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.
114. After diligent work on the practice-charts employed for the previous instruction, and having a better knowledge of what is required for the proper handling of the work, you may now proceed to apply the same principles to a portrait negative. Bear in mind, however, that it requires only a very light application of the pencil to produce the desired effects.
Your work on the practice-charts will have taught you how to handle the pencil and apply the lead in eliminating blemishes. You will also have learned the relation of these spots in the high-lights to those in the shadows, and why it requires more lead to remove them in the dense portions (high-lights) and less in the shadows or thin parts.
Practice Negatives. The negatives selected for your first work, at least, should be sharply focused portrait negatives, preferably of coarse-featured subjects. It would be an excellent plan to select a proper subject of this kind and make a number of negatives for retouching practice. They must be fully exposed and carefully developed. Should you not be in a position to make these negatives yourself, discarded portrait negatives may be procured from any local photographer. When selecting negatives for practice work, it is advisable to select cabinet plates of good-sized heads and of subjects with as many blemishes on the face as possible, as the beginner will observe his progress more readily on this class of negatives than if plates with less imperfections were selected.
Preparing The Negative For Retouching. The film of the negative in its natural state, as you have previously learned, has not sufficient "tooth" to receive the lead; therefore, a preparation must be applied which will supply this tooth and place the negative in a condition whereby any amount of lead may be applied to the surface. To produce this tooth we applied a retouching medium, or, as it is sometimes termed, a retouching dope, instruction for the preparation of which is given in Paragraphs 22, 23, and 24, and the method of applying it in Paragraphs 25 to 28.
117. Prepare the negative with the retouching dope in exactly the same way as instructed for the preparing of the retouching chart. If, after the first application, the surface is not as you think it should be, repeat the experiment until you are able to secure an excellent surface - one that will be smooth and take the lead.
118. With the negative properly prepared for receiving the lead, and before attempting to apply any work upon it, a proof-print should be made. Print to a good depth, so as to show all the imperfections to their best advantage. This print will serve as a guide for you to follow, and must be kept from direct rays of light as much as possible.
Proofing Negatives. For the benefit of those who have had no experience in proofing negatives, we supply the following information: The proof is made by placing the negative which is to be retouched in an ordinary printing-frame, with the film side facing up. A piece of printing-out paper, glossy or matte surface, such as Solio or Aristo Platino, is then placed in contact with the film side of the negative, and the back of the printing-frame fastened in position. Regular cabinet-size proof paper can be purchased of any supply dealer, in boxes containing one hundred sheets. When the back has been fastened in the frame, expose the paper to daylight or sunlight until it blackens over in the shadows. With an average negative it will require, if placed in bright sunlight, from 3 to 10 minutes to print to the proper stage.
120. The print should be examined, from time to
time, by opening one-half of the back of the frame and then raising the end of the print from the negative. This should be done in very subdued light. Never open the printing-frame in too strong a light, as strong light will, of course, fog the high-lights. Only print until the high-lights are faintly tinted and the blemishes appear quite prominently. Then the printing is completed and the print may be taken from the frame.
121. With the proof obtained, next place the negative over the opening in the retouching desk and with the pencil properly sharpened to a fine point, you are ready to begin your work. Cover the negative with the black mask containing the oval cut-out. This will prevent finger marks on the film and will assist in concentrating the light on the part which is to be retouched. Before beginning the work, just remember that, on the practice-charts, the strokes of the lead when applied to the transparent blemishes, produce dark lines, the density of which depends upon the weight of the stroke. This lead, when applied to the negative, also gives dark lines, and when shown in the positive print made from the negative, reproduces white; consequently, when referring to these lines on the negative, we speak of them as white lines.