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The Photographic Times
PHOTOGRAPHING WILD FLOWERS IN WINTER.
BY CHAS. R. KING.
O PHOTOGRAPH wild flowers in winter time you must first locate them. Having lived long in the fabled land of winter sunshine-Italy-and in France, my experience shows that those countries are not favorable for such blossoms in the winter. For wild flowers in winter a benign climate is essential, and that is, in the northern hemisphere,to be found in the British Isles in their westward divisions.
In the western counties of England, swept by the breezes which the Bristol Channel and the Severn River carry inland with the humid warmth from the Gulf Stream, we find all the attributes of sweet spring even through the winter months. While France and Italy are frost-bound for weeks to
gether, while skating is in full swing on Italian lakes and rivers, and the sky a pall of sombre yellow, the Gulf Stream breezes incessantly attack the cold wave which surges on England from the neighboring Continent and the result is a perpetual fluctuation of spring and winter temperatures, changing day by day, or sometimes even hour by hour, the outcome of the contest being that the average winter season is tempered into the balmy climatic conditions of early spring and the wild flowers which, in other countries, are there the harbingers of the spring season are here the usual smiling accompaniments of a West of England winter. The primrose, called in Italian fiore di primavera and in French primèvre, meaning spring flower-because only appearing in those countries in the spring-time-usually flowers daringly all through the winter months in England, and often in the most singularly exposed fields. They make their appearance with the first bleating of the "spring" lambs that are born in November and December, when mauve and white violets scent the sides of hills lying immediately above boggy or naturally wet stretches of field. North Somerset, whose sweet countryside attracted the attention of our editor last
summer, Bristol county, Hereford, Monmouth, Gloucester, and in general all regions bordering the Severn and the Wye, all enjoy these mild winter conditions and their accompaniment of wild flowers. The yellow wallflower covers the rocky slopes and cliffs in the gorge of the Avon river, in Bristol, in most winter seasons (with some exceptions such as the present year, 1909-1910), while the emerald-green Clifton "Downs" are then usually brilliant with the crimson flush of the holly berries. This is a great "evergreen" country, about Bristol, the holly and many very large evergreen trees of the olive type growing with the same luxuriance as they do on those slopes of Lake Como, Italy, which have a southern aspect. Daffodils appear in the Bristol flower-sellers' stalls at midwinter, and the "greengrocers" sell baskets of flowering primrose roots, one cent a piece, which have been dug from the roadside banks near Earthcott, about the north side of Bristol. Last year these wild flowers flourished from November to May-renewing their blossoms continually through the whole of the winter.
Photographing these pretty flowers, in the open, requires a special stand for the camera. To make the above picture I lifted a single root that was
growing wild, in the open, in December, and placed it near a window, inclined towards the camera to save tilting the latter. About the plant were placed some sheets of white paper to reflect the light. This gave a white background, and, to correct this, an out-of-focus view of the trees in my garden was printed in afterwards.
Fully ripe wild strawberries, growing in the open by the fields, are common about Christmas time in North Somerset, near the Mendip Hills; and a photograph was made in December of a wild strawberry plant growing in the open, with a prolific crop of fruit, in Donegal County, North Ireland.
Near Cushendall, N. E., Ireland, the fuschia plant flowers wild, as in Gibraltar, and is found together with the holly in the field hedges. Photographing there in November, I came across full-sized tomatoes, but green, growing in the shingle of the seashore. The explanation was to be found in the presence of some domestic farm-yard ducks which were swimming on the waves in the salt sea, not far from the tomato plant.
England and Ireland are the lands of climatic surprises, and in certain localities you may photograph, in midwinter, flowers which you can only find in full springtime in Italy. The State Railways of Italy, in advertising the ruins of the temples of Paestum, or ancient colony of Poseidonia, appeal to the imagination of possible tourists by advertising the fact that "Ovid, Virgil, Propertius, Ausonius, have sung the beauty of its roses, which, as at Samos, bloomed twice in the year." Doubtless the very suggestion of winter roses strongly influences the English traveler, particularly as he generally knows very little about the countryside of the land in which he makes his money. But to see roses flourishing through most part of the winter, and near London, he has merely to open his eyes and see the cottages about Bristol and the mansions in Clifton clustered with white roses which bloom from the autumn months up until, generally, mid-February. Red standard roses bloom twice a year in England, in the open; and are not uncommon in December and January, while the most humble cottages display the crimson Japonica and abundantlyflowering yellow Jasmine on their walls and porches in midwinter.
