This and That

Random bits of my life

Month of Roses

Posted by Avital Pinnick on March 2, 2010

February, the shortest month of the year, turned out to have the largest number of  rose photos in quite a while. I don’t normally photograph flowers unless it’s spring and I’m hiking in an area with a lot of wild flowers.

The roses started when Eitan, a co-worker who is retiring soon, stopped by my room to say goodbye and to give me a rose from his garden. I put it in a cup of water on the window sill. Although it was a cloudy day, I managed to photograph it just as the clouds parted and a little sun shone through. I had to take this at a very weird angle, almost lying on my desk, because it had to be slightly overexposed so that the white did not look grey. The overexposed sky, however, looked weird, so I placed a white cloud directly behind the rose. This gave the photo no edges to place the rose, so it almost floats in space. The bottom petals had to be cropped rather severely because the reflections of the ridged plastic cup were visible.

White Rose

The following week, the rose was still alive. The next shot was done with the free-lens macro technique: I took the 18-55mm kit lens off the body, turned it around, and tilted the edge to allow some light leaks. Turning the lens increased the magnification and tilting the lens created the hazy effect. The depth of field tends to be very shallow when the lens is turned around, so only a few of the stamens are in focus.

Rose Center

A week later the rose was thoroughly dead and dried out. This photo shows an interesting crispy texture and mottled colour.

Dead Rose

The next two rose pictures were done with a bouquet that my husband bought for Shabbat and Purim. They’ve been heavily post-processed, which reminds me — has anyone noticed lately the proliferation of free/purchased Photoshop actions and textures with names like Vintage Haze, Milk and Honey, Sun-Kissed Sweetness? I’ve seen those effects (over)used on scrapbooking sites but now they seem to creeping into Flickr pools.

I don’t mind Photoshop and and obvious post-processing if they are used creatively and for some purpose, but an entire photostream of hazy, washed-out roses and blue-eyed little girls in wheat fields can be a bit much. Just as an aside, Scott Bourne, in one of his recent Photofocus podcasts, said that as far as he’s concerned, if it originates in a camera, it’s a photograph. I agree with his approach and would add that if you’re going to use your computer to enhance a photo, at least ask yourself why you’re doing it and what you hope to achieve. And make sure that it’s a good photo in the first place! OK, thanks for letting me vent….

In this shot I chose HDR (high dynamic range) because I wanted to emphasize the rich colours and the velvety texture in a way that wasn’t possible with what I had available (a fluorescent desk lamp illuminating a bunch of roses). I took three exposures with the camera on a tripod, then ran it through Photomatix, choosing settings that gave it a natural look but with the colour intensified. The colour, not the rose, was really the subject of this photo.

HDR Rose

The last shot, from the same bouquet, was run through Photoshop’s channel mixer, monochrome, with the green channel set to a negative value. In this case I wanted to concentrate on the form of the rose, not the colour, because I was interested in what could be done with a black-and-white rose. The negative green channel value makes the black-and-white rendering look a bit like a negative. I particularly liked the black rim around the edges of the petals, almost like a pen stroke in India ink. I could have pushed the channels further to make it look like a true negative or like a pen-and-ink sketch, but I didn’t want to lose the delicate shading of a photograph, so this is what I chose in the end.

B/W Rose

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2 Responses to “Month of Roses”

  1. vincent said

    I especially like the wilted one. I seem to have started to like the image of wilted flowers and rotten fruits. They remind me of the temporal nature of life. I find the change in colors and the new texture interesting and beautiful. The same goes for dried crispy curling leaves in autumn. thanks for sharing these beautiful photos.

  2. I love the first rose photo, didn’t even know that was classified as a rose. The bright white background is great, I never thought of shooting flowers with such a background but will definitely try it out. The red rose is very nice too, I like the lighting.
    http://martinsoler.com/?s=rose

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