Category Archives: Photo Post

LILY

Lily
This image of a lily was made from 27 individual photographs using the focus-stacking technique. Meticulous attention to lighting creates delicately nuanced shading on the petals. Careful post-processing in PhotoShop corrects for artifacts inherent in the focus-stacking process. I originally created this image to print at 24″ x 78″ and later resized it for online presentation here. Feel free to use this photo on your personal devices for personal, private, non business uses. If you wish to share this photo or others I may post please do so only by using any Share buttons that may be available on the page or by providing the page URL to those with whom you wish to share. Thank you.

Lilies are part of the genus Lilium, known as “true lilies”. Other flowers use the word lily in their common name that are not part of this genus such as water lilies, calla lilies, daylilies.

Lilies have been associated with purity and devotion, but this varies with the kind of lily, its color, and culture. Some color associations include:
• White: purity and virtue.
• Pink: prosperity and abundance.
• Red: passion.
• Orange: confidence, pride, and wealth.
• Yellow: thankfulness

Feel free to use this photo on your personal devices for personal, private, non business uses. If you wish to share this photo or others I may post please do so only by using any Share buttons that may be available on the page or by providing the page URL to those with whom you wish to share. Thank you.

This image was made from 27 separate photographs combined into one using the focus-stacking technique, but before that processing began careful attention was paid to setting up the scene. The most important aspect of this shot is probably the control of lighting. Notice the shading on the petals, that there is a great deal of light and shadow, but that the shadowing is very soft and subtle. Had the shadows been very dark and harsh I think the delicacy of the flower would have been lost.

Although I used professional studio flash equipment it would not be difficult to obtain similar if not identical results with either natural light or rather ordinary household lighting and a piece or two of white reflective material such as foamcore or ordinary white paper taped to cardboard to create stiffness.

If you want to try your hand at lighting a flower or some other object roughly the same size, place it on a tabletop next to a window where it gets bright or direct sun with the sun striking the flower from the side so that it rakes across the petals creating areas of light and shadow. You’ll see strong shadows if it is direct sunlight or soft shadows if the light is indirect.

Rotate the flower one way then the other and observe the light and shadow on it until you find an orientation that seems interesting. Next, place your reflector card near the flower on the side of the flower opposite from the window in order to reflect some light back onto the flower in order to fill in the shadows somewhat. Now, move the card in an arc from the side toward the front of the flower rotating and tilting the card in order to observe the effects that has on the lighting on the flower. The object is to control light and shadow so as to create what you regard as a pleasing effect. Nobody can decide this for you and your own opinion will change over time as your photographic skills evolve.

In this example the sunlight would be considered the “main light” and the light bouncing off the reflector card the “fill light”. All this is basic light control and is essentially what I do in the studio.

COLUMBINE

Columbine
I’ve seen columbines in white, blue, and pink. Sometimes a flower is interesting from the side, or in this case the back, so that’s one of the ways I shot it. Feel free to use this photo on your personal devices for personal, private, non business uses. If you wish to share this photo or others I may post please do so only by using any Share buttons that may be available on the page or by providing the page URL to those with whom you wish to share. Thank you.

I never cease to be amazed by the seemingly infinite variety and beauty of the natural world: landscapes, animals, plants… I am made forlorn by those who seem not to appreciate it or to provide for it the care it both requires and deserves. This is our one and only home!

FUCHSIA

Fuchsia
What can you say about a fuchsia except “wow, what colors!”? This image was made from a stack of 10. Feel free to use this photo on your personal devices for personal, private, non business uses. If you wish to share this photo or others I may post please do so only by using any Share buttons that may be available on the page or by providing the page URL to those with whom you wish to share. Thank you.

This image of a fuchsia was made from a stack of 10 photos combined using Helicon Focus software. Lighting was provided by studio flash; lens: Micro-NIKKOR 105mm ƒ2.8 at ƒ8; shutter speed 1/125th; ISO 100; post processing in PhotoShop.


This blog takes an enormous amount of time and energy to build and maintain . If you have found something useful or entertaining please use this Amazon.com link (or those I provide within my articles) when you shop at Amazon. Doing so will cost you no more and as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Your support in the form of using my Amazon.com link or making a PayPal Donation will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

If you would like to be notified by email when I make new posts to the blog look for the email text entry field and the FOLLOW RUSS button on the left, or with some mobile devices at the page bottom.


