A pink double hellebore flower

A Sweet Gift

Recently my neighbour brought me some beautiful hellebore heads from her garden. She’d been cutting some to display in a bowl and said she felt like sharing the bounty. As you can imagine, I was delighted.

You won’t be at all surprised to know that I photographed them. To start with I tried photographing them in the bowl I floated the heads in. However, I soon realised that the markings on the petals of the individual flowers would show much better if I photographed them on their own.

Pink-speckled white hellebore flowers

To photograph the flower heads, I used my studio lighting and my ‘light-table’. This table is simply a piece of curved white plastic on a frame. It’s translucent, so that I can shine light through it. And that means the light can pass through the flowers too.

This is probably my favourite way to photograph flowers. It shows up every detail of markings and colour changes in the flowers, making it a great way to show the pretty freckles and streaks on these hellebores.

A pink hellebore flower

Using the light table also shows the veining in the leaves well. I was surprised to see how much pink there is in the leaf-veins in the photo above. The light coming through the leaves has really brought out the colour. (And it makes the colour of the flower gleam too.)

Just to see the difference, I decided to photograph the next hellebore in a tiny coloured bowl. Although I like the way the dark purple of the bowl goes with the deep purply-pink markings on the flower’s petals, I prefer the other images. This has made me think that I will probably use the light-table more often to create images that show the translucence of the flowers. (Especially when someone brings me such a lovely gift!)

Cream-coloured hellebore flower

23 thoughts on “A Sweet Gift

    1. Thank you! Knowing that someone likes my photos gives me a lift! πŸ™‚ The light table is great for this kind of photography but there are other ways to do it too. In the past, I used to use a panel meant for viewing slides. It was daylight-balanced so the colours came out correctly. (Of course, for this I was taking the photographs in daylight, which limited when I could do the photography. With the light-table I’m using flash, so I can work any time.)

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  1. The detail in the light table photos is amazing and it’s so interesting to read about how you photographed them. I’ve been thinking about making a light table.

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    1. The light table is one of these: https://www.wexphotovideo.com/calumet-desktop-shooting-table-1629803/ so you can see how simple it is. It takes a bit of experimentation to get the light to spread evenly through it. That’s the joy of digital, though! You can experiment and see what works. It’s a great way to photograph anything that’s translucent. Depending on the size and weight of what you were photographing, you could make something from frosted perspex or use a translucent paper, like tracing paper or something similar.

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  2. Well that is one way to enjoy the beauty of these flowers that usually hang their heads. The photos are magnificent. Especially that double pink one. So what kind of light do you use to shine through the table? I’m guessing the light is underneath. As you can tell I don’t know much about studio photography!

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    1. Thanks Jude! You’re right, there is a light underneath and another behind the back part of the table. Both lights have very small softboxes on and these soften the light a lot. Then I have two much bigger studio flash heads to light the flowers from the front. (Some day, if I ever get my little studio space tidied up a bit, I’ll photograph my setup. But don’t hold your breath, LOL!)

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  3. The flower images are beautiful – even the bowl images. I am putting the light table on my definite wish list and bookmarked it. It does not appear Amazon has it over here or anything like it. Must check this out. Thanks for the info Ann!

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    1. I think you could probably make something similar if you could get translucent plexiglass that would flex enough. The frame could be made from wood. BH photovideo has a table that’s almost identical: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/929861-REG/impact_sts_dt_shooting_table_set.html but there seem to be issues with how it’s packaged, so better to buy in store. (You also need to know that the curve means that you don’t have a completely flat surface to put your subject on – a hassle at times!) Making on could be a lot cheaper and a way to get it the way you want it… πŸ™‚

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      1. Good idea. I see the B&H is out of stock right now too. I will say I get most of my photography items from them and have never had a problem. Thanks for the idea of making one – I will check out a few places for the plexiglass.

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  4. What a lovely gift for you. Not only are the flowers beautiful, the chance to experiment with even more colors and patterns must delight you no end. It’s interesting to read about your process. It’s not a method that tempts me — until I see your results! Then, I’m impressed enough to at least consider it!

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    1. It was just the right kind of gift – especially because the hellebores were so different from the few in my own garden. I’m glad you enjoyed the results of my process! πŸ™‚

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