Polina Plotnikova FRPS EFIAP – 'Starting from a Blank Canvas' 30 June 2020   

Polina Plotnikova 1602 9110 22The club was delighted to have a Zoom presentation by multi award winning photographer Polina Plotnikova. Steve Hardman introduced her by saying she was a picture maker rather than a picture taker in that she starts with a blank canvas with an idea in her mind and then finds and arranges the subjects to create the image.
Polina showed images from some of the artists and photographers that inspire her. An example was the simple white backgrounds of the flower paintings by Pierre-Joseph Redouté which inspired the superb ‘White on White’ images. Another example were classical Flemish artists whose images depicted flowers, fruit and insects on dark backgrounds and Polina showed us her superb photographic versions.
Polina was recently made a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society with her panel of flower images titled ‘Past Perfect’ which very cleverly showed the beauty of the colours and forms as they aged. She explained it was not as easy as just taking images of dead flowers – she looked for the interesting shapes and textures as they decomposed and the best ways to depict them.
Her favourite photography subjects are flowers and still life as she says she is a ‘control freak’ and these subjects do not move about and she can arrange them to get exactly the appearance required. The overall composition, background, colour scheme and lighting are all very carefully thought out beforehand.
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We were shown how the subject is set up in her studio, the lighting carefully arranged and the camera setup so that she can see the camera image on a computer screen. Everything is perfected before she takes usually just one photograph. Just a minute adjustment makes all the difference and Polina takes great care over every tiny detail. Every part of the image has to be correct – the colours must blend and the viewers eye must flow around the arrangement.
Polina experiments with different lenses that can give her the image she has in mind. The Lensbaby is a favourite as the area of focus can be adjusted and soft focus can give an ethereal effect. Another technique is ‘Dancing Flowers’ where an in focus image is combined with deliberate camera movement. Most effects are taken in camera although occasionally she uses textures in post processing to give the required effect.
After the break Polina showed the work of some of the historical artists that inspire her still life photographs.
She visualises her images and then goes about finding exactly the right objects that fit her vision.Every object has to be just the right shape, size and colour to fit perfectly into the envisaged still life setting. Every part of the arrangement must harmonise and be adjusted to show to prefection.
Great care is taken with the lighting the background and the arrangement of all the props. Every object is important for the composition – anything misplaced can ruin the composition.
Members were impressed by the quality of her images and the dedication that goes into them.
Steve thanked Polina for her absolutely fascinating and inspirational insight into her approach to photography and members showed their appreciation with many messages of appreciation. Maybe members will be inspired to try out some flower and still life photography for themselves. PM

Images © Polina Plotnikova   See more images on Polina's website