Flash – the most important features every photographer should know!


How to: the most important features every photographer should know!

A full-sized flashgun delivers the potential for versatile lighting techniques in wide-ranging conditions

Too many flashguns never see the light of day. They’re stashed away, only brought out after dark or for shooting in gloomy interiors.

It’s a waste, because flashguns have lots to offer in sunny conditions, where they can banish harsh shadows. This is particularly true in fairly close-range portraiture, as a flash puts an end to unsightly shadows.

Dedicated flashguns come to the rescue with iTTL (intelligent Through The Lens) flash metering. Pre-flash pulses are fired and then processed in the camera’s metering system, enabling accurate, automatic flash exposures in the blink of an eye. Some flashguns go further, supporting features like Nikon’s TTL-BL (Balanced Light) mode. This puts greater emphasis on ambient light levels, and seeks to give an even better balance between

available light and flash.


Flashgun features every photographer should have:

A really useful feature in many flashguns is a motorized zoom head. These respond automatically to the focal length or zoom setting of the lens you’re using. For short focal lengths, you’ll need a wide angle of illumination. At telephoto lengths, spreading the flash over a wide angle wastes power.

By zooming in, the flash head can channel the available output to the relatively small area required, giving greater reach.

Some flashguns have a bigger zoom range than others, and a few enable you to tailor focal length compatibility for full-frame or crop sensor bodies.

For extra-wide shooting, a diffuser is usually available. A pull-out reflector card is also often fitted, which can work well for close-up shots.

Another handy feature of flashguns is a bounce and swivel head, which enables you to angle the head upwards or to either side and soften the quality of light by bouncing it off walls or ceilings.

Again, some boast extra refinement, having a secondary sub-flash tube for adding a little direct flash when you’re using the main head in bounce mode.

In the infographic below we’ve listed some of the top features we look for when buying a flashgun

 Buying a flashgun: features to look for:

 Bounce and swivel

By bouncing light from the flash off walls or ceilings or reflectors, the effective size of the light source becomes massively larger than the flash tube itself, therefore creating a much softer quality of light.

 Motorized zoom

The ability of the zoom mechanism in a flashgun to adapt automatically as you sweep through the zoom range on your fitted lens can be a big bonus.

 Info panel

The provision of an LCD panel is a must for keeping an eye on advanced flash settings. Some flashguns feature colour or even touchscreen LCDs.

 Control options

Intuitive controls enable quick and easy access to settings. Most good flashguns include an HSS (High Speed Sync) mode.

 Extend your reach

The maximum power output of a flashgun is given as a Gn (Guide number). Higher numbers signify greater power, and therefore extended reach.

AF illuminator

The red window on the front of most flashguns shines a red grid onto the scene while the camera is autofocusing. It helps to enable accurate focusing even in darkness.


Diffusers soften the light, and coloured diffusers allow you to match the flash’s White Balance with that of artificial ambient light.

 The benefits of wireless flashguns

For the ultimate in flexibility, it’s great being able to use the flashgun off-camera.

Most modern flashguns feature a wireless slave mode, which can be triggered remotely by using the camera’s pop-up flash in Commander mode.

This facility is available in most upmarket bodies. More advanced flashguns feature both master and slave wireless modes, ideal for multiple flashgun setups.

 How to use Master and Commander modes

Many high-end SLRs feature built-in wireless flash Commander options. Here’s how they work

 01 Pick a mode

In the Flash section of custom functions, head to Flash cntrl for built-in flash. Regular TTL, Manual and

Repeating flash modes are often available, but to trigger a wireless remote flashgun select the Commander mode.

 02 Flash powers

The power of the pop-up flash can be selected between TTL, manual and ‘–’ settings. The latter gives the least illumination, but some light from the pop-up flash will still be present in the resulting shot.

 03 Group effort

TTL or manual flash power, complete with flash exposure compensation, can be set independently for different groups of wireless remote flashguns. The wireless channel can also be given one of four identifying numbers.

 10 things to look for when buying a flashgun

 Not all flashguns are created equal, so make sure you get one with the features that will be most useful to you:

 01 Be more centered

For off-center portraits, zoom in and fill as much of the central region of the frame as possible with the subject’s face, then press the Flash value lock button before zooming out and recomposing the shot to avoid flash exposure inaccuracy.

 02 Faster recycling

After a flash, most flashguns recycle to a state of readiness more quickly if fitted with NiMH rather than alkaline batteries.

 03 Extra power

Some flashguns have a power input socket for connecting an optional external power pack. This lets you shoot for longer before needing to swap batteries.

 04 Softer lighting

Some flashguns come with diffusion domes, which soften the light. For other makes and models, domes like the Sto-Fen Omni-Bounce are available separately.

 05 High-speed sync

This is a great feature for combining flash with bright sunlight, or wide aperture, where you’ll need a fast shutter speed to avoid overexposure. However, the relatively short duration of flash tends to be much less powerful.

