"Macro Art In Nature"

Explorations in the artistic world of macro photography.

Using The “Cradle” Method In Photography.

© 2003/2007 – Michael Brown
* Copying/downloading of images is prohibited.

Sometimes I will see a image that has so much power to it, a image with plenty of impact, but a portion of it leaves me wondering if a simple method of using something that is already available would have given the image even more of an appeal. The method of using a “frame within a frame” has been used for years. Some may call it a “anchor”, and sometimes I may even call it a “cradle”.04azaleastamens5wpblog.jpg I sort of like the term “cradle”, as it is something that I am using in nature to cradle, or to caress the main subject and to draw the viewer’s attention to it. You can’t use this method with every image and with some, it may be a bit harder to use the cradle method depending on the type of photography you are doing. But with macro, … it often seems to be so readily available, and is something that you can use as well to gain a bit more impact with your images.

There are a number of things that a individual can use or do to come up with a cradle for their subject. There can be lines and structure to frame or cradle your subject. There can be light that wraps or cradles the subject. And, with many of my subjects and one that I find myself constantly striving for, is to cradle the subject with a blurred area. I want to make my subject feel at home, like it belongs right where I am now seeing it!

The first image here is a of a spent stamen within a azalea flower. Using just the right depth and composition, I was able to give the stamen a soft platform or cradle in which to rest. Moving it down to the bottom and off to the left just a bit, I was able to somewhat frame the subject with the fresh stamens above, giving the stamen some stability. To me, the stamen seems to be wrapped and secure, even though its time has ended.

03aphidandclematis1wpblog.jpgThe second image is of a aphid, sitting within the golden threads of a clematis bloom. Not as much softness is to be found here, as I needed the depth for the little aphid to have at least some hint of detail. But, there is a sense of the aphid having a cradle, a place to rest, and the threads above him acting as a frame and somewhat anchoring him in place. I wanted to create a piece that was showing him and the world in which he lives. It is his small world of gold!

The third image is the backside of a dogwood bloom, bathed in a very bright light. I wanted something just a touch on the side of being soft, yet wrapped in a high-key light. I used the natural light that was available, a mirror that would help to wash the whites out a bit, but then held up a small diffuser to cut down on the light in the center where most of the color was located. Using this method gave me that high-key light surrounding the color and actually helping in enhancing the composition. A art buyer wanted a ever so slight hint of “diffused glow” in photoshop to soften up and brighten the surrounding white areas, and the final result is what you see here. Almost as I had seen it originally.

The final image is surely a favorite technique, and often a technique that I will try to work with before I will try anything else while out in the field. As many of you have read in the past, … I truly enjoy shooting these small landscape type macros while sticking the lens right into some existing foliage, letting those blurs occur right before me and helping me to frame my subjects that I want a touch more details with. With this image, I am pretty much flat on the ground, using a very low perspective,
04dogwoodbloom14wpblog.jpg shooting slightly down hill, and working the lens in and out of the foliage. If there is some foliage right in front of the lens, then so be it. I am shooting with a shallow DOF, so it is not to much of a problem. You can see that this image has some blurring on the left hand side and leads down to the bottom, then it crosses over at the bottom and leads your eyes back up to the top of the frame on the right. The flowers and stems are somewhat centered, but cradled by the surrounding blur. Up top, the bright blurred area is actually some very slinder stems from some type of grass, and it is as if you can see right through them in the early morning light. With that shallow depth of field, it looks like rays of sunlight instead of very bright and blurred grasses. This in a way connects to the surrounding blurred areas, giving the overall image some stability.

Now these images are not everyone’s cup of tea I am sure, but you can use these methods in your own style/type of shooting, whether it be landscapes, portraits, street shooting, journalism, sports, ….. whatever!

05blueflowermorning8wpblog.jpgThe absolute bottom line to everything that I have said above, is to simply have fun with it. Create something new, something different, and when you see that one piece on your monitor that inspires you even more, … then I hope you can stick your chest out like a rooster and belt out a good one for me! If I can help to bring a smile upon your face, ….. then I have done something good today! :)

Now, ….. go out and create!

