How do they make those water lily "pictures"?

  • 2
  • Question
  • Updated 6 years ago
If you've been on Pixoto for any time at all, you know the pictures I'm referring to. There are about ten photographers producing very, very similar pictures of hyper-saturated water lilies. You may have also noticed that the flowers are perfectly, amazingly sharp front-to-back, but the background is entirely blurred.

How do they do it? How does one take and then post-process these photos? What's the lighting, what are the camera settings, what software do you use, and how do you post-process them?

Or are they created with some kind of an illustration program?
Photo of Matthew Haines

Matthew Haines

  • 42 Posts
  • 3 Reply Likes

Posted 6 years ago

  • 2
Photo of Martin Dunaway

Martin Dunaway

  • 587 Posts
  • 64 Reply Likes
Its a cookie cutter program they all look the same!
Photo of RsPhotography

RsPhotography

  • 182 Posts
  • 34 Reply Likes
Matthew Haines the blurness is the property of camera .. the larger the aperture more blur the picture background is..
Photo of Martin Dunaway

Martin Dunaway

  • 587 Posts
  • 64 Reply Likes
Good answer Ravi!
Photo of Matthew Haines

Matthew Haines

  • 42 Posts
  • 3 Reply Likes
No, that doesn't explain what we're seeing. See my comment below.
Photo of Jimmy Hardison

Jimmy Hardison

  • 31 Posts
  • 6 Reply Likes
It is most likely done in photoshop with layers. They can just use a softened out of focus background and layer in the water dropped water lily, 2 separate photos merged into one.....https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjRqZ... check it out...
Photo of RsPhotography

RsPhotography

  • 182 Posts
  • 34 Reply Likes
Jimmy Hardison : any thing can be done in photoshop ..but real photographers dont prefer editing the images.
Photo of Martin Dunaway

Martin Dunaway

  • 587 Posts
  • 64 Reply Likes
Amen, I like the editing process it's enjoyable to me it's fun to see what you can create!I like to think I am for real though Jimmy!
Photo of RsPhotography

RsPhotography

  • 182 Posts
  • 34 Reply Likes
yeah , enhancing a picture is fine but i dont like to edit my picture ...but why do some one like to work on editing when a camera can do the job for you :)
Photo of Lenore

Lenore

  • 2835 Posts
  • 937 Reply Likes
I shoot in RAW. I *have* to edit :-)
Photo of Jimmy Hardison

Jimmy Hardison

  • 31 Posts
  • 6 Reply Likes
I also prefer natural and creating in camera DOF,,, but the original question was how are they doing the water lily pics.. all of the ones I see have the EXACT same background and EXACT same saturation levels Exact same lighting.... Not that I prefer it,,, I don't. But with the shots that you are questioning... THERE IS SOME PHOTOSHOPING GOING ON!!!!! Please visit my spot here on Pixoto, you will see that I am a true natural, nature photographer...http://www.pixoto.com/jimmy.hardison....
Photo of Garces & Garces

Garces & Garces

  • 574 Posts
  • 97 Reply Likes
Nice plug Jimmy. :) You're no. 1 image is over processed though, chromatic aberrations are noticeable. Good images.
Photo of Jimmy Hardison

Jimmy Hardison

  • 31 Posts
  • 6 Reply Likes
Garces's, duly noted, and you are quite right. I took a run at an HDR shot and put a heavy handed treatment on that one, a bit outside of the box for me,, but Under the Canopy scored well and was graced with the Editor's Choice on the week of 4/26/14. I'm pretty happy with the shot. Thanks for stopping by and for the on point critique.
Photo of Matthew Haines

Matthew Haines

  • 42 Posts
  • 3 Reply Likes
A large aperture does not begin to explain what we're seeing. The backgrounds are very out-of-focus. This would imply a large aperature, EXCEPT, it would be impossible for the entire flower to be sharply in focus with such a large aperture. I suspect these pictures are either a collage, or they use focus-stacking.

