Black & White Flower Silhouettes

Macro flower photography is one of my favorite disciplines to practice during the winter; cold temperatures, dreary weather, and naked trees make the landscapes less palatable for my normal ventures. With macro photography, I can often work indoors and with bright and vibrant flowers that make the frigid days feel a little brighter.

Longwood Gardens is one of the best places on the East Coast for enjoying flowers and plants, and their annual orchid festival is probably my favorite event of the year. It has been several years since I spent a day focused solely on macro flower photography, so I was excited to spend some time there recently.

Using my Nikon D850, a 200mm macro lens, external flash and diffuser, I created the following images. I purposefully used the flash to remove the background because I knew the final image would be printed in black and white. I wanted the prints to be borderline harsh, with strong contrast; I thought there would be some romance to having delicate and soft flowers reproduced with such strong effect.

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Quick Shot: Pink

Summer is officially upon us, which means water lily time is also upon us! Every year, at the end of June/beginning of July, I head out to photograph water lilies at some of the local aquatic gardens. 

Photographing lilies requires several things. First, you need to set your alarm pretty early so you can be out shooting at day break. The bright sun and marsh humidity makes a summer day photographing these flowers unbearable at any other time of day. Second, you'll want a tripod and a decent telephoto lens. Third, you'll want some great light (either from the sun or a flash). 

My favorite destination is the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, which are located in downtown Washington, DC. This area is subject to tides flooding some of the walking paths, so it's generally best to time your visit for a cool part of the day at mid/low tide. The gardens feature acre after acre of aquatic plants and lilies. Some aquatic birds and thousands of dragonflies also call Kenilworth home.  

Last year I tried to take an abstract approach to the lily flower. I wanted bright colors, lots of pop, and a little flair. When I found this lily, I knew I'd found my flower. I used a flash to over expose the background and focused on the petal closes to the camera to get the great detail in each petal. Adjustments for color, sharpness, and contrast were done in Adobe Photoshop.

In the next week or two I'll be headed back out to Kenilworth to see what I can find this year! 

Shot with Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm macro/micro lens, and SB-700 flash. 

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