 06 Strobe

The repeat, or strobe, feature available in some flashguns enables the flash to fire several times within the same exposure, for example plotting the progress of a bouncing ball.

 07 Camera controls

Flash modes like red-eye reduction, slow-sync and rear-curtain, as well as flash exposure compensation, can be adjusted via controls on the camera body.

 08 Compensation

Flash exposure compensation only alters the strength of the flash and therefore works independently of the camera’s regular exposure compensation. Use both to fine-tune the balance between flash and ambient lighting.

 09 White Balance

Switching from Auto White Balance to the ‘flash’ preset value generally gives a warmer colour rendition and flatters skin tones.

 10 Wired for light

If your camera doesn’t feature a Commander option for the pop-up flash, a dedicated off-camera flash cord enables easy remote firing.

 Facts about camera flash

A flashgun provides a brief burst of light – but the duration can be varied to alter how much flash ‘power’ is added to the scene. The amount of power needed will depend on the aperture used (the wider the f/stop setting, the less power required) and how far away they are.

The power of the camera flash falls away with distance. The maximum power varies – the built-in camera flash has much less power than add-on units – but once the subject is more than a few paces away, flash has little effect.

If your subject is within range, you can leave the camera to set the flash exposure automatically, or switch the flash to manual mode (if available) and work it out for yourself using the camera’s Guide Number.

You take the distance to your subject and divide this into the Guide Number to get the lens aperture you need for the correct flash exposure.

 The ISO setting is also a factor – the higher the sensor sensitivity, the less flash power required. More power means you can shoot at greater distances, too.

The shutter speed is often not a significant factor in the flash exposure calculation, though the shutter speed matters for other reasons.

The ‘focal plane’ shutter of your camera works in a way that means that you can’t use the full shutter speed range – ordinary flash won’t work with speeds faster than the maximum ‘sync speed’ for your camera.

If you’re using the built-in flash or a dedicated external flash, most of the factors that need to be considered when calculating flash exposure are handled by the camera. For example, if you pop up the flash on a Nikon

D3100, it caps the shutter speed at 1/200 sec.

 Calculating camera flash exposure

Exposure metering for flash is handled in a different way than for non-flash ‘ambient light’ exposures. The flash fires briefly just before the shot is taken, and the light reflected back by the subject is used to work out the exposure and flash settings. This ‘pre-flash’ is all-but imperceptible to the human eye.

Inevitably, the automatic flash will not always give the results that you want. It’s possible to switch the flash to manual mode, then choose the power you need to suit the subject distance or the aperture setting you want to use.

You can choose ½ power, ¼ power and so on – the power is adjusted in the same ‘halving’ and ‘doubling’ steps as regular exposure settings.

Most of the time, though, it’s simplest to leave the flash set to auto and use the flash exposure compensation control to reduce or increase the power as needed. You can use flash in any of your camera’s exposure modes. Manual (M) will give you the most control over how it balances with the ambient light, but Program (P) can still give great results if you don’t want the hassle of manual adjustments.

 What is flash sync?

 Your flash modes and when to use them

What is flash sync? If you’re new to flash photography you’ve probably been asking yourself this question.

For many people, flash is that horrid burst of light that ruins indoor photographs, stripping scenes of all atmosphere whenever it goes off. However, when it’s used correctly, flash can be the savior of many an

image, and shouldn’t be confined to being used in darkness.

For example, a subtle burst of flash can be used to fill in shadows when shooting portraits of people with their backs to the sun. This means no more squinting or dark shadows where the eyes should be. Instead, the

flash turns what might otherwise be a silhouette into an evenly lit image. Here’s a quick guide to what you need to know about your flash modes…

 What is flash sync?

Traditionally, the flash operates at 1/60sec. This means that when you’re using flash, the shutter speed is set to 1/60 sec and the flash is synchronized to fire while the shutter is open. However, modern cameras take advantage of the fact that the flash duration is extremely short, and offer higher ‘sync’ speeds of around 1/200 sec or 1/250 sec.

Naturally, there’s nothing to stop you using slower shutter speeds, and this can be particularly useful for balancing the illumination of the flash with ambient lighting for a more natural look. This is often referred to as ‘slow-sync’ flash.

 Sync speeds

Interestingly, the shutter speed is often not a significant factor in the flash exposure calculation. The way that the ‘focal plane’ shutter of your camera works means that you do not have the full range of your camera’s shutter speeds on offer anyway.

 In normal flash modes, you need to ensure that the shutter speed is set at or below the ‘sync speed’ for your camera. DSLRs have sync speeds of either 1/200 sec or 1/250 sec, depending on the model; if faster shutter speeds are used then part of the image will be obscured by the falling shutter curtain.

Fortunately, most of the factors that need to be taken into consideration when calculating flash exposure are handled by the camera. A suitable sync-friendly shutter speed is set for you, unless you use the camera’s

Manual (M) exposure mode – and as long as you are using the pop-up flash or a dedicated hot shoe flash.

