Making Of “Reality”

Image Title: Reality

Inspired by the quote  “One person’s craziness is another person’s reality.” from Tim Burton


Beyond the merely sentimental aspects that is usually associated with flowers and particularly roses, in fine art these subjects offer an infinite number of possibilities to convey a diversity of feelings through the combination and composition of graceful forms and tonalities, so no wonder why many of the masters of photography such as Edward Steichen, Walker Evans even Julia Margaret Cameron and others have used flowers as subjects in order to create fine art.

This work is about the beautiful and sensual forms in this rose whose reflection multiplies the visual and almost sensory effect.  I named it “Reality” to emphasize the supposedly craziness of its position that for some people — like me — can be perceived as normal.  As eloquently said by Tim Burton in the quote mentioned above “One person’s craziness is another person’s reality”


In-Camera Settings

Probably the most important aspect about shooting flowers in a studio is the flower setup (position and angle to the camera) as well as the lighting setup. Particularly for this one I used a soft box for top lighting (20″L x 20″W) that I positioned right on top of the flower.

I cut the flower tail about 3.9 inches (10 cms) below the flower base and put it upside down on top of a black piece of acrylic. I used a black muslin backdrop mounted on a backdrop supporter as a background.   After a couple of test shots I got a reasonable good exposure at 2.5 sec, f/22, ISO 200, a tripod was used too. The gear I used for this image was a Canon EOS 7D with a 70-300mm lens @165mm.

Post-Processing Details

As you could expect my post-processing workflow is very oriented to produce Fine Art images as opposed to commercial images or other kind of photography, so you don’t have to do everything that I do, take these steps as a set of recommendations that can help you improve your photography and apply those aspects that make more sense for the kind of final image you’re looking for.

For black and white images I use two post-processing add-ons and Adobe Photoshop CC that are part of my workflow for practically all my images:  Adobe Camera Raw and The Nik Collection. Below a generic description of what I do with each of these.

Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) — This is a Photoshop plug-in (today available as standalone componEnt and as a filter with available versions of Photoshop CC) that allows to work RAW files (a.k.a. “Digital Negatives”) through which you have a greater artistic control and flexibility while still maintaining the original raw files. As with many of my studio photos I didn’t need to make big adjustments given that in a controlled environment like my studio I can shoot as many times as I need in order to get the image I need basically in-camera, so what I did in ACR were just minimum adjustments to Exposure, Saturation and Sharpness.

Color Efex Pro (Nik Software) — Particularly for this image I used a Tonal Contrast preset as a starting point that allowed me to get an even richer color tonal separation between shadows and highlights in order to create a more dramatic monochrome image.

Silver Efex Pro (Nik Software)  — I used a Full Dynamic Preset plus some adjustment control points to avoid getting overblown certain highlight areas particularly on the top of the rose.

Photoshop CC – I made a final cleaning up in some areas particularly on the lower part of the image given that there were small dust particles on the black acrylic that I couldn’t physically eliminate, so I had to clone those out in post-processing.

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