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!




11 responses

3 02 2010
Anita Bower

Great that you are continuing to photograph your gorgeous Orchids! I prefer the softer light of the images from prior posts over the harshser shadows here.
The angle of the flower in the bottom two images is just lovely! Graceful and pleasing to the eye. I like the amount of negative space. I prefer the “aged Photo” look. I think it is because it minimizes the darkness at the center of the flower.

4 02 2010
Tomas Turecek

Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Anita. I also prefer more even lighting but I wanted to try this harsh light. I liked the contra light. Btw, our other orchid started to bloom so perhaps I’ll take a session with it next weekend 🙂

4 02 2010
Barbara K

Hi, Tomas. I prefer the ones in the previous post. I, for one, feel flowers should not be subject to harsh light/shadows and I try to keep the light fairly even. I agree with Anita in that the bottom 2 are nicely presented. One thing you might try is to purchase a piece of white rip-stop nylon at a fabric store and hold it between the flower and your light source. It will diffuse the light some and cut down on your shadows. (Unless you have a disk diffuser, of course) Keep shooting those orchids – a great subject!

4 02 2010
Tomas Turecek

Hi Barbara and thank you for your honest comment, that’s what I appreciate the most! I realize that even light is much better for delicate and fragile subjects such as flowers but in this case I wanted to give a harsh light a try. An experiment, you could say 🙂 Thanks also for the tip on diffuser, actually I’m seriously considering buying one. There are multi packages with diffuser and a set of 4 reflectors (white, black, silver and gold) which can be handy.

I see that photos in this post are not very pleasing to viewers if I consider number of visits and number of comments. Now I don’t know if viewers are already bored by the amount of flower bw photos or it’s just a matter of the orchid in harsh light not being appealing.

4 02 2010
Barbara K

Things do seem a bit quieter the last couple of weeks. I know I’ve been busy lately and travel here and there. You keep posting regardless of the number of posts! Yes I have the 4 in 1 diffuser/reflector – one a small 12″ version and a larger 22″ size. I often like to reflect some light in to fill in shadows.

4 02 2010

Love your efforts to catch these flowers in all their glory. I prefer the bottom two, and the object of my affection is the one on the left with more color showing in the center, to very great effect.

4 02 2010
Tomas Turecek

Thank you, Dulcie, for you kind words!

4 02 2010

And it also is well known that I have a strong preference for black backgrounds… must go back to the velvet Elvis days! 😉 Anyway, I do prefer the white on black much more than the white on white but I also agree with Anita and Barbara that the lighting looks harsh and the shadows too pronounced. You might want to play with multiple light sources, diffusers and reflectors to a softer, broader light that will bring a glow to the entire flower.

I will just say that when I work with flowers, particularly indoors this time of year, I have all the toys at the ready – two flashes, various light sources, diffuser, reflector, softbox, you name it.

4 02 2010
Tomas Turecek

😀 Now your strong preference for black backgrounds is known also to me 🙂 All that stuff – flashes, diffusers, reflectors… you’re too professional comparing to me. I started with flower photography only 1 year ago and with indoor photography around last XMas so I’m slowly in progress. First I needs to learn to take photos with tripod and play with light now it’s time to move on and try diffuser and reflectors. I’m not familiar with flashes and additional lights so far so I always try to use natural light as much as possible. A long way lies before me and the continuous progress is the key, I think.

14 02 2010
Bernie Kasper

I have to agree on the harsh light Tomas, I prefer soft light on my wildflower shots, I agree with your assessment on photographing Orchids they are really hard to shoot and to this day to I have never captured an image of one I liked.

15 02 2010
Tomas Turecek

Ok, ok, I will avoid harsh light when shooting flowers next time 😀 Now seriously, this was rather an experiment because sometimes the contra light makes nice shapes, e.g. in areas where petals overlaps, so I tried to capture it. Now I know that it’s not appealing and diffused light is much better. Thanks, Bernie!

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