A Different Take on a Lily

'Black Beauty' Lily in Digital Desaturation

A Different Take © 2010 Bo Mackison

For almost all of my photography practice, I have tried to stay true to what I photographed. Now I find myself wanting to see what will happen if I increase the clarity a little, decrease the saturation. I use LightRoom exclusively. I never did purchase Photoshop, not because I did’t want to try it,  but because I never managed to save my pile of money earmarked for Photoshop. I always seemed to find another photography related thing I wanted more. Eventually I want to see what Photoshop does at my own hands, but that will be awhile.

Until then I am exclusively using Adobe Lightroom. Haven’t upgraded to LR 3 yet, because I haven’t quite finished figuring  out the basic workings of Lightroom 2.5. I like to putter when I’m working on a photograph. I know there are a multitude of Ligthroom Actions out there — press a button and the software changes your photo in an exactly prescribed way. I haven’t tried those yet — still in basic training, right? — but I imagine I will give the free ones a look eventually. It seems a shame to reject so much progress in a tidy package. Need to at least take a look.

But at this stage in my photography, I’m rather like a tinkerer. “How does it look if I take a bit more red out? What happens if I push that green a little more? And bleed the color from the background and most of the flower?

I experimented with the composition here, too. Let those bulky lily buds play in the front, obscuring the main flower a bit, but I like the feel of seeing the longer branch with multiple lilies as a change. Usually I focus on a single flower.

Any comments about my wanderings in Lightroom? Do you like the different, less textbook look or less macro look? Do you miss the true colors?

And to the photogs out there, if you use Photoshop, do you find it invaluable? And if you do, why? Do you use presets (hear they are the ultimate time saver) or do you prefer to tinker with your photo, bit by bit?

For me, I’m moving slowly on my journey, exploring things as I come to them. Happy with some new attempts, not so happy with others. But, for sure, I never dreamed how far a camera and a dream can take a person.

I have already traveled far, amazingly far, and I’m eager to keep on taking the walk, step by step. So much to see, to consider, to learn, to share.

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. Gandalf says:

    I love the feel and composition – awesome.

  2. I like that image a lot! You are on an interesting journey, Bo.

  3. I’m a photoshop-tinkerer..for sure. Have never tried lightroom..altho I’ve heard that it’s truly wonderful – especially the photography pre-sets. And – I love the results of your playing around and ‘tinkering’. There are no rules!!!

    • Bo Mackison says:

      As a person always tending to butt heads with rules, I like the no rules idea. Not everyone would agree, but one has to please first themselves, when creating art.

  4. Bo: For me, color (or the lack thereof), depends on the subject. I think the desaturated look works extremely well on the photo above because it draws attention to the subject. If the flower were competing with loud greens and a busy background, the effect would be lost. Personally, I use Photoshop Elements (because that’s all I can afford) and then invested in some plugins. For now, it’s working well. Would love to upgrade when $$ and more talent become available. 🙂

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Thanks Robin. I think trying to draw attention to the focus did work. Thanks for pointing that out to me.
      I’ve seen your blog — you might not have the cash for expensive software, but you don’t need it. You’ve got talent and you’re out there shooting — that’s what counts.

  5. have CS3 but too illiterate to us it– I can do that kind of lily with camera, so why bother with photoshop if I can do it in camera? I’d rather stretch myself to learn different techniques of shooting than the frustrated hours with computer to be honest, so keep everything in camera and avoid mucking with computer because I’m grossly incompetent. When I do that kind of lily with camera, I get pissed with self and delete it. It’s too edgy for me… very rarely will I save such work. It’s subjective. What can I do with such work? nothing. who wants it? nobody. Will AGE take it? probably not… so delete. I am at loss with such work, but can do it in camera. Wanted to be able to create florals that mimicked good oil painting like Velasquez. So spent time learning negative light and shadows.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      It’s good that everyone practices their own techniques in photography and makes meaning for themselves with their art. Hope your florals turned out just as you had envisioned.

  6. I really like this perspective and treatment of ‘A Different Take on a Lily.’ Well, you know that I tweak my photos a good deal… I love to experiment both in how I photograph and use the camera along with tweaking effects with programs. I have not tried Photo Shop… I use Corel programs and a Tiffen stand alone program. It is all in the vision and eye of the photographer. 🙂

  7. I find this very fascinating. All the more to discover when being able to “tinker away”…I like. 🙂

  8. I like what you did with the image. It’s beautiful.

    I tinker with Photoshop. I know I should learn a few of the rules, but have been enjoying clicking and tinkering and finding out on my own what things do.

  9. Bo Mackison says:

    I feel the same way, Robin. I ‘d rather play with the sliders to see what they do to an individual photo than only reading a book that tells me the ‘proper’ way. I might want to do it a different way… 🙂

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