flowers, photography

Weekly Flower Shot

It’s Dahlia time. There’s just something about Dahlias that is perhaps equalled only by Rudbeckias. Put either of those two flowers with a Lensbaby and it has to be a winner.

This particular Dahlia bloomed in my garden a couple of days ago and by the time it was fully open, the curly petals were gorgeous. I wanted to capture that swirly, delicate nature of the bloom and what better tool to do that with than a Lensbaby Composer Pro II with a Sweet 50 optic. I also got to thinking about Ted Grant’s statement that goes something like this:

“When you photograph people in colour, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in black and white, you photograph their souls!”

Now he is clearly talking about people – but when you photograph a single flower, I think you approach it in pretty much the same way as you would for a head and shoulders portrait. Ted Grant thought that to photograph people in colour would mean that those colours would draw the eyes away from the essence of the person: we would look at the colours rather than scrutinising the character that lies in the finer features of the person’s face.  I decided to give it a go with this particular shot to see if it worked and I certainly noticed that once I had stripped the colour, my eye was drawn first to the contours of the petals which is, I think, what gives this flower its character. If the colour is there, I am drawn straight away to the streaks of deep pink leading to the bright yellow centre and only then, maybe to the outer countours.

So, in the end, I have the unprocessed version, which I like – the processed version with a few tweaks and a little bit of texture added, which I like – and a black and white version, which I like! So, that’s takes me to the next dilemma of deciding which version is the ‘final’ one. Well, I guess that decides on whoever may be looking at it.

And that’s art for you 🙂

As a final word, if you like this kind of dreamy, soft focus effect on flowers, you really should google Kathleen Clemons and take a look at her work. Stunning!!

dahlia bwThe Black and White Version

 

dahlia rawThe Unprocessed Version (processed only to convert raw to jpeg)

 

dahliaThe Colour Version with added texture (processed in Topaz Texture Effects 2)

 

 

flowers, photography

Lensbaby Love

I love my Lensbaby. I bought this lens fairly  recently after seeing some fabulous flowers shot with these lenses. Since flowers are my favourite  subjects for photography, I thought I’d give it a go. I bought the Composer Pro II along with the sweet 50 optic. This allows me to decide where I want my ‘sweet spot’ of focus to be and then let the focus fall off sharply around that sweet spot. It takes a little getting used to but if you are already an avid tog with a good grasp of your camera’s settings and how they work, it will probably only take a few hours to take snapshots, review them and understand what the lenbaby of your choice is doing. The Sweet 50 along with a 32mm macro extension tube is perfect for single flower portraits. Although I purchased the dedicated Lensbaby macro converters, I find that a standard set of macro converters does the job just as well – however, I hasten to add that it does just as well for my purposes which doesn’t necessarily mean it will work that way for everyone.

So, my weekly flower for this week is a double osteospermum from my garden shot with a Nikon D750, a 32mm tube and the above lensbaby setup.

If you have a lensbaby, please post me a comment to let me know what your experience with them was and if possible, add a shot to your comment – especially if you use them for other than flowers. I really feel I ought to try them for other things too.

Double purple osteospermum

flowers, photography

Extras

Well, the limit of only one shot per week is already too much for me so I shall rename this project, at-least-one-flower-per-week 🙂

A few weeks ago I jumped in and purchased a piece of software called Topaz Texture Effects 2. I already use Lightroom to catalogue and to process RAW shots (I always shoot raw so I have the maximum information recorded), and I occasionally use Photoshop Elements 14. I also regularly use two of the NIK plug-ins: Silver Efex Pro and Color Efex Pro 4. Yep – sounds like a lot, but it depends what it is I want to do with a photo. Silver Efex Pro gives amazing control with the processing of black and white shots, and Color Efex Pro has some very useful presets to extract a little more detail, or for a blur vignette, or for a coloured vignette. However, Topaz Texture Effects 2 give me the gift of speed when working with textures. I can pull up a shot and hover my mouse over textures in a side column to see how they would look on my shot. Previously, I would have had to open both the picture and the texture in PSE, check it out, play with the blend mode etc and then have to delete all of that if it doesn’t quite work the way I thought it would. This software from Topaz is amazing! Although it comes with built in textures, you can also add your own. Very useful. So, here are two shots from my garden this morning so you can see how the new software is going:

 

I know that the idea of using textured overlays in photography wont be everyone’s cup of tea and indeed, it’s not always mine – but I do like the painterly effect that it gives to flower shots. What’s more, they have now made their base editing software, Topaz Studio, free to all. Check it out. I have downloaded it and will post a review when I get a chance to have a really good mooch round.

Until next week . . .