Creating Compatible Backgrounds

Adding textured backgrounds with layers in Photoshop has become very popular and I enjoy creating art with this technique. However, sometimes I want to emphasize the colors and patterns of color more than the texture. I photographed these beautiful gladiolas this morning against a fabric background. (original below)

Then I created an overlay to use as a background with compatible colors. What better way than to use the original flowers to make the background?  I took the gladiolas (orange, yellow and white) and just swirled them in front of the lens (Tamron 90mm macro) while using a slow shutter speed (f/22 @1/3 second). It took a few shots to get a nice blur of those colors.

In Photoshop using the Original photograph, I selected the background (saved the selection under the Select menu) and cut those pixels. Of course if this technique is your plan when shooting the flowers just photograph them against white for easiest selection.

I moved the swirled image onto a layer above the original layers, lowered the opacity to 56% and changed the blend mode to Vivid Light. Then I added a mask to the new background layer, reloaded the selection of the flowers (inverse of the background) and filled with 50% gray to block some of the new background layer.

Here is another shot of just the white glads.

Abstract Ferns


Today’s post is all in-camera work.  I used my Canon 5D Mark II with the 70-200mm / 2.8 lens and a Canon 500D diopter.  Our CNPA group was at Duke Gardens and it was a bit windy so I found a pot of ferns behind a building out of the wind.  With the setup described above I had a great time exploring the ferns with just one spot in focus (or none) at the f/2.8 setting for most shots.  Here are a few more examples.

Making a Background Photo

In the garden… or just with my potted plants… sometimes it’s hard to find a good background.  So I photographed the hedge you see below with the aperture wide open and defocused completely. Then I had a 16×20 printed for $6 at Costco!   Finished by mounting on foamcore and had a fun background to use.  Here are the finished photo and one without the background.

Way Too Much FUN!

I had so much fun today.  Started off at Raulston Arboretum wanting to get some shots with my Canon 100-400mm and the Canon 500D diopter close up filter.  I started with some nice closeup shots in the garden,  but the rain started and I went for the building. There was a great bunch of flowers ready for retirement (so to speak) and I took them outside under the shelter and began shooting just as they were, doing lots of fun abstracts.

I was at that one spot for at least an hour I figure having so much fun exploring all the color combinations.

The 500D diopter allows you to focus very close or give very nice abstracts.  Enjoy the color on this rainy day!  It is currently out of stock, but normally sells for $220 according to the Canon website. This is extremely high quality glass and I have not found any problem with sharpness when I’m going for sharpness unlike most of these images.

Sometimes it’s all about the color!

Get Down Low

One of the best and easiest ways to get a new perspective with flowers up close is to get down on the ground at “eye” level.  This is great when photographing people and works equally well with flowers. It gives them a feeling of importance in the photograph.

This ivy and wildflowers were about 18″ tall draping the rocks and I had to get really low to photograph them. The grasses above gave a nice ceiling to the plants crawling up  the rocks. This was taken at the Cape Fear Botanic Gardens in Fayetteville, NC… one of my new favorite places!

I love azaleas and azalea buds and used a low perspective to get other blooms to act as the background. Purple and green always work well!