Popular Science Monthly
��The Making of Photographic Silhouettes
THE quaint portraits which our great- grandparents knew and deUghted in as "silhouettes" have long since passed out of fashion. But a form of photography showing "shadow photographs" which has recently attracted attention is in many respects a revival of the old-time art. The old-fashioned silhouettes were cut out, of paper with scissors, and mounted upon a heavy card, or in some other appropriate way. Certain artists at- \ tained such skill that they dis- pensed en- tirely with preliminary outlining or sketching. Photo- graphic imitation of silhouettes does not call for much in- herent skill on the part of the work- er. A little patience, plus a modicum of common sense, will soon be rewarded by charmingly successful re- sults. Then, too, the pictures can be secured quickly as negatives, and any number of copies can be rendered avail- able subsequently by print- ing out, developing and fixing. Thus, at the time when the portrait is taken, the operator is free to con- centrate his undivided attention upon' the sitter.
Shadow or silhouette photographs may be taken either at night or by day. At night, all that is needed is a semi-trans- parent screen, which can be made from an old linen sheet, or even from paper, sup- ported upon a wood framework. For general purposes the screen should be white, or nearly so, although on occasion a good effect may be gained by employing a screen of neutral tint, or one in which transmitted light reveals a certain graining or irregularity of substance. In other words, the background of the finished
���Silhouette photographs of still life and of living models may be made
��picture need not always be dead white, but may be varied in tone to suit the subject. The screen is supported vertically, and the sitter or subject is placed before it. The outline or profile must be very sharply focused; and for this purpose a fairly strong and steady light is needed. But as soon as the focusing is complete, this light must be extinguished. The exposure is then made by burning magnesium ribbon, or a flash lamp, behind the screen. If magnesium ribbon is used, about i ft. of
it should be burnt, the aperture of the lens be- ing left wide open.
On the whole the shadow photographs may be made more satisfactori- ly by day be- cause artifi- cial light can then be dispensed with from start to finish, while focusing becomes much easier, and can be prolonged until the operator has found, by ex- periment, the exact position in which his subject shows to greatest advantage. A window having a single pane of glass not less than 2 ft. by 2>^ ft. should be chosen. This must not be too high above the floor; if possible itshouldface north, although this is not essential. To the window-frame a screen of linen or paper may be fixed with tacks or pins. Any transverse light may be shut out by means of blinds or screens. When this has been done, everything will be in readiness. If the day is clear and the light brilliant, a snapshot will be possible; and when children or animals are sitting, this is a great advantage. In dull weather, an exposure of several seconds may be necessary. Everything depends upon the density of the screen that is used.
Every effort should be made to secure vigorous outlines, although all avoidable hardness should be eliminated. Remember