My LED ceiling light, which I use as a light box for flower photography, can be dimmed and the color temperature is adjustable. The cold and extremely bright light can be tamed and turned into faint, warm light. Together with my tent of linen, I manage to control the light.
With LiveView, the composition is created and the focus is worked out. The camera is controlled by cable connection via laptop (tethered shooting) and the recordings are made with mirror triggering. The colors become better and the impression of the picture more natural and vivid.
I’ve been experimenting with macro shots or portraits that have a black background. For this I reduce the roomlight with the help of the electric shutters, the exposure time and the ISO value are increased. To improve the quality of the shots, I also used the method of frame averaging to get the RAW image with a single shot and sufficient quality.
Yesterday I was able to admire my friend Harold in a tutorial how he created LowKey HDR macro photographs using an exposure series from -4 EV to 0 EV. I tried all paths today with my Amaryllis, which I had bought 2 days ago.
The exposure series can be performed for LowKey pictures and HighKey pictures. Through the systematic under-exposure one can create a beautiful black background. The use of a surface spotlight creates transparencies with HighKey effect.
The LED lightbox can be placed vertically on the wall. With two clamps you attach the black velvet as a background and loosen the clamp gently to create the HighKey image after switching on the lightbox.
A series of exposures with 5 shots between -4 EV and 0 EV is sufficient to capture the set in high quality.
For the first composition today I started with cornflowers on a lightbox. I always have liked cornflowers with their typical cornflower blue. With this composition I wanted to show different stages of cornflower development in one image.
I developed a combination of colours that the garden offered me with the craspedia globosa to create this picture, in which red, blue, yellow and green play a leading role.
For a short time the winter kept us still. Nature offers many motifs, the effect of which depends on the time of the day.
Shortly after, the snow has said goodbye to us. Still very, very cold cloudless nights, more and more often glorious sunny days let you catch your breath.
Yesterday I came across Calla lilies and rosé-fixed fern at the florists’s. „Expensive“, she told me. But I was already determined wether the many possibilities I had in mind.
Through a chemical process, the fern has received a fixation and new color. That would make it durable for many compositions ….
The next day, I combined the callas and the fern to a single composition. With a background the image looks soft and dreamy. This texture puts a kind of patina over the image.
With daylight and a lightbox I took the cut off flower of an Alstromeria. With the lens I’m able to approach the bloom on approximately 20 cm. The blossom then fills almost the entire sensory. The ratio of the mapping is thus approximately 1:1.
The quality of the RAW images is convincing in itself. The creation of the finished HDR takes place in a combination of manual and automated steps.
RAW conversion is done using CaptureOne, HDR processing is done manually in Photoshop. Further, I generated two automated HDR developments using HDR Efex Pro 2 and Photomatix Pro 6 and layered them in. Some of the original color is transferred from the daylight image with the lightbox switched off.
A small stock of raw footage is always lying on my laptop. My florist had been able to give us a few flowers, some of which were sacrificed after a couple of days on my lightbox. These days in a hospital I benefit while the healing remains to be seen.
Is it possible to retain the idea of a picture for a long time ? What happens to the colors when you no longer have the originals in front of your eyes ? The blossom of the peonies looked like a living eye staring at me, not necessarily a human, maybe an animal.
The tulip offered a wild confusion of petals. Unfortunately, it was monochrome orange.
The amaryllis showed an incredibly intense red. I managed to show the intensity best on a black background than on a white one. I use the inversion of the L-channel in Lab color mode.
Our flower shops are sold out or closed. There’s nothing new to buy. Thank God. This allows me to take a closer look a t the seasonal flowers we have at home.
Photographing a white amaryllis against a white background I found particularly attractive in the last few days. Because it also contains many colors that you can bring out.
Concerning color a less courageous image is the left one, only shadows and some etheral green from inside the flower. Using Lab color mode and some ideas of my friend Harold Davis this image can get more pizzazz, as shown on the right hand side.
The plant broke off and had to be placed in a vase, but there it developed surprisingly well and even quite symmetrically, giving me the impression of antennas that listen into space because they look similar tho those with which Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson discovered the cosmic background radiation. A lightbox as background is easy to realize with a LED for the ceiling that you can get in any hardware store.
