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Thread: Need recommendation for good book on (gasp) flower photography

  1. #1

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    Need recommendation for good book on (gasp) flower photography

    Thanks,
    B.
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

  2. #2

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    Re: Need recommendation for good book on (gasp) flower photography

    Bill, I'm wasn't aware of any so took a look at what a search on abebooks.com for the title flower photography would find. There's a large handful, have no idea which is any good at all.

    When I started shooting such subjects I consulted A. A. Blaker's book Field Photography. Strong 35 mm orientation but it covers closeup work's basics fairly well. There's also Lester Lefkowitz The Manual of closeup photography to get you up to speed if you aren't already.

    I've had very mixed results shooting flowers with my 2x3 Graphics. The big problem is that if the flowers aren't inherently immobile -- for example, Stapelia, Huernia, some orchids -- the time lapse between focusing and composing and taking the shot allows the plane of best focus to move away from where I'd put it. Motion blur isn't much of a problem 'cos I use flash. But I usually use focus and the composition while closing the lens, cocking the shutter, inserting the film holder, ... There's also the nearly overwhelming temptation to fill the frame with the subject, a recipe for poor sharpness everywhere if I shoot well stopped down or poor sharpness nearly everywhere (lack of DoF) if I shoot near wide open.

  3. #3
    dpn's Avatar
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    Re: Need recommendation for good book on (gasp) flower photography

    John Shaw's old book on macro photography is good. With LF, lighting and stability (of the subject matter) are going to be the hard parts. Finding a good tripod that can get low enough to the ground, but also offer the stability to support a LF camera, is going to be a challenge (Ries are stable, but not low enough. Gitzo Explorers may be OK. Beanbags work, but I wouldn't trust them to hold position.) Get ready to be on your belly a lot! Movements will help with DOF, but you'll still be fighting for depth. Use a white umbrella or scrim to help with light and wind. A "plamp" is also good. Still, get ready to do math on reciprocity and bellows before you take the shot. And hope the wind doesn't blow or the light doesn't change!

    Still life flowers are eminently doable in LF, but field LF macro work seems tough for a lot of reasons. I got good results with a Mamiya RZ67, but field macro was still challenging even with a good MF system.

    For me, personally, digital is the right tool for field macro work.

    (I'm on year five of a long project to photograph every species of Calochortus in California. Flowers and fungi are my photographic passions.)

  4. #4

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    Re: Need recommendation for good book on (gasp) flower photography

    Interesting. I wouldn't recommend Closeups In Nature to anyone. Shaw may be a capable photographer but he's a poor teacher. Closeups In Nature doesn't explain much, just shows pretty pictures. Heather Angell (see her Book of Closeup Photography) does the John Shaw thing better than he does, and she's a better teacher too.

  5. #5
    dpn's Avatar
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    Re: Need recommendation for good book on (gasp) flower photography

    I learned a lot from that book, but admittedly it has been probably ten years since I opened it. If I recall correctly, his macro flash bracket instructions were quite good. I built, and enjoyed, one for my Canon Powershot G1.

    I remember Robert Thompson's Close-Up on Insects: A Photographer's Guide fondly too, especially since the photographer used and discussed medium format film gear for macro work. For $3.77 used on Amazon, it's hard to go wrong.

    Heather Angel's portfolio has some lovely work.

  6. #6

    Re: Need recommendation for good book on (gasp) flower photography

    I would start with a book of Mapplethorpe's flowers. (or someone else's work you love). The rest is just figuring it out.

  7. #7

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    Re: Need recommendation for good book on (gasp) flower photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Fromm View Post
    Bill, I'm wasn't aware of any so took a look at what a search on abebooks.com for the title flower photography would find. There's a large handful, have no idea which is any good at all.

    When I started shooting such subjects I consulted A. A. Blaker's book Field Photography. Strong 35 mm orientation but it covers closeup work's basics fairly well. There's also Lester Lefkowitz The Manual of closeup photography to get you up to speed if you aren't already.
    Dan,

    You nailed it!! Those are EXACTLY the two books I was going to recommend. Both are indepth and very well written. And as to large format macro work, I've had GREAT results with my 4X5 wooden Tokos (http://www.subclub.org/toko/index.htm). My main lenses are a Fujinon A 180mm f9 and four Minolta Rokkor-X Bellows lenses -- 100mm f4 Bellows Macro, 50mm f3.5 Bellows Macro, 25mm f2.5 Bellows Micro, and 12.5mm f2 Bellows Micro. Although they are designed for 35mm work, at high magnifications, they fill the 4X5 format with ease. The results are outstanding. Enlarging lenses are also a great option.

  8. #8
    dpn's Avatar
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    Re: Need recommendation for good book on (gasp) flower photography

    I'd love to see your work xkaes!

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    Re: Need recommendation for good book on (gasp) flower photography


  10. #10

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    Re: Need recommendation for good book on (gasp) flower photography

    GREAT WORK, HIHO! I love lensless-photography photography. I've put together a page with many links dealing with the use of pinholes and "close-up filters" instead of lenses. It is at:

    http://www.subclub.org/fujinon/close-up.htm

    But if you prefer to stick with lenses, you can read all about FIJI's wonderful large format lenses at:

    http://www.subclub.org/fujinon/index.htm

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