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Forced Perspective; a Flower Skirt

Updated on June 8, 2016
LuisEGonzalez profile image

I enjoy photography and have been doing so professionally and independently for over 30 years. Hope you enjoy my hubs!


Flowers can make for really beautiful photographic projects and when you use them to create special effects then the project is that more intriguing yet just as beautiful as if the flowers were used alone.

This project entails using flower blooms and placing them against the shape of a woman to make the bloom appear as if it were the lady's dress.

In essence, you are using two perspectives; the first is the view of the model and the second is the bloom placed in front of the model.

For the project to work properly the model needs to be standing some distance away from the camera and the bloom needs to be placed closer to the camera. This is mostly referred to as forced perspective.

Here is a definition of what forced perspective is just in the event you are unclear:

"Forced perspective is a technique that employs optical illusion to make an object appear farther away, closer, larger or smaller than it actually is. It is used primarily in photography, film making and architecture. It manipulates human visual perception through the use of scaled objects and the correlation between them and the vantage point of the spectator or camera."Wikipedia

With this technique the model is not the point of interest nor is she the main subject. The main subject and which needs to be clearly in focus is the flower. Its shape and color are the ingredients that will captivate the interest of the viewer.

Even though your model will most likely appear out of focus she needs to still be a recognizable shape.

How much out of focus the model appears is up to the photographer. Sometimes having the model completely out of focus works well yet other times having her slightly out of focus is better.

The aperture and the distance from model to flower to camera needs to be taken into account. Experiment with various distance/f-stop combinations for better results.

The best setup is to use a wide aperture and gauge the appropriate distance that she needs to be from you in order to become only a shape that can still be seen as a woman, not a simple silhouette. But if you want everything i.e the model and the flower to be sharp and clear then use a small aperture.

A quick explanation about f-stops:

F-stops measures: 1.4 2.0 2.8 4 5.6 8 11 16 22 (the larger the f-stop number) the less detail in the background and the opposite for the smaller the f-stop (number). In plain English if you take a picture of a subject and you are using an f-stop of let's say 2.0 anything behind the subject will appear out of focus but if you take the same picture using an f-stop of 16 then the subject and everything behind it will appear sharp and in detail.

Do the shot as you would most types of photography. Use a single photo lamp to illuminate the model and a reflector to illuminate the flower. If you use a flash directed at the bloom you will more than likely create a washed out effect.

Place the camera on a tripod and focus close on the bloom. Also use a mechanical shutter release mechanism to prevent camera shake.

For the flower bloom you can either hand hold it and crop the hand later or you can make a holding wire which holds the bloom by its stem. I have found it easier to keep the bloom still with a wire hold/ alligator clamp and just have the model move to fit the set up.

Moving yourself to get the best angle should not be a problem and the project is easy to do with just a few calculations and a little bit of creativity. Do not crop the flower's stem so much that it is no longer visible. Leaving some of it adds charm to the scene and makes it easier for the audience to tell what it is that they are looking at.

Choose blooms that match the colors of the model's clothing or vice verse but this is not as crucial as posing your models in subtle color backdrops. If you use a very strong colored background or a cluttered one it may pose a challenge to the viewers and draw attention away from the main point of interest even though it will be out of focus, like the model.

The color has to be rather dull or in total contrast to the model/flower combination. Avoid using strong reds, blues, greens and so on.

Also pay attention to any elements within the scene that may inadvertently be included in the shot. Examine the view from the viewfinder, and compose the shot carefully before you depress the shutter.

Make sure to instruct the model to remain as still as possible until you have the shot you want once you have composed the shot but do so quickly, especially if the model is posed in a less than comfortable stand like a "dancing ballerina" for example.

The best blooms are roses, tulips, and most bulbous varieties of plants but you can basically use most any flower so long as it can simulate a skirt.

Bloom varieties that have a bell shape form usually work the best. Remember to angle the flower so that it faces downwards.

If you want to get even more creative, try the same technique with fruits. Perhaps not as glamorous as with pretty blooms but interesting nevertheless.

Used by permission Edited to comply with TOS. You may see original by following link
Used by permission Edited to comply with TOS. You may see original by following link | Source

Forced perspective shots are definitely fun to do and can expand your creativity.

But keep in mind that many do not have a commercial appeal unless they are used for special events like weddings or are used for photo related publications, in blogs, e Books and so on.

If you want to see a creative application as well as a commercial fit for similar images, visit Elaine M. Zelker's web site.

She uses similar images for school/senior shots and from the looks of it, seems to be doing rather well.

Whatever the purpose always apply your skills and technical prowess since you never know who will be looking at your work.

Plus anything worth doing is always worth doing well or not at all.

Think this may be a fun photographic project to try?

See results

© 2013 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida

      breakfastpop: Thank you very much.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 5 years ago

      The photographs are amazing. You make me wish I were a photographer. Up and awesome and interesting too.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Ralph Deeds: Thank you

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 5 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Nice technique. I'll look for an opportunity to try it.