Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Soft Effects In Enlarging.

[The facility and economy making portrait prints by enlargement are advantages of a system which is growing in favour, and which has a further claim to the notice of photographers namely, the opportunity which it affords of producing a portrait of diffused definition from a negative of the ordinary character. This is a point which receives special emphasis in some notes on enlarging which we reprint below from "Camera Craft." Their author, Mr. J. Walter Doubleday, describes the particular form of device which he employs in breaking up to a pleasant degree the definition in the negative. EDS. B.J.]
Bromide enlarging is steadily growing in favour, even more rapidly than would be the case were only those workers taking it up who are changing from the formerly popular view camera sizes to the present more convenient small type of cameras. I know a number of professionals who are making all their portrait work through the enlarging lantern, not alone for the purpose of securing larger prints than the negatives they care to make, but for the control and speed that the process permits. They have, of course, some- what modified their apparatus, by eliminating such parts as serve mainly to give a large range as to size, and by adding other fitments that increase rapidity of production.
I have mentioned thin, not as an introduction to the subject of apparatus, which I shall avoid, but as a means of suggesting the recognized simplicity and advantage of making prints in this way. Enlarging apparatus is of such varied form' depending upon the light available, the requirements of the user, and to some extent the pane M well, that space does not permit me to do the subject justice if I am to record a few of the things I have learned about the actual production of bromide enlargements, things common to the work, irrespective of the form of apparatus used. Enlarging on bromide paper is quite simple, the apparatus required is not complicated, and the results have the highest endorsement of our best professionals and our leading exhibitors.
The negative best suited for enlarging is one that is soft, yet brilliant. But it must be brilliant. The kind of softness that "results from full development of an over-exposed plate or film, soft- ness combined with thickness, will not give a good enlargement. Slight fog or veiling of the image is also detrimental, and one must not assume that because such a negative will make a good contact print it should produce a good enlargement. This is a common mistake. The reason for the difference lies in the different action of the light. When the light is projected through such a negative in enlarging, there is a scattering of light from all portions is of the silver deposit, and when there is even a slight deposit where it should not be, as in the case of fog or thickness, poor results must follow. In contact printing there is not this scattering of light and not the same ill effect produced. One should strive for brilliancy with softness, and the use of a lens shade, particularly in the case of our rather short hooded and large aperture instigates, will do much in that direction. A safe dark-room light and a clean working developer will also heap.
The strength of the light used in making the enlargements also has much to do with the quality of the negative best suited to the n' requirements. Or rather, one can, by selecting a certain form of light, accommodate the process to negatives of quite different quality. The thin, fully exposed, yet under-developed negatives that some professionals affect, can be made to produce good enlargements only by using a rather weak tight, such as an oil burner or gas jet produces, strong, contrast} - negatives require a strong light; and negatives carrying much retouching are beat enlarged with well diffused daylight or a strong artificial light, like the arc, with ground glass between it and the condenser. The use of a soft-focus lens is also moat advisable in such cases.
The truth of the matter is, she best plan is to find oat, by experience, just what kind of negative is best suited to one's individual equipment, and then make negatives as near that standard as possible It is quite obvious that only a worker with an extensive output to produce could equip himself with sporrans employing varying strengths of light as suggested above. A compromise, to grades of paper offered; the range, since the introduction of the on-called chloride papers, with a speed some where between that of regular bromide and the gaslight papers, ranking this power of selection a valuable asset.
I suppose I should attempt to go into same detail on this latter point, bat while the mage is so wide, it is yet somewhat variable in different localities, and little would be achieved. At leant, little compared to what the individual worker can best find out for himself by a very few experiments based upon the quality of the negative in hand and the maker's description of the various papers available in his case.
