Photographing Flowers at the Royal Botanical Gardens

I've started giving myself projects to explore other aspects of photography that I'm not quite familiar with and track my journey in those areas. Yesterday, I went to the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington and Hamilton to spend some time photographing flowers. Here is what I learned.

1. A Rose Is Still A Rose

While I didn't take any photographs of roses, and while it was nice to walk around and view the flowers and almost get lost in the woods at the RBG Arboretum, a flower is a flower. Most photographs of flowers still rooted in the ground look the same. I've seen some great photos of rows of lavender in France or a tulip plantations in Holland, but the scope of what was available to me here in Hamilton was not even close.

2. Flowers are Boring Subjects

For me, at least, flowers are really boring. They don't speak to me. They don't convey anything. They're just there, growing or wilting. They're pretty and aromatic, sure, but, personally, I now realize I want a boring photograph of a bunch of flowers on my wall as much as I want a floral print fabric covering my couch or bed, which is not bloody likely ever going to happen.

A photograph of flowers would have to knock my socks off for me to love it, and if I did, it would likely be more about the composition, the patterns or lines, its surroundings, or the flower's struggle for survival against all odds that would really make me want to have it on my wall to see every day. My suggestion: rather than hanging a framed photo of flowers in a vase on your bedroom wall, buy some flowers and a nice vase and just put those in your bedroom.

3. Look for What You Love in the Image

I love authenticity in the images I take. Flowers can't help but be authentic, they're almost always vulnerable to the elements and herbivores, and they blatantly real in their simplicity. When dealing with flowers that are cared for and cultivated, a lot of their authenticity is stripped away. It is not natural for them to exist in rows, so I was looking for two things: a natural representation within the manufactured environment, and the authenticity of the hand of man in a manufactured nature. (Shit, I'm starting to sound like an artist.)

Shoot what you love, what rings true to you, or close, and then filter out the ones that don't speak to you during post-processing. That being said, none of the images I've included below really speak to me, but part of my learning experience is to share what I've taken, what I've learned and the final result of the self-guided project.

The Photos

Below are the final photos I selected from yesterday's trip to the RBG. Processing was a bit of a bitch on some of these, as the colours you see here are pretty much what went into the camera. I tried not to do too much enhancing, and in a few cases I actually had to pull the saturation down a bit to see the details in the leaves and petals. Seriously.