England is above all the land of winter flowers, growing naturally in the open; and taking an unrestricted choice of Italy, France, and England, the latter is certainly the most favored country for photographing those wild flowers in midwinter which do not appear until well in the spring season in the two former countries.
BY REV. F. C. LAMBERT, M.A., F.R.P.S.
Chiefly concerning Darkroom and Workroom Homely Dodges.
FIND that one may use a very simple and homely dodge for years without it occurring to one to mention it to one's fellow-worker, because it is so simple that one tacitly assumes every one is sure to think of something of the kind. This was all brought home to me a few days ago when an old photographic friend spent some hours with me and made a special request that I should describe some of my old ideas, saying that many of them were new to him though his experience went back to the old wetplate days. If then I set down what "every fellow knows" I ask forgiveness on the plea that my intentions are good, if my hints are stale.
Darkroom Shutter. This consists of a light wooden framework, like the "stretcher" used by oil-painting artists for stretching their canvases. This is covered with stout brown paper, then with red baize so that the affair is sightly as seen from the outside. All round the edges is a two inch wide extra strip of baize, so as to make things more snug and light-tight and also enable the shutter to be put into place easily. On each side in the inside is a loop of webbing (like that used under the seat of a chair), which forms a convenient handle for the shutter. The shutter is held in place by a couple of iron turn buttons on the edge of the window frame work. This shutter measures about 6 x 4 feet and blocks out a French window, but yet is quite a light affair to handle despite its size. The baize is fixed on with black tacks all the way round the edges.
Light trap under the door. When a certain outside door is open I get a lot of light into my darkroom which comes in under the bottom of the darkroom door. To trap this I have nailed along the inside of the darkroom door a double fold of cloth. This is about six inches wide, and as it is fairly heavy and stout, its own weight keeps it hanging down. Its length is adjusted so that it just touches the floor, but not long enough to "jam" under the door.
Sink tray for sundries. (Fig. 1). Along and resting on the back of my sink I have a shallow box with perforated zinc bottom, like a much elongated kitchen sink soap box. This I find of great convenience to hold a lot of useful things e.g. (1) Bit of pumice stone for cleaning the sides of one's nails when pyro stained. This is also very useful for rubbing down the rough skin along the
edges of one's nails or finger ends. (2) Piece of "superfatted soap" for using after one's fingers have been dabbling about in water, as it seeems to prevent or at any rate mitigate that uncomfortable dryness of skin with which I suppose every photographer is acquainted. (3) A piece of loofah which I find exceedingly useful for scrubbing both the inside and outside of one's earthenware dishes. (4) Piece of monkey soap or sapolio which, used with the loofah, proves an excellent cleansing medium. (5) What I call my drumstick. This is a bit of firewood about six inches long. To one end of this is a bit of old coarse rag folded and tied so as to result in something like a miniature drumstick. Now and again one gets in the corner of a dish a patch of deposit which refuses to be displaced by sapolio. In that case a little strong hydrochloric acid is poured into the dish and the corner well rubbed with the "drumstick. (6) Sundry glass tube fitments hereinafter to be described.
Shelf drainers. At the back of and over the sink, so facing me as I work, are several shelves for bottles, measures, darkroom clock, etc. The bottom shelf is reserved for glass measures or graduates if you prefer a fancy word. Along this shelf I have cut at one inch intervals a series of nicks or shallow grooves transversely across the top of the shelf (Fig. 2). These grooves are deeper at the front edge of the shelf. Thus they act as drainers for any wetness which may be carried to the shelf by the foot of the measure.
Hints about glass graduates. One very old idea which I first used when I began photography in the old wet-plate collodion days (nearly 40 years ago), has been reinvented several times by writers to the photographic press. This is merely painting the glass foot of the graduate white with ordinary white paint. In later years I found white bath enamel (buyable in 2d tins at the "oil shops"), preferable as it keeps cleaner longer. But I have to give my dozen measures a trim up with new paint every two or three years. The object of course is to make these indispensable articles seen in the dim light of the darkroom.
Another useful tip is to make the various markings (minims, ounces, etc.), more easily seen by rubbing these parts with a finely pointed hard black lead pencil. For the same purpose I have used black varnish brushed freely over the lines, allowed to dry, and then the superfluous varnish removed by means of an old knife scraped quickly and lightly to and fro across the lines.
Cleaning graduates. The larger ones are easily cleaned inside by means of the "drumstick" and a little strong acid, but the smaller ones are not so easily managed. Yet I consider it a matter of real importance to keep them as clean as possible. I find the best thing is a bit of soft firewood cut down and roughly pointed so that it goes well into the bottom of the measure, and yet enables one to rub the inside at all points. A little hydrochloric acid and