Denise McKay  

Dancing in the Dark by Denise McKay

August 2020 - Dancing in the Dark

August 2020 - Denise McKay


About the Image(s)

This orchid was photographed hand-held in available light at an orchid show at my local botanical garden. What really caught my eye were the frilly edges of the petals that, to me, resembled the swirling skirt of a flamenco dancer. I felt keeping the front more in focus than the back edges of the orchid added to the sense of movement I was hoping to achieve.

The public setting restricted how close I could get, and my lens couldn't get me any closer either. So I did a major crop and rotation, to really focus on the "skirt". I removed anything left in the background after the crop. I then spot adjusted the exposure and shadows on different areas of the background and flower to try and enhance the mood; picturing a sexy flamenco dancer in a dark night club from a past era.

I used Silver Efex Pro 2 to convert the image to black and white, then chose the Full Dynamic Smooth preset to bring out the flower texture and add a little bit more drama, but customized the preset until it suited my vision.

I look forward to any suggestions for other ways to achieve my objective, or different takes/ideas on this image.

10 comments posted

Georgianne Giese   Georgianne Giese
What a beautiful orchid. You did a good job of capturing its image. Your crop is symmetrical and eliminates the extraneous parts on the right. I really like your choice to apply a monochrome treatment you gave to this image.

As I look at your original, I think I prefer to see the two side petals not cropped out. Also, I would like to see more detail in the inside of the lower pedal. At any rate, I played with the image, to see if I could get a different crop and sharpen up that lower pedal center.

My first step was to apply a Selective Color adjustment layer, and adjusted the White slider, and the neutral slider to enhance contrast in those colors.

Then I cropped it with a 5 X 4 ration crop, with the top of the crop about 1/8th of an inch above the image, to move the flower a bit downward in the crop. To had image data to the blank top, I selected it plus a bit of the image below it, and applied Content Aware Fill.

I then took the image into NIK Color Efex Pro, and applied a Darken/Lighten Center preset, with the center on the lower pedal. Then I applied a Detail Extract preset and pumped up the detail on the lower pedal with the spot tool. Then came the Pro Contrast preset and a Save.

Back in PS, I used the Stamp tool with a hard brush around larger areas of white, to stamp the dark photo texture over the light areas and remove the misc. pedals from the top and bottom right.

Finally, I applied the PS B&W Adjustment layer, upped the red, yellow, cyan, and blue sliders, and applied a cool tint.

  Posted: 08/02/2020 14:23:20
Comment Image
Denise McKay   Denise McKay
Thanks for sharing all of the details for the work you did on the image. As Connie mentioned, we ended up with two very different photos, but I love getting other people's perspectives!   Posted: 08/09/2020 19:18:15

Witta Priester   Witta Priester
Denise - you've done a great job of simplifying this photo and cleaning it up. I love the delicate details in the petals and the great tonal range - so well done! I find the stoke around the edge draws my eye away, so would suggest using a thin gray stroke, rather than white.   Posted: 08/07/2020 09:29:57
Denise McKay   Denise McKay
Thanks for the feedback Witta!   Posted: 08/09/2020 19:15:36

Connie Reinhart   Connie Reinhart
I recently read a biography of Georgia O'Keefe. She would have loved this image. Georgianne, you did a great job of separating the main flower from the background flower. Bringing out the detail enhances the portrait of this beautiful orchid. But I find the abstract quality of Denise's version quite captivating. They both entirely different images. Perhaps, Denise, bring out a little more detail on the center petal might be good. But this kind of image should be done to personal taste   Posted: 08/07/2020 10:22:56
Denise McKay   Denise McKay
Thank you Connie! I can understand the desire to see more detail, as those ruffles are pretty enticing. Next time I should consider shooting the same subject at different degrees of focus, but this was stuck in my head as is.   Posted: 08/09/2020 19:12:03

Bunny Laden   Bunny Laden
Denise, great job isolating this flower. Orchids have such a "personality" that's it is easy to imagine them dancing.

I would prefer to see the entire flower in focus as the frilly pattern of the petals is quite interesting and would be enhanced by your monochrome treatment. I know this is not possible without a tripod.   Posted: 08/07/2020 13:46:41
Denise McKay   Denise McKay
Thank you for your feedback Bunny!   Posted: 08/09/2020 19:13:03

Cecilia Clark   Cecilia Clark
Denise, Your image is beautiful and I can see why you were attracted to this flower. It has so much movement and does look like a dancer's skirt. As I scrolled down the screen to look at the comments of others, your image was cropped by the scroll. To my eye, I liked the cropped image which deleted the upper part of the flower and made it more abstract. To that end, I reworked your final image in LR. I made a square crop, flipped the image vertically, put a darkening gradient on the now lower petals to suggest three dimensionality. The final image is more abstract and the out-of-focus petals have a lovely movement that seem to dance into the background. I used a light sepia toning on the highlights (highlights hue 52, sat 14; balance -16). Finally, I adjusted the exposure slightly to brighten the image after toning.   Posted: 08/09/2020 14:49:05
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Denise McKay   Denise McKay
I really enjoy what you did here Cecilia. Now she's a lady with a fancy hat blowing in the wind, LOL.

Love it!   Posted: 08/09/2020 19:14:57


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