This week my wife and I had our first serious walk of the year around her garden.
Everything was competing for a place in the sun and the colours were beginning with white being the most prominent. I guess that might be because the first flowers to bloom in my wife’s garden this year were her white daffodils, and there are lots. We were looking for flowers to bring inside the house, so the abundant daffodils were the natural selection.
In March of 2013 I wrote, “Photographing an Orchid in the Bathtub.” In that article I discussed how one morning, I realized that a lone blooming orchid that my wife was watering on top of an upside down plastic barrel in our bathroom tub was a photo opportunity in the making.
At that time I could see a back light beginning to come through the frosted bathroom window and the slight beginnings of a back glow on the flower. It as in the morning and I knew within an hour or so the sun would move to that side of the house and continue in a southern arc for the rest of the day.
It was with that in mind that we decided it would be fun to photograph the daffodils before Linda choose a final location to display them in the living room.
One could set up a small studio for flower photography anywhere in a house. I even have a small diffusion box especially designed for product photography. Nevertheless the soft diffuse light coming through the frosted bathroom window glass is almost perfect for flowers.
I found another plastic 5-gallon barrel, placed it up side down in the tub with the white daffodils on top, and set up a speedlight coupled with an umbrella on a lightstand to photograph the daffodils.
When I photographed that orchid it was early morning. However, this time it was late morning and a more direct light was coming through the bathroom window. So I took the outer cover off the big 5-in-1 reflector I have and it became another layer of diffusion when I placed it between the daffodils and the window.
All I had to do then was point my 135mm lens, shoot, arrange the flowers, shoot again and rearrange. When I mentioned to Linda that the flowers would look good as a black and white photo she said. “Everything is pretty much monochromatic anyway”, so it was with a final b&w image in mind that I took the picture.
Beautiful light John!
Thanks Wendy. Yep, the bathroom is such a great studio.
I am not sure if you are balancing the flash with the bathroom window light (as a fill light) or using the windowlight as a fill for your flash, pehaps a hand drawn diagram of the various components would be helpful. I love photographing flowers…they are so patient as hey wait for my lighting adjustments and don’t talk back much….and they work for almost nothing.
Hi Rodger, I don’t really use fill light.
The reason I use my bathroom is because of the diffused widow light. The simple explanation is that the light behind the flower becomes my ambient light source.
I wanted the glow to create depth (like putting a light through a backdrop)
Then I under expose that ambient light. Note that I wrote I decreased the window light more by adding an additional diffusion panel. Then I placed the flash to one side and kept reducing it’s output until I got the side light I wanted.
I photograph flowers the same way I photograph people. And I prefer longer focal lengths to, the now popular, short focal lengths. It’s a portrait after all.
Thanks for the clarification, John. I always enjoy following your blog…so informative.
I appreciate your input Rodger. Gosh, all the way from the sunny coast.
Thank you fragg..
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