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Wildflower portaits with studio style

Jacobs Ladder studio style portrait along the trail in Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.
Jacobs Ladder studio style portrait along the trail in Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.
Photo by Bill McCracken

Wildflower photographs are usually seen looking down at about a 45degree angle. The problem with this is that the distance to the background is to close. The depth of field allows shapes in the background to be out of focus but still have shape.
In this image taken from a different angle the flower stands out from the background, which is a blur of mixing colors lacking any shape. Technically this portrait works because the photographer is laying on the ground looking up and into the flower. The lens is a 70-300mm telephoto in close focus mode. The distance behind the flower to the nearest object is three times the distance from the lens to the subject. So if the minimum focusing distance on the lens is 48 inches the background must be 12 feet away.
The composition was created because of the light and the feeling it creates on the flower. The petals are illuminated from behind giving them an iridescent feel. The flower buds have light on them and still have detail in the shadow areas. The angle of the light on the leaves allows us to see the texture in them. The stem curves up from below creating dimension and form to the whole flower. The blue flowers are in sharp focus from the stamens to the first bud under them. The background light value is dark enough to give the flower the illusion of glowing.
The end result is a portrait of Jacobs Ladder that stands out with lots of detail and mystery. This is a detail image evoking emotion and feeling. It’s a good combination of artistic image and technical application.
The exposure is measured on the flower petals in spot meter mode ignoring all other values. The exposure settings are shutter speed 1/50 sec, aperture f/10.0, exposure program manual, and white balance fine weather. The 70-300mm lens is set at 190mm with no flash. The overall contrast and colors can be adjusted in photo shop later.


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