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Shooting flowers on white background

ePHOTOzine member Merl (aftertherain) shares here technique for creating clean white background flower photos.

|  Flowers and Plants
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Shooting flowers on white background

ePHOTOzine member Merl (aftertherain) shares here technique for creating clean white background flower photos.

I normally take these flower photos in my conservatory where there’s a nice diffused light – dull days are best.

I have two cork notice boards, hinged. One side has a piece of tinfoil and the other is covered with white blackout material that I bought as a remnant for £2.

I select a clean flower and, with a soft paintbrush, brush off any debris that would spoil the image.

I then place the stem in a small narrow necked bottle or vase and place it in front of the white background.

I then mount the camera on a tripod and focus the lens on the flower.

If there are shadow areas on the flower you can use a piece of crumpled foil to bounce light into that area.

Use either the camera's aperture-priority or manual setting and select at least f/16 to give you a good depth-of-field.

Set the EV to +1.

Because you have a white background you need to meter from an 18% grey card ( the backing card from a notepad isn’t too far away if you don’t have a proper grey card.)

I use a remote-release to cut down on vibration but you can use the self timer in the same way. Ones with a two second delay as well as a 10 or 12 second reduce the power taken from the battery and make the process quicker.

Check your LCD and histogram and make any adjustments to the exposure,

When you have taken the pictures open them up and use one of the image editing program's selection tools to click on the background and any other less than white areas you want to lighten. feather the selection to avoid a sharp edge to your adjustment.

Using your image editing software's Brightness/contrast, Levels or Curves adjustments drag the slider until the background is white. I use PhotoShop Elements but have a free plug-in EASY.filter which gives me Curves which is the most advanced control

Inverse the selection and correct the levels on the flower to make it bright and punchy.

I brighten the picture by setting a mid point on the curve then adding a point to the top right I pull it slightly to the left until I’m happy. It never needs much and you preview can the action.

Tidy up any bits that need using the cloning or patch tool – you always miss something with the paintbrush.

Using the eye dropper tool select a dark colour on your flower to use as a border.

Using canvas resize add 2mm of foreground colour.

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Nice picture pity it covers the start of the instructions

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ou could buy a seamless roll of paper from your local camera store (it's pretty cheap), but it's usually much wider than you need. Plus, unless you're shooting flowers for a florist, you're usually not going to want to see the vase. That's why I go to Office Depot and buy two or three 20x30" sheets of white mounting board (it looks like poster board, but it's much thicker and stiffer). I usually position one behind the flowers (in a vase), and then use the other to reflect natural light (from a window with indirect sunlight) back onto the white background so it doesn't look gray. Again, put about 3 feet between your flowers and the background, and use that natural light to capture your flowers on what appears to be a solid white background you added in Photoshop, but it was even easier because you did it in the camera.

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