The exposure is the most troublesome factor of the entire proems, but this has lost its terror to a great extent since the advent of developing papers. In the days of printing out papers, with their visible image to serve as a guide, the correct timing of a bromide enlargement screed to be much more of an achievement than was actually the ones The best plan, in my animation, is to take such negative, as made, and give it Bomber that expresses something in the form of a ratio, something that will give an easily handled factor from which to figure the exposure in enlarging to any size. This can be done by making n correctly timed contact print on developing paper and noting the time, the time serving as the factor number. It is, of course, quite necessary that these factor numbers most all be determined under exactly the same conditions. A standard brand of paper must be used, one having little or no variation in speed, and the light and distance used in malting the print mutt also be uniform.
If all one's negatives bear on their edge the number of second’s exposure required to produce a correctly timed print on, say. Regular Velox, exposed to a cluster of four thirty-two candlepower Mazda lamps at a distance of sixteen inches, little difficulty would be experienced in determining the correct exposure for any one of them for any size of enlargement, after a few experiments had been made. There would be a fixed relationship between these factor numbers and the number of seconds required for enlarging to different sixes, sad the relationship could be easily determined by an experiment or two. One might find that the exposure required for a two time allurement, or enlargement to a certain commonly used size, was one and one-half times the exposure number established by the making of the contact print on developing paper. He then has but to read off the umber on the margin of one of his negatives, multiply it by one and one-half, and he has the correct exposure for an enlargement of the designated size, providing that lens stop, strength of light, and grade of paper remain constant. If any of these are varied, proper allowance is easily matte. A larger for smaller stop decreases or increases exposure in the same ratio as in regular work; the difference in the speed of the papers used is determined by experiment, sod of coarse one's light is practicably constant except daylight is employed In this letter case an inclinometer can be used to determine the variation from the normal, if any. Practically all of the annuals carry a table giving the relative exposures for different degrees of enlargement, and 1 hardly need to occupy spare with a repetition of one of them here. Soft effects in enlargements are sometimes quite desirable, and we know of several forms that are making quite an enviable reputation on their bromide enlarging by using the legs pronounced effect secured with the soft-focus lens employed for all their work. But all obtainable sharpness is often desirable, and we must be prepared to secure this last before we can regulate the amount of diffusion to our liking. Some workers find it very difficult to secure a satisfactory degree of sharpness, even from a negative that is undeniably sharp, and we will therefore take up a few of the possible causes for their difficulty. First, there is often an unsuspected lack of accordance between the chemical and the visual image projected by some lights, particularly the enclosed are. Where this is the case, the variation must be determined by trial and allowance made for it in focusing. While the difference varies slightly with the size of enlargement, only the general difference need be considered and made up except where an unusually large stop is being employed. Where a condenser is used, failure to adjust the position of the light for different sires of enlargement will also cause lack of sharpness. The light should be so placed it is lathe focus of the condenser for revs of light from the caser; in other words, the cone of light, after passing through the is, should come to a point small enough to pass through the stop of the lens. The distance of the light back of the condenser for different positions of the lens which last means different size of enlargement, can be determined by focusing through a negative upon the easel for the desired size, then removing the negative and observing the distribution of the illumination as the position of the light is changed. Another frequently unsuspected causal of unhappiness is the use of the rising and falling, or the cross front, in bringing the image in the desired position on the easel. The centre of the lens, of the negative, the condensers and the light, should al be in a line and not oat of centre with each other. It is also obvious that the lens carrying front of the camera or enlarging lantern must be in a plane parallel with that of the other elements, or this cent ring of the lens cannot be achieved. Dirt on the lens or vibration of some part of the apparatus during exposure is detrimental, and the bromide paper should lie perfectly flat against so as to receive the image in the plane of critical sharpness.
