Gerberas in a Vase

Like many photographers I have taken hundreds of pictures of flowers, forever exploring different angles trying to ‘see’ more and somehow capture the flower’s appeal.  It’s somewhat of a lost cause I suspect, as very few photographers have an inner ‘Vincent van Gogh’ capable of expressing rich emotions through their pictures.  Nonetheless we try.

I’m very lucky that my partner is both very skilled at flower arranging as well as buying vases.  We are not short of vases in our house.  One of my favourites is the slate vase seen in this picture which she bought at a craft fair and regularly uses to make stunning arrangements.  The challenge is always to take a photograph that does the flowers and arrangement justice.

This picture of orange gerberas sitting in our window is one of those moments when the flowers and sunlight team up to light up a room and lift your mood.  Just as the flowers were in full exuberant bloom, the sun played its part and shone warmly from the side, lighting them to perfection and allowing me to take a very straightforward picture.

Other than clearing the window sill of any distracting objects, I did nothing except compose the shot and click the button.

However …

This is where Vincent whispers in your ear and suggests adding a certain je ne sais quoi.

The photograph at this point was an exact recording of petals and leaves and without doubt, a pleasant enough picture of some flowers in a vase.  But what I really wanted was to hang on to that moment when the vase of flowers catches your eye and brings a smile to your face.  For me, too much detail has the wrong effect –  with so many points of focus, my attention is drawn to the detail and the moment is lost, whereas a more abstract view let’s the eye wander and, well, less is more.

In order to achieve a pleasing balance of abstraction and precision I used a filter in Photoshop which posterises the colours, taking away the smooth photographic transitions and leaving blocks of colour.  At the same time I used a filter to distort the natural curved forms in favour of geometric shapes.  The trick is to find the right balance that tells just enough of the story but leaves enough room for the imagination to roam.  This picture is one of my favourites and I hope you like it too.