Sunday, August 10, 2008

EX CATHEDRA: Enemy Cameras; Cycle Portraits; Gaslight Enlarging; Quality of V.P. Negative; Transferred Bromides.

Enemy Cameras.

We are glad to see that our contemporary, "The Photographic Dealer," is actively interesting it self to put a stop to a species of trading with the enemy which, though small in amount, is nevertheless quite indefensible. It appears that in Cologne and other places in the occupied portion of Germany cameras of German make can be bought at not a very much higher price than that before the war, yet one which at the greatly depressed value of the German mark enables the buyer to dispose of the camera at a good profit on bringing it to London. It is stated that dealers in London are being asked to purchase these instruments. The Photographic Dealers' Association has taken the matter up, and it may be hoped that prompt measures will be taken to see that this illicit trading is speedily topped. There can be no objection to Arm y officers in the occupied country buying such photographic supplies as they want from the only available sources, namely, the German dealers, but the practice of snatching a paltry profit by bringing the cameras to London for sale is one which surely should be immediately prohibited by the authorities on their notice being drawn to it.

Cycle Portraits.

We were recently shown a most artistic portrait photograph of a feminine client of a professional friend. The lady was riding her bicycle along a delightful stretch of country road. The portrait was a really delightful piece of work, and showed to perfection the poise of the head, the easy carriage of the rider, together with the perfect grace with which some women have learnt to cycle. This is an idea that might be well worth following up, for if well done a portrait of this kind should be a good business bringer, and is far in advance of the portrait in which a stationary cycle "ridden" in the studio. The real thing offers no special difficulties in the way of making a satisfactory picture, nor need the operator think that a reflex is essential. A good hand-camera is desirable, but the picture to which we refer was made with an ordinary field camera. In this case the picture was focused on the ground glass, the cyclist being requested to stand on a certain spot marked with a couple of smallish stones. She then retired, and rode slowly towards the camera for the exposure to be made. It will be found best, if possible, to make the actual exposure while the cyclist is free-wheeling, in order to lessen movement as much as may be, and for this, in order to obtain the best effect, the pedals should be horizontal or at the "quarter to three," the correct free-wheeling position. Rapid exposures are not needed; a 25th of a second at f.8 on a bright day with fast plates will be found to give a good negative. There is no reason why this plan should not be applied to male customers as well, for many persons of both sexes lend themselves when cycling to most graceful and pleasing poses.

Gaslight Enlarging.

The trade enlarger, whose work lies not only in the enlarging of negatives of reasonably decent quality such as he obtains from professional photographers, but also those of the quite unskilled amateur, has reason to ignore the advice which is sometimes given, namely, that the speed of modern bromide paper renders the use of a very high-power source of light unnecessary. It is quite true that the practice of some enlargers of keeping an oil lamp for the enlargement of particularly weak negatives on to bromide paper is one which contributes to a greatly improved result; but, on the other hand, a great deal more can be done if a high-power light such as an arc is available, and the enlargement made on one of the extra-slow gaslight papers, such as Cyko or New Kodura. The degree of brilliancy which in this way is obtained in an enlargement from an utterly miserable negative requires to be seen to be believed, and we have known of enlargers denying the making of such results except by the production of a new negative. The amateur enlarger can obtain them with his customary apparatus if he is prepared to let exposures run to as long as half an hour, but for commercial work a light of the power of an arc or mercury vapour is, of course, a necessity.

Quality of V.P. Negative.

Now that there is an ever-increasing tendency on the part of Press, commercial and professional photographers and serious amateurs the use of vest-pocket cameras, many are finding that their technique is decidedly faulty. It is certainly easier for the less skilful to make technically perfect 12 by 10 negatives than to produce an equally good result from a vest-pocket size negative via enlarging. The ideal result depends mainly upon the worker knowing what kind of negative to aim for. The general tendency makes these negatives too dense, and if this is the case of course the enlarging process will be found to make harsh contrasts all the harsher, and to lose the fine tonal qualities of the negative. It would be a good plan for the photographer who contemplates using a miniature camera as a supplementary instrument to make half a dozen exposures by the aid of the meter taking care that these are on the full side and develop them so that each is a lightly further developed than the previous use. A bet of enlargements from the negatives will show exactly what is required. Great care is needed to prevent mechanical drainage such as acratches, etc., and we favour the tank and time method of dealing with the exposures made with vest-pocket cameras. Grain must also be avoided but with a suitable developer used fairly diluted this ought never to prove troublesome.

Transferred Bromides.

Now that bromide paper is the almost universal printing medium with many photographers more attention might with profit be given to the transfer variety which if carefully used may be the means of imparting an individual and artistic expression to photographer work. We can recall a case recently in a large exhibition where considerable attention was attracted by a picture upon one of these papers. The whole effect was most original and uncommon. The other day we noticed some cabinet-sized per traits upon quite large mounts in a certain photospheres show-case. Examination revealed the fact that they were originally made upon one of these papers and transferred to the mounting paper. A delicate tint was worked in round each print with water-colour, thus imparting a most delightful finish. This offers a considerable saving over the plan sometimes adopted of making the prints upon large sheets of paper and carefully masking off the picture, while the result is to all intents and purposes the same. That the picture is reversed by the transferring has never to our mind been a serious objection to the process, as the average sitter would quite fail to notice it, but if the operator's intention is to use the process in carrying out some definite scheme the plate may be put into the elide, glass side to the lens, and the slight difference allowed for when focusing. The back of the plate should be carefully cleaned, and the film protected from abrasion by the metal dividing plate of the slide. For this there is nothing better than a piece of card covered with black velvet cloth.

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