Weather Advisory

From Above


What do you do when the wind chill registers in the single digits and the National Weather Service issues a winter weather advisory?

You stay home and practice the art of still life photography.

Practice is the key word here. Armed with a $5 bunch of flowers, picked up on a whim at the grocery store, you try your hand at creating intriguing compositions. You attempt to keep things sharp while hand-holding the camera. You finally drag out the tripod.

You arrange and re-arrange. You search your home for compelling items to add to your setup. You pretend you are a photographer for Real Simple magazine.

Your lightbox is set up in the front bay window. Your 56-year-old knees protest at kneeling on the floor for such lengths.

But you keep shooting, engrossed in the possibilities.

The weather keeps you indoors for several days. You get your money’s worth from that $5 bunch of flowers.

Still life practice.



I realize my “weather advisory” was nothing compared to the blizzard that struck the eastern US this past weekend. Thinking of all my friends on the East Coast – hope you and your families are safe and warm.

Floral High-Key


Spring Reflected



Posted on February 12, 2013, in Photography and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 27 Comments.

  1. This post just made me smile!!! I can see/hear my own voice here..and how I (just maybe?) have been inspiring. Love the results. Definitely worth a $5 investment!!!

    • Marcie – oh, yes! you are my inspirational Queen of the Still Life. I have always been in awe of your ability to create interesting scenes from everyday objects. If I succeeded even a tiny bit, I owe much of it to your example.

  2. I just made a lightbox myself. I’ve made a couple of shots that feel empty and void of emotion. I did not take the time that you did to keep trying, to keep practicing. The flowers were definitely worth the $5. While others buy milk and bread and those eggs and batteries-you choose to purchase color. Nicely played.
    But it is the soft high key black white that appeals to me the most. Go figure.
    Curious about that last shot and what you chose to put below the flower. Looks mirror “ish”, but hard to tell. Feel like sharing?
    Happy day Brenda. Hope the chill has flown the coop. Sun and melting here today.

    • Susan – oh, I hear you. These three shots represent hours of attempts. And I rarely buy flowers – I don’t know why – this purchase was definitely a “one-off” because I knew the weather was shaping up to be challenging and wanted something interesting to shoot indoors. Sometimes it is just more than I can handle to bundle up and trudge around in the cold – like I have to explain that to you 🙂

      The “thing” below the flower in the last shot is a piece of wall art – it is a mirror, about 8 by 8 inches square, that is overprinted with a dark gray design. There are four of them in the set, each with a different design. I think they came from West Elm – but its been years since the purchase. They make great additions to still lifes – didn’t know that when I bought them so it was a fun discovery.

      Hope you are digging out from the blizzard.

  3. Brenda, another exploration — good for you! You are off in another direction, experimenting with still life, and what fun results. I’m favoring the subtle b&w too, but the composition of the last one is very intriguing. Stay warm!

    • Gina – while I do like the springtime pop of green of the color versions, I too love the BW treatment. It really enhances the textures and brings out each tiny petal. I still have a LOT to learn about creating effective and intriguing still lifes – but I’m sure winter isn’t quite done with me yet and there will be other opportunities to shoot indoors.

  4. You don’t often see pictures of flowers from above. This is incredible, Brenda. I could see it as a popular stock photo.

    Flowers in February are a great subject. One of my favorite pictures ever came from Valentine’s Day tulips.

    • Kim – I don’t shoot flowers very often so this was a different experience for me – both in terms of subject matter and the fact of being indoors. This style of photography isn’t something that comes easy but I do enjoy the challenge.

  5. They look great Brenda . . . . I really struggle to take shots indoors. Oh . . . and I know all about knees that protest!

    • Kathryn – yes, I must look pretty strange walking around my house, camera in hand, trying to find SOMETHING to shoot. The thing is – I love my home and the things that surround me – I just can’t quite figure out how to translate that to photographs. Plus there’s that whole kneeling thing 🙂

  6. Love that last one with the reflection and interesting gray patterns. I laughed at your Real Simple comment, and at your getting your money’s worth from those $5 flowers. I’d say you worked ’em real good!

