Before and After: Dark Botanical Photo Edits.

March 30, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

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!

Lotus flower and bee!Lotus flower and bee!

I try to take away or reduce as many of the distracting elements as possible 🌿

Edited before and after photos, close up of bamboo canes.Before and After. Bamboo canes.I've used the burn tool to take out all the distractions from in between the canes.

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!!
Nelumbo nucifera, leaves of the lotus plant, edited to create a moody dark feeling. Silver award winning images, 'Guild of Photographers', UK.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.

Underexposed palm leaves edited to exploit the available light. Two images, before and after.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. 

Fern fronds just after rainFern fronds just after rain.Vignette and cropped to get a little bit more drama!

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!
Edited leaves. Spot removal and spot light to highlight the veins in the bottom leaf.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).

Before and after of Arun Lily flowers showing my editing techniques.Arun Lily flowers.Underexposed to the limit!! Draw out the light and adjust the colours.

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.

Unfurling palm leaf.Winner of the 2019 'Image of the Year', Floral & Insect category. Guild of Photographers.

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.

California PoppiesCalifornia PoppiesBefore and after edit of poppies with bright sunlight.

Thank you very much for spending the time to read my botanical bog!

Take care 😊 


A passionate photographer, gardener, Art teacher and blogger; Ruth has her own Photography Courses and Written Photography Feedback packages.

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.

Me, in the Singapore Botanic gardens holding a copy of CameraCraft magazine.Ruth E MorrisFront cover of CameraCraft magazine.


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