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.
638. A definition is hardly necessary, as the word explains itself. How often you have seen, or made by accident, a beautiful sketch of woodland, water, or sky scenery not at all like the ordinary conception of a photograph, but having that soft, distinct atmospheric effect rarely obtained except by masters of the brush or pencil. To see is to admire such pictures, but where and how to obtain such effects with the camera is a question often asked by photographers, both amateur and professional.
639. The above class of pictures are generally made contrary to photographic rules. They are usually produced at times and in weather in which the ordinary photographer would not think of making an exposure. A few points on how and why such pictures are produced will be of benefit to those wishing to make these with certainty of pleasing and artistic results.
640. Any dark, rainy or foggy day is best for fuzzy effects. A scene which would not give a good picture on a bright day may serve to give excellent fuzzy effects on a dull, hazy day. You will find scenes to answer this purpose near at hand, many of which you passed by at other times.
641. On bright days you will find early morning or late afternoon the most favorable times of day, as the sun is then weak and hazy, and being low, throws a long shadow so effective in such pictures.
642. One of the first essentials is to obtain a softly diffused (not too sharp) focus, except, perhaps, on some prominent object you wish to emphasize in the picture, and even this must not be too wiry in comparison with the balance of the picture.
643. For this class of work a lens of very flat field, such as a Goerz or Collinear, is preferable, yet very good effects can be produced with any rectilinear lens, or even a single combination. What you want is flatness of field with not too much depth. The latter can be overcome in a very deeply focused lens by giving the front combination of the lens a half or quarter turn, which will softly diffuse the focus throughout the whole picture and aid in giving the true atmospheric effect.
644. Now having chosen your view, select the feature or object you wish to appear most prominent in the picture, and in setting up your camera and focusing, see that this is well in the foreground, as this must be the sharpest part of your picture. If in the background, objects in front of it would be rendered shapeless and blurry, while if you focus well in the foreground the distance will blend off beautifully with the sky and atmosphere, giving just the effect desired.
645. Choose a view-point with the sun well in front and a little to one side, as you thus obtain the shadow effect. Set your lens wide open and with your head under the focusing cloth, and ground-glass well protected from all outside light, push in or draw out the lens, and as you do so you will notice the sky line or background comes into focus first. As the bellows is extended the foreground comes into focus and the background loses in detail. When you have the object you choose to emphasize in the foreground, in soft focus, you will notice the whole scene blends back to no detail at the sky line. The entire outline is soft, clear and sufficiently distinct that any object of importance to the general scene can be distinguished.
646. It will not do to have the middle ground in sharp focus, as in such a case the rear would be out and the foreground an indistinct blur. Have the sharpest part in the foreground. It will not do to use too small a stop. Usually the open lens will give sufficient detail and sharpness.
647. These fuzzy negatives must be fully timed, as under-timing produces contrast, which is just what we want to avoid. Working from the shadow side will also increase the exposure. Usually one-fourth to a full second will be sufficient, according to time of day and strength of light, and if in doubt rather give too much than too little time, as it is more easily corrected in development. Softness is what you want.
648. Develop in the normal Universal Pyro developer (formula for which is given in Volume II), unless the plate is very much over-timed, when it should be transferred to a tray of old developer, but never develop for contrast, as flatness is one of the essentials of fuzzy photographs.
649. Use Platinum or Velox paper, print to a good depth, and you will have a perfect blending of color from a deep black to beautiful gray in the middle tones and soft transparent whites, producing that beautiful half-tone effect so much desired.
650. In choosing these views avoid prominent or massive architecture. Flat scenes are the best, and out in the open country you will find them, along the hedges, or old rustic places with perhaps a church spire in the distance, or even an old barn or farm cottage. Very little life must be shown, and that in a suggestive way only. See studies of fuzzy pictures in this volume.