Soft effects are, as I have said, frequently the most desirable, both for pictorial and other reasons. A hard, black mass with a harp outline, is much more objectionable than one with a softer edging, as any landscape worker can testify, if he has given the matter any thought. In portraiture, the breaking up of all suggestion of hard lines is almost sure to result in improvement. With the soft-focus lenses some moat planting results are secured, and it might be wail to point out that different makes of these lenses give somewhat different result*. The worker will, if buying a lens of this type, do well to try more than one and decide for himself which beet suite his requirements. Bolting silk, stretched on a frame and interposed about three or four inches in front of the paper on the easel daring all or a part of the exposure, is a quite common method of securing a breaking up of the image. The distance from the paper regulates the amount of breaking up achieved, and this distance again depends upon the distance of the paper from the lens. A more delicate softening is secured by using two thicknesses of chiffon to face a cap placed on the lens.
In my own practice the mount on the lens is fitted with a wire frame in which a movable slide is held close against the front hood, This slide is a piece of cigar-box wood about three times as long as it is wide, the width being sufficient to well cover the front of the lane. The centre of this slide is left solid, but a circular opening, large enough to permit free passage of light to the lane, is cut is each end. One of these openings is covered with two thicknesses of the chiffon material and the other with a piece of yellow glass, both let into the wood so as to be flush with the surface. With the centre of this elide in front of the lens, the cap is on; with the yellow screen in positioning, the paper on the easel is in safe light while being adjusted in position; and, with the chiffon section in front of the lens, my soft enlargements are exposed. One could make the slide longer and include an unscreened opening, but in practice I found that lifting the slide out of the wire frame was less liable to shake the lens than trying to move it along in the proper position.
Even more important control of the results ill enlarging can be secured by shading different portions of the image during exposure; or rattier, during a portion of the exposure. A piece of cardboard, an old mount, preferably of a dark colour and roughly torn to the desired outline, serves at the shading medium and is to be interposed between the lens and the easel, or at least, some little distance from the paper. This .should is kept in motion during the time it is being used, in order to further avoid a too sharp outline, the length of time it is interposed being proportioned to the entire exposure in accordance with the amount of holding back it is thought desirable. It is obvious that where the part to be held back comes fully within the boundaries of negative, this plan will not avail. One can then resort to a piece of the card torn roughly to the desired shape and fastened to the end of a piece of stout were; an ordinary lady's hatpin answering admirably. Another plat is to attach the .shading piece to the centre of a piece of glass and use this last as a support to enable it to be gently moved about so as to shade the part intended. Variations of these suggestions will suggest themselves to the worker and enable him quite rapidly to acquire the knack of exercising most beneficial control of nearly all his enlarging work. In fact, it will be found that practically every negative from which an enlargement is required is amenable to treatment of some kind along this line.
I might point out that availing one self of these possibilities makes it advisable to increase somewhat the exposure time, and this last is best done by some other means than decreasing the size of the stop. The most practical method is to introduce one or more sheets of ground glass in front of the light employed. Using a slower paper may not give one just the effect desired different speeds of paper printing differently, and decreasing the stop affects the illumination where a condenser is used and sometimes introduces granularity in other cases, even resulting in an enlarged image of the ground glass diffuser behind the negative being recorded upon the enlargement


