So I tried some more photo-realism this weekend. This one went through a couple different versions and the result I think is pretty good. I do need to render at a higher sample rate for a clearer picture but my computer is rather slow.
To make this image, I started with the petal. I used a plane and shaped it to a petal texture. Then I curved it by dragging the outer edge up and then pushed and pulled until it looked right. I created two variants of the flower, one a little smaller and closed up than the other.
The stems were pretty simple, just a cylinder extruded downward with some scaled loop cuts here and there. The vase was super simple. I just stretched a sphere and cut off the top. The water was then made by coping the vase and scaling down.

Materials were the hardest. The flower petals needed to be a bit shiny while letting light through. Most of the time they looked like either paper or plastic. Lots of node editing to get it right.

The last thing was the lighting. I used two sun lamps and two planes that had an emission material. The planes were slightly blue while the lamps were slightly yellow.
Thanks for reading and check back for more updates.
First try
Second attempt


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