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 in studio against black backgrounds. By removing all distractions, focus is directed to the intricacies of the flower. 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 eight 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!
Of course before we ever get to that point we need to source the flowers we want to shoot. Some we grow, others we harvest from public spaces, and others we purchase. When we first began, we sought perfect specimens. We quickly realized there is no such thing. Now we look for flowers that are representative of what occurs in nature, flaws and all. The flowers then need to be arranged and secured so there is minimal chance for movement as they are photographed. Various things are used to support the flowers. If visible in the final image, they are removed in Photoshop. While we do make other minor adjustments to the image in Photoshop, if good flashlight technique is used with proper exposure times, few adjustments are needed. The same flower can look totally different if light is projected from the front as it does when it is backlit. The brilliant colors you see in our images are due to the way the flowers were lit, not computer manipulation. We want you to see what is there naturally, not something contrived out of mid air. Once we have a final image, we need to present it in the best way possible. For that reason we have extensively researched papers, inks and printing techniques. We use only the highest quality materials such as archival pigment inks, acrylic specifically designed for photographic applications and satin finish conservation grade fine art canvas. We print all of our own work. Yes, we are control freaks. We take all the credit if you like our work and all the blame if you don’t. Our images can be purchased as fine art prints for framing, framed or unframed canvases, or face mounted on 1/4 in acrylic.
We have recently begun using computer manipulation to create abstract works of art based on our original photography. These works appear in our Digital Art Gallery.
Another recent addition to our portfolio of work is Mandalas. These images are not computer manipulated. The flowers are hand arranged and then photographed with the camera parallel to the floor. The colors in these images are the natural colors of the blooms that emerge when light painted.
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. “Bella Fiore” is Italian for Beautiful Flower. We hope you agree. If not, thanks for stopping by anyway.