Flower Photography - Part II (The Revenge)
The Flowers and the Shadows

The Flowers and the Shadows

I am not a fan of flowers or flower photography.  

Sure, I can see that flowers are aesthetically pleasing to the human eye. They have shapely designs, come in a huge array of colours, are different sizes and most smell very nice.  

I have seen many photographs of flowers.  On Flickr there are some excellent flower shots with the background blown out, making some terrific bokeh.  There are also stunning macro shots, that allow the viewer to to really see deep within the petals, or the stigma, revealing stunning texture, shape and colour.  There are many photos where the texture of the flower fills the frame of the photograph.  If you are looking for some beautiful coloured, framed additions to your bare walls, once printed, I believe flower photographs would look great.

The addition of dew, water droplets, on the flowers, I think, does allow for placing that flower in a wider context in the mind, where thoughts of Spring, morning dew or ‘rainy woods’ or ‘parks’, provides a story for the photograph, which I enjoy.

But for me, flowers are not particularly appealing.  I’m not captivated by their beauty, like I am when I see a stunning Landscape photo, or a moody city scene.

So here I was, working on the second image in my flower project, and I wanted to take an ordinary macro shot, with my 50mm macro lens, where I would focus on the pink flower in the bouquet.

I placed a black foam board behind, switched on the strobe with the Honeycomb Grid Spot attached and focussed the lens on the pink flower. Using EOS Utility, I looked at the Live View picture on the screen…

It looked boring.  I’ve seen this 1000 times before and I wanted to do something different.

So I started to experiment.

I moved the tripod back, re-adjusted the lighting, focussed on the whole bouquet that is surrounded by darkness and I took a shot. It was a low key photograph of some flowers on a black background. It looked okay.  Some people would like it.  But as much as I like dark, low key photography, it wasn’t wowing me.  If I was selling flowers and wanted a stock photo for my online advertisements, I think I’d use it, but I’m not.  I’m a photographer and I want to create pictures that inspire, entice and impress, and this is for my Portfolio.

I experimented some more. I did something completely improvised. I picked up a small white board and I placed it behind the flower bouquet on the right side, with the Grid Spot shining in from the left.  

Something interesting cropped up...

I saw a shadow of the flowers on the white foamcore.  I quickly grabbed another white board and place it behind on the left side, but with no light shining from the right, there were no shadows on this board.  I didn’t think it was going to work.

However I did have some black foamcore framing smaller white board strangeness, going on.

I then got a larger piece of white foamcore and swapped the black background for a white background and I adjusted the lighting so that the shadows are illuminated across the board. I looked at the Live View and I really liked what I was seeing.  

This was flower photography with a difference.  There were lots of interesting distorted shadows of the flowers created by the bouquet and the frontal 18cm 20 degree Honeycomb Grid.  I took a shot, and I then made some adjustments in Lightroom and Photoshop where I added Sharpness and boosted the contrast.

Experimenting and looking outside the box, adjusting the scene as I went along, really paid off for me with this shot.  As much as they look beautiful, I wasn’t happy with the standard macro flower photography that I see regularly.

Reflecting on your set-ups as you work and thinking about different props and backgrounds that could be used (as well as what you originally intended), I believe, can add value too and further enhances the creative process.