Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Two Days of Flowers

This past weekend was spent exploring light, exposure, and color through a 2-day photography workshop with Midwest Photography Workshops. The subject of our focus was flowers -- both living and cut. Correct exposure was key to making images that displayed the full essence of the blooms and greenery. Along with technical skills this was an opportunity to work with a true macro lens I rented for the occasion (Nikkor Micro 105mm f/2.8).

Location Shoot

Drops in a Row
copyright 2014, Stephanie Maatta Smith
Day 1 was a location shoot at the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory on Belle Isle. The conservatory is one of the gems of the City of Detroit, designed by Albert Kahn and built in 1904. The five exhibit rooms are filled with an array of possibilities. Sadly the tropical house was closed for renovation, so no orchids. Other rooms, including the show room filled with poinsettias, were prime spots for photography.

sculpture of Dionysus in bed of poinsettias
Dionysus among Poinsettias
copyright 2014, Stephanie Maatta Smith
The conservatory has a constant mist to keep the floral displays hydrated and fresh. The drops on the poinsettia blooms were particularly spectacular. Using the macro lens allowed me to get in close to catch the silvery appearance of the water droplets. The great room is surrounded by glass ceiling and windows, letting in tons of light, but generating deep shadows. In order to bring portions of images into the light, we used reflectors to bounce light into the places we needed to illuminate.

small, orange trumpet blossoms with green buds
Blooms and Buds
copyright 2014, Stephanie Maatta Smith

Studio Shoot

Day 2 of the floral workshop was spent in the studio. We had an opportunity to use professional studio lighting and electronic flash for creating images of flowers. The instructor provided several bunches of cut flowers and vases of all shapes and sizes. After working with us on setting our cameras for proper exposure and discussing the properties of light and color, he let set us loose to create, overseeing our efforts and making suggestions, but never interfering with the creative processes. For dramatic effect we used a black backdrop. The series below is the same dark red Gerbera daisy taken from different angles.
back view of Gerbera daisy
And Half
copyright 2014, Stephanie Maatta Smith
front view of Gerbera daisy
copyright 2014, Stephanie Maatta Smith
side view of a Gerbera daisy
Side Lines
copyright 2014, Stephanie Maatta Smith

 Next stop a fabric shop for small pieces of black felt or velveteen, and then onto another botanical garden or conservatory next weekend to practice.

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