Peonies with Thatcheria and Spider Scorpion Conch – Low Key



Today just sharing a single image of some low key still life experimentation,,,,mainly because I am too wiped out to really look at the various images I had to choose from. Terrible admission I know. This just to say you might see more Peonies! For today’s effort I went to Whole Foods and bought the peonies and some long stemmed roses, but having spent the time with the peonies the roses’ only job was just to sit and look pretty. Additionally, I thought the arrangement needed some greens and figured the outside Podocarpus hedge might be good to try and was pleased with the bonus of some blue berries on the branches. I placed the flowers in the same spot as I did the shells and sunflowers last time….in the corner next to the sliding glass doors. I did not use the light room in front of a dark room or the window shade material as before with the vertical pattern; today I tried taping black felt cloth to the wall in hopes of getting light absorbing material with no noise contamination in the background.

I think the felt helped with the intended low key look and so I concentrated on the positioning of the flowers and other elements. Other elements include the Lambdis Scorpius (Linneaus 1758) shell (otherwise called the Spider Conch or Scorpion Conch) which I collected many moons ago in the Philippines and also that elegant Thatcheria from last time. I chose the Scorpius because the spidery edges seemed to contrast with the super soft peonies. It was always one of my favourites.  All that happened in Photoshop with this one was just to bring down the light a little bit with the Neutral Gradient Filter and enhance contrast a bit. No oil paint effects just natural flowers.

I’d like to take a moment about the glass vase I put the flowers in. The interesting green glassware was found for a song (1.99) at Tuesday Morning. What it looked like to me was a Roemer Wine Glass which I had seen pictures of . Here is a little bit of history on Roemer Wine Glass. Of course my little wine glass/flower vase is not from the 16th Century but has a look I liked. Those little blobs of glass stuck to the cylindrical base are called prunts. This is actually my new word for the day and here is Wikipedia to the rescue….”A prunt is a small blob of glass fused to another piece of glass. Prunts are applied primarily as decoration, but also help provide a firm grip in the absence of a handle. Prunts may be impressed into decorative shapes, such as raspberries, blackberries, or lion’s heads. Prunts are a common stylistic element in German glassware, such as the rummer and Berkemeyer styles of drinking glass.


PS: I hope to get better at this and have found still life work a lot harder than it looks, between the ambient light, controlling the background, getting  good depth of field on the camera to get all the flowers decently in focus…they are not lined up on one plane really. Oh, and not to mention arranging and rearranging the flowers and green things. Oh, and that felt and the masking tape do not get along, ever so often it would come undone….better method needed. 🙂  Tape got along with the wall ok though.

PSII: Learned another lesson this evening about peonies…..wait a day after you buy them…you should see the peonies are getting more beautiful by the second…all are opening up and the buds too. And, they smell great. Guess you can tell it is the first time I have purchased this kind of flower. Perhaps I photographed them too soon!! Wow!!

~ by Judy on July 23, 2017.

9 Responses to “Peonies with Thatcheria and Spider Scorpion Conch – Low Key”

  1. oh, that is lovely!

  2. Lovely and educational, as usual. Nice compilation. Jack

    • Maybe the Peonies will still be looking pretty on Saturday. I have this horrible feeling that I might enjoy having cut flowers EVERY week!!? The roses and peonies make the house look so beautiful.

  3. I see this and think of the Dutch, though I’m not sure who in particular. I remember seeing a painting (Norwich Castle Museum has an impressive collection) which included a peony (or similar) a shell and (I think) a lute. I think what I’m saying is how ‘painterly’ this looks.

    • Your observation is good one the Dutch as I also have seen not just some old master’s paintings but also some photography still life made in the spirit of the Dutch old master’s. One fellow in fact has some spectacular floral still life images with insects added in so I knew he was compositing. What I learned from his site is that he composites some of the flowers too. And, that is a great idea to have the photo, then an inventory of flower images in the same lighting to build in for an outrageously beautiful arrangement of flowers from all over the world, any season. As expensive as cut flowers are, this gives the power to reuse and rearrange some elements. I read even the old master’s painted from things like botany books and didn’t necessarily acquire every flower they painted. Painting seems more straight forward than compositing, but I am mulling that over. Right now I need to learn how to do straight forward arranged shots though. I’ll see about finding his name in a moment for you to enjoy. As for me I have collected various ‘found objects’ and natural things forever for mixing with flowers, wood etc and have taken inspiration from so many beautiful paintings and photographs. Painterly is my vision and I try to do that with the birds as well favoring portrait type poses and dark backgrounds so often. The modern photographic artist is Bas Meeuws. His floral images are out of this world. I would love to see some of those tulips! He used an alligator in one image…I have alligators!! If I get crazy I will try putting some of my birds in a composite with flowers to see how surreal it might look. I have always liked flower petals in contrast with wood grain and I think Ansel Adams might have done texture work in black and white along those lines…if I remember right!! And, Bas, has a glass with raspberry prunts!!!

  4. I know I was here before. I think I got distracted by the peonies and went off to look at those for a while. My mother and grandmother grew them, and they were the traditional flower for graves when I was growing up. The white ones were favorites, although there was a deep maroon that was just out of this world. I don’t remember us having any multi-colored. I suppose those would have been available from garden shops as hybrids, but the plants we had were old, old stock, and did well enough.

    The more I read, the more I realize how much work this is. So much of what you talk about really is like a foreign language to me, but the result is splendid. The irony is that your posts may end up helping me out. I need to take some photos of various pieces of antique china for a post I want to write, and I’ve already discovered how hard it is to take a photo of a china plate without getting reflections in it! Even though I live in a small apartment, it’s hard to find a spot where there isn’t a window in arm’s reach. I’m going to have to really study these posts and see if I can figure out some tricks.

    I’d say you’re well on your way to getting the painterly effect you want. When I see these photos, they truly do have that aura of European still lifes. The old masters knew how to do it — and you’ll master it, too!

    • Yeah it seems to take a bit of planning to get what you envision without distractions that affect the artistic sense of it. Like I find that some reflection is ok or even desirable on glass, but not when it is easy to see your sliding glass doors and hints of junk out on the patio! LOL!! Swirly light is ok or just pretty highlights on a vase, but too much detail or bad detail in the reflection isn’t what I am going for. So it does take some practice to get light enough without harshness or unwanted details. On your china plate, when I was photographing some of Mom’s painted plates I found you just have to position them in muted light or no direct light. Luckily you can see the reflections or unwanted glare through the viewfinder and can adjust the plate until you don’t see anything. I sometimes put them on the floor for a straight down shot in a diffuse light area. If you can see the glare so can the camera.

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