Peony Still Life & adding background

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.




~ by Judy on August 2, 2017.

15 Responses to “Peony Still Life & adding background”

  1. I’ve been sitting here going, “The top one’s the better one. No, the second. No, the first…” One thing I wondered was if trimming back those branches that rise above the flowers would make a positive difference. When I scrolled the image to reduce them (and, hence, the amount of empty space above the bouquet) the image seemed more balanced, somehow.

    It’s so interesting to read about your process. Most of it makes no sense to me at all, of course, because I don’t use those fancy program. Did you use photoshop for your work, or was all that done in Lightroom?

    • I know what you mean about those branches. On the iPad I tend to look at it more zoomed without it. I like the branches but maybe shorter with not so much space above. I could have cropped to no disadvantage but just kept it all to work with. Dead space isn’t always bad to have if someone wanted to add text or something in using the image. So yeah I look at that too to inform next time.

      I do have Lightroom but go with the devil I know and used Photoshop for the layers and blending. It is not hard to do; it is harder to decide which of what you have to apply. For something like this the solid black background gives plenty of options for changing backgrounds but I think wherever possible it is better to choose the setting if you can and shoot it that way. Just if you don’t have a perfect spot with a nice stone wall in a shadowy nook, you can import one. I’d say the trick is making it believable, yet not all works of art are believable in the slightest!! Maybe next time I will make drapes? Photoshop is so dangerous to one’s sanity!!

  2. I prefer the top photo; it has more texture, and looks more painterly (back to the Dutch masters!)

    • I tried to leave the flowers untouched and without any painterly filters or patterns added. I just wanted to give some depth to the background with hints of an old cracked up wall with a bit of light hitting. But, I could definitely do an overall texture to tie it together in a painterly fashion.

      Funny looking at all the old master European still life things, you see human skulls in the same setting as a glass of wine. While I realize that could be the fruit of life next to death and have some meaning or other, just to my sensibilities, wine next to a skull is disturbing!! 🙂 Better stick with flowers and natural objects. Well wine can go with flowers and of course grapes!!

      • Not to forget the seafood . . . lobsters and prawns. They seem to feature quite prolifically

      • True a visual feast!!

      • Indeed, just a bit odd juxtaposed with flowers. Though I suppose we do put flowers on the table as centre piece

      • True, I’ve seen still life images with flowers, and fruit, and other elements..they really varied it a bit in the old days…the painting details was incredible regardless of the objects though. Those roemer wine glasses with prunts are featured in many as well. I like those a lot.

      • Though it’s not a period I’ve studied, it does seem to me a time of experimentation. Kinda ‘The world is art, let’s paint it’. It makes me think of later art movements where even a urinal was fair game for art . . . not to mention some of the dubious exhibits in the Tate Gallery in London.

      • Well the Dutch still life work is amazing and beautiful. I suppose you could argue that the detail is so exquisite that it might as well be a photograph, whereas we try to get the photos to emulate a painting. Never happy are we?

      • Experimentation. Pushing boundaries. Seeing what works, and what doesn’t. Honing skills.

  3. Stunning Judy, I love the color and lighting on this photo.

    • Hi Martha!! Considering what great work you are doing….this a great compliment!! Your product shots are really still life projects!!

  4. Gorgeous! Simply stunningly beautiful, Judy. x

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