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Bird of Paradise

October 26, 2009 The bird of paradise - genus Strelitzia - is a relative of the banana family of plants. Its large blue and orange blossom resembles an exotic bird, hence its common name. The exotic looking flower makes for an interesting subject (during an uninteresting week).

As with most flowers, the bird of paradise flower petals are translucent. From a photographer’s standpoint, this translucent quality is noteworthy, allowing for numerous options in lighting. Translucence - defined as to shine through - means that the photographer can backlight, sidelight or stick to the traditional front lighting of this flower.

Try It
In a still life situation, take the opportunity to rotate the subject (or the light source) to see the effects it has on the overall feel of the composition.

I noticed the quality of sidelight coming in from an open window and took the opportunity to naturally light the flower. The translucent petals caught the sunlight, glowed brightly, while the thicker portions of the flower and stem were in shadow. By turning the flower - accentuating the highlights and shadows - the shape and form of the flower are revealed. Turning the flower the opposite direction would allow for more of the sunlight to catch the non-translucent areas - probably a better option for a more technical botanical study.

But this being about photography, or more specifically about the quality and direction of the lighting, I went for a composition with shadow and ultimately drama in the lighting.



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