More orchids, no high-keys

31 01 2010

I think that the title makes it pretty clear what this post will be about 🙂 I decided to give you break from the high-key photos, at least for couple days. Don’t be afraid though, I took images below also against white background and plan to make high-keys from them 😀

After showing orchid photos in previous 2 posts, here and here, I took one more session with our lovely snow-white Phalaenopsis orchid and looked for suitable compositions. I already mentioned earlier that I find photographing orchids difficult. With many blossom on a stem, often overlapping over each other, it’s hard to find a composition pleasing to viewer’s eye. On the other hand with a whole month of bloom a photographer has a lot of timefor trying.

This time the orchid has one separate blossom on one side of a stem. In a stronger winter light of last weekend it looked like this:

1/4 sec. @ 100 mm, f/22, ISO 100

On the other side of the stem are two blossoms, one with its petals over the other. I didn’t find appealing composition from front side but I found one from their rear side. As the colours on the back side were dull I played with BW conversion and similar adjustments and I found Lightroom preset called “Aged Photo” which resulted in the image I liked.

1/4 sec. @ 100 mm, f/22, ISO 100

After that I examined how the blossom looked backlit with strong sun light and really liked what I saw. I tried to capture it in following photo. Even though I like the colour version I wondered how it would look like with the same treatment as previous photo so here are both versions.

1/25 sec. @ 100 mm, f/16, ISO 100

After all I think that I can say that even though orchids seem to be a difficult subject for photography it is possible to take appealing photos of them. It only needs patience and time. Don’t you believe me? Try it yourself!

Let me know if you like some of the photos above and enjoy the winter light!


High-Key Orchid revised

27 01 2010

My previous two posts about high-key resulted in a fruitful discussion here and also on forum where I posted those photos, too. Some of you liked the images as they were presented, some of you suggested higher contrast. At first, I really liked the innocent snowy white look, it was exactly what I wanted to achieve. After a week and some discussions I decided to try the suggested higher contrast and I must admit that I like the result even more. Here it is:

1/10 sec. @ 100 mm, f/6.3, ISO 100

You can compare it to the previous post cropped to the same format here. It wasn’t easy for me to achieve this more contrasty look. I did several adjustments in Lightroom, then took it to Nik Color Efex Pro (just trial version), used High-Key filter there and tuned it up using unique U Point feature to preserve shades and contrast in petals and centre. Then I took it back to Lightroom and adjusted some sliders a bit more and you can see the result.

I’ve been playing with an idea of trying some overlay textures lately and this seemed to me as great opportunity. I browsed free textures on Flickr and find what I was looking for, a Papyrus texture by Pareeerica (you can find all her amazing textures here). I rally wonder what you will say on this:

Even though it is a texture of papyrus I wanted to give it a look of old painting on a wood and I think that it’s quite close. What do you think?

I’d like to thank to all of you who provided me suggestions on improvements of my high-keys. I still have a long way to go, that’s for sure, and you help me to not loose right direction.

Enjoy the moments of creativity!

High-Key Orchid, IOW and Flickr – updated

21 01 2010

If you liked my previous post I hope that you will like this one as well. As the name suggests I decided to continue in the High-Key (sometimes called also Hi-Key or Hi Key) series. Unfortunately, the Cyclamen flower died since last session, as many times in past 😦 Fortunately, we plant orchids at home, mostly of genus Phalaenopsis, and one of them, white variety what a coincidence :), started to bloom a week ago.

If you ever tried to take photos of orchids, you will probably agree with me that it’s not an easy task to get an appealing image of them. I found out that there are 2 ways which can lead to satisfiable results: 1.  take a close-up/macro photo of blossom centre or 2.  take a photo of whole branch/stem with blossoms. I tried both of these and converted them into images you can see below.

[Update:] The left image seemed to have too low contrast and looked like covered with a white/grey veil so I increased contrast a bit and darkened those central spots. The updated image is on the right. Which do you prefer?

1/4 sec. @ 100 mm, f/14, ISO 100

This is a classical composition for this kind of orchid. I like the dreamy snowy feeling of it. For the next image I shot a single blossom on a branch/stem and cloned out the rest of the stem which went to the left from the blossom and left the frame there.

