This section is from the "Studio light a magazine of information for the profession 1918" book, by Sara F. T. Price. Also see Amazon: Studio light a magazine of information for the profession 1918.
Studio Light, by appearing in its new dress, gladly conforms to a war measure. Several months ago it was found advisable to conserve, for war purposes, certain materials used in the making of paper by discontinuing the manufacture of a class of papers of extra weight and quality. As Studio Light paper came in this class, orders placed with the mills were immediately canceled and a paper selected which would conform in every way to the Government's plan of conservation. We pride ourselves on the appearance of this little magazine and have printed it on a paper specially made for us. Now that our stock of this material has been exhausted, we are glad to publish Studio Light in its present form until such time as the paper mills resume operations on a peace basis.
THE IDEAL NEGATIVE The following article by H. B. Romane in November American Photography contains an unusual amount of good advice based on sound photographic principles. He is a professional photographer who has undoubtedly had a considerable amount of practical experience which makes what he has to say well worth reading and his advice worth heeding. Editor's Note.
"Much has been written on this topic both by professional and amateur photographers, yet have I never seen an article that fully covers the medium used and its manipulation to obtain an ideal negative. It is not my purpose to give technicalities but to give in simple terms with all possible conciseness my method of obtaining negatives which satisfy the general public as being as nearly ideal as is possible of attainment with ordinary methods and ordinary tools with which to work.
"Let it be understood first and last that I do not pose as an authority on the art of photography. I am simply stating facts which have been clearly demonstrated to me through years of work and experience which the professional photographer meets who caters to all classes of people, reaches all classes of people, and finally learns to know all classes of people.
"The average public demands work which must be kept up to a certain standard. It is the exactness of procedure which enables him to give professional results with the minimum amount of labor and waste. It is this exactness which enables him to duplicate the tone and texture of any photographic print. He must use as a rule better material, better workmanship and possess more knowledge of his subject than the amateur.
"The ideal negative is one which will practically take the place of the orthochromatic or panchromatic plate, and yet one of which the cost will not be prohibitive for the average work.
"The ideal negative must be one which will represent correctly practically every range of contrast. It must give detail in those intense highlights which characterize the work of our best photographers, but which are oft-times represented by blank white paper in the average print.
"In portraiture the highlights are so placed as to center interest on the face, for it is the character of the face which receives most of the artist's attention. If the attention wanders from the face the composition of the picture should be such that attention is brought back to that point, but a mere highlight, a blank white space, will not hold interest. There must be something of interest in the highlight area. The first purpose of the highlight is to attract attention, the second to indicate form.
"Form is ever shown by roundness, not flatness. To secure the effect of roundness the light must be properly directed. A round object can be made to appear flat by lighting it equally from all sides. Consequently we must light our subject from one side only. The contrasts from such a measure are great. If we use direct sunlight we have intense, dazzling highlights and deep heavy shadows. Our negative, to be ideal, must have ability to express this contrast. In order to do this it must have speed and latitude.
"Speed is an essential, as it takes time to dig into those heavy shadows, and the next in importance to our highlights are our shadows. These should be made a valuable asset as they are your means of rounding out that side of the face. Always work to secure that quality which is described as roundness and which can only be had by proper use of your shadows. There is only one way I know to secure roundness in shadows and that is by lightening them to the proper degree and by exposing to catch every bit of detail in your deepest shadows.
By Jerome Chircosta Cleveland, O.
"No sensitive material will produce the same range of contrast in under exposure as in a correct exposure. Your negative should correctly represent the values of lights and shadows of your subject. If your highest light is fifty times as bright as your deepest shadow your negative should show the same range of contrast.
"After the range of underexposure is passed there is a stretch of latitude in which contrast increases proportionately with the exposure. If two seconds are the shortest correct exposure, a certain contrast between the highlights and shadows is produced which correctly corresponds to the range of contrast used.
"If four, five, six or eight seconds exposure will increase the density of the negative proportionately in the shadows and in the highlights, the degree of contrast remaining exactly the same, then any exposure from two to eight seconds will be correct and will correctly represent the latitude of the material used.
"Then comes the period of overexposure in which the contrasts begin to flatten out. This is because a highlight can become just so opaque and no more. Increased exposure will gradually increase the densities of the halftones and shadows until finally all contrast is lost and the negative becomes entirely opaque. It will readily be seen by this that the more latitude a plate has the greater are your chances of securing a good negative."You have all noticed the flare' which seems to surround a window through which strong light is admitted when viewed from the interior of a room. If you haven't just take your camera, load it with a non-ortho-chromatic plate and try to photograph the little stream just outside, with that blue range of hills in the distance where land and sky seem to meet. If you didn't see the halo before you will surely see it in that plate.