Modern lenses and fast plates have had much to do with improvements in the methods used by professional portraitists, but they have also had a tendency in some instances to encourage methods which do not give the most pleasing results.

There is no question but that the exposure made without the sitter's knowledge will secure the best expression, but there is a question as to whether this exposure should be the shortest one possible or not. An instantaneous exposure will many times catch an expression that will seem hard and fixed, while an exposure of one or two seconds will give a composite picture, as it were, of two or three expressions, the result being softer and more pleasing, at the same time being made without the sitter's knowledge.

With nervous, fidgety sitters, or small children who can not keep still for more than the fraction of a second, the shortest possible exposure will give the most satisfactory results, but for the average grown-up a longer exposure is nearly always preferable.

In no case is wiry definition wanted in portraiture as in some other lines of work. And for this reason it is seldom necessary to stop down the portrait lens for single heads. Many photographers have an idea that the combination of a strong light, fast lens and fast plate is an advantage, because it permits them to stop down and secure more definition, but it is doubtful whether the results are ever so satisfactory as when a large opening is used and focusing done carefully.

Pictures in which the entire figure, background and any accessories are equally sharp, may please some classes of people who have no appreciation of the artistic, but the average patron will prefer to have only the most important parts of the picture accentuated. The result is more natural - more pleasing to the eye, though the average customer might not be able to explain just why.

The reason is quite plain. Look a person squarely in the eye and you will be unable to see the ears distinctly. Look at the ear and you will be unable to see the eyes distinctly. Look at a portrait that is equally sharp all over and you see more than the eye ever sees at one time, so the picture is not natural.

To subordinate the unimportant is one of the greatest difficulties in portrait photography, and to stop down the lens to any great extent is to deliberately throw away the best means of overcoming this trouble to some slight extent.

Stopping down the lens not only accentuates unimportant objects, but often attracts attention to lines or blemishes that are absolutely ugly. It then becomes necessary to do just that much more proof-retouching or explaining to the customer when proofs are shown. And how much better it is to avoid difficulties than to overcome them - to accentuate the good points in your negative, rather than to cover up the bad points by retouching.

The Eastman View Cameras

Improved models of Empire State and Century View Cameras combine the good points of both - are the result of years of experience in camera building. For full description see pages 26 and 27.

Definition In Portraiture StudioLightMagazine1914 175