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Floral Photography: Taking Natural Beauty to the Next Level

Four Artspan photographers share the inspiration and techniques involved in creating their altered floral works.

Dianne Poinski: Simplicity
Simplicity, Dianne Poinski

With their impressive variety of colors, shape and texture, flowers have long made excellent artistic subjects. Yet, for these four Artspan photographers, natural beauty is merely the starting point for creating stunning floral photographs. Here, they explain what has compelled them to focus on floral photography, as well as the unique techniques they employ to achieve striking results.

After moving to Japan and discovering the variety and abundance of subtropical flowers, Canadian photographer Michael Dalla Costa devoted himself to capturing their charm through his lens. However, for Dalla Costa, a simple photo of a flower does not make art. “Digital photography opens up a treasure chest of adjustments to tone and texture, as well as lenses and filters that make the images a complete expression of me” said the self-taught photographer.

Dalla Costa's photographic manipulations also have an extra significance—after a painful fall two years ago, the artist began to experience amnesia. “I now have trouble remembering anything beyond six months prior, unless an event was emotionally meaningful in some way” he explained. “When I see the photos I have taken in the past, they become, in essence, my memories.”

A Memory: Michael Dalla Costa
A Memory, Michael Dalla Costa (print available at michaeldallacosta.artspan.com)

To create poignant works such as 'A Memory,' Dalla Costa makes various adjustments to light level, macro, and color settings when shooting, before editing extensively in Photoshop.

Floyd Limbos, whose floral photography is held in galleries and private collections all over the world, has been photographing nature for over thirty years. Limbos maintains that flowers are in no way easy art. “When you marry the subject with technique, intent and perception you bring it to a higher level” he explained. “The flower is a representational symbol of the process of life and creation.”

Orchid: Floyd Limbos
Orchid, Floyd Limbos

When printing, he uses a variety of photographic filters to enhance composition and content, as well as single and multiple image printing techniques to create a variety of illusions. “I like to stretch the mind and the imagination without becoming too outrageous,” said Limbos, whose work has represented the Philadelphia Flower Show for the past four years.

“For me, flowers have been there from the beginning,” said Sacramento-based artist Dianne Poinski. While in the process of getting a business degree, Poinski took a photography class and became inspired enough to quit her academic program and devote her life to art. Her wistful and elegant bouquets are printed on 100% cotton rag paper and hand-colored with PanPastel, a technique she decided to apply after a selection of non-floral hand-colored images caught her eye.

Approaching Spring: Dianne Poinski
Approaching Spring, Dianne Poinski (print available at dpoinski.artspan.com)

When I first began doing this I hand colored with Marshall photo oils on darkroom fiber prints” said Poinski. “When I went digital I had to figure out another way to get the translucent effect I got from the oils, and that’s when I started using pastels." Poinski's flowers and bouquets have been licensed to appear as prints, on posters and on products such as journals and greeting cards. Aside from showing out of her Sacramento Studio, Poinski works with art consultants to provide artwork for hospitals and corporate work environments.

Florida-based photographer Jules Miller, who exhibits frequently throughout the state, became enraptured with floral photography after discovering the American Orchid Society garden in Delray Beach, Florida. Miller considers flowers the perfect subjects for her signature inverted technique. “I would love to say that my technique came from a masterfully planned editing session,” said Miller “however, the inverted process came about when I was playing with options on Adobe Illustrator.” Miller, who cites Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Monet as her main influences, explained that she began using this method as a result of her experience as an abstract painter. “I wanted to see how I could parlay that abstraction into my photographs” she said.

Wilted Alive: Jules Miller
Wilted Alive, Jules Miller (print available at julesmillerdesigns.com)

Miller's photo of a dying rose, 'Wilted Alive,' exemplifies her shooting process, which involves finding views of nature that are not immediately apparent. “When I am out shooting in general, I try to find a view of nature or flowers that no one really sees” she said. “I enjoy seeing people look at my work, wondering what the image could be. It’s fascinating to me to see how others can interpret what they see.”

 

Michael Dalla Costa: michaeldallacosta.artspan.com

Floyd Limbos: floydlimbos.com

Dianne Poinski: dpoinski.artspan.com

Jules Miller: julesmillerdesigns.com

 
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