Thursday, November 25, 2010


Do you like flowers? I like flowers, or more accurately, I like imaginative photos of flowers. I wanted to make such pictures, so today I dragged poor Polly all over town while I searched for the "perfect" flower. Incidentally, I had bought one the day before that I was very pleased with. I brought it home and stuck it in a vase with a bunch of old wilted flowers on our dining room table.  I had to get to work and didn't want to take the time to put them in a new vase.  Sadly, when I came home for work, my new little flower was gone. It wasn't noticed amongst the old ones and it got "cleaned up". (This might be a powerful allegory about human relationships, but the caffeine is wearing off and I'm not willing to explore this possibility right now.) 

You wouldn't believe how upset I got over this.  It was way, way out of proportion to the incident. Not because of the $6.00 I had spent, but because I had scoured all the local floral shops and I was sure that there wasn't another oriental lily in the entire town of Missoula that would be adequate for my creative endeavors.

Orchid, as shot in color. This is pretty

Neutral Black and White conversion. No toning.

So today the two of us went looking for a new lily, and as suspected, no luck. Polly was very patient with me, for a while, but it isn't much fun watching me shop for the "just right" floral specimen. My brother-in-law Renn probably knows what that is like. He had to go with me once while I looked for a couch. I needed a couch with just the right English rolled arms and it was not easy to find. I don't think he enjoyed it. 

As you probably suspect, we didn't find a lily. As a consolation prize, we picked out a lovely orchid. I've always liked the idea of growing orchids, but I've heard they are a lot like cats. You really can't coax them to do what you want. However, if you keep them fed and give them a nice warm window sill where they can rest, they might grow nice and fat. 
Tobacco toning to give a sepia look. Lower contrast and sharpness to match antique look.

I have in my mind a project..... (note: for those of you who know me, this is not a surprise. My mind is like an F5 tornado. There is so much stuff in there and it is just whizzing around at mach speeds. Sometimes when something shoots by [the shiny button], I grab it and hold on and actually do something. Sometimes I grab it, but it is quickly knocked out by some other spinning debris. We will have to see where this particular project ends up.)

Added a blue split tone to give the look of selenium developer. 

What I'd like to do is produce a series of photos that match. Wait, not match, hmmmm, I will have to think about the right word to use But, obviously the subject will be flowers and/or plants. Not really macro photography per se, but rather an image that captures the essence of a species. I'm envisioning the Westminster's Dog Show for flowers. I am also thinking monochrome, and I want the treatment to be the same across all the images. As anyone can tell you who has tried to turn a color photograph into a black and white photograph, not all B&W conversions are the same.  I want to use the same depth of field for each picture, as well as similar lighting, exposure, and tonal values. 

Selenium toner again, but cut off the little limb and tightened the crop.

Do you think the composition is better after I lopped of the little branch to the left and changed the crop? The only difference between the 2 preceding pictures is the cropping. I am leaning toward this treatment. It is not a neutral black and white, it is a blue split tone that gives the flower a silver hue. I also think the tobacco tone would be popular. "Why does it matter?" you ask. Because I have a dream. I  have a dream that someday real people will give me real money in exchange for prints of my pretty flower pictures.

The last two below are a tighter framing. I really like this one, but will the person(s) who like this kind of stuff be put off because I cropped of the end of the branch. I don't know!

For those of you interested in technical details..... Canon Rebel with Canon 100mm Macro lens. Aperture Priority f22 / 2 second exposure. Natural light from a northwest facing window. Black cardboard background. Silver Efex Pro to do the processing.

Actually moved orchid closer to the camera to get tighter framing. This also brought the flower closer to the light source so contrast was naturally increased.

Selenium tone of the tighter framing.

I am looking for feedback. Which one do you like? Is this a dead end? Who cares, lets eat turkey? I am thinking of investing the time and effort (and some $$) to produce 12-15 of these and before I go through all the work, I'd love to hear what you think. 

Or maybe I'll take skiing and snowboarding pictures..... mmmmmmm, shiny.


  1. I like the two color shots. If you want monochrome, I like the selenium best. I don't think you can make a final decision on how to post-process until you shoot the other flowers. After you shoot the other flowers you can then decide what process will look best for all of the flowers rather than just this one.

    You have CS5, don't you? And I'll bet you got the student discount, too.

  2. Flowers...... I just fell asleep....... wake me up when you have something more interesting again!