Still Life Images – Time-Tulips Revisited – Thatcheria Textured – Wilted Roses

•September 2, 2017 • 15 Comments

This image features a vintage (60s or 70s) hourglass 
with some roses which have seen a better day. With the
thought of time running down, the wilted roses seemed
to represent how temporal existence is,their beauty 
almost expired. The old brass bell added an aura of age
 with its pleasant patina. I think one of my military 
relatives brought it home, possibly 
from China or maybe Korea many years ago.

I have a feeling some people are going to be asking, why doesn’t she just get back to the birds and lighthouses!!?? I understand completely. Is it fair to subject other folks to one’s learning process? I think one thing I have learned is that if at all possible, if you want a textured background or a painterly one, set up your stage that way. Then afterwards you can worry about color and lighting and anything else, but won’t agonize over blending in textures in post processing. Well maybe my problem is just being indecisive and I want to see what my options look like. And, to think I was supposed to be content with a simple black background. Ah well!!

So here is some more experimentation to share and I hope that some of it works for you realizing that not everyone likes still life projects. Yeah, I asked my husband if he thought the tulips looks too unnaturally red on my screen, and he wondered why the limp stems?? Tulips do seem to be a bit soft and watery in a way. I understand now why so many tulip images look the way they do, leaning all to one side or drooping with their heads hanging down from the arrangements they share with other flowers. Reds are the most problematic for me since my main computer tends to look oversaturated and then when I convert from Adobe 1998 to sRGB for posting I am not sure the reds will look the way I intended. You’ll have to let me know if the second image with the tulips looks over done. It looks very nice in my Photoshop screen. Hopefully you will have a friendly monitor for the reds. So just a couple notes under each image. The Thatcheria shell I thought looked kind of Grecian with the texture…like a vase.

Comments welcome..the good, the bad and the ugly…!

Revisiting the tulip arrangement from a few weeks
ago. I gave it combination of textures giving a soft, rich
look to the black wall. For those with an impulse
to clean up the table, I have quite a few objects including
the Roemer like wine glass, shells from the PI, acorns 
and little spiky round things from California, and a
favourite piece of my mother's carnival glass. The design
is kind of Persian and probably made by Fenton but 
should look it up. I think they must have copied the
iridescence given the grackle. I love carnival glass.

I think I had planned a black and white shadowy image
when I was looking at this image. But, put texture on
it and thought it reminded me of a Greek vase or something.
Truly an elegant shell.

For this I was trying to be more brazen with the
bi-color filter and jazz up an otherwise plain shot
of the fading flowers. They are not dried just have
nothing left to hold up their heads. I thought blue 
light ought to come in on the window side and have
a little warm light on the room side with some
texture for perhaps an aged quality.

Happy Labor Day and Best Wishes as you wrap up summer even though mother nature isn’t finished with the heat and hurricanes yet. Stay Safe!

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When Insurance Just Isn’t Enough

•August 28, 2017 • 9 Comments

Having friends living along the edges of the watery basin we know as the Gulf of Mexico suffering the effects of Hurricane Harvey this 2017 Hurricane season , and despite some very real difficulties, I was reminded of another hurricane season in the Gulf and someone’s sense of humor.  The 2004 Hurricane Season brought Category 4 Charley to the Gulf coast of Florida in August which was the costliest storm to that date, only to be crushed  by the following record breaking 2005 season when Dennis, Emily, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma visited our lovely state.  A parade of active hurricane seasons besides having us all take Mother Nature more seriously, caused quite a few insurance companies to flee doing business in Florida. Even today my family has Citizens, the insurance company of last resort, since no company seems to want our small house situated on a canal linking to the ICW and vast Atlantic Ocean.

I could not resist going back in my files to gather up images I could never forget taking with my first digital camera, the Canon Rebel DLSR. It was September 19 of 2004 only 5 or so weeks after Hurricane Charley had come and gone, that we were visiting Naples and I wanted to take a few sunset pictures on the beach. The west coast has nice civilized sunsets, while in the east where I am you have to get up so early for pretty pictures of the sun near the horizon so I earnestly looked forward to the opportunity.

So, I spent some time walking up and down the beach waiting for the sun to descend when I approached a house, a large beautiful one with the new vertical metal style roof.  I was startled by the strange sight of  a giant orange anchor sitting in the yard and on closer examination realized that it was firmly attached to the house by a heavy metal chain snaking through the yard. Then I laughed so hard at the perfect absurdity and the rationality of the thought that this house was indeed anchored to the world and no hurricane wind would blow it away or rushing waves carry it out to sea. While it is difficult to see, on the left side of the 2nd image, this property owner has covered all his bases as a trio of crosses stands in an elegant and stylish display and certainly must appeal to divine intervention. So you can see the title I gave these images, When Insurance Just isn’t enough, is a natural one. So there Windstorm Insurance companies!!! Since this image was taken in September 2004, the 2005 season with its five hurricanes striking Florida was still in the future. I hope they fared well in 2005.

