If you want to turn your images of flowers into true artistic expressions, this is the book for you. Fine Art Flower Photography, Creative Techniques and the Art of Observation by Tony Sweet takes you well beyond the typical flower photography guide.
Using the same format as his two excellent nature photography books (which I highly recommend), the right hand page has a beautifully reproduced flower photo and the facing left hand page tells you how he created the image and how you can apply the same techniques to your images. Some of the techniques are done “in the camera” and some come from the digital darkroom using software like Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, or some other imaging software of your choice. In some cases he gives you “before and after” images so you can see a “straight” version before he applied some in-camera and/or digital darkroom techniques to alter the image.
The photo at the top of this article was created with a double exposure. Sweet tells you how to do this with a digital camera that allows you to do this in the camera, how to do this in the digital darkroom if your digital camera can’t do double exposures in the camera, and how to do an image overlay double exposure using a film camera. No matter what kind of camera you are using, Sweet has you covered.
This photo of tulips was taken at Sherwood Gardens, Baltimore Maryland. Sweet provides the following information on how to create this image.
“Digital: White Balance – Cloudy or 6500K (+/-)
Film: Singh Ray red intensifying filter
“Tulip time in any location is a great time for photography: the possible color combinations are endless. On this image the 300mm, f/4 lens was used at its widest aperture for shallow depth of field and a blended, muted background. The red area consists of red tulips about 20 feet beyond the point of focus. Three green stems are placed in the center of the frame with the most prominent and sharpest stem n the area of the deepest red for maximum color contrast.
“The Singh Ray red intensifying filter, as it deepens the reds and gives a gold tone to the yellows, is a good choice in situations like this when using a film camera. However, since red is a very sensitive spectrum in digital photography, color filter enhancements can adversely affect red, resulting in detail-less “puddles” of color. A small saturation increase is all that is needed to pop red in this image.”
Let me echo Sweet’s advice not to use a red intensifying filter with a digital camera or you will get blobs of colors instead of nice gradations in tone. But an intensifying filter works great when shooting film. This is the kind of excellent advice you find throughout the book.
You need to have a good handle on exposure, metering, depth of field, and basic flower techniques in order to take full advantage of this book. Sweet’s book is not for total beginners. I recommend you read Digital Photography Exposure for Dummies, one of the highest rated photography books at Amazon.com. It covers basic, intermediate, and advanced principles and techniques in exposure, metering, and depth of field. It also covers the basics of flower photography. Once you’ve read those chapters in my book, you will be ready for everything Sweet throws at you and his book will be all the more valuable.
I highly recommend Fine Art Flower Photography, Creative Techniques and the Art of Observation as the best advanced guide to creative flower photography that I have been able to find. If this book doesn’t inspire you to go out and create beautiful flower images, you might as well hang up your camera. Buy a copy and turn your creativity loose with Sweet as your guide.
You can buy Fine Art Flower Photography, Creative Techniques and the Art of Observation (2nd edition) in the Nature Photography Books section or the Stackpole Books section of my photography store. My store is powered by Amazon.com so you get Amazon’s great prices, fast service, and excellent guarantee. All the books in my photography store were hand picked as the best and most helpful out of the hundreds of photography books in my library.
This is one in a series of articles that will guide you to the best of all things photographic. The rest are here: Buyer’s Guide: Recommendations For The Best Photography Equipment, Software, Books, Magazines, DVDs, Online Photo Labs and More.
Tony Sweet’s web site. Go to folios > flowers to see more of his flower imagery.