Part 7

How Do I Handle Photos?

Well-composed, pertinent photos are always a definite plus in a bulletin, but care must be exercised in their selection.

Composing—Avoid broad, panoramic photos (of the whole chorus, for example). Avoid head-to-toe photos of quartets or individuals (especially those including generous views of the floor and ceiling). Avoid photos of groups or individuals in dark clothing posed before an equally dark background. Avoid photos with shadows or objects in the background that appear to sprout from the subjects’ heads.

Try for head-and-shoulder shots of small groups and individuals. If the subject is a quartet, try to compose their heads in a diagonal or diamond pattern, rather than a horizontal line. When photographing the chorus, try moving to one side, focusing a head-and-shoulder shot of a few closely grouped individuals, with the rest of the chorus falling out of focus in the background. Avoid rigid poses. Try to imply some action in the photo. If using a flash, beware of harsh, distracting shadows cast on nearby background surfaces.

Film choices—Although modern reproduction technology is closing the gap, monochrome film still produces better reproductions for non-color printed applications than do color films. But monochrome film has lost ground to color print film in the area of processing time. Color films can be processed in an hour in automated processing machines, while black and white films may take many days to return from processing.

Recently, the Ilford Film Co. produced a monochrome film that bridges the time gap. It’s called Ilford XP2 and has an ASA-400 speed rating. Available in 35mm, the film may be developed with the C-41 process used in all automated film processing machines. Depending upon lighting conditions during exposure, and more often on the condition of the processor’s chemical solutions, prints may come out purple and white, or blue and white. However, the contrast values and balance are such that the photos are quite suitable for conventional printing processes.

Printing photos—Some modern copy machines do a good job reproducing both color and monochrome photographs. Others can’t handle photos at all. Offset printing methods cannot handle photos at all without the introduction of an intermediate process called a “screened print.” (Often called a “half-tone,” or “Velox.”) Such prints may be obtained from shops providing graphic arts services and from many photo shops.

Screening imposes tiny dots onto the reproduction of an original photo. Thus, whites are not glaring featureless areas; blacks are not solid clumps. The dots provide texture to the whites and blacks (and all the intervening tones) that the offset printer’s camera can “see” and register on the printing plate for deposit on paper as microscopic dots. A close inspection of any printed photo will reveal the presence of these tiny dots.

Screens are graded by the number (and size) of dots provided per lineal inch. An 80-line screen is adequate for bulletin photos with offset printing. A coarser screen (larger dots, fewer per inch) will usually appear grainy when printed. Caution: Do not attempt to screen a photo reproduction that already has been screened. The result is dots imposed over dots: a moiré, or frosted appearance that will not print well.

Ordering half-tones—If you take six photos to a graphic arts shop and ask for screened prints of them, that’s what you’ll get: Six photos of your six photos with a dot screen imposed on them, and you will be charged for photographing, developing and printing of each of them. A money-saving tip: Crop (trim) the photos to the finished size you want to use, then paste them up on a sheet of paper in an area no larger than 8" x 10" (standard size for photographic paper) and have them screened as one print. Caution: Photos grouped together on the sheet of paper should have about the same levels of contrast. (Variations from lightest to darkest tones.) In other words, don’t mix under-exposed and over-exposed photos on the same sheet.

Note: Photos may be enlarged or reduced to you needs as they are being screened, but size changes after screening may result in unwanted changes in the size of the dots imposed on the photo.

If photos are loaned to you and can’t be cut up, you may be forced to have individual half-tones made. If that’s the case, you can crop and re-size at the same time. Decide how much of the photo you really want to use, and make vertical and horizontal crop marks on the photo margins with a china marking pencil—these can be rubbed off later. Using simple mathematics or a proportional scale (a rudimentary circular slide rule available at most stationery stores,) calculate the percentage of increase or decrease needed to make the half-tone fit a desired space—such as a column-width. Remember, when a photo is screened as a half-tone, it should be used at that size; enlarging or reducing by photocopy process may undesireably alter the dot size.

A half-tone option—For photos in bulletins reproduced on copy machines there is a product called “Copyscreen,” produced by Graphic Products Corp., Wheeling, IL 60090, that will allow acceptable (but not great) results. It is a reusable clear film material on which a graphic screen is printed in an off-white color. In use, the film is placed between the page to be copied and the glass plate of the copy machine. When a copy is made, anything darker than the screen will have the tiny, light-colored dots imposed on it. Thus, dark areas of photos will be enhanced to a considerable degree. The technique works best with monochrome photos.

The Copyscreen sheet is 9 x 12 inches in size. The off- white color of the screen is such that it won’t register in white areas of a copy, but it will be evident if placed over printed text. Thus it is advisable to cut the film to a size that matches the photo to be reproduced. Though Copyscreen is relatively inexpensive (about $4.00) it is advisable to decide on a standard few sizes of photos to be used before slicing up the film.

Copyscreen is available in 65-, 85- and 100-line screens of 30% density. The 100-line screen is too small for use in most chapter bulletins and on most copy machines.

Photo cutlines—Sometimes referred to as captions. Nothing is so useless to the reader as photos with missing or inadequate photo cutlines. Always provide cutlines to fully explain what is going on in the photos and clearly identify those depicted; top to bottom and left to right. If space for cutlines is a problem, try this: Place the photos on a left-hand page with small but distinctive numerals or letters in their lower corners. Along the near edge of the facing page print the same numerals or letters together with the cutlines that go with them. Provide an appropriate header (caption in this instance) to tie the cutlines to the photos on the opposite page


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