An extra complication is that flash has a relatively limited range. The maximum power varies between the flash used – but once the subject is more than a few paces away, flash has little effect. This ensures that

there are plenty of subjects where the use of flash is impractical.

 What is rear curtain sync?

Most flashguns work in what’s known as ‘front curtain’ mode. The term itself is a hangover from film days, but it basically means that the flash fires just after the shutter opens.

Rear curtain sync is a flash menu option that will fire the flash at the end of the exposure, just before the shutter closes.

To understand what this means in practical terms, imagine shooting a car coming towards you at night using a long shutter speed of, say, three seconds. Front curtain flash would illuminate the car for an instant at the beginning of the exposure, after which only the light trails would register as the car moved across the frame; the result would be an image with a stream

of lights stretching out in front of the car.

Rear curtain flash, on the other hand, would illuminate the car for an instant at the very end of the exposure, after the car and its lights had moved across the frame. The result would be a much more natural-looking

image, with the light trails stretching out behind the car.

 What is a red-eye reduction?

Red-eye is caused by light from the flash reflecting off the red blood vessels at the back of a person’s eyes and into the lens. Red-Eye flash mode reduces the problem by firing pulses of light just before the main flash, to narrow the pupils of the subject’s eyes and reduce the amount of light reflected back. In practice, however, it works poorly, if at all, and the pre-flash pulses usually make for unnatural expressions in your subjects. It’s easier to get rid of red-eye in Photoshop Elements or CS.

 What is flash metering?

Through the Lens (TTL) flash metering takes much of the complexity out of calculating flash exposures. In this mode, the camera registers the amount of light falling onto the sensor during the exposure and adjusts the power of the flash accordingly. Some cameras have a flash value (FV) or flash exposure lock (FEL) button.

This is useful for getting good overall exposure in a complex scene, as you can zoom in on the object you want to expose correctly, fire off a test flash, and the camera will remember the correct flash level.

 Built-in flash vs off-camera flash

 Built-in flash

In fully-automatic mode, the pop-up flash fitted to most SLRs activates when light levels are low. However, in the more creative modes you can pop the flash up manually whenever you like, and use it for adding a little extra illumination. Bear in mind that you’ll be limited to shutter speeds that are the same as or lower than the flash’s maximum flash sync speed – usually 1/200 sec or 1/250 sec.

 Other limitations of built-in flash units include the risk of red-eye and the fact that the flash won’t fire in certain scene modes. Also, you might have to remove the hood from your lens to prevent it from casting a shadow across the image.

 Off-camera flash

Having a flash fixed just above your camera is limiting, not least because it tends to create harsh shadows.

Taking a hot shoe flashgun off-camera means it can be directed with more control, and if required can produce more even and flattering light.

Some cameras feature wireless flash connectivity, enabling you to trigger multiple flashes wirelessly, but all SLR cameras can be fitted with an off-camera cord. These enable you to connect the flashgun to the hot shoe and fire it remotely.  


Why You Should Use Your Lens Hood

Why You Should Use Your Lens Hood

“What is this thing that came with your lens?” What they are referring to, is the lens hood, included with most new lenses.

 A lens hood’s main purpose is to reduce/block light.

If the lens is a prime lens (fixed focal length, non-zooming), the hood will resemble a tube. Slightly larger at one end than the other.

For zoom lenses, the hood will have a curved opening at one end. This curve is cut to the zoom range of the lens and allows for the wider field of view, afforded smaller focal lengths, while still attempting to block most light at a longer focal length.

 The hood will help block out light that is coming into the lens and causing flare by striking the outer lens elements, (the glass pieces that make up the entire lens), at a less than an optimal angle. This is light that never would have made it to the sensor and isn’t needed. Instead, it causes those discolored spots you might have seen. Shaped like the lens aperture (typically a hexagon or octagon).

While lens flare also occurs from light coming directly into the lens, flare from off-angle light can be prevented.

 A lens hood will not help you when the sun (or light source) is actually in your shot. While it can help reduce extra light from reflected objects nearby (windows, white walls, etc.), the effect is minimal.

But in reality, you should use the hood whenever you can.

If you happen to be missing your hood for the day, simply use your hand, a book or any other likely object to block out the flare from the main light source, while making sure you don’t get the shading device into the picture. This won’t block the reflected light, which can minutely soften a photo (not to a point most of us will ever realize, mind you) but it will help take care of the main flare issue.






[Illustration: FIG. 16.–A “SPIRIT” PHOTOGRAPH.]

