Impossible bouquets
PhotoPlus : The Canon Magazine|February 2021
James Paterson crafts a towering, beautiful, flower arrangement
James Paterson

THE MISSION

Create a bouquet of flowers with a mix of shooting and editing techniques

Time needed Two hours

Skill level Advanced

Kit needed

• Tripod

• Vase

• Flowers

• Home studio lighting kit

• Dark backdrop

• Wireless shutter release

In the 17th century Holland a trend emerged for larger-than-life still-life paintings of flowers. Galvanized by the fledgling disciplines of botany and horticulture at the time, Dutch artists like Jan Brueghel the Elder, Ambrosius Bosschaert, and Roelandt Savery painted bulging bouquets brimming with allegory. Impossibly overblown arrangements full of tangling stems and masses of overlapping blooms were typical of the work of the time. These works of art would go on to influence both painting and flower arrangement for centuries.

We’ll take inspiration from the Dutch masters in this project to craft our own impossible flower arrangement. By holding our flowers in various positions over a series of frames we can elevate the bouquet to a height that defies the laws of physics. Of course, this also means we can re-use the same flowers over and again in several places, so we don’t have to spend hundreds at the florists. We can simply place the camera on a tripod then hold the flowers in place, firing off a series of shots until we have a variety of blooms.

Once done, we can bring our shots together in Photoshop. This is easier than it might look – we make selections of the flowers using the Magic Wand tool to knock out the backdrop, then combine our blooms. We’ll show you how to get set up then build your own incredible bouquets.

PROJECT 1

THE SET-UP SELF-RAISING FLOWER PHOTOS P

Prepare for a larger-than-life flower arrangement with a camera and lighting skills

01 FLOWERS

The flowers we’re using here are a mixture of real and fake. The fake flowers are sturdier and we can bend the stems to create eye-catching curves. But the real flowers will of course look more natural, so it’s a good idea to use a mixture of the two.

02 VASE AND TABLE

In keeping with the look of the famous Dutch paintings of the 17th century, we used a large porcelain jug to hold our bouquet. A wooden table complements the look. You’ll probably have items around the house that will work just as well.

03 LIGHTING

Our scene here is lit with two studio flashes from a home studio kit – one on the backdrop, the other on the flowers. If you don’t have studio flash you can use window light. Just make sure the light stays consistent throughout the shoot.

04 EXTRA FLOWERS

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