Freezing flowers is a great way to give your flower photography a chilling and painterly look. It might seem a bit odd to encase a delicate flower in a heavy and harsh block of ice, but the cracks, bubbles and other imperfections created by many gradual layers of frozen water can actually give your subject a lovely impressionistic quality.
There’s an art to getting good results with this method, and it’s not quite as simple as throwing a flower into a tub of water and bunging it in the freezer. To take control of how the final image looks, it’s best to freeze your flowers in stages, building up the layers of ice.
This way you’ll be able to control where the flower settles and how much ice there is in front of the subject. Ideally, you want just a thin sliver of ice in front of the flower so you can still see some detail and easily recognise what it is.
Getting the lighting for your shot right is also vital, because it’s best to capture the inherent qualities of the ice but still maintain a light and airy translucent feeling.
Getting good results can take time, and you’ll need to experiment a bit, but here we’ll show you the basic techniques you’ll need to get started.
Step 1: Get chilly
To position the flower, add the ice in layers. First, create a thin layer, without the flower, in a small tray. Once that’s frozen, add the flower and splash on a little water to make it stick, then top up with more water. Repeat until the flower’s totally encased.
Step 2: Set up strong lights
A lightbox creates a strong backlight that accentuates bubbles and cracks in the ice and gives the image an overall light and chilly tonality. An off-camera flash placed to the side and slightly above the subject helps to fill in and accentuate fine details.
Step 3: Refine the raw effects
Use your SLR’s histogram to establish a balanced exposure between the flash and lightbox. Switch to manual and experiment with settings. Shoot raw so you can tweak the Contrast, Clarity and Vibrance sliders in Adobe Camera Raw to make the shot pop.
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