Friday, March 21, 2014

15 Minute Workshop Series -- Wildflower Pictures are Flower Arrangements

Sharp Lobed Hepatica -- Lost Valley Trail
I really like to take pictures of wildflowers. Sharped Lobed Hepatica is one of my favorite species. I like the nodding buds, blooms that tilt and tip at many angles, and the long fuzzy stems. There is a lot going on, and there are many choices offered to a photographer who seeks an exceptional wildflower composition. Here are some thoughts on choosing the shot, and how to work in post processing on flowers.

First, flower pictures are flower arrangements. Look at a book on flower arranging and you will get great ideas about how to organize flowers in effective compositions.

Second, don't forget the context around the wildflower. The picture to the right incorporates not only leaves, but a sweeping blade of dead grass. Note that it criss-crosses with a stem in the back. This gives the composition a Japanese feel. 

Third, shadows matter. Shadows tell a story in the picture. You can see the direction of the sunlight -- it is mid morning. There are pleasing traces on the leaves of shadows coming from the petals. Shadow nuances add complexity and interest without distracting from the subject. 

Fourth, backgrounds are a special case of context and darkening them slightly can add a 3D character to a photo. This makes the subject pop out forward in your pictures and make your photos deep. 

A while back I wrote a short piece on what we could learn from master painter Leonardo da Vinci about composition and post processing photos. It certainly applies here. I think he provides an outstanding road map to think more carefully about post. 

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