All the photos in this gallery were taken in my house or garden, between August 2022 and April 2023. This is my second low-key photo set, the first being posted in April 2022, which you can view here.
For me, botanical photography is not simply photographing plants, but capturing something of their natural structure or geometry. Every plant is a work of art in its own right: a marvel of organic growth: life, death, reproduction. A successful botanical photograph should tell an intimate story about some aspect of the plant: the arc of its stems; the curl of its petals; the symmetry or asymmetry of its parts. When this succeeds, there is an unmistakable sense of ‘art’ conveyed by the image as well as a deepening sense of knowing the plant. In short, the art of the botanical photographer is to bring out the intrinsic art of the plant.
In the studio, low-key photography uses only a single light source — the key-light — without in-fill or backlight. This produces very dramatic, high contrast images where the subject is often only partly lit, while the background is very dark or even completely black. I find I can get similar results in the garden by photographing plants against deep shadow or a black fence, while simultaneously underexposing the shot. This style is perfectly suited to botanical photography, as it helps part of the plant to stand forth clearly, without the distraction of its surroundings. The results can be arresting, leading the viewer to see the botanical world afresh.