Frozen florals, graphic abstracts and stormy seas

As I shared in my post ‘Sparkling seascapes and creative photo books‘, I have been commissioning articles for Digital Camera magazine’s Projects section. Written by photographers and edited (and sometimes added to) by me, they share the tricks and inspiration behind some of their beautiful photos.

For Issue 194 of Digital Camera magazine, I organised the following project articles on photographing frozen flowers, graphical abstracts and stormy seascapes. These were the projects I had most involvement in for this issue, as colleagues and an intern I supported worked on the other projects in this issue as well.

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Frozen floral photos: Just add ice

Still-life specialist Mandy Disher shares how to create unique and beautiful floral art by photographing flowers encased in ice.

“Using a macro lens can get you close to flowers to reveal their wonderful colours, enthralling textures and tiny details,” she writes. “The process of freezing flowers is unpredictable, yet fascinating and surprising too – you never know where the bubble trails and wonderful icy patterns will develop in the block.

“Flowers are diverse and they can respond differently to the freezing process due to their thickness or density. Some flowers are changed little by the ice, while the petals of delicate blooms may take on a wonderful transparency.

“Just putting flowers into a tray of water and popping it into the freezer won’t work, as the flowers will float to the top and swirl around uncontrollably. So you need to anchor them in position.”

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Abstract approach: Art in the mundane

David Queenan finds incredible colours and textures that look like paintings.

At first glance, David Queenan’s abstract photographs look like modernist paintings. The deep blues marbled along the bottom of one image look as though they’ve been built up with layers of oil paint on a canvas. Contrasted with a crisp, uniform red line, you might wonder if the artist is making a statement with this precision.

In another, indigo tree shapes appear like shadows against a deep, inky background, and are topped with verdigris fronds. In fact, these masterpieces are the hulls of fishing boats, captured on camera by chance.

“Being a graphic designer (as well as a photographer), I enjoy the creative process of finding abstract art in what some might regard as mundane objects,” David explains. “It can also be a good way of passing the time while waiting for the light to improve or if the weather isn’t great when out shooting landscapes.

“On one such occasion after getting up early to shoot the Forth bridges at sunrise, I was just about to head home when I spotted the boats at the nearby harbour had been taken out of the water for winter maintenance. This provided me with an opportunity to get up close to the hulls with their peeling paintwork. I particularly liked the contrast of bright colours and the more distressed and textured areas on the boats.”

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Pro’s challenge: Stormy seascapes

Forget shooting calm, boring seas and embrace a storm’s wild energy, says Rachael Talibart.

“My photo challenge is to capture a stormy seascape,” she writes. “Finding a safe yet striking location is key to getting a good shot, along with protecting your precious kit!

“Long exposures that smooth out texture have been popular for some time. But when the sea is rough, very fast shutter speeds are an interesting alternative, as they capture all the detail in the dramatic waves.

“Shooting with a Canon 5DS R and a 70-200mm lens, I used a shutter speed of 1/1,000 sec and a narrow aperture, so that I could freeze the motion of the waves to reveal their strange shapes.

“For my other coastal work, I use a tripod and filters. But hand-holding is the only option during storms. When shooting Storm Imogen, the wind was so strong that I could barely stand up myself, so a tripod was useless. Unlike the slow, peaceful approach of long exposure work, this was very fast and exciting – the most exhilarating shoot of my life so far!”

Read more of these projects, and other exciting photography articles, in Issue 194 (September 2017) of Digital Camera magazine.

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