Donate Button

SCILLA PERUVIANA & HAND-HOLDING CAMERAS

Scilla Peruviana
This photo is a straight forward shot of a scilla peruviana growing in a neighbor’s garden, shot at ƒ22, 1/160th of a second, ISO 640. Feel free to use this photo on your personal devices for personal, private, non business uses. If you wish to share this photo or others I may post please do so only by using any Share buttons that may be available on the page or by providing the page URL to those with whom you wish to share. Thank you.

Following yesterday’s post, a focus-stacked, studio shot of a scilla peruviana, I thought I would post this photo of another scilla peruviana to show another view of an opening flower and to use it in conjunction with a discussion about hand-holding cameras.

Unlike yesterday’s focus-stacked, studio image, this photo was created with one exposure, outdoors, under natural light. It shows the lovely little flowerettes opening around the perimeter of the blossom as well as many of the buds yet to open. Exposure data for this shot is as follows: lens: 105mm Micro-NIKKOR, aperture ƒ22, shutter speed 1/160th of a second, ISO 640.

I chose ƒ22 because I wanted enough depth of field to keep most of the flower in focus–smaller apertures, those with higher ƒ numbers, can make more of the image appear in focus. Depth of field is rightfully a subject beyond the scope of this post, however, as it requires an in depth discussion (play on words intended 🙂

I chose 1/160th of a second for the shutter speed because of a certain photographic rule of thumb which is simple but very useful for assuring sharp photos when hand-holding cameras (not using a tripods or other camera bracing). You see, if you do everything else right but screw this one thing up you’ll have a photo that is suitable only for the trash. The culprit about which I am writing is camera shake. For sharp photos it is imperative that the camera remain still enough, long enough, to capture a sharp image.

For long exposures cameras must be anchored and remain motionless. For shorter exposures some camera shake may be acceptable because the shutter speed will arrest the shake and freeze the motion. What do I mean by long or short? That’s relative. Relative to what? To the focal length of the lens.

So here is a simple rule for preventing camera shake from blurring your photos when hand-holding: Use the focal length of the lens or lens zoom setting as the as the denominator in a fraction where 1 is the numerator. For example, if you are shooting with a 100mm lens or a zoom lens set at 100mm, then 1/100th of a second would be the longest shutter speed you can safely use while hand holding. If you are using a 150mm lens or zoom setting then 1/150th of a second would be the longest shutter speed setting. Easy-peasy, but very useful.

I didn’t want to take any chances that camera shake would ruin this photo so I set the shutter speed at 1/160th of a second while using my 105mm lens. I made the shutter speed quite a bit shorter than the “allowable” 1/105th of a second. I chose the aperture of ƒ22 because I wanted the depth of field, the shutter speed because I wanted to eliminate camera shake, and the ISO of 640 was set automatically by the camera because it was required by the other two parameters.

COSMOS

Cosmos
This image is a composite of two images of different flowers. Each blossom itself was made from multiple images using the focus-stacking technique, then they were combined in PhotoShop. Click or tap to enlarge. Feel free to use this photo on your personal devices for personal, private, non business uses. If you wish to share this photo or others I may post please do so only by using any Share buttons that may be available on the page or by providing the page URL to those with whom you wish to share. Thank you.

Here we have a couple cosmos. I regard them as such simple flowers compared to something as complicated as the passion flower I posted recently. Yet, there is a graceful beauty to these simple flowers not found in the passion flower. In order to achieve their beauty these seem to rely upon delicate pleats, shapes and subtle shadings whereas the passion flower, to me, is largely about the shock value of it’s bright colors and strange and myriad shapes.

I consider this photo a success and that there are a number of things that contribute to this success. One of these, and perhaps the most critically important, is the lighting. So, what exactly is it about the lighting that is so vital to the success of this photo? Notice that the predominant light is coming from the top left. You can tell because of the shadows being cast toward the lower right. Now, look carefully at the petal of the white flower in the 2 o’clock position and notice its pleats are perpendicular to the direction of the light resulting in an interplay of light and shadow where the petal is pleated. THIS is what makes ALL the difference. Without this interplay of light and show the petals would have no sense of depth, no interest, and the photo would be visually boring, and have less visual interest.

