Practicing photography everyday or as much as possible is essential to becoming a good photographer. Sometimes that means trying to duplicate some part of a magazine shoot, Youtube or paid-for video. Most of the time however, just photographing items around your home in different light settings or with different modifiers is a simple easy way to practice. When you practice you actually become more adept at figuring out settings and you become more familiar with your camera. Practice enough and your camera becomes an extension you. A photography instructor once told me, you should know your camera so well, you should be able to change the settings appropriately even if your eye is in the viewfinder. In other words, change the settings blindly.
I recently purchased a bouquet of tulips, my favorite flower, for the sole purpose of practicing. I cut the stems down and placed the flowers in a vase; however the neck of the vase was too narrow to accommodate all the stems. As I forced the stems through the neck of the vase one stem just couldn’t make it through and ended up sticking out to the side. Every fault can be a fashion and this solitary stem (camera right) added something to the composition.
My goal was to photograph the bouquet from above looking down at the petals, stamen, and pistils of the flowers, with the sepal and leaves of each flower blurred into the background. I first tried this on a table but that meant holding the camera above my head and focusing blindly. Even though I could view the scene via the LCD, it wasn’t the best situation. I couldn’t maintain steady hands holding the camera above my head.
I moved the vase onto my kitchen floor. Perfect. I stood over the vase and shot downward. The stone texture of the kitchen tiles complimented the flowers nicely.
In Lightroom, I cropped the photo slightly to fill the frame with flowers edge to edge. I increased shadows to maximize details and then I desaturated the photo a little because the floor tiles have a reddish/pinkish tint that seems to compete with the petals. I then increased the yellow saturation to enhance the most visible stigma (center). I also increased the purple and magenta saturation slightly to compensate for the global desaturation. This also added a nice detail to the stamen visible in many of the flowers.
In Photoshop, I created a more fluid background by using the clone stamp to remove the grout that separated the tiles.
Problems: Ideally, I would have liked to have greater consistency across the background. Along the stem of the solitary tulip you can see the highlight caused by the ceiling light reflecting onto the floor. I could have and should have taken that light off since bouncing the flash/speedlight off of the ceiling at a higher power would have provided sufficient light. This would have made for better consistency as the background goes from a darker (camera left) to a more highlighted area (camera right).
All things considered, this was actually one of my faster times for post processing. I’d like to say it was because of good planning, but with such natural beauty, there was little to do on my part.