Tulips – Flower Photography

 

There are a few flowers I really enjoy photographing. Lilies, tulips, and rhododendrons are counted among that number. As a common photographic subject, flowers are appreciated for their variety of form, intricacy, and emotional connection. Few people don’t have some level of appreciation for flowers. It’s no wonder that flower photography is such a popular genre.

X-T2_17-04-16_0030X-T2_17-04-16_0029

Take these tulips. I went for a classical representation. A simple black background and a single light source positioned to reveal detail. My goal with these images was to give the viewer a chance to appreciate not just the obvious prettiness of the tulips, but also take a moment to consider the amount of detail provided by nature. The lines of the petals, the dusting of pollen that can be seen in some the images, little details that can provoke an inner dialogue.

X-T2_17-04-18_0004X-T2_17-04-18_0012

I especially like the cutaway image that reveals more of the inner flower. It is an uncommon viewpoint, and I think imparts a greater sense of character. The slightly warm tone added to this black and white image was a whim, but one I think works.

X30_17-04-18_0006X-T2_17-04-17_0100

Each of the images shown here are important for me to have created. Like with any creative act it was about expressing something for myself and then sharing it with the rest of the world.Each of the images shown here is available for purchase here.

The images shown here are available for purchase here.

Sakura (2017)

The cherry blossom tree that I photograph every year made an early bloom. I was fortunately quick off the mark because it really didn’t last long.

What is it about cherry blossoms? They are not the biggest nor the most robust of blooms. I think it has something to do both with their delicacy and the arrangments of the blossoms that seems almost painterly.

This must be why I always seem to photograph them with a shallow depth-of-field and the sort of subdued color that is well-represented by Fujifilm’s Classic Chrome film emulation.

Shot on the Fujifilm X-Pro2 with XF 90mm f/2 R LM WR (usually a portrait lens, but it close-focuses well enough for this purpose).

Prints available here.

Sakura (2017)

X-PRO2_17-04-03_0008X-PRO2_17-04-04_0001X-PRO2_17-04-05_0020X-PRO2_17-04-04_0005X-PRO2_17-04-05_0007X-PRO2_17-04-05_0017

Hairdryer

As a photographer, part of the deal is developing the ability to see photographs essentially everywhere. Make no mistake that this is an ability, an affinity, that must be cultivated. How? Well, by slowing down and really looking at what’s around you, by never taking anything for granted, and by developing a visual vocabulary all your own.

There are plenty of rules and guidelines to photography, but those are mostly on the technical side. You have the law of reciprocity, the rule of thirds, the inverse square ratio…but these are all tools, means to and end. Never should you focus so much on the technical aspect of your photography that you forget to nurture your particular vision.

Because you have one. Everyone does, nascent or fully-formed. Find yours. For myself, I know that I am drawn to appreciate and make certain types of photographs. I love shadow, the appreciation of minute detail, a sense of narrative in portraiture. I can trace all of these back to the influences on my own visual vocabulary, my aesthetic. Growing up in the 1980’s as a lover of comic books I know that informs some of my ideas of storytelling, my appreciation of western paintings influenced my sense of storytelling in portraiture, an interest in Japanese art still has a heavy influence on my color palette in processing photographs. None of this even begins the address the influence of modern photographers like Ralph Gibson and Gordon Parks.

You can see some of these influences in the images posted today. I saw what I wanted to capture in the form of an antiquated hairdryer and the way the light from a window fell on it. The rest of my particular photographic habits informed these images as they inform all my images.

Fellow photographer, I hope you know your visual vocabulary. I hope you cultivate your aesthetic the way a gardener would cultivate orchids. I hope you find your way.

HAIRDRYER

X-Pro2_17-03-09_0032X-Pro2_17-03-09_0034X-T2_17-03-09_0001X-T2_17-03-09_0010X-T2_17-03-09_0008X-T2_17-03-09_0004X-T2_17-03-09_0005X-T2_17-03-09_0006

Black & White Portraits

The portrait is fairly central to the idea of photography itself. It didn’t take long for the early photographic pioneers to turn their lenses toward their fellow men and woman in an attempt to capture something of the essential nature of the human spirit.

In any portrait, the goal is to form a connection between the subject, removed as they are, and the viewer through the medium of the print. The photographer is the bridge between the two, spanning the gap through technical and artistic prowess. Or so it is hoped.

