MY LOVE OF SPRING, IN ALL HER PASTEL SHADES. Spring is such an amazing time of year. Slowly the ice and snow melt away, the air warms, followed by a burst of fresh renewed colour. From pastels to bright zingy new greens. Whether I'm photographing wild, home grown or florist sourced blooms, the principles I work to are the same. I'm often asked how I achieve such soft pastel tones and effects. It's really quite simple, but you have to be mindful of one or two things first.
1) USING THE RIGHT LIGHT
I always use cool lighting, so whether I'm working outside or photographing from my kitchen table, I'll alway work in cool even light. This means no sunshine what so ever. Beware, even in shade the sun can bounce in colour casts of warm tones. Warm tones not only effect your white balance but can add a 'tonal weight' to the quality of the light. I work only in north sourced light, naturally cooler, purer light, bright overcast days are perfect or first morning light for outdoor work. And I always use a white non shiny reflector to bounce light into my shadows. (But don't be tempted to go crazy with reflectors! The desire to remove all shadowing can leave images looking flat and seriously unreal!
2) SELECTING THE RIGHT LENS
For floral, table-top-set-ups I rarely drop my aperture below f2. Anything lower and the blur becomes too much and the focal point too insignificant. However when working outside and my distance-to-subject increases then I tend to drop my f-stop down as low as f1.6. I use my 50mm f1.4 lens for nearly all my floral work, except macros, and then I switch to my 100mm lens.
3) USING MID AF POINTS
To achieve soft images, with distinctive points of focal clarity, I must use specific AF points and always try to keep these central to the image composition as possible. This ensures both optimal focusing (that has to be spot on when working at such low apertures) plus central focusing naturally draws the eye into the images frame. I know I can always slightly crop an image later if I need to.
4) USING THE RIGHT ACTIONS TO FINISH
Great capture always comes first, but that has to be followed with great processing. I use my own Actions to process my work, both the Original and Creative Action collections enable me to add tints, enhance colours, and softly brighten; but perhaps most importantly enable me to build on the pastel tones and hues in my original images. I believe Actions should only be used to enhance what is there naturally within an image. So I always work harder on my image capture and let my Actions add the finishing touches my camera cannot achieve.
I hope this blog post offers a little insight into how I work. I welcome comments especially if you have any additional questions?