An Easy Method Of Silvering Mirrors.

         Morison silvering is an operation which is avoided by most photographers as a process in which the successes are few and for the favored. After several failures with the tartaric acid sugar reducing agent for silvering glass, the present writer cast about him for some simpler and more rough and ready method of preparing a reflector for his camera. It has long beam known that it is possible to produce silver minors by the use of formalin as a reducer. The method, however, has not come into practical use because the deposit of silver is usually so granular that it will rob of the glass upon the least touch. The following formula provides a means of silvering glass and ether substances with ease and rapidity, and the process is a fascinating one to watch.

Stock Silver.

Silver nitrate………………………45grs. 3gms
Distilled water…………………….10ozs. 300c.c.s

Stock Formalin.

Formalin (40 p.c. Formaldehyde)....1oz. 45gms.
Distilled water…………………….10ozs. 450c.c.s.
Methyl Violet dye…………………10grs. 1gm.
Thaw solutions improve on keeping.

         The following quantities are sufficient for 20 square inches of glass allowing for waste silver being deposited on the dish and elsewhere.
         Take 3 ozs. (90c.c.s.) of the stock silver solution and add 10 per cent, ammonia solution drop by drop (a fountain pen tiller is heady for this), shaking the mixture after each addition. The mixture first becomes turbid, and then gradually clears. When dear, atop adding ammonia. A slight excess of ammonia is not detrimental. In another receptacle poor out 3 drachmas (11 c.c.s.) of the stock formalin solution.

The Silvering Process.

         Take the piece of glass it is intended to silver, and clean it well with whiting and water, or by any other method that may in favored, and rinse it under the tap, swabbing the surfaces with cotton wool. Now rub the wet face of the glass with another piece of cotton wool which has been soaked in the following priming solution:

Tin Protochloride (Stannous Chloride) 26 grs. 1gm.
Water ………………………………….10 ozs. 200 c.c.s.

         Ordinary tap water will do. This solution should be thrown away when done with.
Rinse the glass under the tap and wipe it with a piece of cotton woo) which has been dipped in distilled water.
         Place the glees face up in a developing dish which has previously been cleaned with nitric acid and rinsed with distilled water. The next operation is to add the formalin to the ammoniosilver mixture, and immediately pour into the dish, and to rock the dish well.
         The silver begins to deposit at once on the primed surface, the solution becoming darker after a short time, and then slowly clearing. After from one to two minutes the solution reaches its maximum clearness, the by-products of the reaction forming into little grannies. At this point ran tsp water into the dish and lift the mirror out and rinse it, finally swabbing with a soft piece of wet cotton wool.
         Allow the mirror to drain for a minute or two, and remove any drops of water from the surface by lightly touching them with a piece of blotting paper. After half an hour or so the mirror should be quite dry and ready for burnishing.

Finishing the Mirror.

         When dry, the mirror should have a brilliant surface, with a slight yellowish tarnish, which must be removed by polishing if the front of the mirror is to be used as a reflector.
         For polishing and burnishing the surface, take a piece of a couple of inches square, or, failing this, a piece of really soft cotton rag, and tie it round^ a plug of cotton wool, to as to form a medium soft pad. Keep this in an old plate-box with some rouge. The rouge may be bought at a chemist's, or in some households purloined from the feminine dressing-table. Jeweler’s rouge is sometimes too coarse. The wash-leather pad should be lightly charged with the rouge.
         Warm the mirror and the pad slightly so as to be sure that no moisture is present, and then lightly rub the surface with rapid small circular motion. The mirror will take a brilliant polish and is then ready for use.

General Consideration.

         Practically speaking, the hotter the glass 'before applying the silvering solution, the whiter and more granular the resulting mirror will be. Cold solutions produce quite a good deposit, which is dark in colour on the surface, but which takes a brilliant white polish. The best temperature is about 70 to 80 F. It is a good plan to have the glass a few degrees warmer than the solutions. This can be accomplished by immersing the glass in tepid distilled water for a few moments before silvering.
         Celluloid may be easily silvered by exactly following the procedure as for glass.
Mirrors may 'be silvered face down if desired. It is a question more of convenience than actual merit.
         Silver may be prevented from depositing on unwanted parts by painting those portions with Vaseline or celluloid varnish previous to priming with the tin solution.
         Spent solutions are hardly worth saving, even when there is a quantity. Most of the silver in the solution comes down as actual mirror surface.
Methyl violet dye has the property of keeping the surface of the mirror brilliant and unclouded. Its action is analogous to that of bromide in a developer. It may be omitted if not available.
         The priming bath gives a much more adherent coating. It also has the property of attracting most of the silver to the working surface, instead of too generously distributing it on the sides, and bottom of the dish. It is supposed that a silicate of tin is formed on the surface of the glass. This, however, cannot 'be the case with celluloid or other non-glass surfaces.
         The cost of silvering 20 square inches of glass, reckoning silver nitrate at 4s. per oz., is about 2d. As failures cost as much as successes, it is a good plan to practice on small pieces of glass before attempting a larger surface. One has, for example, to learn how to clean glass properly.
         Well boiled-water can in most districts be used instead of distilled water.
         As a protection against oxidation, the mirror may be varnished with celluloid varnish. The coating of varnish should not be too thin or it will dry with a smoky surface. No other varnish is suitable for the purpose, because silver reacts with most gums, etc. It is, however, easy to resilver a mirror when the surface is worn away by repeated republishing that in most oases it is hardly worth while to decrease the efficiency of the reflecting surface by varnishing it.
         Measures, beakers, and dishes should be cleaned after us& with strong nitric acid, or the remnants of silver will give trouble when the vessels are used for other purposes.


