Flowers BTS

🎶 “Smooth like butter, like a criminal undercover…” Whoops, wrong BTS. This is behind the scenes, behind the scenes of the flower images I’ve recently posted. I’ve mentioned my “studio” which consists of nothing more than my dining room table, some foam board, and some rag-tag lighting, but I’ve never shown it. I thought it would be fun to go through some of my recent images and show how I staged them. Here we go.

To get this lily I setup my softbox behind it to create a white background, put my D800 on a tripod, and used a slower shutter speed to ensure the front of the flower was exposed. I had to raise it up a bit to get full coverage of the white background, so I used some white foam board as a bast. It also bounced a little bit of light up from the softbox. Inside the softbox is my Nikon SB-700 flash set to wireless mode.

For images on a black background I almost always use this old piece of foam board. I cut one of the panels off at one point and have since taped it on as you can see. I found a bunch of these styrofoam planter blocks on clearance one year and use them to position the flowers when I don’t want them in a vase. My flash is to the back left with a snoot on it to direct the light tightly onto the flower. The snoot keeps the light strong and directed and I use it to simulate the sun with varying success. The image to the right was taken in the same setup, but the snoot was moved to the right of the setup and the flower was turned. This was taken at 1/125 second exposure to help darken the background and I think I did it handheld.

Similar setup, different day. The snoot is a bit higher and more forward. I’m using a tripod this time. This angle gives a nice view of what the camera could see.

More snoot, same shoot actually. The lilies came from that bouquet on the right and you can see that I’ve separated them out into their own vase. This tulip is not from the bouquet.

Another situation where I’m using my soft box as a backlight. This image was taken at ⅓ second exposure at ISO 400 to expose the front of the tulip while blowing out the background to white. Blowing the background out purposely like that also makes those ruffles and fold lines on the diffuser disappear.

I decided to take a break from flashes this time around and tried out my LED video light. The light is very harsh, but I was able to position the tulips in a few different ways where it lit the inside of the petals without completely blowing out the tips. These behind the scenes images were taken with my iPhone, which could not cope with such a contrast difference. The D800’s output is much nicer.

Continuous lighting gave me this great image as well. I used the barn doors on my light to prevent it from illuminating the foam board and turning it gray. It took a while to position the tulip in just the right way. A little bit closer to the camera it would be completely out of the light and black. A little too far and the light would take over the entire picture. After some trial and error I found the Goldilocks position that made this photo.

The End

So there you have it, my “studio”. Almost all of the flower photos I’ve taken since 2020, especially those with a black background, have been made here in this way. I started with just a florescent bulb and slow shutter speeds, added a Bowens mount for my flash and a softbox several months later, then added the snoot the next year. Since then it has been pretty static, but I’ve got some new equipment on the way. I picked up another SB-700 flash so that I can light both sides of my subject when desired. I had to buy another light stand, another Bowens mount, and another softbox to go with it. I also bought a light tent with a built in diffuser and adjustable LED lights. This might make it a bit easier to grab flower or object photos when I want them to be fully lit.

While the equipment will be changing a little, one thing will not. The dining room table will continue to be my studio, illuminated in the evenings by the trusty Lego Titanic.

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