Sunday, February 24, 2019

Frozen Flowers

Over the last few weeks, I have been working on photographing flowers frozen in water. I have tried this before with varying degrees of success but really wanted to devote some time to it this winter. I have found a method that works well for me and am happy to share some tips with you.

First, find a suitable container. Some people choose glass, I tried that as well as metal tins and plastic containers and found no difference. I knew I would not be shooting through the sides of the container, so glass was not a necessity, use what you have. I used some small containers for single large flowers and groups of smaller blossoms, and larger tins for bigger groups of flowers. Even a cut-off milk jug will work.

Collect some flower blossoms and trim the stems to fit the container you have chosen. The beauty of freezing the flowers is that you don't have to use pristine blossoms, I used both fresh and spent flowers and both worked well. I had better results with larger flowers.

Place the flowers in the container and add a little bit of water, you can place them with the blossoms up or stems up, or even sideways. The flowers will float if you add too much water, you really just want enough for the flowers to adhere and stop moving in the beginning, 1/2-1 inch is enough. Once you have added the small amount of water, place the container in the freezer. Here in Maine, I can place the containers outside to freeze when I run out of freezer space.

Check the progress after a few hours and add more water. Don't add too much at once or your slim ice layer will melt with the added water and the flowers will float free, it is better to keep adding frequent small amounts at a time until the flowers are covered with water. Sometimes I like to leave a few petals above the water/ice line for added interest in the photos.

 It is always a surprise to see how the flowers look when frozen, no two look the same! I generally photograph them in the container first, shooting straight down with my lens parallel to the surface of the ice. I place the focus on any petals above the ice, and use an aperture of f/11-f/16. I use natural light, and have made photos with my 180mm, my Lensbaby Velvet 85 and my iPhone.

Once I am happy with the photos I made shooting straight down at the flower, I place the container upside down in a warmer location so that the ice will loosen (you could also run the container under warm water).  I remove the container and check the bottom and all sides of the ice block for interesting effects and make more photos from those angles. Shooting the ice block with backlighting works well too.

It's also interesting to photograph the flowers as the ice forms and/or begins to melt away, here are a couple I left outside overnight:

I found that some flowers turned brown when frozen, and some retained their natural colors. If you are unhappy with the color of the flower in ice, you can always convert to black and white or add a color tint as I did with this one:

I feel like I am only beginning with this technique and look forward to more experimentation and exploration, I have a full pan of red roses almost ready to shoot in my freezer right now so stay tuned.

Happy Shooting!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Renewing the Magic With the Sol 45

I have been testing something new from my friends at Lensbaby and am madly in love with this little lens! It's called the Sol 45 and it has renewed the magic that Lensbaby has always brought to my photographs. This is a lightweight sweet spot lens, 45mm, with a fixed f/3.5 aperture and a 14 inch minimum focus distance.  It's all metal and tilts within the rule of thirds and also locks into a center position. The magic comes with a secondary feature,  it has "bokeh blades", two little arms that sit out to the side of the lens that can be moved in front to get texture in your bokeh, or left to the side when you don't want to use them. You can also rotate them so the texture can go in any direction to match or contrast with the lines in your subject. So now I can add a texture to my background right in camera, how cool is that? It is also inexpensive at $199 and very simple to use.

Here is a shot of the inside of the lens with the blades together and also out of the way:

You can change the tilt of the blades easily:

I haven't taken this lens off my camera since it arrived. I have been feeling a shift in my work recently for more blur and limited depth of field, and the fixed f/3.5 aperture fits that beautifully. Shooting for selective focus makes you slow down, compose carefully, and think about what it is you want to highlight in your subject. Careful focus placement is also essential with this type of work. 

Here are some samples of what I have been shooting, straight out of the camera. I have used the Lensbaby Macro Lenses for some images, the +2 is just right for the Sol 45:

This lens is definitely not just for macro and not just for flowers, I had fun shooting many different subjects, even lobster traps!

There is also a version for Micro 4/3rds users, the Sol 22 has a minimum focus distance of 3.5 inches.

A few tips for using the Sol 45:

~A background with lots of lines will show more effect.
~You can push the blades out of the way if you don't want the effect for a particular subject.
~Remember the minimum focus distance, if you get closer than the Sol can focus you will get frustrated.
~ Try tilting, don't put all of your subjects in the center.
~Compose and focus carefully, use selective focus to draw your viewer's eye to what you found to be more interesting in the scene.

Happy shooting!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

So Much News!

Hi there everyone!

There's so much going on in my Kathleeniverse right now! Here are a few things I need to tell you about.

1. Lensbaby and I have teamed up for a print giveaway, all you need to do is click here to enter! We will be giving away 3 of my favorite Lensbaby flower portraits:

The contest ends June 26, the three winners will be announced at the end of June.

2. AdoramaPix just announced their new Fine Art photo papers and I love them! The texture of these papers is just beautiful, and a wonderful match for the painterly look of so many of my photos. The paper is thick and sturdy, and AdoramaPix always matches my colors beautifully. I am in awe of the recent prints I had made using these papers.

Here are some close ups of that texture:

3. I did a podcast interview last week with Matt Payne of  F-Stop Collaborate and Listen, click the link to have a listen. We talked about my work, selective focus, textures, Lensbabies and even what is in my head when I take a photo. Lots of laughs and a fun interview, Matt is great,  definitely sign up for his mailing list for future interviews.

4. My broken ankle is slowly healing, thanks for all of the concern and healing wishes that were sent my way. Finished up two sold out Santa Fe Photographic Workshops last week and have scheduled two more for May 2019. This weekend I'm off to teach at the Madeline Island School of Art, looking forward to exploring the Island with my students!

Happy Shooting,

Friday, May 11, 2018

Bringing Back Joy

Many of you know that I broke my ankle a few weeks ago. Though I can get around with my cast, I can't really walk on uneven ground or get down on the ground to make photos. With Spring flowers popping up all over my yard, it's been difficult not to be able to do any shooting.

This morning I hobbled outside and cut a gorgeous Tulip I had been admiring from the window. I placed it in a small vase and set up a mini studio on a table in my living room. I used my Plamp attached to a tripod to hold a background in place, and the natural light from the large windows in the room worked beautifully. I also used a reflector to bounce some light under the flower as needed. I pulled a up chair and shot the Tulip with several different lenses and backgrounds, as well as my iPhone. I worked my subject with over 250 photos!

Here is a shot of my set up:

I shot with my Lensbaby Velvet 85, Composer Pro 2 and Sweet 80, 35 and 50 optics, experimenting with my compositions and backgrounds. Here are a few samples:

I also used my Lensbaby Mobile kit, shooting with both the LM-10 for max blur, and the LM-20 for more in focus:

Being able to make photos again brought me great joy, I'm so happy to have found a way to do it!

Happy Shooting,