Still Life Black and White Experiment

Today after the tire changing incident, I wanted to do some “studio” work with a nice flower Firefly got from my parents over the weekend. I have wanted to do the classic style still life because I could see it in my head, and wanted to see how hard it would be to create that in camera or a “studio”.
I say “studio” because I don’t have one, and have no idea how to work in one if I did! The budget version though is out on the deck, with my old dark blue curtains draped over the back of two deck chairs with a flower in a vase sitting on top of an upside down basting tray under the curtain. The basting tray lifted the vase about 4″ off the deck, which made it slightly less hard on my knees as I got down to eye level with the flower subject. Also it made it so I didn’t have to have a downward view as my tripod doesn’t go quite that low. It was still very odd though.
I’m pretty sure I looked funny when firefly came home and found me half lying on the deck peering through a viewfinder at the odd arrangement šŸ™‚
Still life definitely isn’t as easy as putting a flower in a vase and taking a picture of it! First of all the background and lighting are tricky. I was using natural light, and the dark blue curtains weren’t nearly as dark blue as I had thought they were, and they looked way to bright in the pictures (I was hoping it’d be dark enough to give me a plain background). Next time I’ll light the subject myself a few stops brighter than the background. Second thing was the environment, lying on the deck, sun going down so it’s constantly changing light.. sucks. Third I just realized that I took the pictures with the sun setting relatively behind me, which means I might have gotten different/better light with it off to the side more. Moot point if I do this with my own lights though (well, if I had them that is). Next is the subject… it’s a nice flower and all, but it needs to be more/better different somehow. I guess the folks that make the really nice still life know how to create those subjects.
In the end I put the resulting pictures through Adobe Lightroom to do the black and white conversion and some playing with different color levels/filtering, then some minor levels/curves tweaking in photoshop. The first image is one I prefer more, but follows my previous macro flower photography, not so much the classic still life. The second one is more the “type” of picture I wanted, just way better than what’s there.