with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Flash Isolates Natural Subject

Dried Thistle phtographed with flash, thus the background goes black. Photography by Lorelle VanFossen.

This dried thistle head in the Painted Hills of Oregon caught my attention with its textures and lines. I’ve always loved thistles, alive and vital with their fluffy tops, and dried out cone-like structures of mystery and pattern.

To isolate this thistle, I used flash to force the background to go to black. The flash also dove into the textures highlighting the dimensional quality of the seed head. The black background brings out the delicate curves of the plant.

To create this yourself, get close to your subject and use full flash. I recommend putting your camera on a tripod to maximize the sharp focus of the subject.

If the subject like this thistle is moving in the breeze, just be patient and wait for it to pause. The flash allows the camera to photograph at higher speeds, but you want all the odds on your side.

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