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.
The last hot summer days are noticeably less hot. Autumn shows up on my rose hips, which are still fed by the water of a vase. Over the course of the days her leaf green became increasingly discolored in autumn. I don’t want to believe it.
Melitta was looking for an image in her new kitchen. She felt a fusion image of a fruit basket to be too dark. The fusion image technique is not restricted to black and white or monochrome (FAQ: Fusion imaging). With only few structural content in the X-ray of the fruits I better inverted the background of the image and sponsored a golden backdrop like an ancient greek icon. You still can see some X-ray properties looking at the lychees or the bananas. As a print its appearance was best.
Also appropriate for a kitchen would also be an image of an artichoke. If I put it on a lightbox, there is always some resemblance to a copperplate print, which I like personally. This blooming artichoke is a type of a food image, if you spend some phantasy.
A little change of perspective gives more direct access to the blooms. Every image shown in this blog entry is a combination of manual HDR and software assisted HDR. That way I get best results. The background helps to create the look and feel of ageing and simulating a print.
The artichoke presented above has some resemblance to a thistle. By chance we have a place not far from home with lots of them. Old railroad tracks had been removed and converted into bike trails nearby our house. So we went this morning by bike to get a thistle of the former track bed for an image.
As there is so much structure in these images, I felt tempted to convert my artichoke and thistle images into monochrome. To some extent they resemble images of Karl Blossfeldt.
Light is subject to permanent change. The transformations of light accompany us always. In the course of the day, we immerse ourselves in the light of various sources and their shaping unnoticed. In a photograph, too, the imperceptible shaping of light is our companion.
The light in a photograph and its impression is shaped or transformed by postproduction. The changeability of the light by postproduction helps an image to its final expression.
What light do we see in our dreams ? What light do we see when pre-visualizing an image ? What light do we see when we get the idea to a photograph ? The latter light we experience like „a flash within a long night“. It is only after the completion of the work that relaxation may take place.
Having learned how to do focus stacking on my PhaseOne camera, I made two series of 20 macro images with a rose on a lightbox, the box switched on and off for the two series. Combining the two light situations made this image possible.
You may find more roses here.
Clematis is a reliably blossoming flower in our garden. Every year we look forward to her blooms for many weeks. Photographing flowers means sacrificing beautiful little things. It took me some time to go there.
With growing experience I feel less pain to sacrifice a bloom for artistic purposes. It relieves me a little, that I have the blooms swum after my photo and X-ray sessions in a soup-plate filled with water which is in the kitchen. Many people like the floating blooms in a soup-plate, if they are in a break.
The HDR series of my composition with three clematis gave me a hard time. Although a tripod is indispensable and always used, a small pixel shift between exposures was perceivable. After fixing this, light, color and structure was processed for an HDR image.
The X-ray of the three clematis was performed as mammography due to the size of my composition. The fusion image can be understood as a texturized HDR by means of a radiograph. But there is no unique solution to all compositions. The best solution has to be found out individually.
After all, the clematis look as light as a feather in this image. It was worth it.
Long lasting blossoms, turning up every year: my purple clematis in our garden.
It was my third X-ray session with flowers this week. Third fusion imaging attempt. After blue cornflower and blue aquilegia now a purple clematis. Big data on my hard disk.
Today we did it with mammography at 30 kV and 50 mAs. Lower noise ! Here is the positive representation of a single clematis:
I processed the lightbox HighKey series with a mask. There was a shift of 2 or 3 pixels from the lightest to the darker images. So I processed everything a second time to compensate for the shift. The HDR image shows a cut stalk. Photoshop is made for this.
The stalk can be lengthened like in the preceding X-ray. The fusion image shows hidden leaves, the core of the blossom and stalks much better:
The flower looks pretty fragile now, close to its natural appearance.
Fusion imaging is beauty made of composite X-ray images and HDR images on a light box. The primary question is what energy fits best for flowers. To my experience 40 kV is often suitable. But: the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
Mammography systems start e.g. from 20 kV and reach 39 kV. The sensor is up to 24cm x 30cm. Conventional systems start from 40 kV and reach 125 kV. The sensor is up to 43cm x 43cm what makes them more attractive to floral compositions.
The higher resolution and the lower energies of a mammography will suit better for transparent objects. But the spatial limit of a composition (which is 24cm x 30cm) might put hard restrictions on the artist.
Floral compositions have more creative space with a bigger sensor. But the X-ray tube starts with 40 kV and this might lead to overexposure of tender structures.
Thus I performed today more than ten compositions to study this relation.
After four exposure of three tulips I found this composition with four dense blossoms attractive to go further. The composition might somehow resemble to a sketch of three angels. The image is nice due to very soft edges of their „wings“, technically blown out portions in the image. The inner structure of the nearly closed blossoms is well resolved. The stalks serve as „body“. There is no advantage with higher energies.
The same composition was done immediately after the X-ray as a bracketing series on a lightbox. After returning I processed a manual HDR, the colors not to warm.
The final fusion image is a composite of the preceding two images. Compared to the lightbox photo, the hidden stalks reappear naturally, the inner petals are outlined like a sketch.