National Development.

There are many ideas as to what is the correct way of developing a negative, and the exponents of each claim that theirs is the true and only way. There is no accepted standard for goodness in a negative, which is perhaps a good thing, for its absence allows of individuality in the finished result, although this must not be confused with "fluking," which is what happens when an operator aims at one effect and obtains quite another, which he is astute enough to put forward as a premeditated piece of work. The clever photographer is the man who starts with a definite idea for a picture and by skilled technique realizes it in a print. To do this one must have perfect control of exposure and development. The best lighted figure may be made either hard or flat by incorrect exposure, while a correctly exposed plate may be made to yield a thin soft image or a dense harsh one by injudicious development.
To ensure even quality it is very necessary to keep to one brand, and preferably one grade of plate. The best technician in the world could not produce a dozen negatives of even quality from twelve plates of different makes and rapid ties even if all had received an equivalent exposure. Plates vary greatly in the time taken for development and in the appearance of the image before fixing. A common way of judging the progress of development is to look for a trace of the image on the back of the plate. This can only be done if one brand of plate is in use, and then only to a limited extent, as this method is quite upset by variations in the thickness of the emulsion coating. While upon this subject it may be useful to correct an error sometimes made, which is, that when the image is clearly visible on the back of the film, the utmost density which the plate will give has been obtained. We had a case under our notice some few months ago where the operator proposed to change his plates, because, although he developed them right through to the back, the images were always thin. On our suggestion he allowed some plates to remain in the developer for three minutes longer than others, which he fixed at 3 usual times, and was convinced by the difference in density that his development had always been carried on for too short a time.
One of the old errors was that the best results could only be obtained by what was known as "tentative development." This meant starting the development with a minimum of alkali, which was gradually added as needed. There was some reason for this when ammonia was used as the alkali, as volatilization rapidly reduced activity of the solution, and fresh ammonia was needed to complete development. When the fixed alkalies in the form of the carbonate of soda and potash came into general use the “working up" by adding small quantities of alkali to the developer fell into disuse, although a few old-fashioned workers still practice it.
It is not our purpose to recommend any particular developing agent as superior to the others. Some developers have the reputation of giving thin images and others plucky ones, but this is largely a question of dilution and temperature. Next to exposure, this decides the possibilities of the negative, coney’s length of development with any given solution. With normal exposures short development gives a thin flat negative and development gives the maximum of density and contrast. Between these extremes the operator must choose for himself. All non-staining developers, such as am idol, hydroquinone, and many others yield a negative of which the printing quality is due to reduced silver only, but pyro behaves differently, the silver image being reinforced by the "pyro stain." It is generally acknowledged that a pyro-developed negative will usually give a more brilliant print than one of apparently similar density, but free from stain. This is due to the fact that the stain is deposited in proportion to the density of the image, and is not uniform all over the plate. If such a negative be dissolved away, by using Farmer's reducer, it will be that a thin brownish-yellow image remains.
One of the commonest errors in development is to over- develop under-exposed plates, and to under-develop over- exposed ones This is caused in the first place by the desired to force out all possible detail in the shadows, the result being that the high lights are made so dense that any shadow detail is lost in the necessary depth of printing. In the second case the over-exposed plate is under- developed because the whole surface of the film quickly blackens, and the operator fears that the detail will become buried. This is quite wrong; the proper course is to develop for the full normal time, and to dissolve away the fog with the ferri-cyanide reducer. It may be noted here that it is of little or no avail to add bromide to the developer after the image is well out; to be effective, bromide should be added to the developer before pouring on the plate.
The degree of dilution of the developer has an important effect upon the negative. A weak solution can be used until all the details of an under-exposed plate are brought out, without obtaining too much intensity in the high-lights. Concentrated solutions give the maximum of contrast, especially when a little bromide is used in addition.
Too prolonged development will give a general chemical fog, and an excess of alkali often added in cases of under- exposure has the same effect. A disagreeable colour, not quite a fog, is caused by putting plates developed with am idol or metol direct into the fixing bath without rinsing. With pyro the fixing bath rapidly becomes discolored, but with the non-stain developers a large quantity of solution can be carried over into the fixing bath without altering the colour very much.

