Fig. 2

Fig. 2.

The sitter after being posed - in any case not looking at the light (a pleasing effect is obtained by looking at the reflector (6) and allowing the direct light to fall on the back of the head) - is focussed by the aid of a lighted taper or candle held by the sitter near his face, which can then be seen distinctly on the focussing screen. Use the largest possible stop giving reasonable definition - say, f/8.

Let off the flash - the lens remaining uncapped during the entire operation of inserting the dark slide and pulling out shutter, and with from 10 to 20 grains of flashlight mixture or a firm, quick pressure on the bulb of the blow-through lamp - a good portrait should be obtained.

Fig. 3

Fig. 3.

THIS EXTENSION OF THE FLASH is a point that cannot be too strongly urged if the best lighting is desired. This is especially essential when photographing groups or large rooms. For this reason two flashlights placed in the proper positions for correct lighting and fired simultaneously give finer results than only one light. Experience will soon teach that a single light of small area, no matter how brilliant, will give harsh shadows and pictures lacking the desirable roundness and gradation.

Therefore, the employment of one main flash and a smaller one at a distance of a yard or two is advised in order to gel more detail in the shadows, and add roundness and " modelling " to the portrait. To a certain extent the same results can be obtained with less trouble with a single broad flash by employing a long train of gull cotton on which is spread a layer of the flash powder.


It is desirable to use two flashlights whenever possible. The accompanying diagram (Fig. 3) will show the relative position of the two lights to give a good result. Here 1 is the camera ; 2, the sitter ; 3, background ; 4, the subsiduary light - which may be placed on top of the camera ; 5, the main light, say, 8 or 10 feet high, fairly near the sitter and screened from the lens, and 6 a reflector.

When the flashlight is placed on or near the camera, see that the apparatus is well covered with a paper or cloth - not the focussing cloth, or magnesium dust will settle and cause trouble.

REMBRANDT LIGHTING. To secure the so-called Rembrandt effect of lighting the following arrangement is necessary (Fig. 4), and a profile portrait will give the most pleasing result. Here 1 is the camera ; 2, the sitter ; 3, the background ; and 4, the light - placed about 4 feet to the left, and about 1 foot behind and about 3 feet above the head of the subject. No reflector is necessary for this style of lighting, but a piece of cheese cloth stretched on a light frame can be used in front of the light to diffuse it, and, indeed, can be used with advantage with all other forms of flashlight portraiture.

Fig. 4

Fig. 4.

A HANDY HOME-MADE LAMP A make-shift lamp that has the advantage of being both reliable and easy to make is the clay-pipe flash lamp. An ordinary thick bowled clay-pipe of the long stemmed " churchwarden " type is used. A piece of lint, lamp wick or cotton wool is soaked in methylated spirit and loosely tied round the bowl with a turn of string or wire.

About 10 to 20 grains of magnesium powder (about an average salt-spoonful) is placed carefully in the bowl, the lint or wool is then pulled up round and over the mouth of the bowl and lighted. The other end of the pipe is placed in the mouth (hence the long stem) and a sharp puff given. The magnesium is driven through the flame, and ignites and an excellent flash results that will amply illuminate a portrait. This rough and ready means is useful when on tour. Several pipes can, of course, be connected up with rubber tubes and a ball and a bigger and more extended flash given. To secure the best light with magnesium always see that it is finely powdered and quite dry.

REFLECTIONS. Care should always be taken that the flash is not reflected in the lens. The best way to obviate any chance of this happening is to fix to the lens a funnel-shaped hood or cone painted dead black inside.

Reflections from pictures or mirrors should also be watched for, as foggy negatives frequently arise from this cause.

For focussing, and during the actual exposure, keep all the lights in the room full on, taking care that none are included in the picture or shine on the lens ; the lens cap or shutter is therefore not required at all. When focussing a group, or a room, or machinery, etc., a number of lighted tapers or night lights should be placed to mark the boundaries of the subject, and also if they are placed at other points as well they arc useful for obtaining sharp focus. These latter must, of course, be removed before putting the plate in the camera and exposing.