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.
Exposure. It is very essential that you give full exposure, especially if the birds have some black about them. The razor-bill, a dull or a sooty-black, requires somewhat excessive exposure to insure any detail. At the same time the strong actinic power of light on the coast must not be forgotten.
Focusing Cloth. You will find a large homemade focusing cloth to be of great advantage when stalking birds; and especially so if you are using a tripod camera, as it will protect you and the instrument from view, and will give you an opportunity of gradually working up toward your subjects without their being aware of your approach. Before your subjects arrange themselves in just the position you would like to have them, you might be required to wait for some little time, so it is advisable to be well protected from their sight.
488. The time of making exposures must be left, of course, to the individual worker. It is necessary - in fact each subject requires it - to exercise your own judgment in all work of this class.
Practice Work. Suppose you are ready to make an exposure on a seascape subject. Aim to secure a typical scene, including in the angle of view not only the sea and sky, but have the picture space covered about one-third with a part of the shore. Introduce into this scene a figure on the left-hand side and a little below the center line of the picture space. For instance, have a little child, with pail and spade, digging in the sand, blissfully unconscious of your presence. The horizon line (the line formed by the meeting of the sea and sky) should, in this case, be above the center of the picture space, and the camera should be placed not higher than 2 feet above the ground.
490. If possible, try to make the exposure at a time when the sea is a trifle rough, and at the instant of exposure have a white cap break into spray, so as to destroy the straight line of the horizon. Remember that the required exposure, providing the sun is shining, will be no greater than 1-100 of a second, using a stop F. 16. Try to have the sun on the left-hand side of the camera. Then the shadow, which will be cast by the figure, will fall in a manner to carry the eye from the object into the picture, when observing the finished print. If the sun shines from the right-hand side, casting a shadow to the rear of your subject, the eye would be led from the subject to the shadow, and from there out of the picture. This would not only be against the rules of composition, but would also greatly detract from its value. Be sure that your subject faces toward the center and not away from it.
491. When you have to your satisfaction arranged your subject material, make an exposure of the scene; then select another view, carrying out some one of the ideas suggested in Paragraph 466. Develop both negatives and make a print from each experiment. Place your notations, which will give you full information regarding the manner in which you proceeded to secure the results, on the back of prints, filing them in the proof file for future guidance.