The blossoming red amaryllis has two sides, so I had the chance to photograph them both. In my eyes, one side resembled a dinosaur’s head and upper neck as it is about reach for food. Loosely based on an Arabic proverb: „If you see the dinosaur’s tongue, don’t think he’s smiling“.
Longtime exposures hold a special appeal for me. Again and again I try do do it. I found the idea for this picture in a book about modern photography. The photographer took a picture of flowers in a vase with a specially built camera for many days until the first petals fell. The passing of time, which often cannot be experienced directly by us, can thus be illustrated by a photograph. Due to the new corona virus we had plenty of time at home to make flower photographs.
With my macro lens I can only realize the aperture value f/32, which means that even at ISO 50 the exposure time dose not rise above 15s possible when the lightbox is turned on. As an approximation to a true long-time exposure, I started a series of 23 HDR images at irregular intervals over the course of 4 days, just as it became apparent that my tulips would rise wide.
Each HDR image was created from6 shots at f/32 and ISO 50 with exposure times of 0.5s, 1s, 2s, 4s, 8s and 15s. The biggest difficulty was to block off a part of our living room before Christmas so that the exposures could always be done in the same way. Furthermore, the camera was not allowed to be changed by switching it on and off, changing the exposure times or removing the memory card.
I processed the layer stack of 23 TIF images in two ways. First straightforward as a smart object and then change the stacking mode in Photoshop as an average. Or fade out the layers after the start shot using black layer masks and gradually paint in interesting parts of the later images with a soft brush to create an overall impression. This approach was more promising to me than averaging the layer stack, which in my eyes expresses the flow of time too weakly.
Just to do the math: each image of my camera has 151 million pixels with a file size between 125 and 180 MByte in RAW format and 866 MByte after a RAW conversion to a TIF file. The total size of the project is something above 300 GB. 138 RAW files sum up to nearly 21 Billion Pixels. The final image has 159 million pixels due to some added background at the top of the result.
Yesterday was a chance to buy flowers for my lightbox before a new virus induced „lockdown“ takes place. Flowers on a lightbox exhibit an illusion of transparency when photographed either as HighKey image or HDR bracket sequence.
I prefer to process my bracketed photographs manually, because there is no possibility to learn how automated HDR software really works. On top of my layer stack I put one up to three HDR software results to layer them in if appropriate.
Photographing flowers is a way to cope with the situation being locked in in a house instead of traveling or meeting friends. Our house looks like a flower store, every now and then we find new compositions. At the end, there is a print.
A composition of flowers often suggests something, not with the eye, but with the inner vision. That’s the fun of it. There are so many compositions yet undone.
My friend Harold is using petals for compositions. I often shy away from cutting off the flowers or tearing out the petals. I was happy to do it today with a fading dark red rose.
Christa, my wife, loves tulips. They may resemble a dream on a lightbox, like balloons taking off for flight. To catch the whole composition I’d either had to climb up a ladder with my 120mm macro lens or change the lens to a 80mm focal length (which I did).
With flowers we create feelings and express feelings. With flowers we want to elicit feelings. If they aren’t just a comfortable souvenir, that is not suitable for the wall or the shelf.
Their color is not enough to stimulate our emotions. It’s also their shape and a composition. I took a friend to my favorite florist to design a bouquet from the available flowers end of September. The central component were two specimens of a cockscomb, one in red and one in purple.
A not insignificant part of the enjoyment is the creation of the composition, together with a sensitive florist. At home I photographed the bouquet with the horizontally aligned, rectangular Lightbox in the background. It’s, of course, an HDR image, combined of shots with the Lightbox switched on and off. A final greeting of the noticeably farewell summer.
Farewell has always been a theme of flowers. Without color, subject only to the effect of light, exposing a feeling for the original color, the black-and-white image of a flower becomes intensified. The same day at sunset, with an exposure speed of 6 minutes at ISO 50, I obtained the following picture, which made me immediately think of The Godfather: I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.