1/10 sec. @ 100 mm, f/6.3, ISO 100

I think that this kind of images, as this 2nd one and the Cyclamen couple from previous post, might be suitable for additional adjustments, e.g. applying texture overlays or simple colour overlays. What do you think?

Now I wonder what kind of flower I will try to capture next because we don’t have any other white flowers at home. I think that I could try some blossom groups of this orchid. Let’s see.

One more information I’d like to share with you. This photo of a Cyclamen from previous post is current IOW on in Photo and Digital Art forum.

And finally, I created a Flickr account so from now on you can find my images also there. The link is also on the right side in section My other pages.

That’s all for today, let me know what you think about these images and enjoy the snow and freezy weather  where you have it!

Technical information: both images were taken with Canon EOS 450D camera and Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM macro lens upon a tripod in a dim winter light during cloudy day, indoors, with a glossy white sheet as a background.

High Key Cyclamen and IOW!

12 01 2010

When I was thinking what kind of flower could be a model for my next photos a Cyclamen came to my mind as a flower commonly grown during winter at homes. I wanted a white colour variety which has violet petal edges but this was not on stock in a flower shop so my wife bought a simple white. For a while I was racking my brain how I could photograph it and then I realized that I wanted to try high key technique for some time now and this might be a great subject for it.

If you are not familiar with High Key lighting/photography I can say that it is a form of lighting, or a photography captured in Hey Key lighting, which results in a scene/photo with the biggest amount of image data in bright tones with very low contrast and no or almost no dark areas. If you imagine a histogram of such a High Key photo, the most of data, if not all, will be in right half of it. If you are still interested to read more about it, you can find plenty of information using Google search, e.g. here or here.

When I decided for a High Key I already visualised the result how I would like to see it. I wanted to achieve a similar look as in wonderful images of  excellent artist Ron van Dongen, e.g. here (in colour) or here (in BW). I was not sure if I wanted a B&W result or if I leave some colour. I only knew that I want it to be original, not only a copy of Ron’s technique.

And here are results. The background was a white glossy sheet that helped to reflect some of the light (I realized this only after looking at results. I didn’t realize it before). A light was quite weak winter afternoon light in an overcast day.

0.8 sec. @ 100 mm, f/10, ISO 200 2 sec. @ 100 mm, f/13, ISO 200

Even though I am pretty happy with these I wondered how it would look with a hint of colour. You can see my attempt here.

I have probably slight preference for the colour version. It looks even softer and a bit warmer to me. Words like soft, delicate, immaculate… appears in my head 🙂 Which version do you prefer? And which of these photos? I can easily imagine having them both printed on a big format and hanging next to each other on a wall in my house 🙂

As I was really pleased by these results I would like to take more such photos in future. Actually, I think that this might be a good starting point for new series. I have already a name for it – Flora in High Key.

I would like to mention one more thing nowk. You probably noticed the IOW in the title of this post and those of you who know photography forums and magazines know that it means Image Of the Week. I was pleased when my photo Marble Pebble (originally posted here) was chosen as an image for current week on network (NSN) in Photo and Digital Art thread. You can find the winning post here.

I hope you like these High Keys and wish you to enjoy the winter in its full strength!

Technical information: both images were taken with Canon EOS 450D camera and Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM macro lens upon a tripod in a dim winter light during overcast day, indoors, with all post-processing done in Adobe LightRoom 2.5.

First year of photography

6 01 2010

It’s almost one year since the moment when I started to focus on flora and nature photography and in this post I would like to present 10 photographs from this time that I like the most and that somehow summarize my work.

I have always liked nature and had a camera with me on trips or vacations but I didn’t know what to focus on so I took casual photos. I at least knew something about composition but I still produced only common average photos. I decided to write a short story behind the photo and I want to thank Mark Graf who did this on his blog and it inspired me.

Lily Stamens – It all begun with this photo. One day a colleague of mine mentioned that he bought a close up filter for his camera and I convinced him to lend it to me. I mounted it to my Tamron 17-50 lens the very same day and tried several shots of these lilies that we had in vase at home. That’s how this photo have been done and it influenced my next work significantly. I bought own close up filter and started to shoot in the surroundings of our house. There is a plenty of opportunities as we live in a village and our house is surrounded mostly by meadows and fields.
Dreamy Landscape (Meadow Dreams Series) – I used the close up filter mostly with Canon 70-200mm lens and this is one of the results, personally one of my favourites ever. If you wonder what it is and how it was done, then you shall know that it’s a single blossom of Ranuncul (Globe-flower) and smaller Forget-me-nots lower shot through a tall grass trunks.

