This is a type of flower photo that’s not as universally popular as the typical flower shot, however, it is very popular amongst those who like it.
There are many different ways to do something like this, so definitely do not think this is the only method. This is just the method I have chosen to use recently. I have used other methods at times.
I typically pull this method out of my hat when photographing cultivated flowers. When photographing wildflowers, I am usually busy telling natural history and/or conservation stories, and feel the more realistic photo does this better. When photographing cultivated flowers however, I feel beauty and color is what I’m photographing and thus these abstract techniques are perfect.
On my recent visits to the local iris farms I once again pulled these techniques out of my hat, although, honestly I had to remind myself to do so. I was having more fun photographing these flowers in a realistic manner than I usually do with cultivated flowers. Take a look at my other iris photos.
My technique for this type of shot recently has been to set the ISO and aperture such that I am given a long shutter speed. I then move the camera during the exposure in a shaky circle pattern. If I am using a zoom lens, I usually add a zoom into the mix. This technique is a low percentage method, so I shoot a lot of frames.
When I get the images home, I import them into Lightroom. Then I edit them ruthlessly, editing the twenty or thirty frames of one image down to one or two. After this is done I open them into the develop module. The main thing necessary here is to add some contrast. This shooting method tends to bleed some of your highlight values into the shadows and shadow values into the highlights, producing a flatter image than I’d like. My first step is to lower the black values to where I like and then adjust the contrast slider. After those two steps, I might increase the highlights but find that this is usually not necessary. Then lower the clarity setting a little to increase the abstract look and increase the vibrance and saturation sliders to taste to produce a nice vibrant image.
From here, I move on to applying some Nik Color Efex Pro 4 filters. I usually move to Photoshop to do this, but that isn’t necessary. I almost always apply the Classical Soft Focus filter, using one of the diffusion settings. I play with the diffusion methods to make sure my highlights are nice and “glowy.” Then I might also add the Contrast Color Range, if I feel that the photo would be improved by making the primary color of the flower brighter. I chose not to use this filter in any of the images you see here, but a new batch I’ll have available soon made a lot of use of the Contrast Color Range filter.