By way of comparison, if you look at the petal in the 4 o’clock position of the white flower you’ll notice that its pleats are oriented parallel to the light and as a result the pleats cast no shadows. There’s no interplay between light and shadow, no chiaroscuro to use a fancy term. The petal appears almost flat. It has less visual interest. When lighting creates shadows it brings out relief and texture creating visual interest.

Now, here is where I get to climb back up on my soap box and have some fun. I’m known for preaching that great photos are made with photographic knowledge and not fancy cameras. In my recent post of globe tulips I wrote “…rule of thirds, dynamic composition, contrasting foreground and background…” are not things you can dial in on your camera settings. Guess what? Neither is the understanding and good use of lighting. It’s photographic knowledge that makes great pictures, not cameras. Invest in new knowledge instead of a new camera. OK… off my soap box now… LOL.

This image is a composite of two separate images each of which is a focus-stacked composite of a number of photos. All told, 27 photographs were combined to make this image.

There’s a tipoff to the fact that this is a composite of two images. Can you tell what it is?

SCILLA PERUVIANA

Scilla Peruviana
Twenty-nine separate photographs of this scilla peruviana blossom were used in the creation of this final image using the focus-stacking technique. Tap or click to enlarge. Feel free to use this photo on your personal devices for personal, private, non business uses. If you wish to share this photo or others I may post please do so only by using any Share buttons that may be available on the page or by providing the page URL to those with whom you wish to share. Thank you.

I came across this scilla peruviana walking through my bay area neighborhood. When fully open the blossom makes a hemisphere, like a ball cut in half. The blossom is comprised of many small flowers arranged into that shape.

Here, you can see some of the buds have opened, each with its own group of yellow, pollen covered anthers. Over on the right, at about 3 o’clock, you can see a newly opened bud where the anthers have not yet formed any pollen which, if I recall correctly, forms very quickly after the buds open, within a matter of hours. The buds open first around the edges of the flower and work their way toward the center. Those green spikes you see poking up recede into the flower and disappear as it opens. I don’t know why or what their function might be.

Judging by the name, scilla peruviana, you might think the flower is native to Peru. It is not. It does not grow there. It is native to Spain, from which a ship named the Peru sailed to England carrying the bulbs from which the plant grows. So, the flower takes its name, in part, from that ship. That’s the story I heard, anyway.

This image–another one of my very favorites–was created from 29 separate photos using the focus-stacking technique.

I love the color scheme of this flower with the yellow set against the purple and the shading on the petals of the unopened buds.


This blog takes an enormous amount of time and energy to build and maintain . If you have found something useful or entertaining please use this Amazon.com link (or those I provide within my articles) when you shop at Amazon. Doing so will cost you no more and as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Your support in the form of using my Amazon.com link or making a PayPal Donation will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

If you would like to be notified by email when I make new posts to the blog look for the email text entry field and the FOLLOW RUSS button on the left, or with some mobile devices at the page bottom.


Donate Button

GLOBE TULIP & THE RULE OF THIRDS

Globe Tulips, Fairy Lanterns
Photographed outdoors at Mount Diablo in California, these flowers are known as Globe Tulips or Fairy Lanterns. This variety is said to grow only at Mount Diablo. Composition, foreground/background contrast and bright color make this an eye catching image. Feel free to use this photo on your personal devices for personal, private, non business uses. If you wish to share this photo or others I may post please do so only by using any Share buttons that may be available on the page or by providing the page URL to those with whom you wish to share. Thank you.

This photograph of globe tulips, A.K.A. fairy lanterns, was taken outdoors with natural light at Mount Diablo State Park in California. I’ve heard it said this variety of globe tulip grows only there. I’m uncertain if that is fact. Although no fancy digital editing techniques such as HDR (high dynamic range) or focus-stacking were used in the making of this photo it doesn’t mean that the shot is devoid of technique.

If I may be so bold as to presume I have something to share about photography with others less knowledgeable, in regard to this photo it would be as follows:

In art there is a principle known as the Rule of Thirds. It says something like this: divide the image area into thirds both horizontally and vertically and place the subject areas of greatest interest at the intersection(s) of the dividing lines. (See the accompanying photo, below.) Following this rule will do much to improve the photography of people that habitually place the subject dead center in the frame.