Many years ago, in the old wet-collodion days, a well-known photographer was one day surprised by the visitation of a spirit. The apparition did not make its appearance during the nocturnal hours, as is, we have been given to understand, the custom of these ladies and gentlemen from the other world, but, strangely enough, in broad daylight; and not by his bedside to disturb his peaceful slumber, but upon the photograph he was in the act of producing. Had this gentleman been of that soft-brained kind, so easily gulled by the professional spiritualist, it is possible that he would not have done what he did, which was to make a thorough and scientific examination as to the probable cause of the phenomenon. The case was this: A gentleman sitter had been taken in the usual manner upon a collodion plate. Upon taking a positive print from the negative, he was surprised to find a dim white figure of a lady apparently hovering over the unconscious sitter. Upon examination of the negative, the image of the figure was also visible, but not so plainly as in the positive. The explanation of the whole matter was soon discovered. In those days glass was not so cheap as at present, and all old or spoilt negatives were cleaned off and freshly prepared with collodion for further use. In this case, the glass had previously supported the negative image of a lady dressed in white. Some chemical action had evidently taken place between the image and the glass itself, turning the latter slightly yellow in some parts. This faint yellow image, although hardly visible in the negative, had, being of a non-actinic color, given quite a distinct image in the positive. The case was not an isolated one, as these spirit photographs, as they were called, often made their appearance when old negatives were cleaned and the glass used again. The precise action producing the image has never, we think, been satisfactorily explained. It could often be made more distinct by breathing on the glass. We do not know if any enterprising humbug ever took advantage of this method of producing spirit photographs to extort money from the unwary, but about ten years ago a work was published, entitled “Chronicles of the Photographs of Spiritual Beings and Phenomena Invisible to the Material Eye,” by a Miss Houghton. In this a number of reproductions of photographs of “spirits” were given with a detailed explanation of how they were obtained and the difficulties attending their production, the “spirits” being apparently of very independent natures, only making their appearance when they felt so inclined. It is quite possible that a person entirely ignorant of photographic methods might be led into the belief that they were actually photographic images of the dead, but we fear that the book is hardly well enough written to deceive the experienced photographer. At certain and most unfortunate periods in the process employed, some of the plates had a convenient habit of slipping into the washing tank and there, according to the author, becoming utterly ruined; also we learn that many were ruined by being accidentally smudged by the photographer’s finger. We should not, we fear, have a very high opinion of an operator who was in the constant habit of “smudging” negatives with his fingers so as to entirely spoil them, nor can we quite understand what brand of plates was used that “got spoiled by falling into the water.”


[Illustration: From La Nature. FIG. 17.–SPIRIT PICTURE.]



It is not difficult to explain how these pictures were produced. There are quite a number of methods. With a weak-minded sitter, over whom the operator had complete control, the matter would be in no wise a difficult one. It would then only be necessary for the spirit, suitably attired for the occasion, to appear for a few seconds behind the sitter during the exposure and be taken slightly out of focus, so as not to appear too corporeal.


If, however, the sitter be of another kind, anxious to discover how it

was done and on the alert for any deceptive practices, the method

described would be rather a risky one, as he might turn round suddenly

at an inconvenient moment and detect the _modus operandi_. In such a

case it becomes necessary to find some other method where it would not

be requisite for the “spirit” to make its appearance during the

presence of the sitter.



The ghostly image can be prepared upon the plate, either before or after the exposure of the sitter. The method is this: In a darkened room the draped figure to represent the spirit is posed in a spirit-like attitude (whatever that may be) in front of a dark background with a suitable magnesium or other artificial light thrown upon the figure, which is then focused in the “fuzzy-type” style; or, better still, a fine piece of muslin gauze is placed close to the lens which gives a hazy, indistinct appearance to the image. The exposure is made and the latent image remains upon the sensitive plate, which is again used to photograph the sitter. Upon developing we get the two images, the “spirit” mixed up with the figure. The spirit should be as indistinct as possible, as it will then be less easy for the subject to dispute the statement that it is the spirit-form of his dead and gone relative. Some amount of discretion in this part of the performance must be used, we fancy, otherwise the same disaster might happen as did to a spiritualist some little time ago. An elderly gentleman had come for a _seance_, and, after some mysterious maneuvers, the gentleman was informed that the spirit of his mother was there. “Indeed!” replied the old gentleman, somewhat astonished. “What does she say?” “She says she will see you soon,” informed the medium. “You are getting old now and must soon join her.” “Quite right,” replied the old gentleman; “I am going round to her house to tea to-night.”–Total collapse of spiritualist.

[Illustration: FIG. 20.–PHOTOGRAPH OF “SPIRITS.”]

Fluorescent substances, such as bisulphate of quinine, can also be employed. This compound, although almost invisible to the eye, photographs nearly black. If a white piece of paper be painted with the substance, except on certain parts, the latter only will appear white in the picture.

[Illustration: FIG. 21.-PAINTING BY N. SICHEL. From which the “Spirit” Photograph was made.]

We hope that it will not be inferred that we desire to explain how to deceive persons with regard to photographs of spirits, for this is not so; we only hope that they will be made merely for amusement, and if possible to expose persons who practice on the gullibility of inexperienced persons.

