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Death Flower

When I went out on the weekend to take photos, I had hoped that I would have a weeks worth of images, I don’t.  I didn’t even have enough for one day, as it turned out.  I have had to rethink what I am doing and what I will show this week. So this morning I was looking out my window at my garden and decided it was time, it was time to go and pick some of the lilies I have growing in my garden and photograph them. Strange that they are referred to as the Death Flower.

I love how abstract they can be.  When I started taking the images, I kept saying to myself, just one more, but I took so many, I just couldn’t stop.  I love it when you put the images on your computer and you don’t know which one to start working on first.

I made this one black and white as a tribute to Robert Mapplethorpe.  I can remember seeing his work and loving it so much.  I am so happy with how this one has come out.  I also have it in colour, you can decide yourself which one you like more.

The colours are subtle, so it was hard to decide to make it black and white, but I felt I had to do it.  I like both.  I love the softness of the flower.

I also had to have a go at doing some of my other processing, but with a delicate subject, I knew I had to be careful.

All I have done really is add some detail, and then added a layer of blur with a mask to bring out the edges and some other parts of it.  I didn’t want to do much else, I thought it would ruin it.

One of the things I am really happy with is the lighting in this.  It turned out a lot better than I thought it would.  I did do a 5 image HDR with it at first, but I don’t know that it was absolutely necessary.  There was a lot of light coming from the window that was behind on the right, and to put some light in the left, I had a flash  remotely located that was set off with the built in flash on my camera.  I do think it worked really well.

I think I am going to add this to one of the galleries on my website.

I know this is quite different to what I normally show you, but I needed to do something beautiful today, and will show some more later in the week as well.  I’m hoping to do a post on how I approach photographing architecture tomorrow.

140 Comments
  1. The B&W is wonderful but my favourite is the last one, gorgeous!

    August 28, 2012
    • Thank you, I think bringing out some of the detail is great.

      August 29, 2012
  2. 25kadras #

    Vote for black and white 🙂

    August 28, 2012
  3. B&W for me too. But that’s because of the ‘death flower’ moniker. It seems such a fitting image for that title.

    August 28, 2012
    • I can see that, thank you Sean.

      August 29, 2012
      • I’ve just seen you “liked” one of my photos. I’m really pleased about that, as you are genuinely talented photographer. Thank you.

        August 29, 2012
  4. Lovely photo the last one…

    August 28, 2012
  5. the soft colour is beautiful but definitely the black and white

    August 28, 2012
    • I think if you are a black and white fan, then it will always win. Thank you.

      August 29, 2012
  6. I’m a real sucker for B&W – I think this is a resounding success in whichever version but I vote for the monochrome image.

    August 28, 2012
    • Thank you Andrew, I think I like that one too, which is probably why I put it first.

      August 29, 2012
  7. Andrea Kelly #

    I never knew they were called the death flower! They have always been one of my favorites. Beautiful shots!!

    August 28, 2012
    • I love the flowers too. I found out they were called that when it was suggested using them at a wedding, and someone said you can’t use them because they are used for funerals. Thanks Andrea

      August 29, 2012
      • Darn, (although I’m no where near a wedding…) I’ve always wanted them in mine! Oh well, maybe I’ll just have to break tradition 😉

        August 30, 2012
  8. beautiul job

    August 28, 2012
  9. Debbie de Juan nee Keating #

    B&W is my personal favorite, but they’re all lovely.

    August 28, 2012
    • Thank you Debbie, I think the same.

      August 29, 2012
  10. catrinblue #

    great – B&W is good 🙂

    August 28, 2012
    • Thanks catrinblue, glad you like it. 🙂

      August 29, 2012
  11. The B&W is my personal favorite! The use of light is perfect 🙂

    August 28, 2012
    • Thank you cynnermack, I was really happy with the light as well. 🙂

      August 29, 2012
  12. What do you use as a background when you were photographing these flowers? They are lovely!

    August 28, 2012
    • It is a canvas, that I had painted with a couple of colours, but I darkened it in the end so it would appear black, I should have used some black velvet that I had. I hope that answers your question, thanks.

      August 29, 2012
  13. The black and white really emphasises the flower’s nickname – the death flower (called so, I think, because it is often used at funerals).

