Lights, Camera, before Action!

Coming from a background of Diploma in Computer Graphics, today’s lesson in floristry class was a flash back to year 1998.

While recently catching up with a dear friend, my past lecturer in advertising and design, she made a passing comment that Principles of Design would be relevant in floral arrangement. How right was she!

We were today introduced to Design which is made up of Elements and Principles of Design. Understanding design will ultimately aid design and construction of floral arrangements.

I learnt there are 3 Design Categories:

A decorative design is lush, full, flowing and has lots of variety of flowers. Almost like a trend we see in today’s floral arrangements.

A vegetative design is naturalistic with the floral materials arranged and found in nature, from the same season or environment. Think Australian native flowers.

A formal linear design is where the line of the floral material create a silhouette, emphasizing individual flowers, leaves and branches. It may also have group of flowers that create visual line, rhythm and negative space (think balance).

Dealing with flowers, we naturally deal with stems. So with Stem Placement, we decide if the arrangement is Radial or Parallel.

Then we were taught Styling. Given unlimited type of floral arrangements, we looked at a spectrum of “Very Formal” to “Very Informal” arrangement types based on 2 types of Styling: Formal / Classic / Traditional and Informal / Contemporary / Modern. Basically some arrangements fall between this spectrum based on the number of flower colours used, number of different types of flowers and number of foliage.

We moved on to Principles of Design. These Principles are guidelines to which florist work to enable good design. There are 7 Principles: Balance, Contrast, Dominance, Proportion, Rhythm, Scale and Harmony.

From further understanding Principles of Design, we went on to Elements of Design: Form, Space, Texture, Line and Colour.

Lots to grasp and it was fun. I will apply this next week to my floral arrangements, getting into a habit of reviewing these two building blocks of design: Elements + Principles, which will help me fix errors in a design.

Without boring you with theory, I learnt some great tips on Producing Digital Images.

If you are looking for a good (and free) APP to touch-up digital images shot on your mobile phone, I would recommend downloading Photoshop Express (Through the Apple store called PS). This is different from the computer version and is pretty easy for enhancing and touching up your digital photos.

We looked at Aperture for depth of field, ISO for image quality and Shutter speed for allowing time to let light in.

I learnt that to take a good quality image which will allow further digital enhancement, the trick is to look (by squinting your eyes) for the Highlight which is your lightest point in your subject, to avoid over exposure. From your phone, once you touch on your Highlight, the exposure function should display. For iPhone users, once the exposure function displays, slide up or down to ensure your Highlight is not over-exposed.

Exposure on iPhone

Above: Where the sun icon is in the centre, long hold the icon and slide up or down to get your correct exposure.

Prior to learning this today, I was guilty of taking point and shoot photos, with the exposure being the darkest point in my photo subject. If it’s dark, then make it lighter, correct? Unfortunately not. That meant those photos turned out very over-exposed.

Based on the theory above, we tried it for ourselves.

Above: The Highlight of the subject was on the back-right hand tulip. I ensured by adjusting the exposure on my camera, the tulip in the original photo (left) was not over exposed. This allowed digital enhancement without the final image being over exposed.

Above and below: Ensure sufficient space around your subject, which allows cropping. In your final image, ensure there is no tension around your subject, which means the subject is not too close to frame.

What really astounded me on avoiding over-exposing the Highlight, was taking a photo of the orchid below. On the original it seemed very dark. However that was necessary to, as if I had made it lighter, it would have been quite impossible to get the right colour on enhancement.

Today is our second last day of covering Design Workshop Theory before embarking on floral hand-tied practical from next week! (Excited!)

For now, I’m preparing for tomorrow’s Sunday class – exploring the use of colours and developing drawing skills to aid flower design sketches.

If you do decide to download the free Photoshop Express APP, it looks like this below. Besides the many functions, the top three recommended editing tools that would enhance your image without destroying its quality are: Exposure, Shadows and Highlight.


Have a fun week and happy snapping!

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