But what about the other qualities of the "photos"? How are they achieved? How are the strident colors achieved?
Photo of Garces & Garces

Garces & Garces

  • 574 Posts
  • 97 Reply Likes
It can easily be achieved through editing software, it's just a piece of cake even in Lightroom.
Photo of Joyce Andersen

Joyce Andersen

  • 1078 Posts
  • 254 Reply Likes
Matthew, you seem to be running under a mistaken notion that these are pure photos... not edited... they are not... there are very few of the top photos that are not edited, photoshopped or altered. it is allowed. or even required to get to over 650 points
Photo of Matthew Haines

Matthew Haines

  • 42 Posts
  • 3 Reply Likes
I am fully aware that these images are heavily processed, and I am fully aware that this is allowed. Indeed, most of my images with scores over 650 are heavily processed. My question is what processing software and techniques are used.
Photo of Matthew Haines

Matthew Haines

  • 42 Posts
  • 3 Reply Likes
As for Lightroom, I use it several hours a day and am familiar with virtually all of its functions. If you gave me a water lilly I would not be able to produce one of these images to save my life.
Photo of Martin Dunaway

Martin Dunaway

  • 587 Posts
  • 64 Reply Likes
It's a photo shop filter called "Lillie Master V4.0"
Photo of Ryan

Ryan

  • 54 Posts
  • 7 Reply Likes
I think the Adobe Whiner Folks 2.1 is better... Just kidding. Well if you try to see the evolution of the Lilies. It did not start out like this. It started out like it was straight out of the camera. Then a few tweaks and turns here and there. Then the water droplets became popular until it came to this. That is the evolution of competition. Every body tried to out do the other. A comment above said that "REAL Photographers DON"T prefer to edit their images? I beg to differ. real photographers adapt to the kind of photography/editing needed for a certain situation. And in this case for you to get in the 700 mark you must compete with these kinds of editing. If you try to be adamant about not editing, you will remain in the bottom lot. But if your reason for joining pixoto is to be at the bottom lot then you are doing a good job.
Photo of Asher Jr Salvan

Asher Jr Salvan

  • 7 Posts
  • 4 Reply Likes
Photo of Matthew Haines

Matthew Haines

  • 42 Posts
  • 3 Reply Likes
Awesome sense of humor!!!
Photo of Matthew Haines

Matthew Haines

  • 42 Posts
  • 3 Reply Likes
Does anyone have anything specific to say about how the water lily pictures are created? What are the lighting conditions? What lens is used? At what aperture? What are the camera settings? What software is used? What editing techniques are used?

The answer is not simply "large aperture and Lightroom".

I believe the flowers themselves are shot either with focus-stacking or a very small aperture (in order to keep the entire flower in sharp focus). It seems like the background is shot separately and then added using a collage technique.

How are the extremely bright, almost neon colors created? The answer can't be as simple as just dragging the saturation slider to the right.

I'm also very curious to know why/how about ten different photographers, some in Indonesia and some in the US, are all producing images that look very, very, very similar.
Photo of Ryan

Ryan

  • 54 Posts
  • 7 Reply Likes
The photo below might answer one of your questions. There are photographers who belong to one group who go together shooting lilies. While some togs may not be a group member but still have the same source of water lilies to take pictures of.

Regarding your curiosity about addresses... we can all put bogus addresses should one choose to.

Us togs may take pictures of the same flower but rest assured the edits differ. And we always try to out-do each other no doubt.

Regarding your query of how it is done.... Each and every photographer develops his or her own recipe. They do share basic edits but along the way one develops a different rendition of the basic edit. And that is how a secret recipe is born.

Some people whine about why lilies all the time? the reason is simple... it is easy and fun to edit. it is abundant to the locality where these photographers live and mind you WE are not pro togs. Photography is just a free time activity, and there are not much free time in our line of work. So we take pictures of what is available. Cheers!
Photo of Asher Jr Salvan

Asher Jr Salvan

  • 7 Posts
  • 4 Reply Likes
Photo of EBR

EBR

  • 181 Posts
  • 12 Reply Likes
Hard work, out of this world editing = on top of the leader board....hahahaha!
Photo of Matthew Haines

Matthew Haines

  • 42 Posts
  • 3 Reply Likes
Asher, thanks for the "making of" picture. Let's say the subject (the lily) is 1 meter from the camera. Then the background is probably 1.1 meters away. So if the subject is very sharply focused, the background should be pretty much in focus even at f1.2. It looks like you are using a zoom lens, so maximum aperture is f2.8, but this looks like a variable aperture zoom, probably f3.5-5.6. So there is almost no blurring of the background happening. Am I correct?

