Photography Project: Photographing A Vase of Roses

“Tintype” image of vase of roses

I love flower photography, it is my go-to place when I can’t seem to figure out what to photograph. There are about 5,392 ways to photograph flowers, wait…….maybe double that, yet, I always seem get stuck right when I start to photograph a vase of flowers. My initial flower images are static, predictable, and uninteresting. I stayed with this vase of roses for 5 days, each day pushing to capture something different with a basic set of equipment.

The Vision: I wanted to create a vintage-look to my final image. I imagined a strong black and white image with creative processing.

The Setup: My goal was to use a minimal amount of set-up gear and equipment. I used window light, but turned the “flower studio” away from the window, so just a small amount of light struck the flowers. I purchased a black tri-fold foam core display from Officemax (I had seen a video on how to make your own black box with gaffers tape, but it looked complicated, and Peter wasn’t around to help me execute, so I decided to make the $16 investment). I placed a piece of black foam core on top to control the light coming into my box, and also a piece of mylar on the bottom (I would have preferred a mirror or another piece of black foam core, but the mylar was the only thing I wasn’t already using). Now I was ready.

The Capture: You can see from the next image, I was stuck immediately. I challenged myself to try some different things. After shooting from many angles, and rotating my set-up toward the light, I changed my lens, to my Lensbaby Velvet. This helped open me up to see things differently.

Blue vase with orange flowers
Closeup of roses using Lensbaby Velvet

I became so obsessed with eliminating the reflection on the vase, I completely missed the beam of light that was shining on the flowers. I could not figure out how it was getting into the box; I tried everything to block it and shape it, and then after awhile I reminded myself to shoot it before I lost the light….I could always figure it out later (which I didn’t). When I changed lenses, I lost the beam of light, so it had something to do with my Lensbaby and the aperture I was using.

Blue vase with orange roses
Black and white vase with roses using Lensbaby Velvet

Post Processing: I never was able to completely eliminate the reflections in the vase, but I did remove them in post. For the black and white image at the beginning of this post, I used Nik Analog Pro. For the other image I used, Nik Color Effects Pro. The Nik Collection is now available through DxO. I also used Nik Color Effects Pro to process the color images in this post.

Blue vase with orange roses

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