Fig. 20 is a reproduction of a “spirit” photograph made by a photographer, claiming to be a “spirit photographer,” and to have the power to call these ladies and gentlemen from the “vasty deep” and make them impress their image upon the sensitive plate by the side of the portraits of their living relatives. Fortunately, however, we were in this case able to expose this fraud. Mr. W. M. Murray, a prominent member of the Society of Amateur Photographers of New York, called our attention to the similarity between one of the “spirit” images and a portrait painting by Sichel, the artist.  A reproduction of the picture is given herewith, Fig. 21, and it will be seen at once that the spirit image is copied from it.

In a recent number of _The Australian Photographic Journal_ we read of the following novel method of making so-called spirit photographs: “Take a negative of any supposed spirit that is to be represented, put it in the printing frame with the film side out; lay on the glass side a piece of platinotype paper with the sensitive side up; clamp in place the back of the printing frame and expose to the sun for half a minute. Now place in the printing frame the negative of another person to whom the spirit is to appear, and over it put the previously exposed sheet film side down; expose to the sun for two minutes until the image is faintly seen, then develop in the usual way and the blurred spirit photograph will appear faintly to one side or directly behind the distinct image. Sheets of paper with different ghost exposures can be prepared beforehand.” 

Spirit photographs might easily be made by means of Prof. Roentgen’s well-known X-ray process of impressing an image upon a photographic dry-plate without uncovering the shutter. The process would however entail considerable expense and would necessitate the use of so much costly apparatus that we will content ourselves with the simple mention of the possibility.

Source: The Gutenberg project

Pictures:  The Gutenberg project & Pixabay





Take an ordinary silver print and fix it without toning. Thoroughly well wash it to remove all traces of the fixing solution and then immerse it in a saturated solution of bichloride of mercury, when the image will disappear. The bichloride of mercury changes the photograph into white chloride of silver and chloride of mercury which is also white. The image when on white paper is thus rendered invisible. Next soak some strong bibulous paper in a saturated solution of sodium hyposulphite, and, when dry, paste a piece of the paper to the back of the invisible print with a little starch paste, attaching it by the edges only. Of course the image can also be made to appear by soaking the invisible print, without the bibulous paper attached, in a solution of sodium sulphite, hypo, or water with a little ammonia added.

[Illustration: FIG. 15.–DEVELOPING THE IMAGE.]

Magic photographs made in the manner above described can also be developed by smoke. A novelty, introduced in Paris some time ago, consisted of a cigarette or cigar holder, shown in Fig. 14, containing in its stem a little chamber for the insertion of a small piece of apparently plain paper, but in reality, an invisible photograph produced in the manner already described. The ammonia vapor in the smoke passing through the chamber attacked the print and developed the image. By blowing the smoke on the latent image it may be made to appear, but the operation is rather tedious, and anyone with a little ingenuity can easily construct a cigarette holder with an arrangement to hold small pictures and allow the smoke to pass through. The chamber of the cigarette or cigar holder must, of course, be sufficiently large to allow of the print being inserted in such a manner that the smoke can readily attack its surface, otherwise uneven development of the image will take place.




The name anamorphosis has been given to two kinds of pictures

distorted according to a certain law, and which are of such a

grotesque appearance that it is often impossible to recognize the

subject of them; while viewed with proper apparatus they appear as

perfectly correct images. One kind is designed to be viewed by

reflection and the other is reconstituted by means of a special rotary





[1] From “Experimental Science.” Published by Munn & Co., New York.


Until quite recently, these pictures were drawn approximately from the reflection of the object as seen in a convex mirror, the position of which was indicated on the drawing and which restored it to its real form. M. Fenant conceived the idea of employing photography for obtaining these pictures. Fig. 9 reproduces a photo-anamorphosis from a negative by M. Fenant. If a cylindrical mirror be placed on the black circle shown in the reproduction the photograph will appear in its original form. Our illustration represents a portrait, although the features are barely recognizable. Similar pictures may be obtained by photographing the drawing or subject reflected in a cylindrical concave mirror placed perpendicularly.

[Illustration: FIG. 9.–A PHOTO-ANAMORPHOSIS.]

The second kind of anamorphosis is produced by the distortion of the picture in the sense of one of its dimensions. To reconstruct it, it is caused to rotate rapidly, at the same time that a disc, perforated with a slit through which the picture is viewed, is rotated in front of it at a slightly different speed. The apparatus invented by M. Linde for producing the anamorphosis is shown in Figs. 10 and 11. _G_ is a camera provided with a revolving plate-holder, _T H_ are revolving discs the movement of which is made to bear a certain relation to that of the plate-holder by means of the band F and the pulleys _D D_. The whole is set in operation by a piece of clockwork and the cord _F_. _A_ is the axis of the camera, _B_ that of the plate-holder, and _C_ that of the revolving disc. On this disc is fixed the picture from which it is desired to make an anamorphosis.

