Cherry explained that creative photography is “not just about Photoshop, it starts in the mind”. It’s about ideas and imagination and then taking the shot. “If you want to be creative, you have to plan your shot”.
And it seems it is not about the gear either. Cherry uses a Nikon D7100 (an “enthusiast-targeted”, crop-sensor camera, now discontinued) coupled with a 150mm Sigma macro lens (“I originally got it for insects. It’s a lovely lens and very sharp.”)
Her other important bits of kit are:
- A black plastic sack to lie on (getting down to flower level allows for better, closer views) and,
- A small pair of scissors (for “gardening”).
- She never uses flash or reflectors.
Cherry first showed us how to produce carefully composed naturalistic images in the great outdoors. She tries to get things right in camera but recognises that it is not always possible.
Getting a good viewpoint and composition are clearly import. Cherry likes to get in close and isolate a single specimen. And she likes specimens where some parts are out and others aren’t. Depth of field is also important, and Cherry likes to throw the background out of focus but allow a decent impression of the environment to show through. It also helps to “frame” the subject. And Cherry “loves” negative space – “where it works”.
You can shoot with the light behind you. But shooting towards the light adds another dimension, particularly where it reveals something different (for example, a hairy stem).
All this helpful advice was illustrated with delightful images of orchids, snowdrops, fritillaria, poppies, herb-roberts, forget-me-nots, bluebells, calla lilies, aquilegia’s, and many more flowers.
Then Cherry showed us how to make lovely artistic still life images indoors. A great pursuit for lockdown days!
As well as live blooms, you can also use dead flowers. And Cherry has a large stock of interesting jars and vases (mostly bought from charity shops) in which to stand her flowers. They are often positioned in front of white or black mountboards for nice clean backgrounds. If she wants “pin-sharp” she uses a tripod. It is important to try different shots of the same flower – for example, getting in very close or shooting from overhead – for interesting results.
Although some shots stand on their own, for others a little Photoshop work (such as adding textures) can add another dimension.
Again, all this helpful advice was illustrated with captivating images of alstroemerias, tulips, roses, carnations, dahlias, aquilegia’s, and many more flowers.
Next Cherry showed us “something different”. This included flowers shot underwater, some creative use of the Photoshop Warp tool, pressed flowers shot on a lightbox (giving them a revealing translucent quality), more texture work, some pseudo double exposures, and some monochrome images. Specimens included chrysanthemums, rosebuds, cosmos, violets, tulips, bluebells, sweet peas, and lilies.
To finish Cherry showed how a very different look can be achieved using the specialist Lensbaby Velvet 56 lens which can focus at five inches from the subject. “This lens has magical qualities for flowers” and in the right situation can produce an ethereal glow and softness. As well as flower shots Cherry also uses it for landscape work.
The lens produces gorgeous impressionistic images. As well as showing us stills, Cherry also ran an entrancing Audio Visual of Lensbaby shots.
This was an excellent presentation, beautifully illustrated with Cherry’s wonderful images and the Audio Visual. It will undoubtedly stimulate the imagination and inspire the creativity of club members, even those who have not previously wanted to photograph flowers.
Chairman Mike, who confessed that he has little aptitude for flower photography, saw yet another opportunity for a “Chairman’s Challenge”. Watch this space.