52 Projects – “Get Floral Flashes of Inspiration”

Today, I have another installment of my year-long photography project.  My goal was to do one project per week from the book 52 Weekend Digital Photo Projects.  Two things happened along the way.  First, life happened.  You know how it is – you get busy and can’t avoid it.  Second, I camped out making low-key and high-key photos of flowers.  I have filled up my flikr photostream with these photos and have gotten some good responses. The end result has been good for my portfolio but bad for my blog.

But, I am going to fix that!

This installment is based on the project called “Get Floral Flashes of Inspiration” on pages 12-15. The project helps the photographer us a fill flash to take back-lit, daylight photos of flowers.  It talks through the camera set-up and setting up the subject. It gives precise settings and recommended adjustments.

I actually worked on this project a couple of months ago and then jumped back on it today, so I am going to talk about two shoots in this post.

The first shoot was with fresh tulips.  It was a cold, cloudless winter day. I took several pictures in the sun without the fill flash, which, I guess missed the point of the project.

To get this perspective, I set up my camera and held the pot up high in the air with my left hand and shot with my right hand.  I was too lazy to lie down on the ground. After a little editing in Adobe Lightroom, I thought they came out pretty good.

But there was one photo with which I was most pleased.  I held the tulip directly in front of the sun and snapped a picture. In fact, I didn’t make any changes to the settings to the camera to account for the backlighting.

Tulips in the Sun-8241

The way the light creates the shadows of the overlapping petals makes the subject quite compelling. You can pick up the texture in the petals and the light brings out strong colors in both the flower and the sky.  The perspective of the image makes it rather interesting.

For my second shoot, I actually did what was suggested in the book – use a fill flash.  For this shoot, I used orchids with a mild, pastel color. In retrospect, a stronger red color might have finished the image better, but I went with what I have. The sun was coming up, which gave nice, direct golden light, but the sky was not as blue as during the first shoot because of the difference in the time of day.  The result was that when I tried to give more saturation to the sky, it created artifacts around the petals of the flowers. Here are some of the shots that came out best. Please see the book for the set-up (I don’t plagiarize).

I like how the flash brought out some of the color in the petals, but I still don’t like the hard light created by the fill flash.  In the future, an external flash with a diffuser will work better.

In the end, I’m not at all disappointed in the project.  This technique can create some great stock photographs, but I am still a sucker for low-key, long-exposure shots on a tripod in a controlled environment.

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