in adding Bromide, so the amount used should not be more than one or two drops of a 10% solution.