Flower 'portraits' Tutorial

For this project you will need:

  • A flower (or other single subject)

  • Coloured and white A4 card or paper

  • Blutack or masking tape

  • A well lit window (though not necessarily direct sun)

This project enables you to take photos that mimic being lit by studio lights.

Technique:

  1. Attach the white card/paper to the window

  2. Place your flower in front of the card - either on the window sill itself or on a table. Make sure that the flower is positioned so there is a clear margin of card at the top and down the sides

  3. Take the photo making sure you focus on the flower itself. If using a camera you may find you need to change your metering modes to get the best result. Try Centre Weighted or Spot especially if you subject is much darker or lighter than the background. If using your smartphone, tap on the flower and adjust the exposure with the slider that pops up

  4. Don’t worry about seeing the edges of the card in your image - you’ll be able to crop out unnecessary details afterwards

Background tips:


  • Shooting against a white or light background gives you a backlit style shot


  • Change the card/paper for a black or dark colour and you will get a spotlight effect from the light spilling over the top and sides of the card!


  • No black paper or card - use a place mat, large book or baking sheet!


  • Use other pieces of card to block light from one or both sides to get different lighting effects!


Editing:

  • Because your subject is backlit it can create a dull looking flower -especially when shooting against white

  • You could edit your subject to become more of a silhouette by increasing the shadows/blacks in the image but let's look at how to edit the photos to bring out the colour of the flowers

I edited these images within Lightroom but most editing programmes including the free editors in Windows or Apple's IOS include the adjustments to make.

I cropped my images to square which eliminated the top of the vase. You can, of course, include the vase you use if you wish to.

Against white:

  • If your white background doesn't look that white - adjust the White Balance/Colour Temperature

  • To brighten both the flower and the background increase the White/Highlights and decrease the Shadows

Against black/dark:

  • Increase the black/shadows to get a purer black background

  • This will also deepen the colour of the flower so be careful of the adjustments you make

  • In the case of the dark brown placemat I used this eliminated the colour of the mat

  • In the case of the baking sheet it allowed me to hide the texture and marks on the baking sheet



I hope you have fun with this project - get in touch with any questions you might have about any of the techniques!



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All images © Sarah Holmes 2020 No reproduction without prior permission.