Before this photo was taken I made a personal discovery that had probably the biggest influence on my later work and it was a discovery of art by exceptional artist, Michael Brown. I spent hours and hours reading through his blog posts, soaking up an inspiration and I knew that this is the kind of photography I want to make. You can find this and other photos from this series in 2 posts, here and here.

A Border (Floral Curves Series) – Another attempt for abstract floral photo. On this Zantedeschia lily I was attracted by its vivid violet blossom and dark green colour of leaves with wax texture. It had nicely curved leaves with bright, almost white, spots and I planned to play much more with it. Unfortunately, it dried quite quickly and for unknown reason. You can find more Zantedeschia images in this post.
A Day lily / Hemerocallis (Floral Curves Series) – Day lilies are excellent subject for abstract floral photography. There are many different colour varieties, they have quite big blossoms allowing a photographer to “delve” into it and they have thick petals full of liquid which makes petals glow when backlit. You can find more such images in this post.

This shot as well as all others were taken with a Canon 100mm macro lens which I bought because a zoom lens + close up filter didn’t provide the quality I was looking for.

Gymnocalycium cactus – When summer came and cacti of my wife started to bloom I thought that it might be great subject for photography. Moreover cacti photos are not seen very often. You can see more photos of this cactus here.
Unknown cactus – Another beautiful blossom with amazingly vivid colours. Unfortunately, the day when I took this photo was not hot enough, only around 25°C, and the stamens were not “standing” but leaning toward the stigma. More photos of this cactus are here.
Yellow rose – I tried to capture a beauty of roses several times but never ended with at least average image. This time I was really happy with the result 🙂 It was previously published with one more photo in this post.
Dragon Wing (Floral Curves Series) – This may be hard to distinguish but it is a rim of leaf from peach tree. I was attracted by the small “claws” on the edge and by the colours. It was originally posted here.
Dried Oak Leaves – I was looking for shooting autumn leaves for long time and this is one of results. I like Oak Leaves for their curvy shape and strong leaf veins. You can find more here.
Red Leaves in Japanese Style #2 – A bush with these very thin branches and tiny spear-shaped leaves was only couple of meters from the oak tree that you can see in previous image. It was even captured in the same day. The bush had wonderfully coloured leaves with hues of red and orange and they were nicely lit by autumn sun light. It was originally posted here and you can find another version of this photo here.

As I look at the selection I think that it nicely represents my style and direction. I mostly take photos of flowers, especially blossoms and then leaves but abstracts are still my biggest love, so to say.

So this is my year of photography, I’m really looking forward to creating such a selection for another year and analysing it – did it change and how, is there any progress?

Have a great photographic year and have your eyes open wherever you go, inspiration is everywhere!


2 01 2010

One day I reallized that I could replace photos in our bathroom. It’s a trinity of square photos with common seashore theme. I immediately realized that I could make photos of small pebbles that we brought from our vacations in Croatia some years ago. They are quite small, only around 2cm in diameter and I think that they are pieces of marble. Some of them have thin veins of pale colours.

This was my very first attempt at still life photography, if it falls into this category, and it was really interesting. I tried different f-stops, different directions to the sun and different backgrounds.  After a heavy picking I ended up with series of photos with white and black background. I plan to use those with white background for prints to the bathroom while those with black looks good for presentation.

I like how our brain works. When we see something the brain tries to identify it either by telling us what exactly it is or what it looks like. The following pebble looks like a head with a lump to me. Or it look like a surface of some space orb taken from certain distance?

1 sec. @ 100mm, f/14, ISO 100

Except simply coloured backgrounds I used also a wooden plate with very nice pattern and colours that you can see in following image.

5 sec. @ 100 mm, f/18, ISO 100

I like a simplicity of some subjects such as in this case. I think that I’ll look for another subjects in our house that will be suitable for this kind of photography.

It’s good to expand your scope of things you usually shoot by trying something new. Try it and I hope that you’ll enjoy it as I did.

Enjoy these first days of new year!

Technical information: both images were taken with Canon EOS 450D camera and Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM macro lens upon a tripod under natural conditions – poor afternoon winter light during overcast day.