52 Fine Art Flower Photos

Have you ever done a project 365? Or a 50 with 50? What about one of those 30 day photo challenges on Instagram?

I have started three P365s, and the longest I managed was mid-February. 

I've tried to take 50 shots with my 50mm but after about 19 it seems artificial.

I can do the 30 day challenges, but not consecutively (which is why I came up with my own 30 day challenge, where the twist is you don't need to take a photo every day - see #Make30Photos for details).

In spite of starting and failing so many times, I do still see the appeal of being consistent. Showing up because you said you would. Taking a photograph even when it's really, really hard.

Right now, I'm writing Book 2 of A Year With My Camera. I write from 8am until 2pm every day. I have to start writing before 8, otherwise I find things to faff with, and before I know it, it's 11 o'clock and I've wasted the whole morning. And by 2pm my brain has lost any shred of spare energy. I can't be creative and I certainly can't craft concise prose once the afternoon slump hits.

Draft 1 of the A Year With My Camera workbook, Book 2

Draft 1 of the A Year With My Camera workbook, Book 2

I've been writing for a month. And I've missed the time I used to set aside for actually taking photos - not for any reason, just to take them. So I'm setting myself an arbitrary challenge: one fine art flower photograph a week, for a year, to keep me inspired whilst I'm writing. My definition of fine art photography is something you would put on your wall and happily look at every day for at least a year, so that's the only stipulation.

I don't know if I'll manage more than 2, or run out of ideas, or get repetitive, or start hating flowers. But we won't know unless we try, so here goes.

Week 1: Yellow Tulip

This beauty is a Smith & Munsen tulip, which I was taking photographs of fresh out of the ground just over a week ago for The British Flowers Book. They open up to show folds and curves that are completely hidden when they are closed up and typically tulip looking.

This is what they looked like a week ago

This is what they looked like a week ago


Follow along with my progress on Instagram (Instagram.com/EmmaDaviesPhoto, #52FineArtFlowerPhotos)

The decisions I made (in order) were:

1. No airy fairy shallow depth of field or macro. I wanted front to back, crisp focus to show all the beautiful layers and folds. f16

2. Dark or light background? I tried both and prefer the dark. 

3. I didn’t want any white hotspots or lost shadows, which is quite difficult with a pale flower. I moved a bit further away from the big window I use for indirect daylight, to reduce the contrast.

4. This means the shutter speed is going to go up to compensate for less light overall: I ended up with 1/9 second.

5. Which means I was using a tripod and self timer. (The clamp is called a Plamp - a plant clamp.)

6. (By the way, did you know you can set the XT1 self timer as a custom function? Saves ages digging through the menus. Press and hold the Disp/Back button for a few seconds until the custom function screen pops up.)

7. I didn’t want to waste any pixels in cropping, so I needed to fill the frame as much as possible. For the XT1 that means my lensbaby velvet macro, which has a close focussing distance.

8. Final settings: f16, 1/9th, ISO200

9. Edits: plenty. (Always). I’ve screenshotted the tone curve (below, next to the white background alternate shot). Other edits were: white point brought back a touch (-5); clarity upped a bit (+12), Yellow saturation reduced (-19), a couple of background distractions cloned out.

10. Being picky? The nearest petals aren’t quite in focus. I was at smallest aperture for this lens so I either need to play around with hyperfocal distance, or move a bit further away.

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