The relative motions are so regulated that when the plate-holder has made a complete revolution the disc has turned through an angle of 60 to 80 degrees in the opposite direction. Between the plate-holder and the lens is a diaphragm pierced with a slit about 10 millimeters wide. The action of the light on the plate takes place through this slit. The negative obtained, prints are made upon plain salted paper and rendered transparent with wax or vaseline. These pictures can be viewed in the ordinary apparatus used for showing anamorphoses of this kind. The print is fastened to a revolving apparatus and in front of it is another disc painted black and provided with a number of slits. The latter revolves at one-fourth the speed of the picture, and the image, when viewed through the slit, resumes its normal proportions.

Source: The Gutenberg project Pictures:  The Gutenberg project & Pixabay



Statuette Portraits


These were at one time quite popular, and if properly managed can be rendered very effective. There are several methods of making this kind of picture. If the photographer possesses a pedestal large enough, all that is necessary is to place this on a stand and the person to be photographed is arranged behind.

The breast is uncovered and some white soft material artistically arranged in folds over the shoulders and in such a way as to appear connected with the pedestal. A black background is placed behind and the exposure made. To give a more realistic effect the hair, face, and all other parts showing should be liberally powdered over with a white powder or rice flour. The negative produced will have a clear glass background, but the body of the figure will still be visible. This is removed by cutting away the film round the pedestal and to the arms on each side, leaving only those parts remaining that are required to produce the statuette. In printing we get a white statuette portrait on a dark background.

If the photographer does not possess a pedestal, the next best means to produce these pictures is to get a large sheet of cardboard and cut it out to the shape shown in the figure beneath, and with white paint make the picture of a pedestal, shading with a little gray to give rotundity. The figure is stationed behind it, and a black background used.

A third method involves still less trouble. This is to purchase a ready made pedestal negative. These are film negatives of a pedestal that can be adjusted to the negative of the subject desired to be produced as a statue. After the negative is taken and varnished the film is scraped off round the figure, cutting off the body as shown in the first illustration, after which the pedestal negative is adjusted, fastened, and then printed. The negative is reversible and can also be used for different subjects. The picture shown in Fig. 13 was made by Mr. G. B. Bradshaw, of Beach House, Altrincham, England, by means of one of his pedestal negatives.


Project Gutenberg & Pixabay


The use of a Flash in photography

A flash is a device used in photography producing a flash of artificial light (typically 1/1000 to 1/200 of a second) at a color temperature of about 5500 K to help illuminate a scene. A major purpose of a flash is to illuminate a dark scene.

You can use the flash to add drama to your images.

History on the instantaneous shutter.


The rapid dry plate and the quick acting lens have created a necessity for a shutter that would make an instantaneous exposure, in order that sharp pictures might be made of objects in motion.

This has been accomplished in a variety of forms, the earliest and simplest of which is


which consists of two pieces of wood, each having a hole cut into it, and so arranged that when one piece is placed upon the end or hood of the lens (which fits into the circular opening), the other piece can be made to slide up and down against it, thus for an instant bringing the two openings opposite, and making the exposure depends upon the rapidity with which one opening passes the other.

The action of both these styles of drop shutter may be hastened by using rubber bands to quicken the fall of the sliding piece. So that while a rapid exposure might be made by the fall of the slide, by its own weight, it would not be quick enough for an object moving across the plane of focus, but might be sufficient for an object moving away from or toward the lens. By the use of the rubber bands the exposure may be made as quick as a flash, or the small fraction of a second, thus enabling one to secure a sharp impression of the trotting horse, the railroad train, the racing yacht, and many other interesting and difficult subjects.

Another peculiarly effective form of shutter is that known as THE PROSCH ECLIPSE SHUTTER, which is a small and compact instrument, made of metal and rubber, by which an exposure of 1200part of a second may be made, with the power of reducing the speed to about one-half second.


A late and decided improvement on the Eclipse Shutter has been produced by Mr. Prosch, which he has named the “Duplex.”

Prosch’s Duplex Shutter is intended both for “timed” and instantaneous exposures.

It is equal to any requirement for the most rapid work, and as a timed shutter, exposures can be made of from one-half second to any duration required.

The peculiarity of this shutter is that the exposing slides are placed between the front and back combinations of the lens, necessitating separation of the tube at the center.

Mr. Prosch makes a special tube to which is affixed the apparatus of the shutter. This special tube is of the exact size of that to which the lenses belong, from which the lenses are taken and fitted to the special tube. The other is kept for future use if necessary.

Source: Public open library the project Gutenberg & Images: Pixabay


History on Pneumatic Shutters


The Cadett Shutter–The Lightning Shutter

The     Garland Shutter–The Invisible Shutter.


This device for making exposures in the photographic studio has proved to be so useful and popular as to have secured almost general recognition and adoption among the photographers of America.

