It has been said that flowers are Mother Nature’s fireworks. The same can be said for lightning, but we prefer the serenity flowers as photographic subjects.
It is also said that we look but we do not see. We believe this to be true particularly with flowers. A passing glance reveals brilliant colors, shapes as diverse as nature herself, and movement in outdoor environments. But, when we take the time to examine a single bloom, texture, structure, and the individuality of each bloom is seen, perhaps for the first time. The inherent distractions of backgrounds in natural environments can hamper appreciation for what can be seen with careful observation. For that reason we photograph our subjects mostly in studio. By removing all distractions, focus is directed to the intricacies of the flower.
We have three distinctly different bodies of work, but the creative process for each is the same, at least in the beginning. Our process begins with locating the flowers we want to photograph. Some we grow, others we find in public spaces, and we purchase others. Each flower has its own personality and characteristics. Based on our observations and our initial vision, we chose a background color. Black backgrounds are more dramatic, whereas color backgrounds are softer and more traditional. We use a technique called light painting to illuminate our subjects. LED flashlights are used to project pure white light from different directions. Flashlight technique is critical. Intensity, duration, and direction all impact the final image. The camera is on a tripod and cannot move as multiple exposures are taken. With each exposure light is projected from a different direction. As many as 50 exposures are taken.
These exposures are immediately loaded onto a computer for review. We then select from three to fifteen exposures, again, each with different lighting, for a process called layering. In Photoshop the selected images are stacked over one another like a deck of cards. The number of exposures and the stacking order are altered until we either achieve the desired effect or we determine that we need to re-shoot the sequence. We may go through many iterations before we achieve what we initially envisioned, or something totally unexpected happens! Once we have a final image, we remove any supporting structure that was used to support the flowers during shooting. It is at this point that the creative process for each body of work diverges. For the black background images, we make adjustments in Photoshop to compensate for the camera's inability to completely capture what was observed during shooting. The application of pure white LED light in a darkened room brings out colors, textures and depth not normally observed in nature. These images are printed on metallic paper to take advantage of its reflectivity to bring out colors and textures captured in the image.
For the images shot against color backgrounds a softer, more interpretive approach is taken. With these images more artistic license is taken to convey what we saw and felt as we worked with the flower. Colors and textures are enhanced to varying degrees depending on the flower. The final step is to digitally apply brush strokes to the image. These images are printed on matte paper or canvas.
Some of the images are selected to be further manipulated into complex symmetrical abstracts. Defining characteristics of the flower are elongated, curved, layered and then combined to produce these images. They are printed on metallic paper as well.
We do all of our own printing, mounting, and framing. The only part of the process we outsource is mounting our larger prints to acrylic. We like to be in control of our work, so if you like it we will take all of the credit. If you do not like it we will accept your negative feedback with a smile.
So, the images you see at an art show or on our website are compositions involving discovery, sculpture, engineering, lighting, photography, computer based editing and printing on carefully sourced materials. While our work is based on our original photographs, our images have been manipulated beyond what could be achieved in a traditional dark room using film. For that reason we have jumped into the realm digital art and welcome all its artistic possibilities. “Bella Fiore” is Italian for Beautiful Flower. We hope you agree. If not, thanks for stopping by anyway.