    August 28, 2012
    • Yes Colline, my research said something about it being a French thing, I think. The black and white does suit that idea. Thanks

      August 29, 2012
  14. I can’t decide on a favorite. All three stand on their own merits…Calla Lillies are such wonderful, sculptural flowers. I thought Georgia O’Keefe, rather than Mapplethorpe, though…

    August 28, 2012
    • Thank you Marie, I don’t know Georgia O’Keefe, I will have to go and look her up. I love them so much, I am so happy that they are growing everywhere in my garden.

      August 29, 2012
      • She was an American Painter in the early 20th century, who painted flowers…Callas are difficult to grow here in New England, but some people do…

        August 29, 2012
      • I am starting to see that they grow like weeds here, but they are beautiful weeds.

        August 29, 2012
  15. Pat #

    Beautiful in black and white!

    August 28, 2012
  16. Nothing death about them, great abstracts. 😉

    August 28, 2012
    • Thanks John, some more very abstract ones to show yet. 🙂

      August 29, 2012
  17. This is exceptionally beautiful! Wow… It is just so pretty – I love the translucency of the flower, and the soft, soft colours.

    August 28, 2012
    • Thank you Zelmare, I love you description of the flowers.

      August 29, 2012
  18. Val Bridge Digital Photography Biz #

    neat

    August 28, 2012
  19. Whoa !! That’s just incredible ! Keep up the good work !

    August 28, 2012
    • Thank you, I will try to. 🙂

      August 29, 2012
  20. sohojay #

    Interesting and remarkable photo. 🙂

    August 28, 2012
  21. Gorgeous!

    August 28, 2012
  22. Carina S. #

    All 3 are beautiful, but I prefer the last one. B&W looks like work of art, but this lily always reminds me of a childs funeral.

    August 28, 2012
    • The first or last seem to be the most popular. Shame they are associated with funerals. Thanks Carina.

      August 29, 2012
  23. Simply excuisite!

    August 28, 2012
  24. I loved them all… you are amazing. Thanks and Love, nia

    August 28, 2012
    • I don’t know about that, but I am happy to hear you liked them. Thanks

      August 29, 2012
  25. I love the lighting and I like the BW better…well done.

    August 28, 2012
    • I was really happy with the lighting. Thank you.

      August 29, 2012
  26. Gorgeous Leanne. The black and white gives off a feel of mystery. Each one is beautiful.

    August 28, 2012
    • Thank you Robyn, they turned out so well, maybe I should flowers more often.

      August 29, 2012
  27. Jennay #

    both are lovely..I’m partial to the B&W, though!!

    August 28, 2012
    • Thank you Jennay, I don’t think you are alone there.

      August 29, 2012
  28. Francina #

    I just love them all three , each of them holds their own beauty.
    I also have added you on the Sisterhood award. There is no obligation to follow through , it’s just a token of my appreciation for your blog.
    Ciao, Francina

    August 28, 2012
    • Thank you Francina, glad you like them. Thank you for the award, I wanted to see it on your blog, but your address isn’t here.

      August 29, 2012
  29. Beautiful shots

    August 29, 2012
  30. I love the black and white esp with this type of subject. ( I’m usually partial to it personally lol) but I find the bottom image fascinating! Your editing has really brought out all of the minute details in the texture of the flower… beautiful 🙂

    August 29, 2012
    • Thank you Jami, I tried to bring out the detail in the last one. That and the blur I think help it a lot. I can understand the liking the B&W more though.

      August 29, 2012
  31. So. Absolutely. Gorgeous!!! Well done, Teacher!

    August 29, 2012
    • You make me blush, thank you so much 1000

      August 29, 2012
      • If I lived over there, I would surely send you the finest apple I could find…then you could compare its blush with your own (Haha!)!

        August 30, 2012
  32. Tricia's Blogs #

    Oh my, what a beautiful picture! I can just imagine it matted and framed and hanging in a home. The color image is lovely, but the black and white image is my favorite I think (though I had a hard time deciding). Question: Did you make the black background in editing, or did you set it up that way to photograph it with a black backdrop? I really enjoyed this! I would love to do some flowers, but don’t think they would turn out so pretty. Well done Leanne! 🙂

    August 29, 2012
    • I think you could be right Tricia, maybe someone will buy this one, haha. I think I like the black and white one as well. Now the backdrop, it is actually a canvas, you know for painting on, that I did a motley effect with some yellow ochre and I think black paint, or something equally dark. I did darken the background in the photos, but if I was doing it again I would use the black velvet I have. Does that help?
      Thanks Tricia. 🙂

      August 29, 2012
      • Tricia's Blogs #

        Yes, that answers my question (about your backdrop for the flower and how you darkened the background). thanks!

