This section is from the book "Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography", by J. B. Schriever. Also available from Amazon: Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography.
Focusing. In focusing take the utmost care to get the foremost parts of the flowers perfectly sharp. It may happen that parts in foreground shadows will escape notice unless you give this particular attention, for no matter if you do overlook them on the ground-glass they will show plain enough in the print, and if not sharp will spoil it. If there is any depth of focus, or, in other words, sharpness, to spare, it should be in front rather than back of the flowers, because the background being completely out of focus will enhance the artistic effect. If a commercial flower study is desired, then all of the flowers must be perfectly sharp. You focus, however, with the lens wide open, on the foreground of the subject; then stop down until all parts are as sharp as you desire them to be.
Exposures. When working by a window facing north, it being perfectly clear out-doors, the sun shining, and you reproduce the flowers one-half actual size on the fastest orthochromatic plate, using stop F. 11.3, or U. S. 8 and a ray filter which will increase the exposure five times, it will be necessary to give an exposure of from 15 seconds to 1 minute, all depending upon the character of the subject - whether light or dark in color. Whatever the actual exposure required it must be carefully executed, and long enough to give detail in the deepest shadow.
563. The Proper Development of the plate is where many flower photographers fail, and of course even the most skillful will occasionally make mistakes. The developing agent is of little importance, providing it does not fog the plate. The Universal Developer given in Volume II. is excellent for this purpose.
564. Too much stress cannot be laid upon the stopping of the development at exactly the right time - the time being when the very highest lights have got their full printing value. If developing is carried too far the highlights will become clogged, for the delicate half-tones will get as dense as the very highest points of light, and in the print will give hard, chalky masses, which are anything but pleasing. If, for any reason, development is carried too far, and the highlights are blocked, the negative may be reduced by using Potassium Ferri-cyanide Reducer, as described in Volume II.
565. If the first appearance of the image indicates that the exposure is correct, it is not necessary to pay any attention to the appearance of the shadows during development. They will take care of themselves. The exposure is what determines whether they will be right or not. If over or under-exposed, treat the plate accordingly. (See Volume II.)
Developing Backed Plates. Before pouring the developer on the plate, hold it under the water tap while the back is rubbed with a brush to remove most of the backing (if you have backed the plate according to the method described in Paragraphs 171 to 178). If the plates have been backed with paper, this should be removed previous to placing the plate in the developer. After the backing has been removed, return the plate to the developer and again cover. From time to time examine the back of the plate.
WATER LILIES Study No. 33 - See Page 314 By Mrs. M. S. Gaines.
BLUE FLAG Study No. 34 By John M. Schreck.
After the highlights are distinctly visible there, the actual extent to which the development is to be carried is determined by looking through the plate at the lamp.
Practice Work. Study very carefully the preceding lesson and then take the simplest flower obtainable and proceed to carry out the instruction. After developing the negative make proof prints from each experiment. Place your notations, giving full information regarding the manner in which you proceeded to secure the results, on the back, and file them in your proof file for future reference.