"Photographing Flowers" by Harold Davis is part technical guide and part art book aimed at novice and intermediate photographers who would like to learn to take beautiful, creative pictures of flowers. Flower photography offers something for everyone. You don't have to be a "floral" type to become obsessed with it. I've done a lot of flower photography, and it is the bold lines accented by color that attract me to flowers. They are almost abstract when photographed up close. Harold Davis does both macro work and bunches of flowers, so he's a good source of advice whether you like abstract forms, bouquets, or botany. This book includes more than 130 photographs, many full page, with technical information, so there is no shortage of inspiration.
The bulk of the book is organized into four parts, the largest being the section about taking the photograph. David introduces the reader to "The Worlds of Flower Photography" by explaining a bit about flower geography, commonality, and the unique aesthetic qualities of roses, poppies (his favorite), ranunculuses, and dahlias. This gives the reader some ideas of where to start. Of course, there is nothing wrong with starting in your back yard or neighborhood park, or with that bouquet you got for your birthday. Then Davis moves on to "Making Flower Photos", beginning with the various pieces of equipment that will allow you to get very close to your floral subjects with your SLR or DSLR: macro lenses, extension tubes, close-up filters, lens reversal, and more.
Davis explains how to use an exposure histogram, offers advice on exposure, focus and sharpness, composition, working with various kinds of natural light, using macro flash, and photographing flowers in studio. His advice is straightforward and essential. His example photos are eye-catching and sometimes present the same flower photographed differently, which is useful. He could have done better on a few topics, however, which is why I give this book 4 stars rather than 5. He doesn't explain how to use or choose close-up equipment or what each type of equipment does. More examples of dealing with natural light at different times of the day and under different conditions would be helpful, as would some expansion of the spare information on flash and studio lighting.
Davis provides a straightforward explanation of exposure principles as they relate specifically to flower photography, which is necessarily incomplete, but it impressed me, as explanations of exposure have become convoluted in recent years for reasons I can't explain. There is a short section called "Bee's Eye View" that offers tips for photographing the unique forms that flowers present. Davis tops it off with "Flowers in the Digital Darkroom", which focuses primarily on "special effects" such as enhancing color, producing a Georgia O'Keefe look, creating the illusion of transparency, and more along those lines. It also tells readers how to do automated focus stacking, which would be useful to anyone. Though I found "Photographing Flowers" lacking on a couple of points, the information that is here is clear and easily applied to your next photo project.