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.
Use Of Rising Front. The wise employment of the rising front of your camera will often serve to remove a bare expanse of foreground and save the use of a trimming knife. Trim your photograph on the ground-glass. One is often advised to use two L-shaped pieces of cardboard when trimming prints, placing these upon the photograph in the manner of a frame, and the effect tried by cutting out different parts of the picture. (See Illustration No. 24, Vol. IV.) But the edges of your ground-glass will answer this same purpose, the only difference being that the picture is moved within the space, instead of the frame enlarging and diminishing. If you will use the rising front judiciously there will be no need of your cutting away various portions and reducing the size of the original.
296. Space your foreground properly. Include only those features which are of interest, and which assist in setting forth the main idea to be carried out in the picture.
Light And Shade. The third point in the consideration of the foreground composition is the study of light and shade. There is nothing more interesting than shadow. The strange shapes it assumes cannot be imagined until you study the stretched, flattened and other shapes into which it falls. No foreground requires trimming if it contains these forms. They occur mostly when the sun is to one side of the camera.
How To Make The Foreground Interesting. Lastly, do not forget that it is possible to make a foreground interesting, even though it seems at the time to be absolutely devoid of that quality. If upon viewing a certain landscape for the first time you miss the points that would make it artistic, view it at another time of day, when the lights and shadows fall differently. Under the various lightings you might see a great improvement and be able to photograph the scene at its best, - according to your conception, at least.
299. A long focus lens and the judicious use of the rising front will tend to improve the appearance of the foreground. Frequently you will secure better results by breaking up the foreground with the bough of a tree, carried from some adjoining spot; or, with large stones collected from the neighboring ground; or by the introduction of flowers, or a suitable figure. Should the foreground contain still water, the dull and uninteresting surface should be disturbed by throwing in a stone and making the exposure as the ripples of water eddy to the bank, producing wavy and varied reflections.