How I Got the Shot – Delicate

I have always loved taking photographs of flowers with their beautiful colours and delicate petals. The Cymbidium Orchid has always been one of my favourites, perhaps due to its striking lines and symmetry.  
 
I had taken several photographs of a string of orchids, all a soft pastel pink against a contrasting green and yellow background which  at first I found pleasing, until I began to find it fussy and simply distracting.  
 
I decided that I had taken enough photos in situ of the orchid as it was, and that I needed to do something a little different to make the orchid as striking as possible; something simple and understated, yet more of a focal point.  I picked just one flower from the string and placed it against a plain pale blue cloth background to simulate a sky.   
 
This was better - but not great. I then changed the blue for a white cloth background, but the orchid seemed to fade into the white and became hardly visible.  Lastly I used a black velvet cloth to contrast against the pale nature of the flower - this was much better and more of what I was hoping to achieve. These orchids have a full hardy body that does not quickly wilt like many other flowers, thus allowing lots of handling.  I set the flower up on a small table, roughly 20 cm from the black velvet cloth which I positioned in the shade, while the orchid itself was in full sun just after midday.  I was happy with the final set up and the progression I had made from the very first shot.  
 
I liked the look of the sublime pinks against the deep black, but I also adore black and white photography and so I created a copy and converted the image using Lightroom.  I also made a couple of adjustments to the contrast and highlights to negate some of the effects of the harsh sun.   
 
I spent some time pondering on which look I liked best and came to the conclusion that the black and white achieved the striking image I was originally looking for.
 

orchid


Camera settings:
Camera: Nikon D7100
Focal Length: 75mm f/5.3
Exposure: 1/500   
ISO: 400

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