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Photographing Orchids - to pimp or not to pimp?

This is a discussion on Photographing Orchids - to pimp or not to pimp? within the Technical Photography Discussion forums, part of the Orchid Photography category; Hi everyone. Don't wanna turn this into a photography- forum , but seeing so many ...

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  1. #1
    Paphlova's Avatar
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    Arrow Photographing Orchids - to pimp or not to pimp?

    Hi everyone.

    Don't wanna turn this into a photography-forum, but seeing so many beautiful pictures of orchids here, I was wondering how orchid-lovers feel about this.
    I was wondering how we regard the use of digital techniques in presenting your orchids as pictures.
    When we look at the flower, we have to think if we want to present an accurate specimen photo or a glamour-shot. I will focus on the latter. For a specimen, save a color-correction to reflect reality more accuratly, it should remain untouched no?

    So, the flower is our model. Do we think of modelling techniques:
    - Make-up
    It's all right to use a cotton swab to wipe away a grain of mix from the flower, or move a large chunk of bark right? I think there is no discussion here. Do some plants look better right after they're sprayed with water and is it 'ethical' to do so? Does anyone use other 'make-up' for their plants or flowers?

    - Photoshopping
    There has been a lot of flak recently on the 'photoshopping' of celebrities to make them look their best. Who, on occasion, removes a grain of dirt or even a bad spot from their flowers in an editor after the picture has been taken? Do we remove a dirty spot from the fore or background or even remove a distracting background completely? Do we liberally use the repair-brush?

    - Digital lighting
    This is the main reason I'm writing this. The flash has done a white-out on a detail of the stamen. A leaf has an annoying stem distracting from a nicely shaped sepal, and we wish to darken it up to remedy this. There's a dark shadow making a particularly nice pollen-sack barely visible. We tweak the 'curves' sliders to get that washed-out feeling we get from the picture out of the way. In short, we wish for more definition or 'hi-fi' in a picture without really changing color.

    Personally, I use the latter technique on some occasions. I take subsequent shutterspeed pics (exposure bracketing) and use software to enhance or subdue detail or color using only these pictures. The result is still a compromise, but one that I can live with. I've included an example I've used in a reply to my introduction:
    First, the five pics taken, then the HDR-image,lastly the exposure blend. The 'optimal' exposure would be the top right image of the collage.
    Personally, I hate the HDR (wich failed miserably on the dorsal's rim), but love the blend, even though some colour is subdued.

    What do you think? Reality or aestetics? And to what extend?

    PS: I'm in the Paph-catagory 'cause those are my models. If there's a general photography catagory (I though there wasn't), a mod can move this?!
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  2. #2
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    Um...I take tons of pictures, and delete the icky ones. Photoshop? Water? Okay, I've been missing something here! I must be slow or something....

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paphlova View Post
    Hi everyone.

    Don't wanna turn this into a photography-forum, but seeing so many beautiful pictures of orchids here, I was wondering how orchid-lovers feel about this.
    I was wondering how we regard the use of digital techniques in presenting your orchids as pictures.
    When we look at the flower, we have to think if we want to present an accurate specimen photo or a glamour-shot. I will focus on the latter. For a specimen, save a color-correction to reflect reality more accuratly, it should remain untouched no?
    I think both are alright. I know I strive for color and accuracy in my photography, but I have been known to touch-up a leaf tip that was brown or a black spot on a leaf, etc...

    Quote Originally Posted by Paphlova View Post
    So, the flower is our model. Do we think of modelling techniques:
    - Make-up
    It's all right to use a cotton swab to wipe away a grain of mix from the flower, or move a large chunk of bark right? I think there is no discussion here. Do some plants look better right after they're sprayed with water and is it 'ethical' to do so? Does anyone use other 'make-up' for their plants or flowers?
    Sure. When doing a 'glamor' shot I will wipe down my plant leaves and remove waterspots and fertilizer spots from the leaves. It, in my opinion, is the same as staking a plant's spike to display the flower correctly. Perfectly acceptable.

