Ghost Flowers

I noticed some white “Iceberg” roses growing in a corner of my garden. Their lovely white-on-white shapes truly appealed to me, but I knew all the whiteness would cause difficulties in terms of tonal separation when I photographed the roses on white.

Ghost Flowers by Harold Davis

Ghost Flowers © Harold Davis

Every floral composition needs some structure, and to create a structure for my white roses I laid a stem of Schizanthus grahamii on the background next to my lightbox. Schizanthus is sometimes called a “Butterfly flower” not so much because it attracts butterflies but because it is shaped like a colorful butterfly.

Here’s a story I wrote about arranging floral compositions for photography that explains what I mean about creating a structure.

Laying the white roses on top of the Schizanthus, with my camera on my tripod, I shot six exposures as is my wont—with shutter speeds ranging from one second to 1/100 of a second. Each exposure was at f/10 and ISO 100.

I combined the exposures starting with the lightest one-second exposure using hand-layering in Photoshop. I also used Nik HDR Efex Pro to create a blend that added some definition to the layered image, and could be added using Luminosity blending mode. The initial results are shown below.

Schizanthus by Harold Davis

Schizanthus and White Roses © Harold Davis

I liked the delicacy of the white-on-white roses on the white background, but I decided to see what they would look like on black. To accomplish this, I converted the image to LAB color and applied an inversion adjustment to the L channel of the image. This swapped black for the white of the background, but as a result the roses were a little too dark.

So a painted the flowers in the original of the white-on-white version back over the inverted version at low opacity. The result is a slightly spooky version of ghostly flowers, probably best viewed large.

Odds and ends: If you are interested in an exciting photography workshop in the northeast, check out powerhouse photographer  Hank Gans and his Golden Light photography intensive at Gibson House, a sweet New Hampshire bed & breakfast in mid August.

This entry was posted in Flowers, Photoshop Techniques.

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  1. By Red Poppies on June 27, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    […] my lightbox, I shot this arrangement with my camera on a tripod using eight exposures. Each exposure was at […]

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