Photographing the Office Plant

It’s that time of year again: the Christmas cactus (or holiday cactus, if you prefer) is in bloom. But this isn’t one of the plants I’ve had for years. Around February I accidentally knocked a segment of two leaves off one of my established plants, so I potted them up and took them into the office. Within a few weeks the two leaves became four, then eight or nine, then twenty. I stopped counting at 87 leaves because I figured the plant was pretty well established by then, plus it was getting harder to keep track of them. In November the plant started setting buds, so I did a flower watch and took my camera in to work once the cactus started blooming.

In the top image is the original photo, which I photographed with a Nikon Coolpix S6200, using the selective color mode. It’s a fun tool to play around with. I like the image, but the red is a bit too vibrant against the black-and-white for my tastes. It’s actually harsh, and it doesn’t convey the feeling that I want. So I loaded the file into Photoshop and started playing with the Topaz BW Effects filters. I applied the “Hand Tinted Chiffon” preset from the Opalotype Collection, and then clicked on “Simplify” in the Creative Effects menu. The result is a nice dreamy image that accentuates the plant by vignetting the edges. The fiery red is toned down to a pale color, so it’s a little easier on the eyes. And the simplify changes the sharp focus into an artistic rendering by reducing the number of colors in the image.