Rosa ‘Apple Blossom’

May 31, 2012 · 6 comments

It took 4 months to grow this picture; one second in the garden to “see” it; and 8 hours of computer work to clean it up.

The one second part is easy to explain.  Last Saturday was a garden day and when I walked the garden wondering where to start, what undone chore would be tackled first, I brushed under my ‘Apple Blossom’ rose, rambling and tumbling down from tree pillars.  That truss needs to be properly photographed.  Instant inspiration after years of never getting it quite right.

When I started this garden my very first big idea was to plant rambling roses under the row of ugly Eucalyptus trees at the edge of our property so that they could grow up and engulf them.  I have been very pleased with the effect but never got a decent photo.  In recent years the floral show diminished as the trees shaded the roses.

So last February I topped the trees and girdled their trunks.

They are trees no more.  They are now magnificent pillars 30 feet tall.  And now 4 months later the roses, particularly ‘Apple Blossom’, have responded and are flowering like crazy.

I suspect next year will be spectacular after a year’s growth and full sun on those tall pillars but it was last Saturday that I realized I needed to take this rose into the studio. The peak bloom of a truss is one day and one truss brushed me.

It was  huge truss, buds still unfolding, some fully open, and some at perfection with stamens still bright and yellow.  It was so big I could not make it stand up in the vase and needed a clamp to hold it for the camera.

Once I had the photo it needed lots of work to create the PhotoBotanic effect, a silhouette on white, inspired by the masters of botanic illustration.  I can’t shoot these against a white background to achieve the effect because for one, when lit, a white background creates flare into the camera lens, muting the colors.  And even more importantly, the white of a photo background is never a true even white, and photo masking is much easier with dark colors.

So I began with the Topaz Remask3 filter.

And then went into all the small “holes” or gaps between flowers where the background color peeks through and carefully painted in the white mask.  (In the enlarged photo that opens this post you can see some of those small gaps that needed to be white).  Even with this special plugin for Photoshop, I needed to clean up some edge halos created by the filter.

Finally, I enlarged the photo canvas so that I could add type and a line to give the photo a nice definition on the paper which is now proportioned for 8×10 or 16×20 print sizes.

PhotoBotanic Rose ‘Apple Blossom’

So, 4 months after I topped those trees, it all came together.  Just like I planned.  <g>

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Donna June 1, 2012 at 8:51 am

I really like how the whole story unfolded. I never saw Apple Blossom perform so well and vigorous either. Your climate really suits them.

Your botanical print came out beautifully with a great masking job. Topaz is a hard working tool, making the designers job much eaiser..


saxon June 1, 2012 at 12:43 pm

Thanks Donna. I really enjoy the botanical illustration technique and will be doing more as I try to break into the print world.
Apple Blossom is the champion of all my ramblers but in general the ramblers are vigorous everywhere aren’t they ?


Valerie June 1, 2012 at 1:30 pm

I love the end result. It is beautiful. Would the magic eraser in Photoshop have worked to erase the background as well? Valerie


saxon June 2, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Thanks Valerie – Thanks for suggesting the magic eraser. And if fact, it probably would have done just as good a job, maybe faster for basic background masking. But the hard part was retouching a lot of artifact, halo edges that appeared around a lot of the pink petals. I just checked, and magic eraser created them too. I used the clone tool to clean them up but I will get re-aquianted with magic eraser. Whenever we get a new tool / toy (like the Topaz filters) it is easy to get caught up in them, when in reality a lot of the specialty filters are just different ways of using the “basic” Photoshop tools.


Susan Haywood June 20, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Hi, Saxon,
I love how this piece reiterates the old engravings.
It also does with filters what I used to do manually for my photodrawings.
Maybe I’d better take a photoshop class.


Saxon June 21, 2012 at 9:33 am

Susan – Thanks for stopping by. I did this with a masking tool but years ago did two whole rose books by shooting them (reconstructed) on a white background.


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