Still Life Images with Flowers and Shells


Thatcheria with Red Rose

Once upon a time circa 1969 I lived in the Philippines and learned to love shell collecting. In the vast Pacific Ocean, Philippine and South China Seas live multitudes of species of sea shells and to one interested in the exotic mollusks every single dive brought personal experience of something new and beautiful. I can still remember the excitement when I noticed my first large tiger cowrie covered up in its mantle and the glorious color and detail revealed when the mantle retracted at my touch. It was amazing.  I fanned the sand all night long in my dreams the day I found a Murex haustellum siphon canal buried in the sand and fanned away to reveal the shell. Or the time I forgot I had a tented cone in my collection bag after a dive and was lucky enough that it didn’t send one of its poisonous barbs my way when I reached in.

So that is one reason in my effort to do some flower still life pictures, I ended up abandoning my plan for a voluptuous display of loads of flowers for some images like you see here with a simple flower contrasting or complementing with some sea shells. I have intended for a long time to take pictures of some of my shells, and now maybe will get to it. I am open to any kind of critique with these as I spent an inordinate amount of time waffling over how to stage my still life set ups. These are only a few.  I find it is harder than it looks and available light and where to find dark is something to figure out. For these I mainly used the light coming from my sliding glass doors and put a wooden table in front of door of the den which is nice and dark inside to serve as background. To do still life scenes I think it is best to set up spot properly with a dark or light backgrounds and a tripod and maybe even some reflectors or lighting in order to have more control. But, this is just using a camera, hand held, and with in situ availability of light and dark with a 100mm macro lens. I am going to learn now to do this effectively as I enjoy working with flowers and natural things.

Spondylus-Thatcheria-with Red Rose-Still Life


This scene features some scratchy looking greens that I don't know
 the name of with a red rose, a Thatcheria mirabilis shell, and a Spondylus 
(probably S. americanus)  which had cemented itself to a coralliferous rock to
 which it is still attached.  Spondylus is sometimes called a spiny or thorny
 oyster but  it is related to the scallop and not an oyster at all. I never did 
clean this  specimen as I liked the natural  mess and was also reluctant to risk 
damaging what spines there are. It has been  on my book shelf since college.
Thatcheria mirabilis is not one I collected but  rather was a gift. It is well
 known for its unique and elegant lines and might  come from Japan.


Wentletrap-Thatcheria-Red Rose-Spires and Spirals Still Life


This set up includes a rose, the Thatcheria, and a Precious Wentletrap shell. 
All to contrast and compare with the curves and spirals of the flower.
The way I heard it was that the Wentletrap was once considered very rare
as it was difficult to get at in deep waters. Rare enough that in China they made 
copy Wentletraps out of rice paste. Over time diving capabilities
made the shell more accessible and so now the rice paste fakes are the rare
commodity. That is the story given me so there you have it.
This one is real.

Spondylus-Thatcheria-with Mum


I started this scene with the idea of putting spiky things together.
The Spondylus, the Mum and the spiky greens. Added the
Thatcheria for grace though one could say it is kind of 
spiky too.

Glenmore Whiskey Bottle with Mums and Wentletrap & Thatcheria Shells Still Life


Lastly is a more subdued still life with mums and the shells using a bottle 
that belonged to my grandmother. I don't know if she drank the Bourbon 
or not but I always kept it for a still life of some kind. Never used it 
til now.


A nice way to spend the day before Independence Day when I thought I’d be at the office!!! Yea, a day to play!!



~ by Judy on July 3, 2017.

13 Responses to “Still Life Images with Flowers and Shells”

  1. Absolutely spectacular, as usual. You have a gift of insight, ma’am!

    • Not sure you’d say that if you watched me moving the pieces around feeling like I didn’t have a feel for it at all!! But, I am glad to get a good reaction that the colors and composition are pleasing. I did put an oil paint effect on the first image but you can’t really tell unless you zoom in on it. I like paint filters but think this one didn’t really need it. But, you’ll see if you look.

      Good to hear from you btw! I know you busy hiking and enjoying Florida’s wild places and spaces!! Getting kinda hot though!! Whew!!

  2. I really like these wonderful still life images. Somehow, even without a tripod, you have managed to create true masterpieces. Happy 4th, Judy!

    • Hope you enjoyed your 4th of July too!! Luckily cameras today can be handheld at fairly low shutter speeds, IF I can hold steady or lean on something. Why I am so reluctant to drag out my tripod I am not sure but getting it situated is not always as straightforward as it ought to be. I look forward to working on more still life scenes. Need to put my object hoarding to work!!

  3. Yikes, too many fascinating images, all equally brilliant. I do like the way you’ve chosen flowers, not that contrast with the shells, except in substance, but that echo the forms. At the risk of repeating myself: Brilliant, and inspired.

    • Well, the entire issue of echoing spiral forms whether flowers or sea shells is not so hard to find in nature…the Fibonacci sequence, Golden mean and all. This I think is why we love these patterns, they are a natural growth pattern so I think we humans are preprogrammed to respond to them. Now that I look at this my very own spiral – my cochlea – will soon be invaded by a contraption to help me hear better. No wonder I am obsessing over spirals and seashells.

  4. Judy, these are exquisite! What a sense of composition — both of position and color — you have. May I have your permission to use some of these to paint from?

    • Absolutely, you can utilize them for painting!! If you do, take a picture and show me the result. That would be fun!! Glad you enjoyed them!!

  5. Here I am, trying to catch up at last. It’s been so blasted hot, the routine has been to come home, stare at the computer screen, and then play freecell. I’m finally adjusting, and getting a new schedule in place so I’m not so exhausted all the time. And I see you have cochlear implants on your schedule? I have a couple of friends who’ve had them, with better than just so-so success. One has trouble if there’s a lot of chatter in a room, like a reception or cocktail party, and one sometimes has trouble distinguishing lyrics in a song — especially if she hasn’t heard it before. Otherwise? All good.

    As for your photos, they’re better than all good. I tend not to enjoy still lifes, but these are spectacular. I’ve kept coming back to them, admiring everything from the object placement to the sharpness of the photos. They look like paintings. Just gorgeous. It must be so satisfying to be able to produce something like this!

    • The thing about placement I find is that you twist and turn things quit a bit but when you like it you like it…..never knowing if it will hit others the same. I like to think that there is a universal sense of things, placement, position, and that if it hits me right, others will feel the same. I am only learning but when I look at really fine still life work of others, I can see the music in it and a single misplaced thing is like a discordant note in an otherwise harmonious song…..such as my cowry leaf.

  6. Wonderful still lifes, Judy. The last photos is definitely my favourite, exquisite work!

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