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.
105. The first and most important consideration in all good picture making is the angle of light. By comparing the lens and camera with the human eye, one can have a fair idea of the effect of light upon the sensitized plate. For instance, when viewing a building with the sun in front of you, shining toward you, the effect of light is very blinding to the eye, and the object or building appears dim and hazy in its shadows. This same effect is produced on the sensitized plate in the camera, by the light entering through the lens. In other words, in order to obtain clear results the camera should never be pointed toward the sun. Therefore, the beginner should exercise care that the sun is to one side, or even behind the camera.
106. The beginner can produce good, clear pictures by having the sun fall full on the side and the front of a building, for then the shadows are so small and few that he is sure of securing a strong picture; yet this is not always necessary. Lights and shadows that are clearly visible to the eye, and do not affect or weaken it, will have the same action on the sensitized plate through the lens, and the different degrees of light and shadow on the object or building will be reproduced on the plate.
107. Dark buildings, such as those of red brick or very dark painted houses, should be photographed with the sun shining on the side and front of the building. Were such a building photographed on the shadow side, the dark color, with little or no high-lights would produce a very dull, flat picture, while with a very light color building it is entirely permissible to photograph from the shadow side, for the entire building being light in color the shadows will be sufficiently illuminated. The sun shining on the front, throwing shadows from projections, cornices, etc., would give the required snap and contrast to the entire picture.
108. On the other hand, if this light colored building were photographed with the sun falling on both side and front, there would be little contrast and the artistic effect would be lost, yet from a commercial standpoint it would still be a good picture. If the building were a factory, or a large store, then full sunlight on the front of the building might be necessary; but when photographing residences, the prettiest effects are produced when more shadows are visible, producing greater effects of contrast.
109. A thorough understanding of the two preceding paragraphs will show the beginner that the effects of light and shadow, as shown on the ground-glass, should be carefully studied, as the results shown on this ground-glass will be reproduced upon the sensitive plate when a proper exposure is made. Careful observation should be made of the appearance of different objects and buildings, trees, shrubbery, fences, etc., with the sun shining upon them at different hours of the day. Frequently, in walking along a street the beautiful appearance of a residence may be observed when the sun falls upon it, with little shadows thrown from the cornices and trimmings, giving them a boldness and an effectiveness which are entirely lacking when the same building is viewed from a different point, or at another hour of the day, when it may appear very dull and flat. It follows from this that photographs should be made at that time of the day when the sun supplies the most shadows to the object or residence you are photographing. See Illustrations Nos. 18 and 19 of a building photographed under both conditions.
Illustration No. 18 Light Building Properly Photographed See Paragraph No. 109.
Illustration No. 19 Dark Building Improperly Photographed See Paragraph No. 109.
Illustration No. 20 Effect of Proper Angle of Light See Paragraph No. 111.
Illustration No. 21 Illustrating the Effect of Blistering See Paragraph No. 129.
110. To demonstrate more clearly the effect produced by light and shadow take your camera, attach it to your tripod, and view on the ground-glass the object or building from the side upon which the sun is shining; then transfer the camera to the opposite or shadow side and note the difference in illumination. If your camera is not fitted with a ground-glass these same effects may be observed in the view finder.
111. You should now be prepared to make an exposure. Select any building or object you may desire. As said previously never point the lens of the camera toward the sun, but have the sun falling from the rear or on one side of the camera. (See Illustration No. 20.) Should the rays of sunlight strike into the lens they throw a reflection from the sides of the lens barrel, causing a fog or blurred appearance upon the ground-glass and plate, and the resulting image will be anything but satisfactory.
112. Carefully focus on the ground-glass of the camera, using full aperture. See that all perpendicular lines of the building are parallel to the sides of the ground-glass. The raising or lowering of the lens will assist you in getting the building properly located on the ground-glass.
Note - The beginner who is working with a box or similar form of folding camera, provided only with a single lens, should understand that it is practically impossible to photograph buildings and obtain the straight lines of the building, or other objects, accurately produced on his plate or film. As mentioned under the heading of lenses, in the preceding chapter, to obtain straight lines at the edges of your plate it is necessary to work with a doublet instead of a single lens.
113. After securing a sharp focus, stop the lens down to about U. S. 4, or to its equivalent, f/8. Now close the shutter and insert the plate holder in the opening at the side of the camera just in front of the ground-glass. Be sure that the projection or groove near the end of the holder fits snugly into the groove or projection on the back of the camera. The plate holder should fit perfectly flush, so that no light can enter between plate holder and camera to fog the plate.
114. Being absolutely sure that the shutter is closed and set (in this case at 1-25 of a second, or if your shutter is not fitted with the various degrees of speed, make an instantaneous exposure, the lever being placed on I), then withdraw the slide nearest the lens and press the finger release or bulb once, thus making the exposure. After the exposure is made, replace the slide in the holder, being sure that the black side of the handle is facing outward or towards the lens. This signifies that the plate in this side of the holder has been exposed.
115. For the value of the experience and the practice derived it is advisable to make two exposures; therefore, withdraw the plate holder and, reversing it, insert again in the camera, and after setting the shutter withdraw the slide of the unexposed plate. Make another exposure of identically the same subject, giving the same time (1-25 of a second). If the beginner is working with a film camera he will, of course, have observed his picture on the view finder and focused by means of the focusing scale, having paced off the distance from the camera to the object, if uncertain as to his ability to correctly gauge the distance. When the first exposure has been made wind up the spool of film to the next exposure, and make a second exposure as just described. Then proceed to some other object and make two more pictures of that, using the same length of exposure. If a double two film is used this will use up the entire roll, so that it can then be developed. Then return to the dark-room and proceed to develop one of the negatives. After developing, fixing, washing and drying this plate or film make a proof print from the negative, using a printing-out paper. Note the results. Is it clean, clear, sharp, brilliant, and above all has it pluck and roundness? If not, study your instruction for developing, and observe wherein you failed to produce these results and apply the experience gained on the development of the first plate to the second one and proceed to develop it and endeavor to overcome your first errors. Make a memorandum on the back of each proof print of your methods of procedure, and file this proof in your letter file (proof book) for further reference. For development of the films singly, see Chapter V (Purple Tones On Collodion And Gelatin Glossy Papers).