Orchid Painting

15 03 2010

No, I am not a painter. I did several fantasy doodles in my teen years but that’s all. Yet what you can see below is a painting of our blooming orchid. Well, it’s not a painting really, it’s a photo which I wanted to convert to something that would look like as much as a real oil painting as possible. Was I successful? Click on the photo to enlarge it and judge for yourself.

~ Phalaenopsis Twins ~
1/3 and 1/2 sec. @ 100 mm, f/11, ISO 100, 2 stacked images

Now I’d like to share some information about why and how it was done. If you are interested, read on ūüôā

I took this photo of two orchid blossoms a month ago and made only basic processing – stacked 2 images, which I had to take to have both blossoms sharp, plus a series of common adjustments (saturation, contrast, retouching, cloning the unwanted part of stem out etc.) The problem was that the photo was taken against a black background and it was a bit, well, boring. You can see the enhanced original photo on the right side. I put the image aside as I didin’t exactly know how to make it more interesting. I was thinking about using some texture overlay but was not really striving for it. I posted some other photos, for example these from the same session, and I came back to this photo only couple days ago. I decided to browse flickr pages for some free textures and stuck on amazing painted textures by clive sax. Even before I saw them I was playing with a thought of converting this photo into a painting and when I saw clive’s outstanding golden texture I knew that I want to match the texture with this photo and produce something that will look as close to the real painting as possible.

After an hour of searching the net for some useful tutorial on converting photos into paintings and another appx. 6 hours of playing with filters and blending modes in photoshop I got it.

To sum the process up, I did following steps:

  1. complete post-processing of the original photo (contrast, levels, saturation, sharpness, cloning etc.) in Lightroom 2.5 and Photoshop CS 4 (PS),
  2. applying the Golden Texture 2 by clive sax (thanks Clive!) as a new layer over the photo in PS,
  3. carefully erasing the texture to uncover the photo behind it,
  4. aplying gaussian blur on the background layer to take DOF into play,
  5. flattening the image so the next processing will affect both the photo and the background, giving it a uniform look,
  6. following excellent tutorial on photoshopessentials.com (to make it short it consists of adding saturation, applying Glass filter [Filter/Distort/Glass], Paint Daubs filter [Filter/Artistic/Paint Daubs], Angled strokes filter [Filter/Brush Strokes/Angled Strokes], Texturizer filter [Filter/Texture/Texturzer] and applying emboss overlay to make the brush strokes more plastic). This was the most difficult part as I had to find out the set up of filters which will look best.

And that’s it. One important thing is that a photo processed this way can’t be resized much with awaiting that it will still look great. The best way is to resize the original photo before the step 6 and then do the step 6 on the resized image. You will very probably need to tweak the settings of filters again to match it resized image. You can see comparison of 100% cropped original photo after step 5 and after step 6 on the left side. Pretty impressive, isn’t it?

I hope you liked this post and image.

Enjoy the early spring!

Technical information: the photo was taken with Canon EOS 450D camera and Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM macro lens upon tripod, indoors, under natural light.


One scene, many possibilities

8 03 2010

During my one year experience of photographing flowers I have found out that it is quite easy to take more photos of one scene with different atmosphere, mood and overall feel. This is truth at least for studio shooting. Sometimes it is possible even with a single subject as on following photos.

~ Flamenco Gerbera ~
0.6 sec. @ 100mm, f/20, ISO 100

1.3 sec. @ 100 mm, f/20, ISO 100

Even from a quick glance you can see that the overall feel of each photo is radically different and you can also see that it is the same photo. Well, not exactly Рin the first photo I used black background while in the second one I opted for white background. But beside this it is the same photo. The lighting was the same in both cases Рthe natural sunshine of a medium intensity sometimes after midday. I was afraid that the reds will be overexposed in those areas where the rays of light fell on the petals but I was happy  when it proved to be a negative presumption after looking at histogram for red colour.

These  two photos had had completely different feel even before discolouration of the second one. Such an affect only by changing background. Now realize that you can change also lighting, composition, depth of field, focal length, shutter speed etc. There is so much possibilities.

When I have a shooting session with a flower I usually try to find all possibilities of what might end up as a good shot. Sometimes I visualize the photo and try to achieve it. Sometimes I achieve it sometimes I don’t. Anyway, I end up with photos which may be great even though I didn’t visualize them and haven’t thought about them before shooting.

What I’m trying to say by all this is that from my experience I recommend to not focus only on visualizing the photo, if you visualize it in advance at all, but try to use the scene as much as possible. Use your creativity and I am sure that you will end up with some very interesting and maybe even surprising images.

Enjoy the spring and do not forget to play with a scene!

Flame Flower – abstract

5 03 2010

It has been a while since my last post and even though it may seem that I didn’t take any photos lately, I did. I did but I couldn’t force myself to process them and share them with you. I took couple of photos of tulip and hyacinths but perhaps nothing spectacular.

A week ago my wife got an interesting potted flower to her birthday, Bromelia Vriesea, which looks like this.¬† This oddly looking flower has habitat in rain forests of South America and lives on trunk of forest trees. When it is to bloom a thick stem raise from its centre. The top part of the stem broadens to a base for blossoms. This part has vivid red and yellow colours and it can bear tens of tiny blossoms. This part has a tree-like structure and every blossom-base part overlaps the upper one a bit. This blossoms structure looks like flames to me so I call it a “Flame Flower”.

I was captivated by the repetitive shapes and colours and I thought it might be a good subject for some abstract photography. I took the flower to the window which caused that the strong midday sun shone through the blossoms part, making the colours even more vivid. I knew I wanted to go really close but first I took some shots from bigger distance, let say around 30 cm.

~ Natural Mirroring ~
1/8 sec. @ 100 mm, f/10, ISO 100

Then I got even closer, intrigued by the range of colours going from deep red near centre of the stem, changing to bright red some 1-2 cm from the verge and then rapidly changing into bright yellow on the verge of the blossom-base part. As I was really close now, I had to take 3 photos and stack them to get sufficient sharpness and details.

~ Fish Scales ~
1/6 sec. @ 100 mm, f/16, ISO 100, 3 stacked images

This really looks like flames but it also reminds me a petrified fish. I like the square format above but I tried also to cut the darkest part off and the result is following.

This was a refreshing session after couple of months of shooting orchids and other potted flowers. I realized that I like this kind of abstract images much more.

Hope you like it.
Enjoy the slowly coming Spring!

Technical information: all photos were taken using Canon EOS 450D camera and Canon EF 100mm f/2,8 USM macro lens upon a Manfrotto tripod in natural conditions.