“Tulip in Repose” by Phil Reeds

I enjoy working with tulips, be they from the garden or bought from a shop, and let them die as the textures and shapes that they can produce appeal. Not every tulip works, and I often throw away far more than I end up using. I try different ways of letting them die, sometimes they stay in water, others I hang upside down in the cellar with a dehumidifier to try and dry them out, or just leave them on a card in the south facing window. The latter method allows for some manipulation of the flower by bending it gently as it dries to try and enforce a shape. I was lucky, and this one managed to retain its petals and curve nicely, plus the leaf dried out in sympathy.

With the tulips the petals can dry and diminish far faster than the stalks and leaves and if you don’t get a balance the stem and leaf can look to “fresh” in comparison to the petals. Sometimes the petals can wither too much waiting for the stem to catch up.

Once the tulip was in a form I liked, I moved to a north-facing room in the house to take the image. Placing the flower on a piece of mount board I then surrounded it with reflective boards to bounce the soft light in the room around the flower to reduce as best I could any shadow from appearing on the board. Some curtains were closed to ensure I got it as I wanted.

Even at this stage care is needed as I often find that the stamen drops small amounts of what I presume is pollen onto the card which if you don’t address them here need cloning out later in post production.

Then camera on tripod, focus on the top of the leaf as that was closest and then went for F16 to get everything in focus. Keeping to ISO 100 this meant a slow shutter speed but the flower was not moving and I used a cable release.

I applied a texture to complement the natural textures.

It is one of a series of shots that I made with different tulips and combining them with ICM and other techniques to experiment with what could be achieved.

What are the TWO most impactful features that make your image a good photograph? Don’t be shy!

Two key areas for me are texture and elegance. I take the time to try and get texture into the flower and that needs to be captured. I use it as a way of showing the loss of youth and ageing, yet still being able to show beauty and elegance, the shape of the leaf is key in the composition for me.

If you could make this photo again, what would be the ONE thing you would like to do better or different?

I have become more precise in the form of the petals, and I wish the right-hand petal was a little closer to the main group.

Phil Reeds shared this photograph in the FRAMES Facebook Group.


Phil Reeds, Low Snowdon, North Yorkshire, England


Equipment and settings

Nikon D7200 + Nikkor 18.0-140.0 mm f/3.5-5.6
5 sec., f/16, 85 mm, ISO100

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