Depending on where you live, the Fall season might be full of rich colors — followed by the faded, dead, and dying aftermath, which holds a certain skeletal beauty of its own. While the landscapes start turning from a rich set of painted gold and ruby to muted tallow and burlap hues, we tend to disregard what fantastic visions one can procure from the seemingly lifeless scenery. Look down at the ground, and you might just find a subject worthy of closer inspection.
What I love about the artistry of dead flowers is that there seems to be a broad spectrum of what you can do with them beyond what you might initially think. Between using creative lighting — harsh or muted — to toying with texture overlays, the options are endless. The lifeless, non-reflective surfaces allow a lot of play with contrast, saturation, and dramatics that you simply won’t see in succulent, fresh flowers. I’ll show you some of my favorite images of flowers and show you how I take my own photos of dying foliage by setting up a makeshift mobile indoor studio.
Sources: All of these images and more can be found at this Pinterest link, although some of the original sources are null and void.
Setting Up Your Space
I took some quick, uncomplicated shots of sunflowers (below). You don’t need any crazy setup to do this. I took these with my iPhone 6s+, and they’ll be terrific to edit in Pixlr.
Note the first shot is lower than the light source and further away. I feel while I’m still able to get great light and dark contrasts, I can retain all the fine details (wrinkles, color, etc.). The second shot (top right) I placed more level and closer to the light source; as you can see, it contains blown out details. How it works for you all depends on the light coming from your window. Different weather, time of day, angle of the sun all make a difference. Just test out positioning and take multiple shots of the same composition at different variables. Pro tip: Never use your flash. That’s just wrong.
Free Images You Can Edit and Use
These are some shots of a sunflower I left in a vase, which continued to dry out as I neglected it. It simply went limp with gravity naturally pulling the petals downward over time. I took a black slab of foam board and shot these near an open window (some were shot using the desk as a backdrop). I find that photographing flowers indoors, utilizing the darker side of the house and some non-direct sunlight (overcast light usually these days) really does a nice job with the effect of the dead flower compositions. I really love the black matte finish of the foam board. You can enhance the darks up all the way to a rich black or soften it up and add some texture overlays to make it more interesting. I like both!
Feel free to Right Click + Save Image (or Press and Save to Camera Roll on your device) and create your own artwork with them. When you first begin to edit always start with your exposure and contrast. Then take the highlights down if needed and balance your shadows. After that, play around with some sharpening and clarity for depth and smoothing to take out the low-light grain (if desired), then get creative with it!
About the author: Molly Bermea is an Autoimmune-Paleo food creator, urban gardener, photographer, iPhoneographer, artist, blog writer, wife and mom of two little beasties (humanoid children)… oh, and she likes to run, swim and bike. She lives in the fabulous, all-season, Southern Oregon area and works from home. Find her on Facebook, Instagram and over at her new blogsite, ChronicFrenzy.com (Autoimmune Paleo & Lifestyle).