The Dictionary Of Photography

A True Historic Record Of The Art & Practice Of Photography 100 Years Ago.

Home | About | Photography | Contact






Detective or Hand Cameras
about ten or fifteen feet, hold the camera close to the body, with both arms at full length; this places the camera low, includes much foreground, and obviates any chance of cutting off any one's feet. Supposing the object to be taken is about twenty feet distant, then the camera may be held against the chest; if the object is about thirty feet off the camera may be held up to the chin; but, supposing we are working from the deck of a steamer or from such a position that there is much of unnecessary foreground, then by raising the camera level with the eye and the arms at full length we cut off much foreground, and there is not the slightest difficulty in seeing whether the camera is level and whether we include the desired object. If there is any difficulty on this point we may use one or two sights, like the back and fore sights of a rifle. I beg leave to enter a protest here against the craze for working shutters at unneces-sarily high speeds. The idea with many workers seems to be how quickly the shutter may be driven, whereas how slowly it can be used should be the real aim, in order that full exposure to the shadows and darker portions of the picture may be given. A brief word of remonstrance may not be out of place at the absurd requirements of some workers. They expect for a few shillings to obtain a hand camera which will enable them to turn out the very finest work, to compete with that done by cameras costing as many guineas. I do not wish to decry cheapness, for I have myself done work with a twelve-shilling camera quite equal to anything done by a twelve-guinea one ; but then it was only by recognising the capabilities of the camera, and not by expecting it to do impossible things, by recognising that the lens was working at a small aperture, that the shutter would not be suitable for the finish of a race or an express train at full speed, etc. Ignorance of the capabilities of the instrument is in many cases the cause of disappointment. For judging distances, always a difficult matter for a beginner, the simplest plan is to learn distances from his ordinary surroundings : for instance, take the street he lives in ; find the width of it from his door, or window to the opposite pavement, to the centre of the road; measure the distances down the street; and by constantly counting these over in his mind whilst looking at them he soon learns to judge all distances by them. Finally, it should be remembered that a hand camera is not an instrument devised for the purpose of
180