The Fairy Tale.
E. T. Holding.
his attention on the pose and management of his sitter. Of the principles that should guide him in these matters it is not for me to speak. They will be prompted by his own knowledge and taste. All I would suggest is the elimination of all unnecessary detail - the simplification of the subject with a view to bringing out its essentials. In the matter of backgrounds, for instance, how many amateurs come to grief. One is reminded of the reply of Reynolds to the mother who brought her son to learn painting, and suggested he could probably begin by painting in some of the master's backgrounds " Madam," Sir Joshua is reported to have said, "if your son can paint my backgrounds I have little to teach him." Who has not seen a family portrait taken by some enthusiastic amateur photographer posed against a brick wall ! In such cases, in order that nothing should be lost, the sitter's boots are generally included, and, if possible, a rain-water pipe also.
E. T. Holding.
Building The Bridge.
The inclusion of these details does not infer so much a love of boots, bricks and water pipes, as a lack of forethought in arranging the picture. For open-air portraiture a plain background is almost a necessity - trees, bushes, ivy-covered walls, or fences are all more or less incongruous. The tint of the background may be anything from black to white, but, generally speaking, the lightest is the best - it will suit your subject - for the open-air lighting of a face is very delicate, and against a dark background is apt to look white and flat. Care should be taken that the folds or texture of the background are not discernible on the screen - so that merely tone and not detail arc rendered. If your subject is a child it will be necessary to arrange that the exposure should not exceed half a second, as children do not generally sit perfectly still for a longer time. This can be done by consulting your exposure meter, and arranging your stops and plate to suit the case - for the shorter the exposure in such cases the greater the chance of success. Speaking in very general terms, for an open-air portrait, taken on a special rapid plate, using stop f/11 on a dull day, the exposure should be about 1/2 a second. The result of exactly such conditions is shown in the illustration, "The Fairy Tale." It is well to reduce the exposure to the shortest possible, as even adults do not really enjoy sitting perfectly motionless for the 20, 30 or 40 seconds which some of my friends boast is the exposure they like best to give ! Where the conditions demand exposures of such length it is the part of mercy to refrain from operating.
For indoor work the correct exposure requires very careful consideration. The shadow side of the face, etc., must receive adequate exposure or it will print as a black mass. Your exposure meter should be placed in such a position that it receives only the light that the shadow side of faces receives. It is a sound and well known axiom in photography that we should expose for the shadows and let the high lights take care of themselves. In portraiture, however, measures must be taken to prevent harshness, and the development of the plate must receive.special attention, more particularly if the scheme of lighting adopted be one giving strong contrasts. In order to prevent undue opacity, i.e., over-development, in the high-lights of the negative, the developer should be diluted to half its normal strength, and should have a larger proportion of the accelerator. A portrait negative, in all but exceptional cases, should be soft. The tones should be delicately gradated. Development, however, cannot be relied upon to overcome errors of lighting and arrangement. If the shadows in your subject are so dark that it is hopeless to expect to be able to give them adequate exposure without the high-lights overdoing, we may fall back upon the use of reflectors. They must, however, be used with care and judgment. It is enough to hang a sheet of white paper or a white cloth in such a position that it reflects sufficient light to reveal detail, but not sufficient to resemble a second source of light. Reflectors are also useful in throwing light into those places which in an ordinarily lit room would photograph as regions of utter darkness. Sometimes a figure, lighted from a window, shows adequate illumination in the upper part, whilst the lower part descends into impenetrable gloom. A little light, thrown from some white reflecting surface, may just suffice to reveal detail, and, if so, the reflector may be used with advantage.