I've been experimenting with my lotus flower photographs and I must say that I am pleased with the results.
This second gallery of lotus pictures is, in my opinion, so much better than the first that I now think I had earlier been too liberal in showing some pictures that were not quite up to standard.
I wanted to remove them, but decided to leave them there for the moment. (Dec 2007 update: I've finally re-designed the page, removing some of the pictures and making the rest bigger.)
The pictures here have all been enhanced with Adobe Photoshop, although I have not done anything fanciful or complicated. In most cases, the only adjustment made was to darken the picture.
A not-too-good roll of slides inspired this second gallery of lotus flower photographs.
As I was going to need some slides for taking Vesak 2005 pictures in May, I bought a roll and shot some lotus flowers to test it out.
The results were disappointing. Fuji Sensia is a mass market slide, as opposed to the rest of the Fuji range, such as Fuji Provia, Astia and Velvia which are marked as “professional”.
On the Sensia, the colors were washed out, lacking the richness of the other Fuji professional slide films.
To worsen the situation, my camera was spoilt. The slide did not advance fully and all the images were slighly over-lapped – such that I ended up shooting more than 40 photographs with a roll of 36 exposures! Luckily I got the camera tested before Vesak.
Anyway, I was left with a roll of lotus pictures, a few of which looked quite promising, except that the colors were dull. I tried to remedy the situation by darkening the pictures slightly to make the colors appear richer. But I was still not satisfied.
Then I remembered my earlier experiments with other flower photographs , in which I darkened them not just slightly, but dramatically, to produce a mysterious effect. So I not only darkened some of the pictures taken with that roll of Fuji Sensia, but some others as well. And I've come to the conclusion that the lotus is particularly suitable for this dark, mysterious mood:
As I mentioned earlier, these lotus flower pictures mostly involved only very basic Photoshop adjustments to darken them. Image > Adjustments > Levels and then slide the mid-tone slider all the way to the right, from 1.0 to around 0.5 or 0.3. I didn't pay attention to the actual numbers, but kept my eyes on the image until it looked good to me.
Do not, however, use Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast... This will cause some pixels at the extreme end to "fall out" of your picture and your image ends up having fewer pixels – meaning less information.
For the second and third pictures above, however, I took an additional step to bring out the color of the leaf in the foreground that is partially blocking the lotus flower.
When I simply darkened the picture, the leaf became black like a shadow. So I selected the leaf in the foreground and darkened the rest of the picture (using Select > Inverse). Then I darkened the leaf separately, such that it still retained some of its color and texture, rather than becoming a dark shadow. It is a small additional step, but again nothing complicated. Anyone with basic Photoshop skills can do it.
This lotus above was, however, achieved by simply darkening the overall image.
Similarly for this picture below:
I continue to be amazed by how simple Photoshop adjustments can transform a so-so photograph into something special.
The next picture below, showing the stump left behind after the lotus petals have dropped, involves just a very small adjustment. In the original photograph, the background was too strong and distracting. So I selected the background, lightened it a little and also desaturated the colors slightly. I like this image for its abstract art feel.
I did not want to make it obvious that I had manipulated the picture and I hope I achieved my aim. Perhaps a more experienced set of eyes will see that the photograph had been Photoshop manipulated? Oh well...
Finally, here is one "lotus flower" picture that has obviously been manipulated.
In my earlier article on lotus flower photography, I had mentioned that there was more to the lotus than just the flower, that the bud, dried stalk and fallen flower petals could all make nice pictures.
But it has not been easy. I took a number of photographs of fallen petals, but none turned out very nice, partly because the murky water – plus leaves, weeds, and other things – didn't look very pretty and were distracting instead.
So I decided to change the waer, leaves, etc to black and white – monochrome if you want to use the correct term, It was quite tedious to select only the lotus flower petals. And the entire process of adjusting the levels, saturation, etc took me more than an hour.
The final result is not yet what I would consider a great picture but a big improvement from the original. I think it is good enough to show:
I hope you enjoy this second gallery of lotus flower pictures.
And to show what marvels a few simple Photoshop adjustments can do.