The Perfect Rose

No flower photo is perfect, but this one is as close as I could make it.

I spent a lot of time setting it up and getting the light right. The goal wasn’t a creative image, but a sort of formal portrait, almost abstract. Or something like that; I really just wanted to do a photo of this amazingly beautiful rose.

The black background is real. Yes, you can do that in Photoshop, but it never really looks authentic. When photographing a small object up close, light from behind inevitably creeps around or through it, especially at the edges. For something to really look like it’s in front of blackness, you need blackness.

I used a manual 50mm lens, nice and sharp, and did a “focus stack” of about a dozen shots at f11. Then I merged the stack in Helicon Focus for a full depth of field. Tip – if you’re interested in focus stacking, don’t waste time with apps that advertise it as a “feature”; for a top notch result you need the fine-tuning capabilities of a something like Helicon Focus. There are a lot of edges in this image, and Helicon Focus let me get them all nice and sharp.

The end result is a bit academic, maybe too perfect – some people think it’s a software rendering and not a photo. But I’m happy with it.

The rose itself? It came from the funeral of a relative – a woman who loved to travel, loved to laugh, loved being with her friends – and who unfortunately died too young. In fact, this flower was at her interment, in a small town cemetery. While standing there I’d noticed how flawless that bunch of roses was; some sort of orange, or maybe “tangerine”, and right at their peak. We took some home afterwards, and I did this photo of one of them.

Life isn’t perfect; but sometimes, for a while, a flower can come close. They both reach an end at some point. A photo remains, as long as anyone sees it .

3 Replies to “The Perfect Rose”

  1. Wow, Jim! That’s really impressive and lovely at the same time! I do understand the technical complexity of this and you have created a beautiful rendition of a perfect rose with a lovely backstory as well.

  2. Sorry about your loss. A life cut short is always painful. I like the rose photograph , it’s a delicate perfect beauty.

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