Upload & Sell: Off
Chuck ... you'll likely appreciate this one.
The first one is using a broken piece of flourescent lighting diffusion I bowed as an arched/psuedo parabolic reflector.
The second one is the same piece used as both a diffuser & reflector (curled around to the side). I was mostly interested to see how it could handle the sun as both a diffuser and reflector and as a psuedo seamless ... just another one of my "test" shots. Comps aren't as of much interest as was the "quality" of light that I could generate.
I suspected some sort of reflector was used. The specularity on the shadows is similar to what I see when using a shiny silver Larsen Reflectasol folding reflector..
They are pricely but built like tanks and very convenient — folding compactly like an umbrella.
It isn't without its issues, as there are definitely some "speckled" hot spots that are generated by it. It was fun to play with, but not something that I'd deem as reliable. I put CS5 (new today) to the test with some content aware / proximity healing for some of the more prominent speckling areas.
In this case I didn't find the specularity objectionable because you'd expect to see it on real leaves or any smooth object. Here it makes the fake leaves seem more real.
As a general rule of thumb to using smaller "hard" (collimated) sources for soft textured objects and diffused, larger "softer" ones for smooth and glossy surfaces will result in the most realistic texture in the photo.
The AA filter over the sensor mushed up the micro-specularity that gives seen-by-eye more "sparkle and pop" than the camera can render in most cases. That's why for soft objects like fur and feathers, or things like refections of sun off water I use a two stage sharpening process. I applied it to your first image not to improve it, but to demo how much texture it can pull out when needed:
I made two dupe layers. On the first I sharpened with 500, .2, 0 followed by Fade USM (luminosity) at 70%. That's my default USM for small files I post on the net. I have an action for it and just click it.
On the second dupe layer I sharpened at 500, .3, 0. That over-sharpens. Then I added a black mask and selectively opened it over the flowers. I applied it more aggressively above that I normally would so the max. effect could be seen.
The sharpening reveals their true identity via the texture of the silk blurred in the original
BTW ... you probably need to replace "clever" with "lazy" ... I just stopped by a cemetery prompted by Greg's recent post. Literally, out the door right after I saw his.
For an NT type clever and lazy are pretty much the same thing. It's what's know as "efficiency".