In the globe tulip photo each flower is roughly located at one of the power points where lines intersect. Additionally, they are arranged on a diagonal plane which is more dynamic than either a horizontal or vertical plane which are more static.

This photo also makes use of a contrasting foreground and background. I was fortunate enough to come across these flowers lit by the bright sun and positioned just in front of an area in deep shadow. The result is that the flowers stand out against a nearly back background, similar to the way I shoot flowers in the studio.

The human eye is drawn to contrasting areas where light and dark meet. When you look at photos notice how your eye is sometimes distracted from the main subject by something very bright or very dark placed elsewhere in the frame. Generally, that is something to be avoided, and if it cannot be avoided it may be retouched in post processing. Here, there is little to distract from the visual interest of the flowers and the strong contrast between the bright yellow and nearly black background catches the viewer’s attention.

The rule of thirds, dynamic composition, contrasting foreground and background–these are all techniques used by artists and photographers alike. Note that, apropos my comments about cameras and photography in my post of gerbera daisies, that none of these things are settings you can dial in on a camera and that making good use of them requires photographic knowledge.

Rule of Thirds
This photograph makes use of established principles of art including the rule of thirds. See the article text for more.

Rhododendrons

 

Black rectangles on this photograph show areas that I cropped out and made into individual photos. This is a good technique to be aware of. Sometimes you can find multiple compositions with which to work inside of one photo.

Yesterday, as I was posting the second of two rhododendron images that I posted on consecutive days, I posed a riddle as to what they had in common. Today the answer is revealed: both flowers were captured in the same photograph and cropped out to be worked with as individual images. Black rectangles in the photo above are approximations of the crops I used. Except for reducing the original photo’s size so it would make for a workable download  this is the original, unedited photo.

If you haven’t ever experimented with this technique it’s worth a go. You may find two, three, or more images hiding within one photograph. It’s a useful technique that many people never think about, but always worth keeping in mind as you work with photographs.

Rhododendron

Rhododendron, altered
Finding, or making something of visual interest is a primary goal of my visual artwork. Here I have cropped and altered a photograph of a rhododendron blossom in an attempt to achieve such interest. Whether or not I have is entirely up to the viewer. Feel free to use this photo on your personal devices for personal, private, non business uses. If you wish to share this photo or others I may post please do so only by using any Share buttons that may be available on the page or by providing the page URL to those with whom you wish to share. Thank you.

This image began as a photograph of a rhododendron. Then, using PhotoShop I cropped the photo and altered its appearance applying visual effects that altered aspects of its appearance including color. Some may still recognize it as a flower, others many not. Either way I’m good. My desire was to make something of visual interest–a design, an abstract, whatever you want to call it, I don’t care. If you find it somehow interesting or pleasing then I am happy. If not, I am not insulted.

Besides being from the same rhododendron bush as the blossom in the image I posted yesterday, there is something else the two images have in common, not including the post production PhotoShop work, that is. Can you guess what that is? Hint: it’s a technique.

Rhododendron

Rhododendron, altered
This creation began as a photograph of a rhododendron. While it is clearly still recognizable as a flower, here I have used PhotoShop effects to make it appear more like a watercolor painting. Feel free to use this photo on your personal devices for personal, private, non business uses. If you wish to share this photo or others I may post please do so only by using any Share buttons that may be available on the page or by providing the page URL to those with whom you wish to share. Thank you.

Recently I wrote that I didn’t know when my interest in flowers as a photographer began. Now, I remember!

Years ago I worked out at a gym where a rhododendron outside was visible through the window when I was using a certain elliptical trainer. I had been a member at this gym a number of years and each spring I enjoyed seeing the pink blossoms on the bush through that window as I worked out. Finally, one year, I slapped myself in the forehead and said to myself “Why am I not photographing these beautiful blossoms that for so many years in the spring have brought me so much joy?”

So, one day not long after that realization I brought my camera to the gym and shot some pics. At that time in my evolution as a photographer I was interested in making photographs resemble artwork and was experimenting with the tools available within PhotoShop. I found I was able to mimic a watercolor painting and arrived at this result.

This image remains one of my favorites to this day and a 16″ x 20″ digital original that I printed on artist’s canvas hangs on my wall.

Stay tuned because I will have some interesting follow-ups to this post.