Spring is time for flowers and art

Spring is time for flowers and art

Soon, it’s time to photograph flowers as the spring into bloom. They are not quite hitting stride as yet in my area, so I thought I’d grab a grocery store orchid and experiment a little with studio lighting, Photoshop and some textures.

Long lens

While testing a new long lens from OM System I thought I’d see how it preformed in the studio. This allowed me to get across the room and add some compression to the blooms. I’m digging the effect.

Lighting

To light this baby up, I used Falcon Eyes F7 LED light panels. Not having to worry about unexpected breezes spoiling the image, I didn’t have to have a lot of power. Three 12 watt lights were used. Because light panels are relatively small I added a Westcott 20 inch scrim from the 5 in 1 reflector. Nestling the scrim close to the orchid has the effect of making the light source be large in relation to the subject resulting in soft shadow edge transitions. Below is the final pick after tweaking the lights and scrim in a few different combinations of distance and brightness. The background was lit with 4 foot Nanlight to give color and a slight gradient.

Orchid capture SOOC (straight out of camera) Made with the 150-600mm f5.0-6.3 OM System lens at 150mm. 1/5 sec, f/5.6 ISO 200

Photoshop dress up

Over the years I’ve captured thousands of textures for spring photos and projects such as this. When you use Photoshop Layers, textures and Blend Modes you can take your image to another level. I call this technique “Photosynthesis.”

Lay a texture layer over the subject and cycle through the Blend Modes. Stop when you see one you like. If there is some thing close but too strong you can lower the opacity. Add another texture and repeat until you are getting a look that speaks to you. If an effect is looking good but has a blemish or line you don’t are for you can use the Clone Stamp Tool to adjust.

1710512502 915 Spring is time for flowers and art | Theedgesm
Photoshop Layers Palette screen capture. Layers, textures, Blend Modes and masks are the key to this technique.

Extraction

Sometimes the textures are great on the background but too crazy on your subject. An easy fix for that is to use Select Subject and place it on its own layer. Move it up to the top of the layer stack. Add a Drop Shadow from the fx tab and you can add additional depth and dimension. Either lower the opacity or add another texture over top so you don’t loose the artistic feeling in your image.

Save as you go

It’s very important to save versions as you go. Each time I see something that seems to look good. That’s a new Save As version. As you work you may run out of history to go back and recreating something is not always possible as this is experimentation at its best. After a session I may have 10-12 versions. Going back a day or two later I’ll cull through and save the best one to three versions and trash the rest.

1710512502 923 Spring is time for flowers and art | Theedgesm
Final choice of the different versions I made using the Photosynthesis technique.

I’ll be heading out into the field for my spring wildflowers as soon as I can. In the meantime, the grocery store or flower shop will get me in practice with techniques I may use in the wild.

Yours in Creative Photography, Bob