Lupinus spp. (Cultivated)

These are a garden variety of lupines, so I didn’t include a specific epithet. They were photographed in situ in a garden.

Specific Feedback Requested

I always prefer emotional responses as well as technical ones.

Technical Details

Is this a composite: No
Standard lightbox with a flash behind and two flash units in front. These required the largest of my lightboxes. Using this technique, it’s important to get the light source well behind the subject, so the intense flash doesn’t halo around the flowers and stems.

D850, Zeiss 100 mm @ f22, processed in Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop.


Emotional response: Audubon done better! Technical response: Audubon done better! But then I’m a pixel-peeper. Channeling my inner artist (if there is one) – I love this,! Emotional response without much analysis behind it. Isolating the flowers lets me enjoy them without distractions. The slightly uneven spacing of the triad captures my attention, and the very interesting leaves support the very interesting flowers so well.

I’ve always been plagued by the bottom flowers fading before the whole stalk is gorgeous. Yours in the east may be better that way.

I can’t wait till they bloom here next spring!

1 Like

I love the simplicity of just two colors. This seems peaceful to me.

I’m curious what your light box looks like, and how you position the flashes. Maybe one day you can include a “behind the scenes” photo of your setup?

I like this very unique style. It makes me think of an old time book that had illustrations of flowers in it. Before there were cameras. It’s like your collection on your website, which I like very much. I would say it gives me a peaceful, contented feeling because I feel like I’m sitting under a tree a few hundred years ago turning the pages of a real book with paintings of flowers and their names.

1 Like

Thanks, Diane; I understand what you are saying.

This is an image that I’ve been struggling with for a while. It’s never been high on my list, but somehow it does draw me back and gets some tweaking here and there. Your comment about “isolating the flowers” makes me think that my problem is that the leaves dominate. It’s as if the lupine is saying, look at these architecturally striking green things, and by the way, I have some flowers around here somewhere.

This plant is in my garden, and it has been told to keep the bottom flowers bright while the others bloom. No organic compost if they don’t listen.

You do have an inner artist. Just go back to the magnolia you posted. You’re channeling Imogen Cunningham.


Thanks, Mark; I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

Good idea, I’ll do a behind the scenes. It’s really simple both in the field and studio.


The shadows on the leaves are so intriguing in this one. Since I’ve been in fields of lupine before I know how insane they are and difficult to photograph, so bravo. Overall I find it a touch bright, but it’s in keeping with the series and the artistic intention. The greenery doesn’t bother me since it’s as much a part of the beauty of these as the flowers themselves which you have trained beautifully with that carrot/stick approach!

1 Like

Looking at your lupines again – possibly the leaves might be thinned out a bit. I don’t find them that visually heavy, but maybe the busy-ness competes a bit with the blossom stalks, whose beauty is in their sparseness. I keep debating whether one stalk should be more dominant.

And thanks for the reminder about Cunningham – I have always loved her work! I have had chances to talk with people who knew her from the San Francisco years and have occasionally come across some of her prints, and need to bring her work into a higher level of consciousness. There is a connection with the chemistry degree, too, so I’m going to try to open the channel!

1 Like

Here’s a quick look at a simple arrangement. I’m lying on a bike trail, so I’m not crushing plants and the habitat. Light and easy to arrange. This is with my D810, which had the flash commander mode built-in. Now I have to use an external unit that controls the intensity of each flash. The “lightbox” here is a piece of translucent plastic.

For larger subjects, a real lightbox is used and a larger flash. Note the fancy tripod. Often, my wife is along, and she holds the lightbox. The plant is beside a road, so again nothing important is being disturbed.

Her son printed from some of her negatives and I have one on the wall - “Triangles” She is one of my favorites.

This is really interesting, and helpful, @paul_g_wiegman! I can see the usefulness of that translucent plastic with flash unit. And the light box for larger subjects makes sense. I hadn’t thought of the light box as the subject’s backdrop!
I have a D750 and SB800 Speedlight. I don’t do much flash photography and want to learn more. Thanks for these shots!

PS - love that tripod!

1 Like

Sometimes with luck there might be enough backlight thru the plastic to save the trouble of flashing it. Brilliant, in any case!

1 Like

If the sun is right, but that is very rare, I can position the back plastic. However, in those situiations I use a piece of white corrigated plastic.

Plants with delicate petals or leaves the flash lights the background and pours through the plant parts. The back flash is usually at full power and the front a couple stops less. With f22 I need as much light from behind as possible.

Paul: Lupines (Bluebonnets in Texas) are one of my favorite wildflowers and your capture of these is wonderful. I also want to thank you for the information on your setup and technique. It’s a great help to everyone on the gallery. Many kudos. >=))>

1 Like

I’m. Intrigued by your comment @Diane_Miller (about the leaves). I don’t usually erase or move parts of the original image, but after looking at the leaves I see potential to do some judicious pruning to better highlight the lower part of the structure. I’ll post it when I get around to doing the work.