I don’t mean to make light of a difficult situation, but gotta love the very clever sense of humor of this  homeowner!! Maybe we all need to smile at life’s ups and downs whenever we can.

 

 

 

This image is just an old favourite from that same day.
It's color are so muted due to the presence of white
light courtesy of the descending sun. You can see
the pilings pointing out to the lighted horizon and
mounds of seashells polished by the storm piled
up on the beach and around some of the pilings. Hard to
see but pelicans sit on the furthest out pilings. I 
called this one Let There Be Light back when I took it.
It still looks interesting to me.

Wishing everyone in harm’s way this hurricane season a speedy recovery as they heal and rebuild!!

Judy

Everglades Bouquet of fern, thistle, duck weed and snowy egret elements

•August 27, 2017 • 7 Comments

 

Today I was intent on working through an idea for a composite for which I did not have all the images ideal for the idea. But, I felt compelled to do something. Some still life photographers do use compositing to set up their scenes bringing in objects or flowers to fill in the setting much as a painter would. I like the idea of having an inventory of flowers or objects with similar lighting so that you could plan a  basic set up  to fill in with flowers from other shoots from other days or even seasons. I wanted to  try something in my world instead of old Dutch master’s settings and objects which I see as something done exquisitely by so many other artists. Liking the idea of assembling some flowers from the swamp or glades, I thought an Everglades bouquet sounded interesting. I envisioned gathering up the purple thistles you see in the glades, aquatic pickerel weed, fire flag flowers, a wild iris,  maybe some tillandsia with the bright red bracts, a swamp lily and instead of insects or scorpions would incorporate a bird of the glades.

So despite not having images which had been shot with the idea in mind, I decided to set up something to take a picture of and then try and fill in with images I could hunt out of my files to learn on and test out the concept. So I cut some ferns from my yard for the greens background and cut some purple flowers from the roadside. They were the only ones I felt I could mooch without disturbing someone’s harmony on a Sunday morning. So I put together a basic composition to fill in…the last of the three images included here. I did find some thistle in my files and duck weed that I could darken the background for a merge. I tried to get the wild iris to work and I’d planned it to be my keystone flower, but I just couldn’t seem to make it fit. The fire flag flowers too weren’t suitable for a meld even though I really like them. Perhaps on a still day I can go to the rookery with a piece of black foam board to place behind a fire flag flower for the idea. Or do a different type of background…greenish with texture maybe. Those would drape so nicely. Oh, I did make a mistake thinking the purple flowers were Florida periwinkles; they are Mexican petunias (Ruellia simplex). Luckily the infertile kind as in the course of setting up something totally Florida, I put in an invasive species which in its infertile type is used as a colorful groundcover.

The top image is just what I ended up with when I brought in the bird, kept the water and made the flower vase the fern and lichen encrusted cypress trunk. Probably should scale down the bird a bit more but the snowy is so beautiful in that pensive pose. Image two is the set up with the flowers filled in with some fern strewn on the table. And, the third as mentioned is what I began with only with the oil filter applied. So I will keep planning as I like the idea of an Everglades still shot assembled from wild pictures, I just have to get it to work.

 

 

On this basic composition I used slices from the table
to form a frame to dress up the oil paint
filter I put on the image.

 

In hopes everyone has had a great weekend!

Judy

 

Black and White Peony Treatment & Vintage Theatre Curtain Background

•August 17, 2017 • 11 Comments

Have to say sorry for jumping back into the Peony shoot. I promised someone, now cannot remember, that I’d maybe put drapes for background on the arrangement instead of grungy texture. They are elegant enough to justify being neighbors with a hint of lush vintage theatre drapes. Maybe the flowers take center stage? I played with it in color but when Leanne Cole had her weekly Monochrome Madness, I thought I’d see how the idea looked in black and white and liked it enough to share there. The flowers are the main thing not to be upstaged as it where by those gorgeous curtains, so I moved the layer around and darkened out the center detail just enough to have it seem the table with flowers was just happened to be nestled in a corner with curtains.

The vintage drapes were found a the site of a Deviant Art artist..EveyD….right HERE ! Clicking on her curtains will get you there too. She has the image in a variety of colors…they all look amazing but I was partial to the colors below. Right, I turned them into black and white, oh well!!  If any one is looking for interesting backgrounds or textures, you might check out the artists at Deviant Art as so much is shared there for you to experiment with. Just be careful to read any rules the artist might have on commercial use vs personal use depending on what you want to do with your artistic work that utilized their stock. That site is also excellent to find Photoshop brushes as well as backgrounds and textures.

 

Gorgeous Vintage Theatre Curtain aren't they?
♦

Have fun with your images...whether Photoshop, Lightroom, NIK Filters....whatever you have. I love our digital darkrooms!!

