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Archive 2012 · Please Help with Some Botanical Images
  
 
Camperjim
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Please Help with Some Botanical Images


This is my first post on this forum. I have been posting on the landscape forum but find that my images are not well received. So I thought I would try this forum as I continue to work on learning some photography. I am hoping for helpful comments and critique. I also decided to take a break from posting landscapes.

I really enjoy shooting botanicals and also patterns, shapes and otherwise abstracted images. These images from my afternoon walk combine both of my interests. Abstracts are usually very subjective and I am interested to see if these are appealing to others and also how they could be improved.
Thanks, Jim





  Canon EOS REBEL T3i    EF-S60mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens    60mm    f/11.0    1/125s    400 ISO    0.0 EV  






  Canon EOS REBEL T3i    EF-S60mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens    60mm    f/14.0    1/40s    400 ISO    -0.3 EV  






  Canon EOS REBEL T3i    EF-S60mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens    60mm    f/20.0    1/160s    400 ISO    -0.3 EV  



Edited on Jul 23, 2012 at 02:08 AM · View previous versions



Jul 23, 2012 at 12:26 AM
ben egbert
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Please Help with Some Botanical Images


I always think of abstracts as something that I cannot identify without some explanation. These are all easy to identify and seem very well done. I would consider these macros. I like the last two best.


Jul 23, 2012 at 01:26 AM
RustyBug
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Please Help with Some Botanical Images


Your eye for the pattern is evident and interesting ... marching to the beat of your own drum.

That being said, there is "something" that's holding it back and I'm not sure if it is on the capture side or the processing side. Could you give us a bit more insight into your workflow (i.e. camera / lens / crop / processing / etc.).

As to these three, I'm diggin' #2 the most.







Jul 23, 2012 at 01:45 AM
Oregon Gal
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Please Help with Some Botanical Images


I prefer B/W over color for the 1st image. I am partial to abstracts and macro photos as well. I think your's can be improved further with better lighting.



Edited on Jul 23, 2012 at 04:23 AM · View previous versions



Jul 23, 2012 at 02:22 AM
Camperjim
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Please Help with Some Botanical Images


Sorry I forgot about the exif data. I did an edit and added that data.

In terms of capture, all three were handheld outdoors. The big issue is focus and depth of field. I pretty happy with the results for those factors. Any substantial improvement would require studio work with focus stacking. That approach is laborious and I think the results typically are not worth it and often look unnatural. The first object I held up to the sky with my left hand and shot with my right. For the second image there was a considerable amount of reflected back lighting which I believe adds to the appeal. The lighting for the third image was flat front lighting.

Processing was minimal with little or no cropping. I opened the raw files adding some clarity and contrast. I then fine turned with some additional constrast, sharpening and maybe adjusted the color saturation. As I remember I did not see the need for any saturation adjustment but don't remember for sure. I downsized and then added additional sharpening.

RustyBug, I think your B&W conversion looks good, but I rarely prefer B&W images and in this case I still prefer the color. I am not sure what "something" needs improvement, but I hope my details might help identify it.

Oregon Gal, thanks but I guess our tastes really differ. I think the first image could work as a B&W but I would like to see much more blacks and contrast. I would love to hear any specific lighting suggestions. I did have a flash available and used it on many of my images from today. I should probably also carry a reflector. To me the backlightin in 1 and 2 works, but 3 looks flat which was due to the flat lighting.

Thanks to both of you. I would love to hear even more specifics if possible.









Jul 23, 2012 at 02:51 AM
RustyBug
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Please Help with Some Botanical Images


Okay ... that helps.

Knowing that these are essentially full frame, I see the DOF / aperture that you are using. Couple of things ...

Stopping down (understood as necessary for DOF goals) that far is going to induce diffraction / loss of contrast. With that in mind, then I would be headed for a reduction in ISO to 100 (base). This of course will reduce your shutter speed and necessitate a tripod. I'm not sure if you've got mirror lock up on your camera, but at least use the timer. That being said ... you've got some pretty steady hands for shooting this close ... but if your quest is quality ... tripod for these.

Along with the ISO reduction, I would like to find contrasty/specular light (i.e. not soft/diffuse) to help offset the contrast losses from diffraction. This could come in the form of your flash, reflected sunlight or direct sunlight, etc. ... but the combination of diffraction losses and flat lighting are likely the "something". Even if you use some "soft fill" ... that will not be as soft as the ambient you are currently using (backlit/shaded).

This of course gets compounded in post as you begin tweaking on your contrast/sharp/clarity/etc. to try and over-compensate for those contrast losses. That's why I was a bit unsure @ what was going on. Your downsize / sharpening might be working against you a bit as well ... but first things first:

ISO
Tripod
More Specular Light

That should make PP a little less "heavy handed" ... and yes, your info was most helpful.

Edited on Jul 23, 2012 at 04:47 AM · View previous versions



Jul 23, 2012 at 04:07 AM
Oregon Gal
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Please Help with Some Botanical Images


RustyBug gives good detailed advice.

I would like to see more light on the front side of 1 which could be accomplished by use of a reflector and maybe a touch of added warmth as shown below. BTW, I don't like my first re-work so I have edited the post and removed the image but included a couple of re-works below.














Jul 23, 2012 at 04:26 AM
lylejk
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Please Help with Some Botanical Images


Definitely would do monochromatic with this one. Also thought I would de-emphathize the background and push the forground.

http://img18.imageshack.us/img18/5527/688768.jpg



Jul 23, 2012 at 10:52 AM
oxman
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Please Help with Some Botanical Images


There is so much cool stuff going on with these flowers, I would go ahead and take them into the studio with strobes and tripod and explore lighting and camera angles -- and really work the subject.

