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.
The statement that any one photographic paper is the best paper made, is, to say the least, an exaggeration unless that paper is made in a number of grades that cover the whole range of contrasts met with in photographic subjects.
But it may be quite true that a paper, or grade of paper, is best for some special work. In fact there must be various grades of paper for various kinds of work.
In the days when Aristo Plat-ino paper was used almost exclusively, excellent portrait work was made. We still hear of the excellent quality of negatives made for Aristo Platino, and some insist that they have never been surpassed.
Such a statement is too broad, but the fact remains that the quality was excellent. The negative had to be made to fit Platino paper. The secret of the quality those old negatives possessed was in their fitness.To-day, if a negative doesn't fit one grade of paper it is printed on another. And if a certain quality of negatives is not suited to one make of paper the photographer is advised to change his negatives to suit.This is all right if the change in quality is for the better, but it is all wrong if for the worse. Platino paper had a long scale and required a long scale negative - nothing less would give a good result. The photographer worked for one thing - quality.
To-day, some photographers work for so-called effects. It isn't so much quality of lighting, quality of negative and quality of print, as effect, and a way to produce it. This is all very well for the artist who employs color, or the photographic pictorialist who wishes to produce misty mornings or landscapes in haze or smoke or fog. But a portrait should be something as nearly real as possible. We want to recognize our friends in their portraits.
Your subject placed in a good light, stands out from the background, looks round, has life, and your reproduction should be as true to life as is possible.
The longer the scale of your lighting, by which we mean the greater the number of tones from the highest light to the deepest shadow, the better will the idea of roundness be conveyed. The lighting, therefore, must be strong and brilliant.
Flat lightings, low toned effects, symphonies in grey may be artistic but they do not have the photographic quality that most people will pay a good price to procure.
Good negatives, full-timed but not over-timed, and under no circumstances under-timed, are necessary as a foundation. Once you have the right quality in your negative it is simply a matter of selecting the paper with a scale that will fit it. And for portraiture the longest possible scale is best.
By Cornwell - Photographer Dayton, Ohio
Suppose you have made a brilliant lighting, a negative correctly exposed, which we will say has a scale of 1 to 60, another in which you have flattened the lighting and reduced the contrast to 1 to 30, and still another so flat that the scale is only 1 to 15. The most transparent shadows in the first negative will transmit 60 times as much light as the most opaque highlight, the second, 30 times as much, and the third, 15 times as much.
The first negative should be printed on a paper with a scale of 1 to 60. With such a paper the print will be perfect for the shadows will just have reached their deepest black when faint detail shows in the highlights.
With such a long scale paper the second negative would not print so well. If just sufficient exposure was given to get a tint in the highlights the shadows would not be black but would be grey, and if the exposure was sufficient to give the right black in the shadows, the highlights would be grey instead of white. This result would be even more pronounced in a print from the third negative. The negatives do not suit the paper.
But the rule works just the other way with a contrasty paper.While the long scale paper will make the best possible print from the most perfect portrait negative, the contrasty, short scale paper will make the best print from a poor negative, but will only give a poor result from a good long scale negative.
A paper with a scale of 1 to 15 or 1 to 30 used on a negative with a scale of 1 to 60 will only reproduce 15 or 30 tones. The remainder will be lost in black shadows or chalky highlights or the center of the scale will be preserved and detail lost both in shadows and highlights.
Obviously the best portrait results can be secured only in one way. Select the paper with the longest scale of reproduction, Artura, and make negatives with a scale to suit the paper.If you make a variety of negatives you must select a variety of papers to fit, and the best results can never be as good as if you had used an equal amount of judgment and made uniformly good negatives that would suit the best paper.
Prints with blocked shadows or highlights, or both, may be due to under or over-exposed negatives, but when this is not the case - when the negative is brilliant and full of detail - try a paper with a longer scale than you have been using. If your negative won't make a good print on Artura it isn't the fault of Artura but of your negative.
A long scale negative printed on Artura. All the negative quality is preserved.
Print on short scale paper from same negative. Detail in highlights but shadows are blocked.
Print on short scale paper from same negative. Detail in shadows but highlights are blank.
It must have a long graduation scale - suitable for the long scale of the paper.
Making long scale negatives for Artura and putting the most of quality into your prints is merely getting back to the principles of the Platino days. It isn't following the line of least resistance but it is following a line of obvious reasoning that will make dollars and a reputation.