Black & White Portraits

X-T2_17-03-13_0033-1aX-T2_17-03-13_0035X-T2_17-03-13_0036

Photographer: Never Stop Learning

It is 2017 and in these times it benefits a photographer, no matter what their particular niche is, to have a least a basic understanding of the skills and mindset necessary to undertake various types of photography. Being familiar with the skill-sets necessary for the various types of photography from portraiture, to street photography, to product photography does mean trying to be a jack-of-all-trades. The truth is that photography as a discipline often involves needing access to techniques that cross the various photographic disciplines.

I consider myself a fine art photographer, but understand that this incorporates many of the skills of the portrait photographer and the product photographer. There is a lot I can learn from being familiar and studying the lighting techniques of both. Doing so doesn’t dilute my aim, it only makes me a more capable photographer. Photographers are fortunate in that they can learn from a wide variety of artistic disciplines.

Product Photography

The product photographer must be a master of light. In order to present the product in the most effective and engaging way she must know what it takes to light in a way that seems natural, while also evoking a specific mood or atmosphere. What I as a photographer can take away from the tool bag of the portrait photographer is how I can manipulate light to draw attention to or away from elements of my image, and how different types of lighting can change the message of the photograph.

X-T2_17-02-25_0062X-T2_17-02-28_0020

Often the success of product photography lies in the ability to effectively use lighting equipment. Photography is dependent on the efficient use of equipment even at it’s most basic level; using your camera. Using lighting equipment, from the speedlights that most people have seen (wedding photographers, sports photographers, and paparazzi often come to mind), to larger and more powerful studio strobes, can seem daunting. Lighting ratios, power outputs, and all the rest can seem esoteric and mysterious causing many people to shy away from learning these skills. Such an unfortunate thing when artificial lighting can be such a powerful tool in your arsenal!

X-T2_17-03-01_0006_smallerX-T2_17-03-01_0015smaller

Portrait Photography

It might seem that portrait photographers have it easier, but they really don’t. In dealing with photographing people there are a lot of different factors to consider;

  • Photographing the subject in a way that is technically efficient
  • Creating a photographic portrait that is emotionally engaging
  • Posing the subject in a manner that is natural (for them) and visually not awkward or tense
  • Crafting a portrait that is true to the subject
  • Attention to details that can ruin a portrait; hair/clothing out of place, poor background, etc.

This of course is in addition to the considerations of lighting even when shooting in natural light as a poorly or incorrectly lit portrait can mean failure, even if every other aspect of the shot is perfect.

x-t2_17-03-02_0101-1

What I as a photographer can learn from the portrait photographer is an attention to detail, knowing how to make sure everything in the photography from the lighting to the posing to the photographer deciding where to stand work toward a harmonious whole. The success of the portrait photographer lies in balancing technical skill with the psychological skill of knowing both what the subject wants and what the viewer will find pleasing.

x-t2_16-12-28_0079

Furthermore…

These are of course not the only two types of photographers that you can learn something from. There are landscape photographers, street photographers, architectural photographers, lifestyle photographers, the list goes on a while. And that’s a very good thing!

Some of these other disciplines deserve their own articles, but I want to leave you with the recommendation that you look at lots of styles of photography and even better try lots of different styles of photography. You might surprise yourself with how the skills you learn can be applied elsewhere.

Water Bottles

Sometimes it’s about making the work fun. I need to shoot more stock so that’s been something I’ve been going about in my own inimitable way.

Making your stock photography interesting is a necessity with all the competition out there today. At times you will be more successful than at others.

WATER BOTTLES

X-T2_17-02-25_0068X-T2_17-02-23_0012X-T2_17-02-22_0002-1

The Boxer

I do like an enthusiastic portrait subject. Playful, mercurial, easily bored; pretty much sums up the gamut of what you encounter photographing children. This was a session of a boy and his mother. In all a successful sitting but these in particular were my favorites as the young man ran through a full range of expressive gesticulations and pulled faces. A lot of fun!

THE BOXER

x-t2_17-03-02_0098x-t2_17-03-02_0099x-t2_17-03-02_0101-1x-t2_17-03-02_0100-1

NEXT UP: SOMETHING WITH STILL LIFE…MAYBE

The Unstrung Violin

The violin is one of the most romantic of instruments. If there is a more pragmatic reason other than the effect the violin has on the listener that prompted Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to have Sherlock Holmes be an aficionado of the instrument, I prefer not to know it. In my youth I played, but those days are long past and now it is more of a curio, a battered remnant of someone’s musical journey rescued from the trash heap. It is likely the fact that like all musical instruments the violin marries form and function, it could not be made other than how it is and be the same. And they are just darned gorgeous.

THE UNSTRUNG VIOLIN

x-t2_17-02-13_0009x-t2_17-02-13_0031x-t2_17-02-13_0040

NEXT UP: THE BOXER