This image was one of a series of eight in a project to create a sizeable informational poster explaining the various styles of Bonsai. The decision was to use a pure white background to highlight the plants and their form.

When the background is pure white, it’s easy for the designer to do a rough Photoshop “select” and not go through the tedious leaf by leaf with a magnetic lasso.

I thought some of you would be interested in seeing the use of images against white backgrounds for other media and the technique in this instance.

Specific Feedback Requested

Any comments are welcome.

Technical Details

Is this a composite: No

I, and my assistants, did the shoot in a greenhouse where the plants were grown. A large white sheet was used, as in this photograph, for the bigger specimens. We picked a bright hazy day, and the sun was on the back of the sheet.

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Very interesting, Paul. That is no ordinary paper; it looks like the traditional paper found in Korea. I imagine you chose it for its non-reflective qualities?

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Very interesting way to show off the structure of bonsai specimens. I wonder if this one might use a bit more contrast on the subject, or at least a bit more saturation.

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@Mike_Friel @Diane_Miller

Mike - the decision to use that paper was more prosaic than that - it was the only white material we found in the greenhouse to shoot the bonsai that big. But it worked.

Diane - Thank you. You have a super-sensitive eye for color that I appreciate very much. I’ll do some work on that image before it goes back to the archive.


Agree with Diane on the contrast, but otherwise this is pretty cool. A friend used to work in a shop that sold Bonsai and she was into it for a while, but wow…it’s a much more disciplined and zen-like practice than I’ll ever have patience for. Makes portraits like this one all the more astounding.

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A very beautiful and graceful looking image, Paul. The white really adds to the elegance of it , I think. I really like the pot it’s in too.

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