Artist imitating nature, with art

ISO 100, 100mm, 25 sec., f/18 - lightpainting

No, I’m not the artist I’m talking about.  Amazingly, this is an orchid made of clay, handcrafted, painted and arranged by Kevin of ClayNWire, who has much more patience than I can imagine and a great artistic eye for reality and composition.  He was set up at the recent Omaha art fair, standing in his tent behind his work table making even smaller flowers than this one (which is life sized) and cheerfully showing viewers how he performed this miniature magic with very tiny pieces of clay and wire.

A couple of photographers I know generate some revenue by shooting for “stock” agencies, which are companies that essentially rent images to clients for use in a variety of ways from news to advertising.   Companies might use stock instead of hiring a photographer for a specific job so “stock” photographs are rather general in nature and able to cover different uses.  Flowers are popular stock images for cards, calendars, screen savers, etc.  These photographers I know go out and buy fresh flowers, arrange them in various “poses” and photograph them to build up a portfolio of images for their agencies.

I like the idea of having models that are easy to work with but I’m still practicing how to light and compose such so all I need is one or two  versions instead of a whole bouquet.  When I saw Kevin’s products I realized this is the perfect training model!  No wilting, doesn’t need watering, always looks its best regardless of the time of day – how could I go wrong?!

So here’s my first experiment with it.  Lightpainting I’ve discussed in previous posts here and here.  It’s a more direct version of light control than I could get with my small strobes and perfect for items like flowers.  For this I used a small LED flashlight with a piece of gaffers tape on the end to narrow down the beam.  During the 25 second exposure I emphasized the center of each flower and then applied some backlighting to enhance the petal edges against the black background.  I like the depth this technique brings to the image, and it really helps that Kevin took so much time detailing the flowers with color and textures.

More of this practice and I’ll be ready to move to live flowers!


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