        September 4, 2012
  33. Wow, this is gorgeous…I’d have a hard time choosing too, but I’d go with the black and white, I think. I will have to check back here more often.

    August 29, 2012
    • Thank you Leah, I like the black and white as well. I am going to post some more tomorrow. There were so many good ones, am I allowed to say that about my own work?

      August 29, 2012
  34. Yvonne Michlele @Photecstasy #

    WOW! I’m loving the b&w so much! I love calla lilies… they’re to die for (no pun intended)! You captured the essence so beautifully, and without focusing down into the flower with the yellow stem (not sure what you call the middle piece). Stunning. The lighting is perfect… awesome job!

    August 29, 2012
    • I did do some like that, but they didn’t turn out so good. They are such beautiful flowers, and the form lends itself so well to photography. Thank you so much.

      August 29, 2012
  35. awesome picture!!

    August 29, 2012
  36. If I had to pick one it would be the first one, HANDS DOWN. B&W if it’s exposed correctly, with the right light is hard to beat.

    August 29, 2012
    • Thank you, I like how much you liked it.

      August 29, 2012
  37. Little Brown Tomato (LBT) #

    Leanne, …stunning!

    August 29, 2012
  38. I love the old buildings before, but I think you hit the nail on this one, Leanne.

    August 29, 2012
    • High praise indeed, thank you so much rommel.

      August 29, 2012
      • No probs! Thanks for the likes!

        August 30, 2012
  39. I like bothe the color and the b&w version. You did a great job photographing and working with this amazing flower, it’s SO beautiful!

    August 29, 2012
    • I just want to do more, haha, thank you Truels

      August 29, 2012
  40. Well taken and manipulated. I think I like the last one best of all.

    August 29, 2012
    • Thank colonialist, I think quite a few like that as well,

      August 29, 2012
  41. Love these, Leanne. The B&W is exquisite – it looks like such a perfect form.

    August 29, 2012
    • Thank you Richard, I tried to find the most perfect one I could.

      August 29, 2012
  42. They are beautiful flowers to photograph aren’t they :0) I have used them a few times myself but I think the B&W is definitely the strongest of the three – GREAT

    August 29, 2012
    • Yes, they are magnificent, I have never picked them before, so glad I did. Thank you Tim.

      August 29, 2012
  43. This may sound funny but when I initially saw it I thought of a linen napkin – very soothing to look at.

    August 29, 2012
    • That is funny, I think a compliment as well, thank you saymber.

      August 29, 2012
  44. I like both… they appeal in a different way. I also like the lighting..if I may ask what did you use for the black background?

    August 29, 2012
    • The backdrop was a canvas that I had painted and then darkened when I was processing it. Thank you.

      August 29, 2012
  45. Whilst I love B&W, the last one is definitely my favourite – the shadows & highlights are perfect.

    August 29, 2012
    • It is nice that you love B&W but would pick another one, the last one I think it is a little different because I brought out more detail. Thanks Mirella.

      August 29, 2012
  46. Oh those turned out so beautifully. I know what you mean about not being able to choose where to start. I am very much an amateur photographer, but I definitely have the experience from time to time of taking multiple photos that I love of the same thing. It’s a great feeling.

    August 29, 2012
    • It is so nice when it happens, and you are right it doesn’t always happen.
      Thank you

      August 29, 2012
  47. Lovely Leanne! I particularly like the middle image. The composition and lighting make it look like a satin bedsheet caught by the breeze 🙂

    August 29, 2012
    • What a wonderful description, I love it, thank you.

      August 29, 2012
  48. ag #

    My favorite is the B&W too, which feels more dynamic than the more literal color variations.

    August 29, 2012
    • I think the black and white works because you concentrate more on the shape and texture rather than the colour. Thanks ag.

      August 29, 2012
  49. I prefer the color. Very soothing, perhaps that is why it is called the death flower.

