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.
Apparatus For Night Photography. No special apparatus is required for night work but much can be said in favor of a fixed focus camera, as it saves considerable trouble in focusing. A full size finder is quite essential, however; otherwise an undesirable light on the left or right front that should be cut out will in all probability be left in. Of the tripod cameras the best form is a square bellows with an extensive rising front; if a conical bellows be used it must have loops on the sides or top to prevent the bellows from sagging and cutting off the light. You should be able to judge the amount of view included within the angle of the lens. The focusing scale on the camera must, of course, be accurate, and your judgment of the distance from the camera to the subject should be approximately correct. If, however, you wish to focus on the ground-glass you should look for the strongest points of light. For instance, if there is an electric light in the view occupying almost a central position with reference to distance, focus on this sharply. It is essential that you have a rigid tripod, for the duration of the exposure is such that the camera must be perfectly stationary, otherwise a slight breeze might cause sufficient movement to give a blurred image, instead of one perfectly sharp.
517. If a strong wind is blowing it will be almost impossible to do anything, so if you cannot find a sheltered position it will be wise to abandon the attempt to make a night photograph until a better opportunity is presented. Even on the most tranquil nights the tripod must be well set and free from vibrations. It seems hardly necessary to warn you to avoid making pictures from bridges where there is danger of vibration through traffic.
Leveling The Camera With A Spirit Level. When photographing street scenes which include buildings, it is very essential that the camera be perfectly level. Many folding cameras are provided with a level, but a more convenient form is one which is not fastened to the instrument in a stationary manner. No matter what position the camera may occupy, you should be able to place the level on it
Illustration No. 48 in a position where it can be constantly seen. There are numerous levels on the market, such as the Ingento, and the Taylor, Taylor & Hobson's Single Level (shown in Illus-
Illustration No. 49 tration 48). It will be necessary to have a light of some kind in order to see to properly level the camera, therefore, a short piece of candle should be a part of your equipment. It is very important that the camera be leveled properly, otherwise the picture will result in badly distorted buildings, telephone poles, lamp posts, etc.