Judy

Red Tulips with Carnival Bowl, Shells and Wine Glass

•August 13, 2017 • 21 Comments

Last weekend’s continuing experimentation with low key still life settings seemed to come with both more experimentation but also less fluidity with flowers and the arrangements. The peonies were just so inherently lovely and easy. I have about three setting arrangements that I thought worth spending some time on and this was the first that I started with. Once again I purchased the flowers at Whole Foods and bought a tropical bouquet and the package of tulips in red. The tropical group were interesting but I wasn’t really fond of them in the end or maybe just didn’t have the right vision for them. In this particular arrangement I did fill in the tulips with three of the tropical plants which were not just compatible with the tulips but matched in color almost too perfectly.

As last time, the top image has little bit of texture added in for depth. I like the black backgrounds but sometimes it seems a little too flat with only lighting to give any depth or roundness to the image. The second image is the basic capture shot with normal lighting, contrast and clarity adjustments.

Other elements include a beautiful piece of my mother’s carnival glass collection which shines there on the far left in the image. Moving towards the right you will see my Murex haustellum with its long siphon canal. The shell was one of my more exciting finds while diving circa 1970. I was good at recognizing shapes and even though what stuck out of the sand looked much like a twig, a little fanning revealed the wonderful specimen which I did prepare as such. The little white shell with the extended ends is in an allied cowry group but I do not have its name at present. Then the  cone shell, a pashmina scarf I bought in Egypt and the roemer-like wine glass actually filled with actual wine which I actually did drink ultimately. Why not be authentic? I enjoyed employing the scarf as its shine and texture added it own light to the setting.  I noticed with old masters things lots of table cloths and tapestries draped on tables. Draping things is not my long suit and so was just happy it didn’t slide off the table. Well the glass of wine helped hold it in place.

I hope you enjoy this effort and I will show at least one other of the compositions and see what seems more appealing to others or if the groupings work really.

 

Judy

Peonies Still Life – First and Last

•August 7, 2017 • 10 Comments

Before going on to my next still life effort (which has tulips and some tropical flowers) I felt if I didn’t work a little more on the peonies that they would languish unattended for a long time. So naturally decided to share and get input.  I posted a couple onto my Alamy stock site, which though unproductive so far still puts some work out there. The two selections here are from different ends of the spectrum as far as shooting order is concerned. The first you can see the peonies aren’t opened up very much and are placed in my favourite pewter vase with a sea shell motif and a slender glass insert for water. The arrangement is intended to look elegant and simple. The background was the black felt again but I added a little texture and light to the background for depth and interest and looks somewhat velvety I thought.

The second image below shows the flowers in much fuller bloom and were taken the day after the image above. I thought the difference was dramatic as I watched the flowers change from hour to hour. Peonies really do get very fluffy. This image is an all out oil paint filter experiment as I thought the peony petals lent themselves well for such a soft treatment. I thought the effect could use a little more punch and so used another Photoshop filter, once called craquelure which accented the painterly edges and lit them up a bit and was consistent with the painterly objective. I find that craquelure is an interesting filter that rarely gets utilized but can be a great companion to some other paint effects. I think the softness of the peonies and delicate color would work nicely on a high key treatment too. Another day another lesson!

 

Forgive any redundancy with the peonies but wanted to share them anyhow!!

I may have mentioned that I purchased the peonies from Whole Foods and that I was told they came all the way from Israel.

 

Judy

Peony Still Life & adding background

•August 2, 2017 • 13 Comments

Generally when I try and add background texture to images I tend err on the side of not being too heavy handed or heavily dramatic. So I hope the look has a nice effect rather than being close but too underdone. It may be too dark depending on  the viewing monitor. Assuming the treatment looks attractive to others at all. I promised more peonies from the experimentation last weekend so here is another.  As you can see this arrangement features only the natural leaves which belong to the peonies and not with the addition of the podocarpus with its gray blue berries to fill in some spaces as in the previous post.

For this arrangement a flower has been dropped onto the table but no seashells in the arrangement. The lower image is the capture shot with minor lighting/darkening adjustments. The top image maintains the low key quality of the image but has a couple of texture layers giving the flat black background some depth and dimension. I added a texture  pattern that looked like a cracked wall with all kids of crazed lines in it. The crazed layer I had at 100% opacity but with color dodge for the blending mode. For a given texture normal mode will be a flat looking color but color dodge will lighten the colors in pretty ways. The other layer was a greenish layer with shades of green dark on the outside and graduation to very light in the center with edges that looked like old cracked paper. This layer I chose to use a blending mode called ‘divide’ which brightened the earthy faded greens to lively bluish tones. You have to play with blending modes. Once you see what one does, you can create looks just by painting colors on a layer and choosing blending modes and opacities to get the look you want.

You can of course change backgrounds to what ever you want if you are willing to do the work of cutting out your flower arrangement (or subject) for example and sliding in a background and then working to blend them. In a case like this I chose textures which could disappear into the black without doing any cutting out of anything. Just blending and masking out a few cracks that didn’t need to be on the flowers or leaves. I wanted the texture to look like it was behind the flowers rather than texture on the flowers….although you do that if you want a painterly look all blended as one.

Now after all that, I hope that the look shows up enough and looks interesting. I did not want to upstage the flowers only give them some depth.

 

 

Judy