Posted on April 5, 2013
I wanted to shoot a still life photo of these exotic tulips that was outside of my comfort zone. This might not look like a terribly difficult image, but it took about 1.5 hours from start to finish to capture.
Firstly, it was at night, so there was no natural lighting to use in this photo. Natural light is so great because it’s so well diffused and it’s easy to see where any shadows might fall. When shooting any reflective surface, natural light is the best there is, but the sun was asleep for the day and I was left to use man-made light.
Secondly, I decided to use 3 flash units for this photo. It didn’t necessarily need all 3 flashes, but I wanted to push my comfort zone and challenge myself with this image. The most difficult part was making sure that there weren’t hard flash reflections on the vase. I wanted the viewer to be able to see the water and the bubbles inside.
Thirdly, I wanted to tint the photo somewhat blue, so I used flash gels. I had to experiment to see which gels to use and where not to use gels. It was time consuming to say the least. I used a combination of softening filters and studio umbrellas to soften up the harsh flashes. The main white flash was bounced off of the white ceiling.
I went with a white background to show the jagged edge on the tulip petals. I didn’t want the background to be totally blown out either, but I wanted it light and showing a gradient down to the bottom of the photo. I was going to use a fourth flash behind the stand, but Jake, my dog, kept walking around the studio and I was convinced he’d knock the flowers onto the floor, thus destroying a floor-mounted flash unit.