Floral Fusions: A Simple Set-Up For Creative Effects

In an age of abundant paint software and texture apps, it is easy to overlook other approaches to painterly image creation. Using moving sheets of textured glass with slow shutter speeds is one alternative approach. When combined with flowers I call the result “Floral Fusions” (#1).

#1. Ice Cold Lilies—Selective blend of two images, both were captured at a 25mm focal length, 1/5 sec at f/25; one with moving glass and one with stationary glass. The circular motion of angled textured glass picked up the flowers and some window light, creating the “smoke” around the lilies.
All Photos © Stacey G. Lloyd

You can create these images indoors or outdoors. One possible indoor set-up is show here: (#2) a small table near a window, a colored cloth backdrop, a reflector opposite the window to provide fill, sheets of textured glass, vases of flowers and your camera mounted on a tripod (with cable release).

#2. A simple indoor studio set-up for creating floral fusions.

Diffused window light results in the most pleasing floral images (#3). Use reflectors to fill in the shadows as needed. Over time you can experiment with different light sources and colors.

#3. Kaffir Lily Blend—Captured outdoors with a 105mm macro, this is a selective blend of two images: one with no glass at 1/10 sec f/25 and a second with heavily textured glass moving in a circular fashion, 1/5 sec f/25.

The backdrop can be any color that works with the flowers you have selected. In fact, you may want to have a variety of real or faux flowers to use in the background. The key is finding colors that all work together, especially as they are blended by the moving sheet of glass.

Textured glass can be obtained from a local glass shop. Purchase a few different types and experiment. Pieces 12x14” are easy to handle and can fill the frame (#4).

#4. Here are just a couple of textured glass examples. Applying heavy black tape around all the edges makes them safer to handle.

Your flowers should be in pristine condition and composed into visually pleasing arrangements. I have found that lighter colored flowers work best with this technique.

You will need to set your camera shutter speed in the range of 1/8 to 1 sec to create the strokes in the images. The best setting will vary with your personal handling of the textured glass and the motion you choose (#5).

#5. Windblown Poppy—A single image shot with lightly textured glass moving right to left: 105mm macro, 0.6 sec at f/20. The edge of the glass (covered in black tape) was allowed to cross into the frame revealing more detail in the tulips on the right.

With this set-up you capture your images by holding the textured glass between the camera and all of the flowers, between the front flower and the others, or anywhere in between. While moving the glass click the shutter and evaluate the image. Be careful to keep the edges of the glass out of the image and check for unintended blur in the flowers due to air movement. Try moving the glass up and down, on the diagonal or in various size circles. Strokes that compliment the shapes and lines in the subject work best (#6).

#6. Tulip Medley—Two images blended in camera, being careful to keep the stamen of the front flower strong enough to serve as a focal point. 105mm macro, 1/4 sec f/9.

Without changing your arrangement, capture several images with and without the glass, in focus and out of focus and with different apertures to alter depth of field. Once you have a set of images you can choose to blend them in camera (I use the Nikon image overlay feature) or with a software package like Photoshop (www.adobe.com) that supports layers. Blending locally with masks and a brush in Photoshop adds another dimension of creativity (#7, #8, #9, #10 and #11).

#7. (Left): #8. (Right)

#9.

#10.

#11. Lupine Diffusion—Here is a set of sample images. The foundational image without glass (#7), an image with moving glass (#8) and a defocused image at f/3.2 (#9). Images (#7) and (#8) were opened as separate layers in Photoshop, blended globally, and then selectively blended using a mask layer and brush as shown in (#10). The final image after some additional adjustments is shown in (#11).

This is just the starting point. There are many variables you can play with to create your own unique images. Try different subjects and different lenses. Focus on or through the glass. Angle the glass relative to the focal plane. Above all, have fun and let your creativity flow.

Lloyd regularly writes “Photography Along The Way”, a blog that focuses on seeing and capturing creative images wherever you work and live (www.staceyglloyd.blogspot.com). Additional images can be found on his website (www.staceyglloyd.com).

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