Borrow the Bouquet

If you’re a photographer, one side benefit of romantic relationships can be residual bouquet photo ops.  Just be careful to make sure your significant other doesn’t think too hard about why their arrangements are so photogenic. You are, of course getting the flowers for them.

Flowers are an easy photo op, although many of us don’t bother since so many flower photographs have already been made.  But there are reasons to try:  It’s good practice with your equipment and technique.  Maybe you’ll come up with a different and beautiful approach.  Maybe you can learn a new lighting or processing technique.  And maybe it’s a convenient subject when you don’t have several hours to load up and go out in search of birds or other wildlife.



I bought Lynn some tulips for Valentine’s Day and wanted to make a few photos while they were still looking good.  Please don’t tell any Strobists out there, but I used a flashlight for illumination in these images.  Using a constant illumination light source instead of a strobe, allows you to see exactly how the light looks on your subject before you make the photo.  In this case, I was trying to “spotlight” the front tulip to isolate it, but at the same time leave the tulips in the background just visible.  I tried various positions for my light and no one single position worked.  The ones that looked best had blown highlights on either the right or left side of the front tulip.  I ended up making two exposures, intending to spend some time blending them by hand in Photoshop.  Here are portions of the two exposures showing the front tulip:

Source photos for image above

After loading them as layers in Photoshop, I made an attempt to blend them by hand without much success.  Instead, I hit on the idea of changing the layer blending mode to “darken” instead of “normal”.  The lead image in this post is the result, with no hand blending at all.  I like the effect and I like the smooth, out of focus definition of the tulip in the background on the left.

I also wanted to try one more thing before these tulips had to be retired.

Tulip two

Tulip two

For this second shot, I wanted to make the flower look like it was illuminated from the inside by shining the light up from the bottom.  I also wanted to make the stigma / stamens as sharply focused as possible to contrast them with the out of focus flower petals.  The outline of the petals framing the inside was a bonus.  I’ll let the reader figure out what other techniques I used in this image (hint:  I’ve written about it before).

So – go ahead.  Ask your significant other if you can borrow the bouquet.

© 2011, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

I'd love to hear from you, please leave a comment!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.