The possibility of making exposures in the studio, unknown to the subject, placed a very decided advantage in the hands of the operator, who, standing at any point, could watch the expression of the subject and seize the right moment to secure the impression desired; so that the pneumatic shutter seemed to be the proper complement to the lightning dry plate.

There is a great variety of these shutters exhibited and for sale, and the number continually increases.

The earliest example of this style of shutter that we know of is the Cadett, an English invention, which, in its introduction into this country, served as a stimulus to the inventive genius of Americans, and, as a consequence, we have the great variety that now may be selected from. An effort was made to apply electricity to use in working a shutter, but it did not succeed, and so the rubber tube and bulb became the accepted means for applying the force necessary to open and shut the slides or doors constituting the shutter.

An attempt has been made to apply a time regulator to the pneumatic exposer that shall keep the lens uncovered for a period of time at the will of the operator, which shall be regulated by an index pointing at a figure representing a definite period of time. By turning the index to any figure, from 1 to 20 or more, representing seconds, the shutter is held open for that time and then closes automatically. This shutter is opened, in the first instance, by pressure upon a bulb,  in the same manner as any of the pneumatic devices. We may enumerate, among the various shutters, those giving the most satisfaction in use,


It has often been remarked by eminent photographers that the arrangement is a most useful one which enables persons to be photographed without being aware of it. The efforts in this direction necessitated the operator being close to the camera; here we have an instrument which permits him to be at any part of the studio he pleases.

Many have experienced the difficulty of taking children’s portraits with the proper amount of profile; with the above device all difficulty vanishes—the operator may be by the side of the child and attract its attention to any direction, and he has the means of exposing and capping the lens with far greater rapidity than with the usual method.

Directions.—After the day’s work is done the rubber tubing should be taken off the instrument; this will prevent a partial vacuum in the bellows and tube, which would otherwise ultimately occur. These instruments are now constructed for application either inside or outside the camera. Its use is very simple—squeeze the ball end of the tube and the shutter opens.

This instrument no sooner made its appearance than Yankee ingenuity set to work to improve on it, or at least to produce something similar that might not infringe on the patent.

The first effort was to bring electricity into use to move a shutter inside the camera box, and a very good device was perfected and sold to numbers who were convinced of the usefulness of the idea but were unwilling to pay the price demanded for the English instrument. This electrical apparatus, however, soon played out, and few operators had the time or knowledge necessary to keep the battery in order; and in many instances after the sittings had been made it was found, on attempting to develop the plate, that no exposure had taken place, hence these electrical shutters were soon relegated to the limbo of played-out photographic apparatus, of which every gallery of any standing has one.


For simplicity of construction and operation, for reliability and good results obtained with it, the “Eclipse” Shutter has gained an enviable reputation. It is safe to say that no shutter is better or more favorably known.

The “Eclipse” is made wholly of metal and is finely finished. It attaches over the hood of the lens by a velvet-lined collar and has a clamp to securely hold it in place. It is made in five standard sizes, collars for hoods of lenses being attached to a shutter of the most suitable size.

When the shutter is in a locked position ready for exposure, the right-hand leaf of fly covers the aperture of the lens. When released, the fly revolves, uncovering the aperture, which is again covered by the left-hand leaf.

When the shutter is in the position shown in cut, less illumination is given to the foreground; but by adjusting the shutter in different positions any part of the view may be favored.

The hair trigger release may be operated either by hand, by a cord, or by a pneumatic device.

The speed of the shutter is perfectly controlled by moving the spring on back of shutter from notch to notch on the curved arm.



With this shutter, the latest production of the inventor of the very popular “Eclipse” shutter, exposures can be made of any desired duration. It is equal to any requirement for the most rapid work, and as a time shutter, exposures can be made as quick as two pulsations can be given to air bulb (about one-tenth of a second) or of minutes’ duration.

“Duplex” Shutters work perfectly, with even the very largest lenses, up to their full capacity; and several lenses can be used with the same shutter. The shutter gives a full opening; but yet, by the peculiar opening in the exposure slides, any part of the picture can be favored with more or less illumination by turning the shutter, sometimes even inverting it.

The illustration gives a front view of the shutter, one-half size of No. 2, which is suitable for an 8×10 lens, or even larger, as it has an opening at the diaphragm of 118inches.

Inclosed in metal casing are two pivoted slides, which move, in unison, in opposite directions, and make the exposure in one continuous movement without the slightest jar, even when worked at its greatest rapidity. The motive spring is on the back of the shutter, and is of coiled wire; a perfectly reliable spring. Its tension is regulated by moving it along a series of notches. The exposure slides are moved by a stud on the lever shown on the front, which passes through the shutter and a slot in each slide and engages with the spring on the back. On the end of the lever are two notches hidden by the secondary lever. When the lever is fully depressed, the release catches in the upper notch and locks the slides closed. A slight pressure on the air bulb or a trip to the projecting end of the release frees the slides, and they make an instantaneous movement or exposure. If the secondary lever has been brought into play, by a turn or two of a milled-head nut, the release will catch in the second or lower notch and hold the slides at a full opening, in which position they remain until a second pressure is given to the bulb, or the release is tripped by hand.

