Thursday 24 October 2019

Textured Flowers

From the moment I picked up my first camera 14 years ago my favourite photography subject has always been flowers. I've been a very keen gardener for longer than I've been a photographer so I was naturally drawn to flower photography with a camera in my hand. Flowers are wonderful subjects to photograph. They're very patient and never complain if you don't get the shot right first time. "Don't worry. Have another go. I'm not going anywhere. Take your time"

There's nothing more relaxing than spending the day in beautiful surroundings on a hopefully still and slightly overcast day with a macro lens, tripod and a diffuser picking out flowers that are in perfect condition to photograph. I'll often photograph freehand but I prefer to use a tripod to get the composition and the focus spot on and then wait for an insect to land before shooting. In most gardens that doesn't take very long.

When I started in photography I had the ambition to be a flower and garden photographer. I built up a small portfolio of perfectly focused and sharp portraits of flowers and would submit them to stock libraries only to have them turned down. They were perfectly good photos but I eventually realised that they were simply record shots of flowers without any artistic merit or mood. Regardless of the disappointment I've carried on photographing flowers for the simple enjoyment of using a camera on a fine day in lovely surroundings.

In November 2018 I was searching Youtube for videos on flower photography and I came across the photography of Kathleen Clemons from the US. Her photographic style was something that I'd never seen before and it simply blew me away.

Echinops and Hoverfly - George Evans
Kathleen takes photographs of flowers in freehand often using Lensbaby lenses for creative effect and mixes her own painterly textures with them in post processing to create a soft painterly effect. Sharpness is usually focused on a few stamens or the leading edge of a flower to draw the eye to a small area of detail with the remaining image falling away into soft focus. Her work is simply beautiful.

Helenium - George Evans
I suddenly found a use for my library of old record shots of flowers that I'd collected over 14 years so I bought Kathleen's e-book detailing her technique with her painterly textures and started to create my own artwork. I've always admired artists with the talent to draw and paint, something which I've tried to do myself and have failed at miserably. I can now create digitally from photographs.

Hemerocallis - George Evans
I've spent nine months creating my own painterly flowers as artwork and enjoyed every minute. A photographer should never attempt to copy another photographers work but every photographer uses different gear, has a different eye for composition when shooting and their own post processing software and work flow. I hope that my images inspired and encouraged by Kathleen Clemons are sufficiently different to stand on their own.

Japanese Anenome - George Evans
An issue that I never considered in my sudden enthusiasm for textured flowers was that the whole of an image must be 100% the work of the photographer to enter club, national or international competitions. For a club photographer with Hoylake Photographic Society this was a bit of a blow so none of my work created during 2019 and shown in this blog post can be entered in competition but I'm in the process of creating my own painterly textures to use in future projects.

Helianthus and Cabbage White Butterfly - George Evans
My photography inspired by creative photographers visiting Hoylake Photographic Society over the years has been moving towards a more pictorial style. I've long been creating pictorial style images from landscapes, architecture and digital infrared which could be hung on a wall and enjoyed and this "Textured Flower" series of photographs fits that bill perfectly.