Assistants Notes: Specialization and Efficiency.

Notes by assistants suitable for this column trill be considered and paid for on the first of the month following publication.

Specialization and Efficiency.

The advice to specialize in one or perhaps two particular branches of work is frequently given to the photographer whether he is a master, assistant, or amateur. This advice is often rather vague, first as to the "why" and more so as to the “how” of the question.
I am writing more particularly for the benefit of the assistant, because one who has a business of his own has usually found out what particular lines pay him tat, and how to push the sale them Still, it is strange to notice the great number of photographers' note headings stating this, that, or the other to be a specialty (or "speciality," or " specialite "), but which can form only a very tiny portion of the business done. For instance, a order comes to quite a small studio for an oil-painting. The photographer puts the work out, takes the profit, and feels pleased with him at having launched out into a high-class and profitable branch so has all his stationery imprinted for ever after “Oil-paintings a specialty," in the probably vain hope of a succession of such orders. Another advertises "Wedding-groups" or ' Child portraits «as his specialty, not necessarily because weddings are frequent in the one man's neighborhood, or that the second is extraordinarily successful with children. If any definite reason for printing these phrases on note-paper can be given, it usually is only that "it sounds well."
Another sort of specialization was criticized in a letter recently by an "All-round Hand" on behalf of his class. He described a retouched whose work was so "effective" that the portrait looked very nice but not a bit like the subject, and a receptionist whose "specializing" in her own department was so water-tight that she failed to recognize what -was wrong with the portrait when complained of.
I do not call these things specialization at all. I don't know what to call them. We have specialists in the Army. In the infantry a soldier may be, for example, a Lewis-gunner, a sniper, or a mess-waiter, but he must be a good infantryman first. I think the same applies to a craftsman, each as a journeyman photographer.
When an assistant has had a few years' practice and can, say, correctly expose on a well-arranged group, develop plates evenly, make good bromide prints that will tone well, and make a fair show at one or two other departments he will realize that some jobs are better paid than others. That will be the first reason "why" he should specialize. Then he will find that one branch of work appeals more than others, not necessarily because it seems more lucrative or easier, nor because it is a clean-hand job, but because it is more interesting. In short, he likes that particular, work. If he does not like one branch better than another the assistant should go further a field for wider experience till he does find work he can like. One spends nearly all one's life in work, so why not expend a little effort in finding something to does that one can enjoy doing? That is the second "why" for specialization. After a bit one finds that one is able to do certain work better, and with less effort, than other kinds. Again, this is not necessarily because it is easy work, but one "picks it up" more easily, and one feels surer of one's self in doing it. In ninety-nine cases out of a hundred the kind of work that a man finds he can do beet is the same as the kind that he likes best. It's quite natural when you come to think about it, and it works both ways. Anyone likes doing what he can do well, and in doing it with interest is likely in time to do it as well as it can be done. When that stage is reached, surely he is in a position to demand a higher price for his work.
That is the right sort of specialization. It does not prevent a man being skilful in other branches. Barely is it possible for a worker to reach the highest grade of ability in any branch of photography without at least a working knowledge of other branches. Retouching is probably the line in which the worker usually knows least of other department? The aim of so many retouches is to produce a beautifully modeled "effect," and to make a face resemble one of those nicely rounded plaster casts that they practiced light and shade from at art school. They like to call forth the remark "How nicely retouched," forgetting that the greatest art is to conceal art, and that the best retouching is recognized by its apparent absence. A retouched should know how his (or more often her) work will print, not only in a P.O.P. proof, but in other processes and surfaces, and be able to modify it accordingly. No one can be considered efficient unless the effect of his work on subsequent stages is understood and intelligently handled.
