flowers, photography

Weekly Flower – 7: multiple exposures

This week I had another dahlia burst into bloom in my garden. I can’t recall the name of this one but its an impressive thing, that’s for sure. I’m sure you can see why it immediately made me think of flames! However, it also put me in mind of a technique I had seen in an online course I took recently on creating ‘Painterly’ flower shots with Kathleen Clemons. I thought this might be a good subject to try it out on.

The idea is simple and indeed, I had read about it in an older book in which it described the technique, and detailed how to do it on film cameras. ‘Thank goodness for digital cameras’, is my response to that!

Here’s how it works: look in your camera’s shooting menu and look for something that suggests you can take multiple exposures. If you’re not sure look in your camera manual. Set it to take 3 exposures at first – although some cameras allow many more shots. The idea is that your camera will now take three shots on top of each other and then blend them together. Get ready to take your first shot but before you do, pay attention to where your centre focus cross or square is sitting. Now, take the shot. Assuming that you are using the landscape orientation, turn your camera by 45 degrees – or in other words, halfway between landscape and portrait. Now make sure your central focus square is roughly where it was for the first shot. Take your second shot. Now turn your camera another 45 degrees so that it is fully in portrait orientation. Again, get that focus point in roughly the same area and take your third shot. Once the third shot has been taken, the fairies inside the camera will combine the three shots and give you something fabulous. If not, negotiate with the fairies within and try again. It may be that you haven’t set your camera correctly, or that you accidentally set it for fewer of more than three shots. If you find you cannot take multiple shots in-camera, you can replicate this method in PS or other software programs by duplicating the image so you have three or more copies, and then using the ‘move’ tool to turn the copies a little more each time (you will have to work out how far you need to turn each one to keep it consistent). You will then need to play with opacity of each layer to get it looking right. As a rough guide, try 1/however many copies you are using. If you are using the three, set the opacity of each one to about 33% and work from there. I prefer to capture as much as possible in-camera so my instruction there for PS are very rough and ready.

So, here are three shots to show how it looks when it’s all done. In this case, I think the technique emphasised the flame-like qualities of the flower. You may have to try several subjects to find one that it works well for but have a go – and have fun with it!

Shot 1 – the straight flower shot using a 105mm macro lens

dahlia flames single-

Shot 2 – same lens but using the three exposures to bring out the ‘flames’

dahlia flames single 105-6527

Shot 3 – same flower, different lens. This time I shot the three exposures but with a Lensbaby lens to soften the flames as they reached the edge of the frame

dahlia flames-6517

Now to come up with something fancy-pantsy for next week’s flower of the week 🙂 . . .

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flowers, photography

Week 6 Already! Time for a flower shot . . .

For someone who loves photographing flowers, this time of year has to be the best for those showy summer blooms. We live fairly close to a one-time stately home with a walled garden, and within that walled garden is the most fabulous herbaceous border – along with other features. Since my partner is still busily rejuvenating the kitchen, it’s easy for me to jump in the car and head off over there for an hour or so. This time, my target was the various coneflowers that I had spotted in bud last time I was there. They have traditional rudbeckia types along with heleniums, echinacea and all manner of wonderful flowers.

It’s usually the case that when I take a photograph, I have some idea of what I want to do with it so I make shooting choices based on what I want the end product to look like. However, the coneflowers are worth snapping just because they’re there. And I’m glad I did snap away with gay abandon because when I got home, I found this little fella complete with a ‘fairy’ hanging off his stem. I added a texture by Jai Johnson and that was that – flower of the week 🙂

rudbeckia and fairy-1

I had left it a couple of weeks in between visits and I think they are more or less past their very best now – but in the far corner, the dahlias are about to spring open!!!

Until then . . .