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01/12/2013 09:51:50 AM · #1
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This is perhaps the most unusual flower (actually inflorescence) that I have ever seen.
I want to produce a MUCH more impressive image of this flower and have no idea how :-(. I find the 2 I have here boring ...
It does not have to be a botanical ID type picture, but the flower should be recognisable.
The flower is large, the whole thing is roughly the size of a large man's hand, fingers spread out.

There are a lot of restrictions unfortunately.
The thing grows in a greenhouse, which means lighting is diffuse and therefore pretty good.
The orchid grows in a large wash basket. The flowers lie flat on the "ground" (bark mix, you can see a few bits). It hasn't got a long stem and therfore can't be lifted in any way. It certainly can't be cut off :-).
Because it is so low on the "ground", the rather large, very stiff leaves get in the way and prevent a really good side on angle.

Any ideas, suggestions?
01/12/2013 10:13:25 AM · #2
This subject has a lot of interesting texture that seem less striking than they cold be due to what looks like rather flat/uniform light. Consider getting more dramatic shadows and stronger sense of three dimensions by using an off-camera flash from the side, maybe targeted to the flower but not the background. With the right exposure that could allow you to make the background darker, drawing more attention to the shapes and figures of the flower itself. If that works, next step could be to play with high contrast black and white post processing. It does look like a subject with considerable potential, definitely one worth trying lots of different apporaches until you find something that satisfies you.
01/12/2013 10:13:48 AM · #3
I'm thinking you may need something to do a macro, though all I see in your profile is a kit lens and 55-250. So you can't get really close.

Maybe use those stiff leaves as a foreground element to lead the eye to the flower?
01/12/2013 11:15:28 AM · #4
Focus stacking!

Focus stacking images with something like helicon focus (many other products exist) allows this type of image to really shine. You would see much more of the details throughout, and that technique would work well with the flat lighting.
01/12/2013 11:24:51 AM · #5
Are these shot from above? Assuming you have "unrestricted" access to it, I would bring offboard flash with me. Using 8973 as an example, I'd place it above and slightly to the left, with a bounce on the opposite side, thus lighting the outer curved portions, and having the fill light the inner ones. Focus stacking might also be needed, although I think if you can get all of that one leaf and tendrils in focus, it might be enough. It sort of looks like the orchid mated with a chia pet!
01/12/2013 11:59:00 AM · #6
Originally posted by Yo_Spiff:

I'm thinking you may need something to do a macro, though all I see in your profile is a kit lens and 55-250. So you can't get really close.

Maybe use those stiff leaves as a foreground element to lead the eye to the flower?


Never thought of Macro because it is so large anyway :-).
I do have extension tubes which I use for macro.
I will definitely give this a shot, just because I am curious how it will look in macro. Thanks for the idea.
01/12/2013 12:08:40 PM · #7
Originally posted by tanguera:

Are these shot from above? Assuming you have "unrestricted" access to it, I would bring offboard flash with me. Using 8973 as an example, I'd place it above and slightly to the left, with a bounce on the opposite side, thus lighting the outer curved portions, and having the fill light the inner ones. Focus stacking might also be needed, although I think if you can get all of that one leaf and tendrils in focus, it might be enough. It sort of looks like the orchid mated with a chia pet!


I can tell you, when you see it live, it really does look like it is alive and some type of fury "creature"!

The one pic with more flowers is actually shot "front on", or from the "tip" towards the base (if that makes sense). I have read up on the plant and the flower usually "hangs" when the plant grows attached to a tree trunk. My husband (owner/grower) just couldn't keep it moist enough in our conditions, so planted it in the basket and it is happy there, except the flower can't "hang" but lies flat.

Thank you for the clear description with the lighting. I will definitely try to do that. Lighting is my VERY weak point. Yes, I have unrestricted access, so could also shoot at night with the flash being the only light source. If I would use some type of "snoot" on the flash to direct the light, the BG should automatically become much darker if I would do the whole set up at night, not so?

Focus stacking ... do you mean just taking several pics and focusing on different areas then blending them together in pp?

01/12/2013 12:14:18 PM · #8
Originally posted by Yo_Spiff:


Maybe use those stiff leaves as a foreground element to lead the eye to the flower?


I had thought about useing them in some type of "framing" idea, but wasn't convinced. The leaves on the one side are not very "pretty". They are full of marks and scratches and have a dull grey/green color. The one you see in the BG is better.
Also the leaf you can't see obscures the flower quite a bit the way it lies normally. I bent it away when I took these pics. They are very stiff, thick leaves and don't lend themselves to "gently arranging" :-).
01/12/2013 12:14:37 PM · #9
Do you know the name, or enough of the name to do an image search? Whenever I have a creative composition block I always do a Google image search for ideas.

31.gif mousie is doing an interesting catalog of his succulents on Flickr, here. Obviously, none are the same plant as the one you're looking to shoot, but he's proving that it's definitely okay to include the pot so long as you have great lighting.
01/12/2013 12:24:45 PM · #10
Because flash is so much brighter than ambient light, the bg will be rendered dark (or darker) anyway. Why not try it both ways. The bg can also be darkened in PS after. If lighting is your weak point, then why not experiment with different things? The snoot may be too narrow, and unmodified light may be too harsh. If you don't have actual modifiers, try a small white cloth over the flash to soften the light. White foamcore makes a great bounce as well.

I've never tried focus stacking, but in essence, yes. You generally use a macro on a tripod, focus on a spot, and without moving anything, refocus successive shots in slightly different places. Then merge them with software (like HDR). But others who have done this will have more advice.
01/12/2013 12:33:50 PM · #11
Originally posted by aliqui:

Do you know the name, or enough of the name to do an image search? Whenever I have a creative composition block I always do a Google image search for ideas.

