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Floral Photography; The Beauty And Variety Of Nature’s Designs:
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In photographing a simple bouquet of flowers in a vase, such as Valentine roses for my wife (#13) I also used a black background. This precluded the need to set up a mini studio and to arrange studio lights. I simply used window light and a piece of black velvet.

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Abstracts
Just like there are many ways to photograph flowers, there are many ways to create abstractions of flowers. One is to blur the colors in flowers by spinning the camera around the lens axis at 1/8th and 1/4 of a second. Images (#14) and (#15) are examples. These were done hand-held, and all I did was physically turn the camera as I tripped the shutter. It is remarkable how many varied and intriguing abstracts can be created this way.

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Another approach is to shoot on a windy day and let the wind blow the flowers while you shoot them with a slow shutter speed. I photographed California poppies (#16) using a one second exposure while on a tripod and the wind did the rest.

Another way to abstract flowers and make them look ethereal and dream-like is to use a LensBaby (www.lensbaby.com). This is a unique lens system that distorts and blurs images into artistic interpretations of reality. You can use this technique for many types of subjects, but flowers are my favorite. You can abstract the entire image so the flower is virtually unrecognizable, as in (#17) or you can retain some of the detail in the original and yet add an artistic type of diffusion like I did in (#18). I take these pictures hand-held, which makes this kind of flower photography unique in that a tripod isn’t necessary. I hold the camera with one hand, and with my other hand I bend, rotate and twist the LensBaby to create the abstract images.

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Many floral photographers use selective focus to abstract most of the composition while a narrow sliver of it remains sharp. The tulip in (#19) and the macro shot of the rose in (#20) illustrate this. In order to get this kind of extremely shallow depth of field, I had to use the largest lens aperture plus a telephoto macro. However, I don’t own a telephoto macro, so instead I used a medium telephoto (the 70-200mm f/2.8) plus an extension tube to extend the focal length further. Simply using a large aperture isn’t enough to create abstractions like this.

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A unique way to create artistic abstractions of flowers is to combine original images with various textures. You can make your own textures (by photographing rock textures, sand, pastel paint applied to watercolor paper, scratched metal surfaces, etc.) or you can purchase them online. There are also sets of textures that are downloadable for free. I prefer to use two collections of textures from Flypaper Textures Productions (www.flypapertextures.blogspot.com) and for floral work their Summer Painterly collection is especially beautiful. For example, (#21) and (#22) were both created with two different textures from this collection.

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The technique is simple. You open the texture image and size it (Image>Image Size) according to the proportions you want. I choose the exact pixel dimensions of the flower photo, and I also make the dpi identical. The flower photo is then copied to the clipboard (Edit>Copy), and it’s pasted on top of the texture (Edit>Paste). You can also do the reverse, of course, where you paste the texture over the flower.

In the Layers Palette, click the submenu that begins with the word Normal, the Blending modes. By scrolling down the list of Blend modes with the Shift + (plus key) depressed you can see all the possible combinations of the way the two images can interact. I have had the most success with overlay. You can also vary the opacity of the floating layer for more effects.
Sometimes other Blend modes produce artistic images, such as (#23). To create this very abstract floral composite, I used the Color Blend mode to combine the texture with the flower photograph.

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Depth Of Field
Depth of field (DOF) is the way you depict sharpness from the front to the back of the space in your image. You can control this sharpness completely by working with the three factors that determine DOF—the focal length of the lens, the aperture setting and camera to subject distance (foreground subject that you wish to be sharp). To create a very deep depth of field, deep meaning sharp from front to back:
1. Use a short focal length lens.
2. Use a very narrow aperture (such as f/16 or f/22).
3. Move back from the foreground subject.

However, in close-up photography the main object is to get close to your subject, so rely more on focal length and aperture to get the deepest DOF.

The converse of the above factors apply when you want a shallow DOF, to make the foreground sharp and the background unsharp:
1. Use a longer focal length lens (like a telephoto).
2. Use a wide aperture (such as f/2.8 or f/4).
3. Move close to the foreground subject.

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