    • Lee – I adore the look and feel of Real Simple magazine – that clean, modern look on that heavyweight paper – a look I strive for in my graphic design work (and rarely achieve). But yes, I think I did get my money’s worth from those Wal-Mart flowers.

  7. Very resourceful, Great job with your still life.

    • Leanne – I adore the photos you take of your home – a skill I seem to lack. My photographic eye just doesn’t seem to work that way. Doesn’t keep me from trying though – at least one in a while, when the weather precludes outdoor photo walking. I’m glad to have you as inspiration.

  8. You did a fabulous job with these flower photos! Wow! I especially like the first one. An unusual angle, and most effective, with that hint of purple. Was the vase sitting on top of the light box? Or did you mean one of those light tents that diffuse the light? I’m getting my terms mixed up.

    I laughed when I read that you got out your tripod. Join my world. 🙂

    To protect your knees try using knee pads from the hardware store–the kind that strap onto your knees.

    • Anita – that is a huge compliment, coming from you, the absolute Queen of Florals and my continual inspiration in that genre. My “light box” is a transluscent plastic box with a piece of white poster board inside. The poster board extends outside the front of the box – so that is where the vase was sitting – this enabled me to get a “from above” point-of-view, with the vase sitting on white and the window light coming from behind. I usually fight against using the tripod – because it limits me in positioning the camera exactly where I want it. And since I shoot with a point-and-shoot, I am limited in how I can use my zoom and macro capabilities together – which the tripod exacerbates.

      Thanks for the “knees” tip – I need to use a pillow or one of my mother-in-law’s gardening pads.

  9. Yes, gardening pads work well. I’ve been known to use my jacket when out and about. 🙂

  10. I’m in love with these cute little flowers in such brilliant colors!

    • Deb – yes, isn’t that spring green so bright and cheerful? They certainly brought a much welcomed spot of color into my home and my images. But then, I still had to try out a black and white version 🙂

  11. Definately worth the $5.
    You got 3 beauties here and the lighting is superb.
    Now I know what to do next time it rains…

    • Thank you so much for stopping by my little corner of cyberspace and taking the time to comment – I so greatly appreciate it. And I’m happy that you enjoyed my flower explorations – I highly recommend it when the weather does not cooperate.

  12. Like the cover of a magazine — love it!
    I am always amazed how you can completely switch subjects, gears, palettes and produce something flawless every single time.

    • Lisa – what a great compliment 🙂 But, of course, you don’t see the really awful shots, the blurry shots, the poorly composed shots. Those three images were the best from three different photo sessions and a couple hours of shooting. But I suppose it isn’t much different than the editing work you do with your writing. We experiment; we fail and sometimes succeed and we share the successes.

  13. I think it must be a lot like editing! Long process and lots of experiments and “failures”, as you say. I read today that scientists look at their failures as data. Love that.

  14. Beautiful practice! Your photographic talent shines through here and you’d never know this was “practice.” My light box is in pieces as it didn’t not survive the trip to Texas and sat in a storage pod for months in the Fort Worth heat. Right now I’m using the pieces as reflectors so to speak. :o)

    My favorite image is the third one. I love that bit of reflection in the mirror and how the petals become translucent in the light. Just fabulous all around!

    Ps. I must figure out how to reply on comments on my blog…oh, there’s so much to learn! {smile}

    • Suzette – Reflectors are good too! My “lightbox” is simply a transluscent plastic bin lined with a piece of white cardstock – I like the way it diffuses the light into a soft glow. And it’s sturdy 🙂 Thanks so much for your kind comments about my still life “practice” – I still struggle with these type of shots so it is definitely “practice”.

      I know how to “reply to comment” using WordPress but don’t know if a similiar option is available vig blogger. I’m sure you can reply to the comment – just don’t know if there is a way to have the reply be sent via email to the commenter.

I greatly appreciate your comments!

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