Say it with flowers

How many times have we been going about our day when we are distracted by the scent of fresh flowers? Walking down the street, sitting in our garden, or even receiving a surprise delivery of a bouquet via the post? Flowers play a big part in the important events of our lives; births, weddings, birthdays, funerals etc. They can provide us with great joy, as well as being a comfort in difficult times.

The Hill House, Helensburgh

Over the centuries flowers have been a source of inspiration for artists, designers, photographers and musicians. When the famous Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh built the Hill House for Walter Blackie in 1902, he used flowers in rather inventive ways. Flowers play an important part in the interior decoration of the house. They are featured extensively in the stencilling of the walls and furniture. In the Drawing Room Mackintosh's genius employs flowers, especially roses in a powerful way. When entering the room Mackintosh created a full on sensory experience; walls, textiles, furniture, and art featuring roses, a large bay window overlooking the rose garden, and most cleverly he created small niches in the interior door frame which he designed to house two small bud vases each with a single rose giving those who entered the room an unexpected scent of roses.

I'm so sorry when it comes to Charles Rennie Mackintosh, I could talk for hours! He is a bit of a magnificent obsession of mine. Now back to work.

Let's get started. Here is the original image of a close up of a bouquet of flowers:


I just wish you could smell, as well as see these flowers! So what do I want to achieve in this project?

  • Retain the beauty of the flowers depicted.
  • Enhance the flowers shape and form.
  • Highlight the textures and shadows of the petals and leaves.

Like most problems there is sometimes more than one solution. When it comes to art, design, photography the solutions can be endless! In this project I am going to produce two solutions, each with their own interpretation to the brief.

Option 1

As you can see the rose is the main subject, but under close inspection it is not completely in the centre of the image. Some might not have noticed it, but it was really annoying me! To address this I just cropped the image slightly making sure the rose was completely centred.

Next step was to address the the lightness on the right of the image. I simply darkened the area around the rose so that it matches the left side of the image. This balanced the image, plus it helps frame the main subject.

To draw further attention to the rose in the centre I emphasised the some of the edges and shadows within the flower.

Lets take a look at the finished option 1:

Flowers retouched option 1

What do you think? The rose is now the star of the show. When an image features a subject as beautiful as this, it should be celebrated. With the alteration of the shadowing and the framing of the rose, the image is a far more balanced one.

Are you ready for option 2?

For this option I have decided to disregard the colour in the image altogether and make it more a tonal study of the flowers. With this I can emphasize the textures of the petals more effectively than when I am working with a colour image.

First step was to desaturate the image. As I have mentioned in previous posts, to achieve an effective black and white image it takes more than just dragging the saturation slider to the left. With several channel adjustments, and a few curves adjustments, we have the beginning of a good image.

Lets bring out the texture. In a new layer, I copied the image, applied a high pass filter at 5.5 pixels then switched the layer to linear light. I then applied a layer mask, and inverted it. With a soft brush at 50% flow, I brush over the areas where I want the texture to be emphasised.

For the finishing touches, with a soft brush in soft light mode lowered to 10% flow, I work on the the shadows creating a sense of depth. Like the previous image I increase the shading on the right side of the image to match the left. Lets take a look at the finished option 2:

Flowers retouched option 2

What do you think? Two different interpretations of the brief? which do you prefer? The only way I can compare them both is to make the comparison between a painting and a pencil drawing of the same subject. Each display their own qualities and individual merits.

As beautiful as flowers are, sadly they do not last for ever. But by capturing them in a photograph, you can enjoy them for ever. Do you have a garden you are extremely proud of? or has someone surprised you recently with a bouquet of flowers? If so take a photograph of them!

I hope you have enjoyed this post. If you have an image like the ones you see above and would like them to have a similar treatment, please contact us at If you would like to hear more about ReClick Photo and the work we do, please visit our website at (New look website coming soon!).

Thanks for Reading!

Hugh at ReClick Photo.

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