31.gif mousie is doing an interesting catalog of his succulents on Flickr, here. Obviously, none are the same plant as the one you're looking to shoot, but he's proving that it's definitely okay to include the pot so long as you have great lighting.


The plant is Bulbophyllum phalaenopsis, there are images here: https://www.google.co.za/search?q=bulbophyllum+phalaenopsis&hl=en&client=firefox-a&hs=eE6&tbo=u&rls=org.mozilla:en-GB:official&tbm=isch&source=univ&sa=X&ei=O53xUJv7CM2ThgfLz4HYDw&ved=0CDIQsAQ&biw=773&bih=347

I find them equally, if not even more boring than mine ;-)

I will check out the Flickr page. It takes a while, I have very slow internet connection.
Thanks for the link.
01/15/2013 05:53:40 PM · #12
An update.
I spent several hours with that flower today. My husband brought it into the house, which made it so much easier.

I went with Yo Spiff's suggestion and started with macro ... and got lost in macro :-). I LOVE macro and "having" to take several shots of the same to do focus stacking in pp, meant I have hundreds of pics - honestly :-). I also used a flash for it which I think made a big difference. I think I have some really cool pics, but the problem is that they are, well, macro, and you can't really see the actual flower.

I had an enforced brake, because the batteries needed recharging :-), and then started doing the "big" set up. Had reflector boards and flash and umbrellas and the whole lot and STILL didn't get anything exciting :-(. Except .... I got totally side tracked after a while.The reason, I would think, that this orchid is not better known and not grown more frequently, is that it STINKS, I mean it really stinks. Last nght I thought one of the dogs had brought in an old rotten bone, that type of stench. The reason of course is to attract its pollinator, which are those "meat flies" (of course they have a proper name, but I have no idea what it is). Anyway, the flower stinks more in the late afternoon, so by the time I was doing the "big" shots the stench started and the flies arrived ... I have some very cool pics of flies .. I took many, many pics of those :-).

As soon as I have had time to focus stack one or 2 images, I will put them up.
Thank you to everyone for your help.
01/15/2013 06:19:06 PM · #13
LOLOL I soooo enjoyed your story and am very much looking forward to the photo results.
01/15/2013 07:05:14 PM · #14
I LOVE AND MISS MACRO PHOTOGRAPHY SO SO MUCH... I LOOK FORWARD TO YOUR REAULTS AND ENJOYED THE STORY AS WELL.... MACRO WILL LOOSE THE LOOK OF THE FLOWER BUT THE TEXTURED\S ARE TO DIE FOR... SO LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING WHAT YOU TAKE
AN EXAMPLE OF A CLOSE UP MACRO AND THE COMPLETE LOOK OF THE IMAGE RE THE PLANT WHERE I TOOK THE MACRO SHOTS FROM SEE BELOW

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JUST THE IDEA THAT FROM THE LARGE PLANT ONE CAN GET ANY DIFFERENT MUCH CLOSE UP MACRO SHOTS THAT ARE INTERESTING AND AWESOEM TEXTURES... ENJOY FROM SHEZ

01/16/2013 01:38:06 AM · #15
PLEASE CAN SOMEONE HELP ME ... I AM TRYING TO CHANGE THE FONT FOR THIS MESSAGE AND THE SIZE. I TRIED PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING I COULD THINK OFF, INCLUDING TYPING IT IN WORD AND IMPORTING IT AND IT REVERTED BACK TO THIS FONT. ANY IDEA WHAT I CAN DO?

SHER, I APOLOGISE FOR THIS :-(.
WHAT BEAUTIFUL PICTURES! THANK YOU FOR POSTING THEM.I LOVE TAKE 2 ON THE FERN ... A M A Z I N G.
DEFINITELY MY FAVORITE . I MAY TRY TO "COPY" THAT IF YOU DON'T MIND. WE HAVE STAG HORNS GROWING IN THE GREENHOUSES, A DIFFERENT TYPE, A MORE SILVERY LEAF AND LESS FRILLY, BUT I WILL GIVE IT A TRY.

ON AN ASIDE, YOUR SPIKY PLANT IS A CYCAS NOT A CYCAD. THEY ARE VERY CLOSELY RELATED. MY HUSBAND COLLECTS CYCAD, THEY ARE PROTECTED HERE IN SOUTH AFRICA AND WE NEED PERMITS TO HAVE THEM. CYCAS ARE NOT INDIGENOUS TO SOUTH AFRICA AND ARE FREELY AVAIABLE IN NURSERIES. THAT IS WHY I KNOW :-)

HERE IS A MACRO OF AN ORCHID LIP I DID. CONTRARY TO YOUR TEXTURES, I TRIED TO MAKE IT MORE "SMOOTH" IN PP. IT HASN'T GOT YOUR IMAGE'S LOVELY COLOR CONTRAST OF COURSE.
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01/16/2013 01:40:42 AM · #16
Originally posted by kasaba:

PLEASE CAN SOMEONE HELP ME ... I AM TRYING TO CHANGE THE FONT FOR THIS MESSAGE AND THE SIZE. I TRIED PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING I COULD THINK OFF, INCLUDING TYPING IT IN WORD AND IMPORTING IT AND IT REVERTED BACK TO THIS FONT. ANY IDEA WHAT I CAN DO?


OOPS, THAT IS ODD, IT CHANGED WHEN I POSTED ... IT IS "ROMAN" WHEN I TYPE .... OK, SO DON'T WORRY RE THE FONT, IT SEEMS TO DO ITS OWN THING .... COMPUTERS, LOVE THEM ... ;-)
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