The June Unsplash Photo Clubs are full of interesting topics! I’m still looking forward to shooting for the Double Exposure and Retro topics! I’ve already created for my own topic choice —Brunch, also for the Hard Light Shadows topic, and the Amoled Wallpapers topic. Amoled, what? I had honestly never heard the word before. Basically Amoled wallpapers, are backgrounds for your smartphones, and other device screens, including televisions.
AMOLED stands for Active-Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode and it is used for televisions screens but more notably, for smartphones. OLED displays are similar, but do not use an Active Matrix.
The screen is made up of organic material that actually produces light when a current is passed through it – electroluminescence. AMOLED displays are easier on your battery because every pixel is not always lit up. They also show ‘true’ blacks because there is no back-lighting.
My Creative Process
I had to read up on the subject before I got started with my creative process. I wasn’t quite sure what it was all about. When I discovered that it was about true black backgrounds, I immediately starting picturing florals on black. I honestly wasn’t sure if this ‘counted’, because almost every example was black and white or something with little color —also all quite high-tech looking. Not my thing AT ALL. So I went with florals. Then a photographer that I so admire on Unsplash, Annie Spratt uploaded her photos to the topic and what do you think she did? Florals on black! So I thought phew, my idea then surely meets the criteria.
Brainstorming & Mood Board
I had romantic ‘Dutch Golden Age’ in mind for my shoot. I wanted romantic, dramatic eye-catching florals. I used my ‘Master Plan’ for planning out my shoot. Started with the brainstorming, then the shot list, and the preparation lists. I went to buy the flowers on a Sunday, which turns out to be the absolute worst day of the week. They literally had almost nothing left so I ended up with flowers I didn’t have in mind for the shoot, but my schedule wouldn’t allow that week for more shopping for flowers. The local shop here in Nieuw Crooswijk, Rotterdam is really bad —they smoke at the entrance, the flowers are worse off than a grocery store, and nothing interesting. They remind me of flower shops in the states in the early 90’s. So I walked to my favorite s ‘Zomers to get in 5000 steps, and because they are hands down the best in Rotterdam. I just went on a terrible day, at a terrible time. I needed to make due with what I ended up with. And OMG I paid 42 euros for 7 flowers. I should of said -oh no sorry, that’s not what I had in mind but I wasn’t very mentally capable of that on this day. I smiled, paid and remained in shock for at least two blocks afterwards.
Gear, styling, settings, troubleshooting...
I used a dark brown panel that is part of a coffee table, I tried black foam boards, but I was hoping I’d get a shine, reflection with these shots, like in the photo below (didn’t happen). Photo below was shot on the brown panel with black foam board as background. The black foam board created a tent, like I wrote about here.
I may not have gotten the reflection like in the asparagus shots but the panel worked. Just a little bit of editing with Lightroom, which also could have been done in Photoshop, or Camera Raw helped me adjust the darkness of the backgrounds.
Note: I didn’t shoot the images below in a tent like the asparagus photo above. This wouldn’t have worked shooting a flat lay. I did however place a black foam board on top of my camera to keep the ceiling from casting light onto the surface below. I also placed a large black foam board to one side, and a small piece of the black foam board on the side where the light was coming in. I placed it so that it blocked part of the sunlight. I used a diffuser against the door window to soften the light.
I used my c-stand, my 50mm, and my Canon Eos 6D Mark ii for these and tethered them. I had some black foam boards, and a diffuser, and the panel I used for the surface.
I had a hard time with this shoot. For one, I was tethering and my Canon Utilities program was acting strange. On the monitor my images were not sharp, I couldn’t get them sharp in the monitor no matter what I was doing. Then when I took a look at the images outside of the Canon software they looked super sharp. I couldn’t rely on the software for accuracy, so I used purely settings and histogram for these.
Further I wasn’t liking them too much because I hate almost always the color orange, and I don’t like tropical looking flowers and wanted romantic. Pfff I need to make better decisions and not feel pressured. They didn’t pressure me at that floral shop, so I could have said no and they wouldn’t have thought the lesser of me. Also they gave me that peony because it was almost finished blooming.
Doesn’t it look cool? After shooting a few shots of it ‘whole’ I pulled it apart a bit to get this shot below. In Lightroom I decided to manipulate the color to get it more moody.
How I started
I really was crushing on these romantic florals on black. I even considered doing some with plexiglass over them that was fogged up with steam to get a dreamy look. I’d really like to try that. Or possibly freezing them in distilled water and placing them on a black surface. (see at the bottom of the page what I mean!)
How I finished
Am I happy with the photos? Yes, they meet the criteria, they were placed in the photo club topic, some made the Unsplash editorial feed, and have had hundreds of thousand views, and reached over a thousand downloads.
Will they be a part of my portfolio? Yes, a few but I’m definitely going to shoot this again in a romantic style, and include horizontal shots.
I think it’s obvious I wish I wouldn’t have strayed from my original plan, and waited ( or ordered ahead) for the florals I had in mind. I wish I would have tried more variations, such as horizontal shots.
What I am happy with is that though the software for some strange reason wasn’t showing my images sharp, I trusted my instincts and got sharp photos. Note; I had Lightroom importing the images from the Canon software so I could quickly check them and do quick edits to see if these were working.
The Unsplash Photo Club, and I think all photo clubs are fun because you do work you would have otherwise not done. It’s good to step outside of your comfort zone. I did it with the hard light and shadows and it’s one of my favorite styles now to shoot! In fact my entries on Pexels (the other free stock photography site) for ‘Hero, Your Style‘ are all Hard Light Photography.
Are you a member of a photo club? Or do you challenge yourself sometimes to step out of your comfort zone? I’m curious as to what you find intimidating. At the moment I find shooting portraits intimidating. Not sure why, but I think it might be that if I don’t get them right I’d have to shoot them over again, and that would be embarrassing.
Thanks for stopping by!