    Quote Originally Posted by Paphlova View Post
    - Photoshopping
    There has been a lot of flak recently on the 'photoshopping' of celebrities to make them look their best. Who, on occasion, removes a grain of dirt or even a bad spot from their flowers in an editor after the picture has been taken? Do we remove a dirty spot from the fore or background or even remove a distracting background completely? Do we liberally use the repair-brush?
    I do not alter my blooms. It they have damage, I usually just don't share the photo. If the damage is not bad, I point it out. Backgrounds are another story. When doing 'glamor' shots, I use a dark backdrop and natural sunlight. I like to make the black as 'black' as possible in the background to let the true color of the orchid shine out from it. Sometimes the sunlight will gray the black. I simply select the gray area and 'paint' it black with the fill tool in photoshop.

    Quote Originally Posted by Paphlova View Post
    - Digital lighting
    This is the main reason I'm writing this. The flash has done a white-out on a detail of the stamen. A leaf has an annoying stem distracting from a nicely shaped sepal, and we wish to darken it up to remedy this. There's a dark shadow making a particularly nice pollen-sack barely visible. We tweak the 'curves' sliders to get that washed-out feeling we get from the picture out of the way. In short, we wish for more definition or 'hi-fi' in a picture without really changing color.
    This is a bit too advanced for non-photoshop guy like me. I can use some of the tools, but nothing this precise. I probably could learn fairly easily, but I like most of my photos like they turn out. I rarely use a flash when photographing an orchid or anything in macro setting.

    Quote Originally Posted by Paphlova View Post
    Personally, I use the latter technique on some occasions. I take subsequent shutterspeed pics (exposure bracketing) and use software to enhance or subdue detail or color using only these pictures. The result is still a compromise, but one that I can live with. I've included an example I've used in a reply to my introduction:
    First, the five pics taken, then the HDR-image,lastly the exposure blend. The 'optimal' exposure would be the top right image of the collage.
    Personally, I hate the HDR (wich failed miserably on the dorsal's rim), but love the blend, even though some colour is subdued.

    What do you think? Reality or aestetics? And to what extend?
    I think your image looks really nice.

    Quote Originally Posted by Paphlova View Post
    PS: I'm in the Paph-catagory 'cause those are my models. If there's a general photography catagory (I though there wasn't), a mod can move this?!
    I move this thread to the 'Technical Photography Discussion' forum that we created for just this kind of discussion. I would love to see more and even some tutorials and how-to's posted here.

    Cheers,
    BD

  4. #4
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    BD: I agree totally on sunlight being the best. But this time of year, we don't have much of it in the lowlands. Your pictures look great, for sure.
    It's good to hear I am not alone with my editing and likewise: most of the time, the not-so-perfect bloom I just don't bother and it forfeits its picture being shared. But since my experience is limited, who knows what I'll do?
    As to how-to's: I'm just a dilettante. And my English does not read very easy to native speakers. But I know a bit of photoshop. When I have the time, I'll whip something up.

    Cheers!

  5. #5
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    IMO it is up to the photographer to decide what the image is intended to be. If the image is meant to depict a particular species then that's what the image should look like. If the image is intended to be a glamour shot, then of course you would see all of the "make up". Then there are those who may want a glamorous species shot and that is up to them. Of course we want the picture to be the best so brushing dirt off of a bloom or cropping isn't a huge cosmetic deal, if that is what you want. The only time it seems wrong is when the photographer tries to pass a perfectly made up shot as the "real deal". If they claim that they didn't edit the image when they know they spent hours at the computer.

    When it comes to editing I hate sitting in front of the computer trying to get the color or highlights/shadows just so. I enjoy the picture taking part. Personally when I photograph I try to get the best possible image before I upload to the computer. Like you I bracket, play with the ISO and white balance. I even move the orchid around to a better light source or background. I don't like to use flash since it can create a very harsh appearance to the photo and I'm still learning how to minimize it. I read that a good way to adjust highlights/shadows is to use a reflector when you photograph. That will soften the harshness of the light source.