    August 29, 2012
    • I hadn’t thought of that, but you could be right, thanks Tom.

      August 29, 2012
  50. Lovely photos – looks like we both found inspiration in our own backyards today (or wa that yesterday?) – Not that mine compare – you’re a true artist.

    August 29, 2012
    • It is nice to find inspiration close to home isn’t it. I was so happy with the flowers, and I am sure you are being too hard on yourself. Thanks

      August 29, 2012
  51. The black and white is my favourite – it’s absolutely beautiful.
    p.s wish I had lillies growing in my garden! 🙂

    August 29, 2012
    • YOu can have some of mine if you like they grow like weeds in my garden.
      Glad you like the black and white one, thank you.

      August 29, 2012
  52. i didn’t know lily is known as the death flower it’s too beautiful

    August 29, 2012
    • It is hard to believe isn’t it. I am with you, it is so beautiful.

      August 29, 2012
  53. Love the subtle colours in the colour version.
    The Mapplethorpe tribute is quite apt – really reminds me of his arum lilies. (Even though, looking at some of the other images he’s, uhm… ‘famous’ for, that flower should have a much larger pistil. 🙂 )

    August 29, 2012
    • Thank you so much, I am glad you like the colours, and I really love that you can see the Mapplethorpe tribute, thanks

      August 29, 2012
  54. That´s quite hard to make a choice. Every photography has a spectacular lighting with a wonderful shining! I really like the first and the last one.

    August 29, 2012
    • I think those two are the most popular, so you have picked what many others have liked as well. Thank you.

      August 29, 2012
  55. Lovely delicacy….

    August 29, 2012
  56. I think the delicate texture is more apparent in the last one.

    I find your posts educational and inspirational – keep it coming 🙂

    August 29, 2012
    • Thank you, glad you like that one.
      I will keep them coming, for as long as I can. 🙂

      August 29, 2012
  57. ninacollosi #

    Love the subtle colors; almost like its glowing. Nice..

    August 30, 2012
    • I had that impression too, wasn’t sure if it was bad though. Thanks

      September 3, 2012
  58. I like all the photographs. Amazing how the image as it changes hues changes in what it says. Thanks for posting.

    August 30, 2012
    • Thank you Helen, I like your observation.

      September 3, 2012
  59. Tom #

    I prefer the color. They are all very serene. Perhaps it is called the death flower for the comfort it gives the living.

    August 30, 2012
    • I think it is so horrible that it is referred to as that, it is so lovely, but maybe you are right, it may be because it is comforting. Thanks Tom

      September 3, 2012
  60. I loved both of them. That’s beautiful photography. I uploaded one of your pictures on my blog. Hope you don’t mind.

    August 31, 2012
    • I don’t mind as long as you have added a link back to my blog as well. Credit is important when you do that sort of thing. Thanks

      September 3, 2012
  61. Love it! I think the black and white works well with the simple, beautiful elegance of the flower. But the colors in the original are subtle enough that both are really expressive in their own ways.

    August 31, 2012
    • Thank you, I love hearing the comments that people make and how they describe what they see, I really like what you have said, so thanks again.

      September 3, 2012
  62. I love these white lilies, that seem to grow in every old garden, and as a kid could never understand why others didn’t. Now, I get they were used for funerals, but I still think they are beautiful. Love your images – the lilies look otherworldly 🙂

    September 3, 2012
    • I think they are more prominent now, they are growing like weeds in my garden, I am providing them for friends now. I don’t care if they are supposed to be used for funerals, I don’t associate them with that. So glad you like them EllaDee, thank you.

      September 3, 2012
  63. I love the first and second one 🙂 Black and white photos are so beautiful

    September 11, 2012
    • Thanks Amanda, they are beautiful, black and white.

      September 17, 2012
  64. These are lovely photos. As s gay man I have to admit I like some of Mapplethorpe’s subject matter as much as his Art. So it goes. Thank you for liking my post. It’s kind of you. You take amazing photographs. I’m overwhelmed by your whole site and didn’t even know where to post till I found this one. Beautiful.
    Steve

    November 24, 2012
    • Thank you so much Steve, I feel the same way about Mapplethorpe’s work, I really love his flowers and really want to do more of them. You are welcome and maybe we will see you here again sometime.

      December 5, 2012

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