- Auckland Wintergarden Photography with Jenny Gao and Marie Valencia
Nature informs a lot of both Marie’s and my work so After Hours is a natural extension of that. You’re bound by time limitations chasing natural light so we wanted to eliminate that constraint and explore darkness in photography. What do flowers get up to at night when we’re all asleep? This series of photos are our imagined answer.
How much constraints help creativity. How much you can achieve with just two battery powered RGB LED lights, a spray bottle of water, a garden and willing helping hands.
Primes with wide open apertures, like the Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L USM or EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM, especially since our series was in low light environments. The trickiness then becomes nailing focus. You can get away with it if your photos are just intended for digital (web or Instagram) but when we blew these up in prints for the campaign, there’s no room for any fuzziness to hide.
It helped to see the flowers as portrait subjects and lighting them accordingly. We were inspired by moody Rembrandt setups. We also took advantage of the flowers’ translucency and played around with lighting them from the inside which helped create more uniqueness.
Two battery operated LED RGB lights, a UV light, and those cheap lights you wear on your fingers for raves.
The Wintergardens tropical house is filled with cockroaches at night so we had to dodge them but the worst part was probably the tropical plant smell getting baked into our clothes for days afterwards. But because we’d done so many tests, the actual shooting was straightforward. We brought in pre-made props (fishing line taped to a bamboo pole, professional stuff) to light the plants without damaging them. Three nights on location allowed us to be iterative, editing the next morning and changing direction for the following night.
It helps having a leading question in which your work answers or explores. I think people also enjoy seeing familiar things with a twist; something just slightly out of the ordinary. Get into the edit fresh, while you’re still excited about what you’ve just captured and your mind can still visualize the end result. Being iterative - that is, shooting something over and over while changing one variable helps you take creative risks while building on what is already strong.
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