A Flower Can Change Your Day

– Posted in: Garden Musings, Garden Photography

I was all set yesterday morning to begin my post on drought tolerant plants, seeing as how we in California are in the midst of a really dry winter.  Then at breakfast my wife brought me a single Camellia  from the garden, set in a clever stone vase.


My day changed.  I am so easily distracted.

Our Camellia sasanquas have been blooming since October, but the C. japonicas have now officially started.  I was so joyful to have some new flowers blooming, something positive to ponder, I set out to make some photos.  Way more fun than writing a blog post or looking at my To Do list of office work.

As a professional photographer, I  can’t just snap a photo of a flower and hope to sell it.   I need to create something special to stand out among all the other flower photos in the world.  This day now became an earning opportunity to see if I could make something to sell.

First a photo of the Camellia flower on the bush.


But since there were so few of these early blossoms, I ended up adding some more flowers. Locking down the tripod, I carefully added 6 more until the photo might be one a publisher would choose.


I know, the camera always lies.  That’s my job.

As long as I am in the garden, I may as well get a shot of this wonderful hybrid.

Camellia 'Tulip Time'

Remember this shot – it will be transformed.

Now into the studio. To do a really special macro study of a flower I do a multiple frame photo stack to get sharp focus and good depth of field, which is next to impossible with a single frame.  While I have done some of these photo stacks in the garden, it’s hard out doors when the slightest breeze throws off the eventual alignment of multiple shots.


I set this up on a tricolor surface to see what color might work for a eventual background.  It seemed so interesting, I shot this way, but … ughhh.


Good depth of field though, by using 7 separate frames.  What I really wanted was remove the background in PhotoShop and add some soft, solid color behind.

Pink Camellia japonica flower 'Sensation'

Much better.

As it turns out, I used the green tint, though you would hardly know from this photo.  After removing the other colors, I radically desaturated the green and put in a gradient filter.

The most fun of all though, was transforming the single flower of Camellia ‘Tulip Time’.  Remember the other flower?  This lovely hybrid of C. japonica and C. saluenensis is new to my garden and I couldn’t build a great flower-on-shrub photo.  But I had a LOT of fun with PhotoShop.

I have a series of photo illustrations of plants that I call PhotoBotanic extractions.  I shoot the specimens in the garden and “extract” them for an illustration, write about them in my e-book, and sell as prints.  On-line here at Fine Art America.

print of Camellia 'Tulip Time'

Why is the e-book not ready, you loyal readers may want to know ?  I am so easily distracted.  A flower can change your day.

For more detail on this process jump over to my personal blog click on Mental Seeds.



Saxon Holt
Saxon Holt is the owner of PhotoBotanic.com, a garden picture resource for photographs, on-line workshops, and garden photography stories. An award winning photojournalist and Fellow of The Garden Writers Association with more than 25 garden books, he lives and gardens in Northern California. PhotoBotanic - Garden Photography online at www.photobotanic.com. https://photobotanic.com
Saxon Holt

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Susan January 25, 2014, 8:09 pm

Thanks for showing the WORK involved in making a marketable shot! I especially liked this, “As a professional photographer, I can’t just snap a photo of a flower and hope to sell it. I need to create something special to stand out among all the other flower photos in the world.” The camera lies beautifully.

Thanks Susan – Sometimes it is hard to call this work. – Saxon

Vidya Sury January 25, 2014, 11:28 pm

Indeed! And what a beautiful lesson in mindfulness, Saxon! Thank you for making MY day!
The flower is gorgeous and the “stone vase” is so clever!

Thanks Vidya – It’s nice to hear that that one flower changed your day too. That is the core of sharing my story. – Saxon

Nancy Szerlag January 26, 2014, 1:27 am

Saxon, your flower photos changed my day. Michigan is suffering bitter cold and record snow falls. You sent a ray of sunshine. Thanx, Nancy Szerlag

Hi Nancy – Glad to brighten your day. At least you folks in cold climates know spring will come. We here in the midst of what could become an epic drought, don’t know when rain will come. – Saxon

Delbert Young January 26, 2014, 12:14 pm

Beautiful. I have one Camellia as a large house plant. It does bloom. I live on Lake Ontario, in Medina, NY. Thanks.

Thanks Delbert – On Lake Ontario a Camellia can ONLY be a houseplant, but very dependable I bet – Saxon

HappySattva January 27, 2014, 3:50 pm

What a lovely change it was! Indeed!


The world needs MORE flowery distractions!


Saxon Holt January 28, 2014, 4:02 pm

Every day, every day ….

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