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January 29, 2007 Posted by | abstract, art, blog, botanical, canon, composition, Digital, DSLR, fauna, Fine Art Nature Photography, flora, flowers, hiking, horticulture, insects, landscapes, life, macro, Macro Photographer, nature, Nature Photographer, outdoors, Photo Blog, photoblog, photography, photoshop, Wildlife | , , , , , | 7 Comments

Artistic Blurs In Your Macro Images Using Photoshop

Want some artistic looking blurred images? Well then, … play, … have some fun! The following images were nothing more than combining two of the same images within photoshop.

© 2005 – Michael Brown
* Copying/downloading of images is prohibited.

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The first image is a shot that I took down at Brookgreen Gardens & Plantation, down around the Charleston, South Carolina area. It was a simple shot of some “bluebells” with a low perspective to the ground, … at that was it. Nothing special about it at all!

I decided to take it into photoshop, to duplicate the image, then take the duplicate and enlarge it a certain percentage, … say maybe 10% or so, add a ever so slight touch of gaussian blur, and then merge the two together in photoshop. You can play with the sliders in your layers to adjust the opacity of each layer to suit your tastes.

With the second image that you see below of a lily found out in the swamp, I basically went through the same steps as above but without any gaussian blur on the second layer. I shot this through some existing foliage so it was already a good deal of blurring involved. I also decided to enlarge the image a bit more so that you could see a faint flairing of the petals around the more distinct flower layer.

A bit of selective blurring can be used after you flatten your layers, maybe a touch of cloning to touch up a few spots, but most of the time, I am happy with what I came up with from the start. It’s fun, and easy to do! Also, … I am pretty sure that you do not absolutely need photoshop to do this. There are many programs out there that has similar functions like photoshop, so just play and see what you can do with what you may have.

I will be showing some things in the next couple of days on what I use for reflectors, mirrors, etc.05swamplily3yblog.jpg You will see just how cheap I really am! I was planning on starting today, but got a call late last night from a buyer who wanted some images to show a client of theirs, so I am off to search some files for them. I “was” planning on goofing off today!!! (oh well!)

Everyone take good care of yourself, stay warm, … and thanks for looking!

Mike

© 2005 – Michael Brown
* Copying/downloading of images is prohibited.

“Macro Art In Nature” – Website

January 18, 2007 Posted by | abstract, art, blog, botanical, canon, composition, Digital, DSLR, Fine Art Nature Photography, flora, flowers, hiking, horticulture, landscapes, life, macro, Macro Photographer, nature, Nature Photographer, outdoors, paintings, Photo Blog, photoblog, photography, photoshop | , , , , , | 19 Comments

Over Sharpening Images For Effects

I belong to a very small group of 16 photographers who are scattered about the world, who usually will get on line maybe once a week for a bit of a chat on photography, and some fun also. It is a invitation only group, highly charged, but the respect most certainly is there for all. A wonderful group!

In recent weeks, we have been talking about sharpening and the discussion came up about how some go to far with their sharpening. But, it also came to our attention that there are those who use intentional oversharpening for effects.
I am sure that this has been used by some photographers for a long time, but not by many.
It seems that a oversharpened image is immediately frowned upon by “many”, and those who are doing the viewing simply write it off as someone who did not know what they were doing, ….. or screwed up!
To many will harshly judge a print without ever knowing what the creator’s intentions were.

For myself, I will oversharpen a image in a heartbeat. I love the effects it can give a image, but it does not work for every image you may have.
For a image with color, it seems to be quite difficult (at least for me) to obtain something that appeals to my eyes. Now take that same image and convert it to something along the black & white or sepia range, and it can become a whole different ball game!
Some images will look great on the screen, … but in print? Terrible!
Some may look good as a 8×10, maybe a 11×14, … but go larger and they start to look funky.
The largest I have printed up with a very high amount of sharpening was a 13×19 that was acceptable, and looked somewhat old and antique looking.
It is something that you simply have to experiment with and get a feel for.

The two images here are examples that I have on hand at the moment.

© 2005 – Michael Brown
* Copying/downloading of images is prohibited.

“Marsh & Grass” – Abstract

The marsh landscape/abstract type image here was took early one morning and right off the ocean.
The golden glow coming from the morning sun was hitting the tops of the grasses that were layden with moisture. It almost looked like a neon light on top of the grass/reeds.
Looking at it in color did not do much for me, but converting it over to a black & white using the channel mixer in Photoshop did the trick. Still, I wanted those longs blades of grass to jump out at me even more and to make the glow at the top of the image to stand out. Oversharpening did the trick and bringing about some wonderful details in the grass, but it also helped to enhance that glow at the top, and even the highlights found with the banks of the marsh itself. It simply helped it to pop!
My tastebuds also likes the grainy feel you can get from oversharpening.

