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.
534. Nearly everyone is impelled at some point or other in their photographic career, to make pictures of flowers. You may begin making floral studies at the very first of the year and continue until the end. At certain seasons the variety of flowers obtainable is limited; yet a collection of photographs representing flowers in season, during the various twelve months of the year, will prove of inestimable value.
535. A complete collection of flowers is, of course, quite an impossibility. But, a very desirable thing to aim for is making photographs of a representative collection of the flowers, securing as many different families and classes as possible. In addition to this, the various phases of the same blossom, from the bud to the fully developed blossom and fruit, are worthy of attention.
Decorative Value. Wild flowers, in all their great varieties, will appeal to many, but in photographing the flowers you must not forget the highly decorative value of the stems and leaves. Interesting studies may be made by photographing the foliage alone at its different stages: First, the twig, then the newly formed buds, the tinted leaves, the flowers, and lastly, the flower-laden bough.
537. It will prove a most interesting study for the city photographic worker to keep a small cutting in a glass of water, making photographs of the continual changes. An ordinary cutting will come out and grow for fully a month's time in this condition. See the Botanical Studies in Vol. IX.
538. To the beginner we might say in a general way, use a dark background, and remember that color counts for little or nothing in the resulting picture. The aim in work of this kind should be to acquire technical skill. The artistic qualities will then surely follow at the proper time. As soon as a few pleasing prints have been made, you should prepare an album for the insertion of your floral studies. Secure one with interchangeable leaves, so that at any time additions may be inserted in correct succession.
Camera. Practically any camera will answer for the making of flower studies; the camera possessing modern attachments, which permit of using the lens in various positions, is preferable. It is advisable, also, to have a camera, the bellows of which is twice the focal length of the lens, as with such an equipment it will be possible to reproduce flower studies in actual size.
Lens. The average rapid rectilinear lens will answer every purpose in the photographing of flowers.
541. If the bellows of your camera is of sufficient length, the pictorial effect and the perspective will be much better rendered by employing either a long focus lens or the single combination of the doublet (rectilinear or anastigmat lens).
Use Of Plates And Ray Filter. The ordinary plate will not render the best of results. It will not reproduce the strong colors of your floral subjects correctly. Ortho-chromatic plates are much better for this class of work, because most flowers have some shades of yellow, and with these color corrected plates all green and green-yellow foliage will receive a far better rendering. A ray filter has no advantage except for deep orange and blue shades, as the best color corrected plates are quite sensitive to yellow and slightly repellent to blue. Therefore, the additional restraint which a color filter would exert would tend to overcorrection, even giving a bright canary color the same density on the plate as pure white.