This section is from the "Studio Light Incorporating The Aristo Eagle - The Artura Bulletin 1917" book, by Aristo Motto. Also see Amazon: Studio Light Incorporating The Aristo Eagle - The Artura Bulletin 1917.
The problem in photographing stained glass windows is a problem of color contrast, the colors ranging from clear whites to the brightest and deepest reds, blues and greens, to say nothing of the delicate tints and shadings of these colors.
The windows must be photographed by transmitted light, and a true rendering and even color balance can only be secured by the use of a panchromatic plate and a color filter.
Ordinary objects require only a correct balance of light and shade, but a stained glass window is made up of a great many pieces of glass of different colors which act as filters and an ordinary plate would be useless.
Wratten Panchromatic Plate, G Filter.
By A. B. Freitag.
We are indebted to Mr. A. B. Freitag, photographer for the Emil Frei Art Glass Company of St. Louis, for the example of window shown.
Mr. Freitag uses Wratten Panchromatic plates for all of his work and is allowed time for only one exposure of each window. The light surrounding the window is stopped out, the plates are always fully timed and developed in a tank with the developer recommended by the manufacturer.
With an ordinary plate that is not color-sensitive the blues in these windows would photograph too light, the yellows too dark and the reds, greens and browns would practically photograph as black, the results being entirely useless for conveying an idea of the actual appearance of the window.
The example shown is from the regular run of Mr. Freitag's work and shows only one of the many uses for Wratten plates and filters.
Use a Wratten K2 Filter and orthochromatic plate and reflections from polished surfaces will be materially reduced.
It is interesting to know the influences that have helped to decide the character of a man's work, especially when such a man is acknowledged to be a successful photographer.
There are many things that have a bearing on the success of the photographer and the ideas of successful men are sometimes at wide variance, but they are none the less interesting and are often of value to others.
The photographer we have in mind, Mr. William Crooke, of Edinburgh, has made a lifelong study of the work of the old masters of painting, Rembrandt, Velasquez, etc., and his work has undoubtedly been influenced by the work of these artists, just as their work was often influenced by the earlier schools of painting.
Mr. Crooke recently stated that as a consequence of such study he had little use for the silhouetted figure against a white background. He contends that it is a treatment which may only be adopted with success when the outlines of the face and figure are really good. And as it is seldom the case that there are not indifferent lines in the subject that require subduing and blending, he finds the medium or dark ground most suitable for photographic work.
In line with Mr. Crooke's argument, it is interesting to note that a number of our own professionals find their customers are beginning to tire of white-background work and frequently ask for grey or dark grounds, just as they have asked for grey or black and white prints in preference to sepias.
From An Artura Iris Print By H. Mishkin New York.
Aside from the argument that the darker ground suppresses bad lines, which cannot be denied, and the fact that these lines cannot be corrected in a photograph as in a painting, there are other decided disadvantages in photographs with white grounds.
Not many years ago it was the custom to vignette practically all of the head and shoulder portraits that were made. The prints had a hard, glossy surface and were readily kept clean by dusting them, along with the parlor furniture. But photographs are different now-a-days.
The white background of the ordinary matt surfaced print that has stood on the mantle since Christmas, is not likely to be white after it has been dusted a few times. And in such a condition a photograph is hardly a good advertisement for its maker. Most white-ground prints are worked up a bit by the artist before they are delivered and this makes them difficult to clean without removing such work. Look over your sample prints that have been handled and the ones with the white grounds will most likely be soiled, even if they have had good care. So from this point of view the matt-surface, white-ground print is hardly satisfactory, except for framing under glass.
Mr. Crooke's contention, however, is of most importance, for the greatest difficulty in photographic composition is the handling of disturbing or unpleasing lines. And if these may to some extent be blended into the background, the photographer's task is made much more simple than is the case when they are accentuated by a contrasting background of white.
It may be considered good advice to drift away from white grounds for a long enough time to see if the effects on grey or dark grounds are not more pleasing and better suited to the average subject. And if results warrant discarding white-ground effects you will not likely find yourself voluntarily drifting back to this style of work.
Halation, encountered in home portraiture, is reduced to a minimum by the use of:
The Pyro Studio Line cut No. 236. For Newspaper advertising. Price, 50 cents.
Artura Iris Print, From Eastman Portrait Film Negative.
Middle Atlantic Stales Convention Demonstration By W. B. Poynter, Cincinnati, Ohio.