Several members of a club to which I belong were fortunate enough to get special permission to photograph orchids at a local greenhouse – The Orchid Trail. I hadn’t thought of it before, but the organizer mentioned backgrounds as one of the items to bring along as a tool for photographing the flowers. In order to have one, I took a photo of an image I had hanging on the wall shot wide open (f/1.8) and focused at the closest setting on the lens to create a blurred image. I then used Lightroom to change the hues and created about 6 different color combinations, three of which are shown below.
I printed one out on mat paper so there would be as little reflection as possible and taped it to a piece of foam core, the back of which I thought I could use as a reflector if I needed one. With there being so many plants literally squeezed right next to one another, it was difficult to blur the background enough (by using an aperture near wide open) to obliterate the clutter and thereby losing detail in the subject flower itself. The good part about using the blurred “manufactured” background is that it is already blurred and you can use a smaller aperture and longer shutter speed to keep the flower(s) more in focus.
The only bad part is that I should have done this myself, but didn’t until the very end when I came to that realization. The background I printed was on 13 X 19 paper but would have liked to use 17 X 22 but didn’t have any mat paper in that size. It would have reduced the number of shots that had the white foam core in it since I couldn’t actually see through the finder of the camera and hold the background in place at the same time. I was using a 70-200mm lens and self-timer of 10 seconds to get into position before the shutter tripped. So it was hit or miss. One lucky thing resulted though, by having some shots that included the white foam core, it forced me to try to repair them in Photoshop and was able to do a decent job using the clone stamp tool to extend the background to the border! One final thing I discovered by using the background is that a soft shadow might fall on it and create a greater sense of depth within the image. So all in all a good learning experience from the outing.