And that brings me to the question of efficiency. When an assistant decides to specialize, obviously he reaches certain stage of efficiency before be can claim to be a specialist. There is an absolute teat by which he can know when be has reached that stage. His employer or manager will be in the habit of giving the assistant instructions as to what is required, and how to set about it. The assistant should aim to be able, in at least one branch of work, to look his chief in the eye and say "Leave that to air." That is the test of efficiency.
Now for how to set about it Assistants in photography are at a very great disadvantage, usually as regards so-called experiments and other credentials to improving their work. I have never yet met an employer who offered an assistant the use of his studio on an "off" afternoon to try his hand at posing and lighting, nor one whom one felt like asking for that favor, still less one who would apply a few plates and some developer for practical tests. There before, unless one assists in the studio itself it is not easy to get even a starting knowledge of this work except in at home portraiture. All the same, within limit this is a very good school, for when the student can make a good portrait in an ordinary room or garden he won't have much difficulty in doing better studio work. A pair of “smoked" spectacles are useful to see the light and shade affect by eliminating much of the colour in the subject, and much practice may be got without using plates.
Of course, books are necessary. A pile of old "B.J.’s." and Almanac provides a heat of needful knowledge. The great thing, though, is to learn to work systematically and to cultivate the power of observation, for is photography it is often apparently small things that make big differences. A splendid idea of what I mean by system can be get from the "Watkins’s Manual." which will soon teach the student whet be wants to know about exposure and development.
In printing it is a food ides to take one good negative, one flat one and another on the contra sty aide, and practice on these only can produce the best possible prints with ease and certainty. With a standard 1 developer, at normal temperature, try various lengths of exposure and varying length of developed. When the different art of remits obtained have been carefully observed, the next thing is to start over again with a weaker light, or at a greater distance from the light, which amounts to the pare the ranks with the first lot, noting been effected and where not. I am referring to bromide printing not necessary to spend a lot, even at war prices. Half-plate paper cot into four is quite large enough for practice work, hot rent thing is to take time to observe closely the differences between different prints, and to aid this it is eventual to mark on the tack of each strip the exposure and length of development, and other variable factors.
It is only by starting slowly and systematically on the lines suggested that a really good "grounding" can be obtained in any object, and it is only with good grounding that one can rapidly. Attempts to short circuit the process by prattling only on the more advanced stages leads to mediocrity. It is that half baked sort of ability that has brought the term "all round hand" into such disrepute. Every assistant should be an all-round hand, with one or two special abilities. A man of that kind is reedy to tackle any sort of job that comes along, whether it comes within his previous experience or not.
Assistants who reach that stages of ability have nothing to fear from the soap-shutter who thinks bow nice it mart be to be working continually at such an interesting bobby, and whose enthusiasm gives him or her enough ability to get a start (and a disillusionment) at a tow shillings a week. It is enthusiasm that is needed to get on and no one can enthuse over poor work. Any assistant who feels that the class of work he is employed in is not worth doing well is hereby advised to do it u well as he can all the same, whether the pay makes it worth while or not, and whether that particular employer appreciates the effort or not. It is always practice that makes perfect, if the practice has an object and some system behind it; and when such efforts have had the desired effect by improving ability, then is the time to get a better job.

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.