The image of the leaf sitting on top of some beautiful fern type moss is one that I thought looked great using this method.

© 2005 – Michael Brown
* Copying/downloading of images is prohibited.
“Leaf & Moss”

The original was almost to rich in color and especially in the green background, and something about it I simply did not like.
Converting it almost to a sepia look by desaturating and eliminating all of the green brought about something more appealing to me, but it was the oversharpening of the background that made this one pop for me. The textures of the fern/moss really stood out and helped to enhance the overall image. Well, … for me, … I liked it!
Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, but I do like this method with some images.

So whenever you see a image that is highly sharpened, before judging it harshly, remember that this may be the creator’s vision, and just what he wanted when he released the shutter.
I often will shoot something now with intentional sharpening in mind. Gives me many more chances to get a bit creative!

Hope this has given some of you some ideas, …. now go out there and create something wonderful!!
Thanks for looking gang!

(This post does not have the original “Blogger” comments, as they would not automatically transfer when the move was made to “WordPress”.)


“Macro Art In Nature” – Website

January 17, 2007 Posted by | abstract, art, blog, botanical, canon, composition, Digital, DSLR, Fine Art Nature Photography, flora, flowers, horticulture, landscapes, life, macro, Macro Photographer, nature, Nature Photographer, outdoors, Photo Blog, photoblog, photography, photoshop | , , , , , | 9 Comments

Macro – Droplet Of Water – Using 50mm 1.4 Lens In Reverse

© 2004 – Michael Brown
* Copying/downloading of images is prohibited.

122_2295point1webns1blog.jpgI originally posted this shot at the old blog/journal about a year ago, and thought I would bring it over here. This shot is of a droplet of water that is clinging to the very tip end of a flower’s stamen. I lost the file name to this flower and hopefully will find it later. I do believe that it is a type of “freesia”, and the stamen itself is nearly hair thin when looking at it with the naked eye.

I put the macro slider (a critical step) on the tripod, mounted the camera on top of that, added the Nikkor 50mm 1.4 lens in reverse to the Canon 100mm macro, surrounded the flower with various reflectors & mirrors, used the shutter release cable (another critical must), and started shooting. Fun and easy to do!


January 14, 2007 Posted by | abstract, art, blog, botanical, canon, composition, Digital, DSLR, Fine Art Nature Photography, flora, flowers, horticulture, life, macro, Macro Photographer, nature, Nature Photographer, outdoors, Photo Blog, photoblog, photography, photoshop | , , , , , | 20 Comments

“Layer It, Paint It, Layer It, Then Paint It Again!”

For over two years now I have been working on a process that is a bit different than the norm. It involves taking a original photograph, duplicating the original and painting over it, then using a method for raising each brush stroke to give the painted version some texture/depth, then repeat those steps to raise the texture and depth even more. By using layers and continually adding, I can create a painting that has depth and sometimes some shadow dropoff on the edge of those brush strokes that looks rather stunning when printed out on canvas.

This image here of a magnolia bloom really does not show the depth/texture that well, except for maybe near the center of the bloom. Looks wonderful in print!

© 2007 – Michael Brown
* Copying/downloading of images is prohibited.

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The bottom image here is of some wildflowers I found while out shooting one day down around my parents home out in the country. This image was duplicated three times. That’s 3 different layers painted 3 different times, then combined together in photoshop. A lot of work, but it does consistantly give me something different that appeals to me!

© 2006 – Michael Brown
* Copying/downloading of images is prohibited.

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For both pieces that you see here I used Photoshop CS mainly for layering and texture building, then using Painter & Studio Artist 3.0 for painting with various brushes.

Thanks for looking everyone!

Mike

January 7, 2007 Posted by | abstract, art, blog, botanical, canon, composition, Digital, DSLR, Fine Art Nature Photography, flora, flowers, horticulture, landscapes, life, macro, Macro Photographer, nature, Nature Photographer, outdoors, paintings, Photo Blog, photoblog, photography, photoshop | , , , , , | 12 Comments

   

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