Expressive Flowers

I’ve photographed a lot of flowers but to be honest, I’ve rarely been totally happy with the results.  I think the images are technically solid but don’t approach the emotionally charged visual vibrations going on in my head when I “see” a possible photographic subject.  It’s a little weird.

Someone said that a camera is nothing more than a soulless recording machine and I suppose that’s true.  It’s the photographer who transforms an object that is purely representational into an expressive visual experience.  He or she can do this at the time of capture by creative composition, changing what’s in focus, understanding the quality, color and angle of reflective light, among other skills.  And there are many tools post-capture to help the photographer achieve the artful goal.  Which, according to Ansel Adams (think it’s him, can’t find the actual quote) is not so much about capturing what he saw but how it made him feel.  And to that end Adams spent a lot of time in the darkroom, creating photographic art from an image his camera had recorded.

So what does all this have to do with fine-tuning flowers?  Making them more subjectively expressive for me?  Some might say that it’s a bit arrogant to try and “improve” on the beauty of a bunch of coneflowers but that’s not the purpose here.  Rather it’s to produce visuals that are closer to the images I “saw” in my mind’s eye before recording them in pixels.

Below I’ve used some of the new post capture digital tools available to do just that.  This software enables me to paint away detail in some cases, add some “brush strokes” in others.  Darken and smooth out lines.  And wash out some pigment much as a water colorist might do.