Friday, March 14, 2014

Valentine's Rose

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I bought a single red rose for Karen, for Valentine's Day (I know, I'm just a soppy romantic...), and one evening, I noticed it caught in the light in our lounge, and felt compelled to try and catch it with the camera.

It was after dark, so the only light in the room was from a single wall light.  I wanted to try and catch a 'low-key' image with the beautiful red bloom against a mainly dark background.

The TV, with its large flat black screen (when switched off) looked like it might provide a nice backdrop, as long as I could get the angle right so there were no reflections on it.  I experimented for a while with both positioning, and also exposure, until I came up with this shot.

Unfortunately, importing the picture into the blog has reduced the quality a bit so I've included a link see it in Flickr.

Obviously, even in low light, the camera will try and give a 'properly' exposed image, and I specifically wanted it dark and contrasty, so I set the exposure compensation to underexpose by 1/3 of a stop, and used spot metering on the brightest part of the rose.  At a reasonably small aperture (I think it was around f/8) to get the whole thing in focus, I got a shutter speed of 30 seconds!  Wow - it was dimmer than I realised.

Just to ad a little 'bling', I gave the rose a quick spray with water to give the 'dew' effect, and then during the 30 second exposure, I also played a small torch over the top togive a few catchlights in those dewdrops.  Now, this had an unfortunate effect on the photo - the torch has bright white LEDs which actually give off a much bluer light than the incandescent bulb in the wall lamp.  The net effect was that the deep red bloom was actually now showing up with a pink colour cast.  A little playing in Photoshop managed to get rid of most of it, but there are still pinkish highlights to the edges of the petals.

While playing in Photoshop, though I love the clarity of the first shot. I thought about trying a nice 'glow' effect, that is often seen in glamour/fashion shots.  To do this, create a duplicate layer on top of the original, and apply a huge amount of Gaussian Blur to it.  Enough so that it is completely blurred, but still retains the shape and just a hint of the contrasting lines between the petals. Now adjust the opacity of that top level to let the super clear bottom layer shine through it.  You'll have to judge this by eye - there is no magic formula or 'correct' value.  The last thing I did was to apply a layer mask to the top layer, and used that to mask out the very centre of the blurred layer with a soft edged brush, allowing even more of the clear level to shine through, just in the very centre of the bloom.

Again, this picture doesn't really do the original justice but I don't have a copy of this one in Flickr I'm afraid.

Until next time
Happy Snappin'

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