Hi ho art friends.

Quick Takashima update before I delve into peonies: yesterday, I completed the extraction process after creating a fairly simple Photoshop action for extracting and masking the subject. This action allowed me extract all my images in about 2 hours. I was able to do some pick-up shots and extract them. Next on the list is working on the backgrounds.

Today’s post is about peonies.

A few months ago, I mentioned that I would not sign up for new classes. That changed last week when Denise Love of 2 Lil Owls announced that over the next few weeks, she was offering 1 class per week at a steep discount. Her first offering was Still Stories. So, uh, yeah, I snapped it up. The course includes a bunch of Photoshop presents and juicy class backgrounds.

May 16 is the last day to grab Still Stories at a discount. Visit 2 Lil Owls website for details. What you’re not going to learn is how to use whatever camera you own. You will learn how to set up and shoot a variety of still life scenes.

I love still live paintings and have a penchant for capturing found still live images. Other than my doll staging, which technically is still life photography, I have not taken time to plan and stage still life images.

As I watched the initial class videos on cameras, lenses, shopping your house for still life props, tables, backdrops, I decided I was going to take my time on each lesson and infuse my images with my own style.

This morning, I set up the vase of peonies and other props and shot nearly 300 images. I tried all of my lenses, played with settings, fiddled with the blinds in my studio and moved my room divider screen around.

I got the best results with my 25 mm macro lens, which was used in 3 of the 4 images below. “Peonies” was captured with my 50 mm lens.

Here are four images from the day. All had class presets applied then brought into Photoshop; all used class overlays. Then used a variety of Awake and Photoshop Artistry grunge brushes.

“Wilted Peony”
“Two Peonies”
“Teacup Peony”

It may seem that shooting flowers is incongruous with my noir-infused doll photography, it is not. What unifies these works is the dreamy, grungy style I really enjoy.

Working on these still life images in parallel with Takashima, at least in the short term, is so I can complete some lovely canvases while the grunt work of Takashima continues. As much as I love compositing scenes, it is good to practice straight photography, capturing image in camera.

The mister and I are taking vacation this week for house and art projects. Expect more grungy peonies when you see them. I will most likely schedule future still life posts to keep myself on a regular schedule until the next big Takashima update.

Happy creating.