So are you swapping out the backgrounds?
Photo of Matthew Haines

Matthew Haines

  • 42 Posts
  • 3 Reply Likes
From the shadows it looks like the sun is pretty high in the sky and pretty bright -- not a lot of clouds on this day.
Photo of Asher Jr Salvan

Asher Jr Salvan

  • 7 Posts
  • 4 Reply Likes
It's just a normal single photo in a broad daylight and a sprayer. I can tell you everything but my question is do you have waterlilies around you? I can reveal all the secret of water lily editing but not in here.
Photo of Asher Jr Salvan

Asher Jr Salvan

  • 7 Posts
  • 4 Reply Likes
When our group started, we were in nature-upclose. Our lilies were different then. We evolved from one editing to another that can make us go to the top. We love our work and our group so we share our abilities together that's why most of us have almost similar looking photos. If you have facebook you can add me. (asher salvan jr.) And if your intentions of knowing the secret is good then we can show you...coz we've been attacked many many times...
Photo of Matthew Haines

Matthew Haines

  • 42 Posts
  • 3 Reply Likes
I haven't got a water lily within a thousand kilometers of me. But I am always interested in learning new photographic techniques. I will add you on Facebook.
Photo of Asher Jr Salvan

Asher Jr Salvan

  • 7 Posts
  • 4 Reply Likes
Maybe you can come and visit us here in Thailand and we can tour you around the water lilies here and we can take photographs of them together...
Photo of Matthew Haines

Matthew Haines

  • 42 Posts
  • 3 Reply Likes
Asher, I 'followed' you on FB and sent you a message. I wasn't able to add you as a Friend. Maybe you already have 5,000 friends.
Photo of Matthew Haines

Matthew Haines

  • 42 Posts
  • 3 Reply Likes
I am planning to visit Thailand in the next year. It would be interesting to meet some local photographers and go out to do some photography, although I would hope to do more than just water lilies!
Photo of Matthew Haines

Matthew Haines

  • 42 Posts
  • 3 Reply Likes
There is definitely something admirable in identifying a goal (such as taking a winning picture of a water lily) and then very systematically and persistently working toward it, seeing what works, and refining incrementally.

I am a member of a photography club here in Romania where I live. We have some shared techniques and of course each photographer adds his or her own personal techniques, which often are secret. I think it's also admirable and fun to work together with a group of friends in a semi-competitive, semi-collaborative manner.

It's unfortunate that the Pixoto system doesn't better support this process of uploading successive refinements to the same subject. I have, myself, uploaded several variations of the same subject in order to see which one would score best, and I learned a lot from that feedback.
Photo of Ryan

Ryan

  • 54 Posts
  • 7 Reply Likes
Hey, I saw your photo entitled "Under Canopy" Awesome photo! The rendering of colours is just so right.
Photo of Matthew Haines

Matthew Haines

  • 42 Posts
  • 3 Reply Likes
Photo of Matthew Haines

Matthew Haines

  • 42 Posts
  • 3 Reply Likes
Really what I'd be most interested to know is how to get those really bright, almost neon colors. I don't want to know anyone's personal secrets. But in general, within the photographic community, there must be some standard techniques for this. I haven't got any water lilies nearby, but I'm sure I can find other subjects to apply them to.
Photo of EBR

EBR

  • 181 Posts
  • 12 Reply Likes
, the group have developed very simple technique that you can even use the old adobe cs2......it is very simple that in less than 5 minutes it's over...once submitted to pixoto there is no reason for it not to be in the top 10....We knew that this is not the best photo editing technique but we are sure this is a hit for pixoto voters.

we ourselves were surprised why the lily is on top..we've tried submitting different kinds of flower with the same technique used in editing the lilies but it simply doesn't work in the leader board.

This conversation is no longer open for comments or replies.