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May 08, 2018
Whenever I am in shallow water I look for subjects that create cool reflections that ripple and morph into fantastical shapes when frozen still on camera. Leaves, sticks, water plants, and even fish have all been captured in this way. So it was just a matter of time before I made a decision to showcase this phenomenon in some particular way.
I remember seeing a picture of a hibiscus flower floating in clear blue tropical water and thinking it would be cool to do a series of underwater flower images. Once I started shooting a few images of some cala lilies and roses in the local public pool I realized this was a great way to work on the reflection properties.
I have not been able to find out if there is a technical word for the reflection seen underneath the waters surface. I might just have to coin a word for it if there isn’t one. My love of striking colours, bold contrasts, underwater image making and art have come together in this project. I began working on this series several years ago but only launched them a few months ago once I had a big enough collection of images. It was a project I worked on in secret for the most part, except for the curious swimmers and guests at the various pools I used. They often looked on in mixtures of fascination and confusion when I would show up at a hotel pool with arm loads of flowers and dump them on the edge ready for a shoot.
I do not manipulate the environment in any way to get the shot I want. The same goes for my processing of images. Besides colour corrections and tonal adjustments I do not do much in the way of creative editing. This project however was a bit of a departure from my norm. Firstly the flowers were cut flowers, mostly from local florists, which I then staged in a pool using a tripod for stability. My lighting was very specific and intense to control the type of exposure I wanted. For the black backgrounds I was blasting the flowers with lots of strobe lighting to purposely underexpose the background. For the white background image the opposite was true. I shot in full sun and lit the background while shading the flowers, using only enough strobe lighting to get good contrast.
Each image took a lot of time to get just how I wanted it. The basic flower and the colours are pretty much as shot but the amount of work to get the overall style and background was quite intensive. The swirling reflection patterns in a lot of the images however are exactly as recorded. I did not alter any of these with fancy Photoshop manipulations. That is after all the fascination I had with this project. The ripples came from people swimming in the pool or swishing the water with my hand. Other times when I was in the pool by myself I would stand dead still to get the shots with perfectly mirrored reflections.
You can see from the video below how the ripples look slowed down five times.
But like most of my photography I just shoot what I am passionate about at the time and don’t get worried about whether people will like it or not. As an artist the joy I get in the creation is as much, or more important than what I get from the work once it is complete.
To see the full galleries of these images click HERE
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