Three Irises

Purple Iris

Sun Drenched Purple Iris © 2011 Bo Mackison

Two irises popped open in my garden yesterday and I took the opportunity to take a few photographs before the weather turned drippy. (That would be drippy as in perspiration dripping from my face, and drenching my cotton shirt, not from rain clouds.)

After an hour in the gardens, I retreated inside to the cool recesses of my studio, and played with the iris photograph using Adobe Lightroom. I’ve experimented with a single photograph using three color levels. Though I typically do not increase the saturation in my photographs, I did increase the clarity and vibrancy in this first photograph to highlight the colors and contrasts.

I love the purple veining on this particular iris and wanted to emphasize it.

Iris in my Garden

Iris in my Garden © 2011 Bo Mackison

As a middle step, I decreased the saturation until there was minimal, but still definite coloring, in the flower. Again, I wanted to maintain the pattern of the veined sepals while lessening the impact of the bright colors.

Iris - Study in Black and White

Iris - Study in Black and White © 2011 Bo Mackison

I find working on black and white photos the most difficult and time-consuming, especially photographs of botanicals. Our minds expect flowers to be colorful and it is startling to see the color stripped away, and only the form of the flower and the light/dark values remaining.

This ended up being one of my favorites. I liked the light toned, complexly shaped iris against the contrast of the darker, vertical leaves.

This is the second set of threes I have done like this. The first set was a branch of dogwood blossoms. I will be showing them in sets of three at my upcoming art fairs. It’s always fun to hear the customer response to my experiments and the best way I know to see if the sets have curb appeal.

That is one of the reasons I love doing art fairs so much–you get immediate feedback on your art. No middle man. No anonymity of the web. Face to face discussions about photography.

I love that!


Bo Mackison is a photographer and the owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. I didn’t schedule any art fairs for the coming weekend. Instead, I planned a special celebration for a personal milestone. More info coming.


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. I love the b&w, Something about the lines..the shapes and the flower is rendered more abstract!

  2. Gandalf says:

    I love this troica of iris. Each has its own interesting points, but the B&W is certainly most intriguing to me.

  3. Joanne Keevers says:

    I see why you love the veining in the iris petals, Bo. It gives them so much character. Aren’t they pretty flowers? I love the top version, with the vibrant colours.

    This is something on my ‘to do’ list (when I have more free time!), to go out and buy a good camera, learn how to use it and play around with the photos I take on the computer, just as you have here. Your results must be amazing.

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