Welcome to the Dark Side...of botanical image making!
In this blog I'll be describing (in as few words, and as many images, as I can) the process I use to create my award winning botanical images. Check out this bee heading into what must seem like a HUGE lotus flower!
I try to take away or reduce as many of the distracting elements as possible 🌿
Try to isolate an interesting aspect of the plant and make sure the background has as few distractions as possible ie: no spots of light if possible!!
Ruth E MorrisDark Botanicals.
The detail of the plant has to be tack sharp when your plant is the focal point; if the leaves are blurred, impact is lost.
I take VERY underexposed photographs then tease out the details and the shapes and patterns of the leaves.
Palm Leaf before & after.I've enhanced the available light and created a focal point using a spot.
All the images above have had vignettes or spot lights applied to isolate the point of interest and create mood, but the background is not completely blocked.
Keep an eye on what's happening at the edges of the frame when looking through the view finder.
Sometimes you can get most of a plant or flower into the camera view finder. Sometimes you need to focus on a section that is interesting or part of a leaf.
(Below) Before and after edit, spot removal and I've highlighted the veins on the bottom leaf to try to create some drama!
Simple before and after edit.Rule of thirds to create a more engaging composition.
Taking very underexposed images is a bit of a leap of faith because until I download the files onto my computer I never really know if they will work! I look for the shape and the lack of background distractions when I'm viewing an image at the back of may camera. I don't use a tripod, so I need good arm muscles to keep the camera still!
The Arun Lily bellow an example of the limit of how underexposed I go. (After edit on the right).
Looks complicated? (below) Not really, the edit consists of a crop, enhanced colour, de-spot the leaves, a spot to brighten up the unfurling leaf and sharpening up the leaf veins. The trick is to get all the information in the shot, in camera, then enhance the components of the shot to create the final image.
I hope that you can get out into a garden or park nearby to try some botanical photography ☘️🍃 The California Poppy flowers below were taken in a friends garden in Wyndmonham.
Thank you very much for spending the time to read my botanical bog!
Take care 😊
Ruth is an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society has a Diploma in Professional Photography and is a multiple award winning member of the Guild of Photographers.
Ruth E MorrisFront cover of CameraCraft magazine.