Sunday, June 1, 2008

Indoor and Outdoor Studio Photography – Table-Top Flowers

Occasionally the weather does not permit us to be able to go out to get the flowers shots we would like to capture. Maybe even the flowers that are interesting are not available at the moment due to wrong time of season for flowering.

Why not cut some flowers from the garden or buy a bouquet at your local flower shop. The benefit is that after the shoot your house has a flower arrangement for display and enjoyment.

The important element with the indoor flower photography is finding an appropriate background. I’m sure that the dining room hutch, other furniture or those purple walls may not present the flowers in their best setting. The choice of a suitable backdrop becomes a key decision in presenting your subject in its full glory and prominence.

The Favourite – Black Cloth

For the images in this article, which are singular in design, I used a black fabric. Not just any fabric, but thick felt material. The reason for this choice is I wanted material that, even though black, would reflect very little light. Some black fabrics have a bit of sheen and depending on the strength of the light will reflect some of this light. It can be removed in Photoshop, but when it is used outdoors you will be surprised that the material has turned into a dark grey tone.

I selected a heavy felt material, as I wanted this fabric to not show any folds and creases, which a thinner cloth might show when removed from storage.

For singular flower images I like the black background as it keeps the focus on the subtle colours and tones of the flower. The Gladiolas flower, while very beautiful and delicate, is also difficult flower cluster to isolate a single flower for a photographic image.

To better present the singular flower cluster I decided to overlay a close-up section to form a composite image.

These images were lit by direct light from a side window and the fabric was moved back far enough in order not to receive any of the direct light rays.

I wanted the long stalk to dominate and the close-up image to add extra texture and volume to the image. An Angle Gradient tool was used to create the mask pattern as I found the standard linear did not create the right effect. I wanted the tones to vary in the background to add more interest and depth.

A Photoshop action (they sure make life easy) was used to create the framing effect.

Other Flowers as Background

Other flower arrangements can be used as backdrops but these need to be larger to fill the entire field of view and also be far enough in the background to be blurred by the lens.

In the article I wrote on using the reverse 50mm lens for macro images, I used other flowers behind the main subject for different colours and textures.

The above image is Red Gladiolas converted to B&W as I found that even when adjusting the saturation it did not add to the image. I highlighted the pistols in the main flower to add more focus and darken some of the top petals.

Use your own Photographs or Paintings

Depending on the size of your flower arrangement you can even print one of your images or find an image on the web that has the copyright set to creative commons for such use. Even a painting that you have hanging of the wall would be suitable.

In a previous article I used a copper plumbing tubing to create a moveable vase for outdoor photography and thereby you could have any of the nature scenes around as a suitable backdrop.

Do make sure that the backdrop image is set far enough back for adequate DOF blurring. The subject needs to be pin sharp and the background soft and diffuse in detail.

This was taken outdoors on the patio table with the black cloth as a backdrop. The cloth was placed on an angle so that the direct sun did not light any of the material directly.

Niels Henriksen

Photographer’s Showcase

Thomas Laupstad form the Photos from Northern Norway: highlight in his photographs and stores some of the unique and mystical charm of Norway.

This country in the last few years has taken on a special meaning to me, as in 2004 I found out that I have 11 brothers and sisters in Denmark I never knew existed. My parents and their ancestors are mainly from Trondheim. Norway. This August I am heading back to Denmark to visit 4 sisters I haven’t met and my 3 brothers. Over the last few years these 3 brothers have come to Canada to visit me. I may tell this story one day.

Davidlind has a blog Virginia Breeze that include writings, good poetry and image about his life in Virginia and Virginia Breeze II , which is his main collection of nature images from the same area.


Davidlind said...

Thank you for mentioning my blog. My main photo blog is and I have been working on it lately to hopefully make it more interesting. I also found someone who was able to develop a plugin that raises the photos a bit which I find a nice way to present them.
My one year anniversary has just rolled around as well.
Taking photos is so much fun. I hope to become better at it in the next year and also now have Adobe Elements 6.0 to help with the editing. Good luck with your future plans and travels.

Bruce said...

I must admit I've never been a fan of indoor photography of flowers and artificial lighting. You've changed my mind. Excellent article and elegant photo are proof enough. You've inspired me to try this on my own.

nielsp said...

Thanks Bruce:
Send me a link when you get some images online.



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