    So enjoy taking pictures of your orchids. Try different techniques to improve your images and you'll get more of what you want!

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    I have done a bunch of specimen shots of mushrooms for a variety collections. The general rule there is get details and document features. Hacked up however you need to etc. To accurately perceive colors some say a blue background is best, others like black. Accurate colors are recorded spearately by comparing to a reference like methuen in natural light. To me personally a specimen shot taken in its natural environmtent provides a much more informative record. In that case, as long of an exposure as you need without flashing is best.

    Here was my attempt at an HDR, but I had the freeware and didn't see the blend option. I found if I didn't include the highest exposure it was kind of dark but captured the essence best (for me at least). I usually go for take a bunch of shots and edit less, but there is something more natural about these because your eye actually takes multiple photos and your brain integrates them. There is nothing "natural" about a photo so I say dress them up.

    http://www.rv-orchidworks.com/orchid...inbow-hdr.html

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    I usually ask my husband taking pictures for my orchids, but I do too when he is not available. We both like sunlight and think it brings out the color of the bloom. If it's cloudy outside, we just have to wait...

    A picture he likes doesn't always fit my taste. I also use pictures as a way to document what I grow and what/when they bloom, so I like to have front shot of the flower so I can see clearly petal, lip and throat. We both try to preserve the true color and the form of the bloom instead of altering it, but we do edit photos through software to crop, bright/dark the setting.

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    Default Are you sure that is what you want?

    Main Entry: 2pimp Function:verb Date:1636 intransitive verb : to work as a pimp transitive verb : to make use of often dishonorably for one's own gain or benefit

    OR

    Main Entry: primp Pronunciation: \ˈprimp\ Function:verb Etymology: perhaps alteration of 1primDate:1801 transitive verb : to dress, adorn, or arrange in a careful or finicky manner intransitive verb : to dress or groom oneself carefully <primps for hours before a date>

    When I first saw this thread I told myself, "There must be some nuances behind that word that escapes me at the moment".



    However today I got a minute to spare and looked it up.

    I do photoshop mainly to remove dust particles, bird or insect droppings, etc etc...as I am sure the viewer may find them objectionable, lol...I grow outside and my plants and their blooms are subject to those insults.

    I do take care to compose my shots. A black background is what I usually use. Since that is not possible all the time in my farm shots, I have taken to bringing my black cloth background for that purpose. Dark backgrounds make the details of the blooms more prominent.

  9. #9
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    I have found this very interesting...I may try some of these things before I shoot next time. Although, I do use sunlight and backgrounds already. I hadn't realized that would be considered "primping". Sounds like fun....thanks for the ideas!
    Connie

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    Quote Originally Posted by ntgerald View Post
    Main Entry: 2pimp Function:verb Date:1636 intransitive verb : to work as a pimp transitive verb : to make use of often dishonorably for one's own gain or benefit

    OR

    Main Entry: primp Pronunciation: ˈprimp Function:verb Etymology: perhaps alteration of 1primDate:1801 transitive verb : to dress, adorn, or arrange in a careful or finicky manner intransitive verb : to dress or groom oneself carefully <primps for hours before a date>

    When I first saw this thread I told myself, "There must be some nuances behind that word that escapes me at the moment".
    Oops! Well, I'm no native speaker. I thought that word was used in popular culture in much the same way as 'primp', which I hadn't heard of until now. Like in the MTV-programme 'pimp my ride'. I see it more clearly now: scratch one word from my vocablulary.

    I definitely agree that a black background shows orchids best. Lots of times though, it obscures the edges and fine fringes of the flower, especially in extreme close-ups. I think careful lighting from the side or from the back, together with frontal lighting, should remedy this. One will need a separate flash or a halogen light. Or, if in sunlight, good positioning of both plant and background. I found this link The Womacks: Front, Back & Side Lighting which illustrates the point.

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