How I turned a quiet moment into my favorite photo montage

This has to be my all-time favorite photo montage that I created last year.

Resting Bee on CrocosmiaLast Summer, we found ourselves exploring the English Botanical Gardens adjacent to the Ballard Locks. Together they receive over million visitors a year. The botanical gardens span over 7 acres with more than 500 species and 1,500 varieties of plants from around the world.

I always love walking through the gardens at dusk because the light streams through the trees and creates drama.

As we round the horseshoe of the gardens and walk past the clearing of the locks, we stroll by the Administration building. The rose garden is set up like a victorian square filled with a variety of unique roses.
Rose Gardens

There’s a lawn section near the administration building that showcases tiger lilies and Crocosmia. Together they create a ring around a cluster of trees. One evening at dusk, I was on the hunt for a great shot of the budding crocosmia. Walking around the ring, I discovered this large bee at rest. I was mesmerized because I had never seen one just laying about.

I wondered if it was resting or dead?

I was more excited by the idea that I found a unique accent to highlight for my composition. (I think someone referenced that as ‘the golden cow’ but I need to look that up.)

Untouched, the composition is strong.

Resting Bee

What I want was to emphasize the focus on the bee and have the bee pop off the line of buds. In order to do this, I need to de-emphasize the stems and background. I envision the stem of the crocosmia receding further into the background.

But how to do this elegantly?

I used my SONY NEX-5R to capture the resting bee. At home, I transferred the image to my iPhone 6 where I could use my favorite photo apps. I use the Enlight photo app because of the layer feature I love so much. (Please note that I am not getting paid for name dropping).

The first layer is a texture that I created. I have several dozen textures that I’ve created to help create atmosphere and further capture my distinct point of view.

The second layer is the resting bee. I reduced the opacity and adjusted to taste. You can see how the texture shows through adding dimension to the composition.

The third layer is the resting bee again at full opacity. I reduce the opacity when I create the 3rd layer -as an overlay- so that I can line up the image. When I’m confident that my eyes are telling me the truth when it comes to lining up the elements, I’ll turn up the opacity. Now is time I erase the areas that surround the bee and a few of the buds.

Last, I add my watermark. It’s a png file with a transparent background. The Enlight app gets finicky with pngs. I sent a note to the developer about working with png and he states that his app doesn’t support it. Well, actually it does. Although, it only supports it about 85% of the time.

After the developer updates his app, I find that the transparent background converts to opaque without warning.  And it’s a real pain to discover this last minute. So FWIW, you may have to regenerate your pngs when you update your app.

Last tip: When you’re looking for your watermark.png file on the iPhone, it should be completely black. Try importing it on a layer and you might find that it works after all! As you can see in the top left corner in the collection of logos that the square is completely white. I thought for sure it that as I imported it that it would be just a block of white on a layer. Boom! I was happily wrong.

Now mind you, it took me hours upon hours to discover this formula by myself. Sure, I saw what others were doing, but as a graphic designer and fine artist, I’m always thinking in layers. This is where my head is at, yours may not be. So don’t be too quick to get frustrated like Sherlock Holmes who has aspirations to be a virtuoso violinist with only an hour on the violin and no lessons. 😉

The final composition once again.
Resting Bee - Final Montage

Giving my composition a home.

Shortly after moving in, we realized that much of our art was buried in our dense storage unit.


We made an effort to get into the unit to find items we desperately needed (like a sewing machine, summer clothes) but too exhausted to think about digging everything out. We weighed the option of buying, making, collecting new art. Thus, we decided that if we were going to collect art, that we really needed to love a piece before we brought it into our new home.

Since I love this composition so much, we agreed to have some kind of economical piece made to feature the resting bee. My next step was to go back into the application and reformat it to fit the portrait composition. I measured the space I wanted to fill and found a canvas printer online that was able to print the piece to my specs.

It now sits majestically on the cantilever shelf in our transitional kitchen.
Canvas Print

I so love this color combination. I love the gradient and the texture -it supports the color of the budding flower and allows the bee to pop just as I wanted him.

So… What do you think? Would you try an app to help pop your favorite moment?

If you love the Resting Bee as much as I do, I have opened a quiet little shop on Pixels where you can purchase canvas prints and other accessories with his image.

Thanks for stopping by.

Cheers, Lisa

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