A true photograph need not be explained, nor can it be contained in words.
When you have been photographing flowers for a while, you will often find yourself looking for some alternative ways to express your creativity. You can take a look at the works of Kathleen Clemons (http://kathleenclemonsphotography.com/#/special/splash/), Harold Davis (http://www.digitalfieldguide.com/galleries), Denise Ippolito (http://deniseippolito.com/fineart/) and a host of other sites that provide excellent examples of the kinds of photographic variations that you can try in your own photography.
Bits and Pieces
Instead of being content with simply shooting an image of the whole flower or flowers, why not just shoot parts of it. For example, images of the interior bits, the stamen and pistils, individual petals, or the part where the calyx joins the petals.
An alternative to the usual sharp images that one sees of flowers, are the softer, smoother, dreamier images made using techniques like the Orton Effect (http://www.michaelortonphotography.com/ortoneffect.html). A technique that produces softer images. It was originally developed by Michael Orton using slide film, but can now be duplicated using software (http://peterh111.wordpress.com/2010/12/11/the-easy-guide-to-creating-the-orton-effect/)
There are a number of alternatives to this approach that use simple soft-focus approaches. One of the simplest is the use of Lensbaby® lenses and accessories (http://lensbaby.com/products) that are deliberately designed to produce this effect. These can also be duplicated using software such as Photoshop (http://www.photoshopessentials.com/photo-effects/soft-focus-lens/) or Nik Software Color Efex Pro 4. These types of images are often referred to as soft images or glow effect images and are applied to a wide variety of digital imagery other than flowers.
Denise Ippolito has described a variety of approaches to this aspect of flower photography in her e-book The Softer side of Macro. As well, various aspects of different approaches to focus and sharpness are covered in Harold Davis’ book Photographing Flowers.
High and Low Key Imagery
High Key and Low key imagery are two techniques that are intended to produce very opposite effects. High key imagery is light and bright and aims at having no shadows. Low key imagery, on the other hand is full of darkness and shadows.
High key imagery is characterized by soft, pale colour tones. These images are bright, have very low contrast and few mid-tones or dark areas. The images should generally not be over-exposed and the details should not be blown out. These images are often shot in a studio using a white backdrop and a lot of light.
Low key imagery is a style of photography that uses dark tones in an attempt to produce a dramatic image. Low key imagery tries to intensify the contrast in a picture by reducing the lighting on the subject. The intense shadows created are considered an integral part of the image. They effectively define the mood of the image. These images are shot in a studio using black backgrounds and very selective lighting.
Both types of images can be created or enhanced in software using products such as Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro 4.
Although I have written a complete blog on the subject of infrared photography, it is useful to mention it again, because infrared imagery of flowers can produce some very interesting and artistic results.
Black and White Images
Long before colour photography became the vogue, black and white imagery was the only form of presentation. Because this topic was the subject of two of my early blog writings, I will not go into a lot of detail here.
All digital cameras today take pictures in colour. Some have the ability to render black and white images in the camera, but this is usually by converting the colour image to black and white internally. I would not recommend this approach to taking black and white images, as this limits you, to some extent, to the conversion made by the camera – a process determined by some camera designer’s idea of what a black and white image should look like. Rather, I recommend retaining the original colour image and then converting it in post-processing using one of the software packages available, such as Photoshop, Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2 or onOne’s Perfect B&W. I regularly use Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2 as the software of my choice. This does not mean it is any better than the others, it is just my choice a is have used Nik’s plugins for a while now and find that they do the job that I want done.
Converting to black and white is a personal choice. How you do it, the software you choose to use and the effects that you like in your final result are all yours to determine. One thing to remember though: not all colour images are necessarily suitable for a black and white conversion. If colour is an important part of the image and its story, then black and white is probably not the best way to demonstrate this. Black and white imagery is more about contrast, texture, tones, form and shape. If this is the message that you want your image to convey, then maybe a black and white conversion is appropriate.
In the End…
In the end, photographing flowers is all about you, the photographer and the message that you are trying to convey with your images. How you choose to shoot them; how you choose to process them and how you choose to share them is all up to you. It is your image and you are ultimately responsible for what is in the frame. If you are happy with the final result, then that is all that matters.