The shutters are made in standard sizes, having narrow threaded collars on each side, to which can be adapted tubes to receive lenses, which are to be transferred from regular lens tubes. Any intelligent instrument maker or machinist can adapt such tubes to lenses; the original tube is not used.

Source: Public open library the project Gutenberg & Images: Pixabay


The Mirror and the Camera

The Mirror and the Camera

Illustration: FIG. 1.—effect obtained with parallel Mirrors

Quite a number of novel effects can be obtained by the aid of one or more mirrors. If two mirrors are taken and placed parallel to one another, and a person placed between, the effect obtained is as shown in Fig. 1, where one soldier appears as a whole regiment drawn up into line. To make this experiment we require two large-sized mirrors, and they must be so arranged that they do not reflect the camera and the photographer, but give only multiple images of the sitter. This will be found quite possible; all that is necessary is to make a few preliminary experiments, adjusting the mirrors at different angles until the desired effect is obtained.

Figs. 2 and 3

A process of multi-photography which was at one time quite popular consisted of posing the sitter with his back to the camera as shown in Figs. 2 and 3. In front of him are arranged two mirrors, set at the desired angle to each other, their inner edges touching. In the illustrations here given the mirrors are inclined at an angle of 75 deg., and five reflected images are produced. When an exposure is made and the negative developed, we not only have the back view of the sitter but the full reflected images in profile and three-quarter positions as well.


In the diagram, Fig. 2, reproduced from “The Scientific American” the course taken by the rays of light, determined by the law that the angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection, is plainly marked out. We see here their passage from the sitter to the mirror and back to the camera. Provided the mirror be large enough, images of the full-length figure can be made as shown in Fig. 4.

For photographing articles where it is of advantage to secure a number of different views of the same object this method of photographing with mirrors opens up quite a wide field of possibilities. In France, it is used for photographing criminals, and thus obtaining a number of different portraits with one exposure.


The use of an ordinary mirror in portrait work has enabled photographers to produce very pleasing results. There is often a very striking difference between the full and side views of a person’s face, and by means of such a combination as this, one is enabled to secure a perfect representation of both at the same time. In making reflection portraits it has often been noted that the reflection has a more pleasing effect than the direct portrait. The reason of this is that it is softer and the facial blemishes are not so distinctly brought out. There is naturally a slight loss of detail, but this is by no means a drawback. The worst fault of the camera in portrait photography is the tendency to include every little detail which the artist would suppress. It not only includes all the detail but often exaggerates it to a painful extent. By making a portrait by reflection this defect is avoided. Of course the image is reversed, but this is in most cases of little consequence; in fact, the sitter himself would be more likely to consider it a far more truthful likeness, for when we look into a mirror we do not see ourselves as others see us, but a reversed image. With some faces, the difference is quite striking.


[Illustration: By H. L. Bostwick. FIG. 5.–MULTIPHOTOGRAPH OF CISSY



Very many amusing effects can be obtained by the use of a convex mirror. Even an ordinary, well-polished spoon may be made to give some curious results. (See Fig. 6.) The thin man becomes an elongated mass of humanity to whom Barnum would have given a big salary, while the fat man may be reduced to the proportions of a walking-stick.

Convex mirrors for producing these ludicrous effects can be purchased at any mirror manufacturer’s store. The advantage of the camera lies in the ability to secure permanently the curious images produced.

Even more, ridiculous-looking images can be secured by the use of a piece of uneven glass silvered. For a method of silvering glass, we are indebted to the kindness of Dr. James H. Stebbins, Jr., the well-known analytical chemist. Dissolve pure nitrate of silver in distilled water in the proportion of 10 grains to 1 ounce, and add carefully, drop by drop, sufficient strong ammonia solution to just dissolve the brown precipitate at first formed, stirring constantly during the addition.  Make a solution of Rochelle salt, 1 grain to the ounce of distilled water. Clean the plate of glass thoroughly with a little wet rouge and polish dry with a piece of chamois leather. Warm it before the fire or in the sun to about 70 to 80 deg. Fahr., and lay it on a perfectly level surface. Then mix 1 ounce of the silver solution with half an ounce of the Rochelle salt solution and pour the mixture on the glass so that every part of the surface will be evenly covered with it.


Allow this to stand in the warm sunshine from half to one hour, when the reduced silver will be deposited as a fine film over the surface of the glass. When this is done wash off the glass with distilled water and wipe the entire surface very gently with a little wet wadding, which will take off the roughness and render it easier to polish. When perfectly dry the silver should be polished by rubbing with some smooth, hard surface. The plate is then varnished by pouring over it a suitable varnish and is ready for use.

Source: Public open library the project Gutenberg & Some Images: Pixabay