Your captures are very good but AWESOME awaits.




Jul 23, 2012 at 03:12 PM
 

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Camperjim
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Please Help with Some Botanical Images


I am very happy I decided to try using this forum. I have received a wealth of useful information.

Since I am a full time camper living in a small truck camper, setting up a studio might not work. When I shoot in the field I like to use a tripod when feasible. I often don't use the tripod when the wind blows and a higher shutter speed and higher ISO are necessary. Currently the wind is howling so any outdoor macro work may need to wait for a later date.

My current camera is new for me and it has wireless remote flash capability. I have never tried to use this feature so now would be a great time to try. With a reflector and remote flash I should be able to experiment and achieve different lighting even in the field. I think the lighting in the second image works best so I want to try a combination of backlighting with angled front or side lighting.

BTW, years ago I did some self teaching with macro in the field often in greenhouses and gardens where tripods were not allowed. Aside from a very steady hand, a high shutter speed and high ISO are essential. In thinking about this I need to do a study looking at noise for high ISOs, especially since I am shooting a new camera body.

RustyBug, I do appreciate your comments about a low ISO, but I know that will not work in the field even with a tripod...unless I am lucky enough to get a day without even a breeze. In addition to doing a noise study at higher ISOs, I need to do a diffraction study. I had done that with my old camera body and had a good idea of the compromises between DOF and diffraction. I need to do that again with the new camera. That may not be what you intended, but I think that is a good next step for the way I shoot.



Jul 23, 2012 at 05:38 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Please Help with Some Botanical Images


Yeah ... I forgot about the wind ... I have a lighting panel (white or clear are available) from a fluorescent light that I carry in my truck that doubles as a "wind break" and a reflector.

I'm a fan of good steady hand-held (lost art) work @ slower shutter speeds and like to think I've got some pretty good technique ... but like you said ... that wind is another matter. For that reason, you might look more into using your flash to help with some motion stopping flash duration / shutter speeds (still lower iso when possible).

As to the DOF/diffraction study ... I'm all over it. I happen to know that my "break point" is at f13. South of that and I'm good (optimal @ 5.6-6.3), once I start moving to 16 and 22 I know that the penalty will show and I have decisions to make at DOF or lighting.

Being a mostly outdoor shooter ... I appreciate what you're up against @ field work. As to what "I intended" ... only to offer thoughts that might be helpful insight, not to "direct" as to a specific way of doing business. Always more than one way to skin that cat and necessity is the mother of invention (i.e. lighting panel as a wind-break).

GL & HTH ... be sure to share more pics.



Jul 23, 2012 at 06:09 PM
sbeme
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Please Help with Some Botanical Images


I do like these.
Great eye for patterns.
Here is a rework of the first. Just did a slight crop from the right, a bit of shadow recovery and a bit of curves work.
I like the BW conversions others have shared, but that was not your direction, your goal.

Scott







Jul 23, 2012 at 09:07 PM
AuntiPode
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Please Help with Some Botanical Images


If you want to play with abstraction and color , consider boosting the color (vibrance/saturation) and mid-tone contrast to exaggerate the color and shapes and remove the subject from reality somewhat.







Jul 23, 2012 at 10:01 PM
cgardner
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Please Help with Some Botanical Images


In a 2D photo the illusion of 3D shape is created with contrast. Natural light typically comes from overhead putting highlights on the top half of objects and casting shadows down and to the side. The take away is that there are two important clues to shape: where highlights are located on the object and the direction the shadows fall.

Absent these clues an object looks geometrically flat:
http://super.nova.org/MP/Comp3.jpg
These clues would be typical in mid-day lighting
http://super.nova.org/MP/Comp6.jpg
In black objects and black on black scenes you can't see the shadows so the highlights provide most of the clues about 3D shape in a 2D rendering
http://super.nova.org/MP/Comp6black.jpg
The modeling is created with four basic components:
http://super.nova.org/MP/Comp6blackText.jpg
What happens when the key source doesn't come from above as in natural light? The object is still recognized but doesn't seem "normal" for reasons those not familar with lighting can identify.

http://super.nova.org/MP/Comp6blackReversed.jpg

You know when something doesn't look right. Knowing why it doesn't look right and how to fix it is an acquired skill.

I don't do many flower or macro shots but when I do I use flash, specifically so I can alter the range of the scene to fit the sensor for a full seen by eye range of detail and when necessary create shape defining specular highlights either with the sun as back rim lighting and flash as fill as in these examples...

http://super.nova.org/MP/TulipsBacklit.jpg
http://super.nova.org/MP/FlowerFlash.jpg

or with dual flash:
http://super.nova.org/MP/NA2.jpg
http://super.nova.org/MP/NA1.jpg
http://super.nova.org/MP/Insect_Butterfly.jpg
http://super.nova.org/MP/InsectMantis.jpg
http://super.nova.org/MP/InsectWasp.jpg

The first three were taken indoors and the last two in open shade outdoors. The natural light didn't produce the specularity I wanted. In general the softer the object the more direct and specular the light needs to render the illusion of 3D in a 2D photo. With smooth shiny surfaces like leaves the getting specular highights in the "right" places make them look more 3D than they would be rendered in diffuse open shade.

So embrace the direct sun as shape defining back-rim lighting outdoors, but also learn how to use flash to deal with the contrast it creates and produce a result that winds up looking natural. Making flash seem more natural is mostly a matter of placing the flash at the same angles natural light hits the objects when typically seen by eye so the flash created highlights are in the "right" places and the shadows have the same level of detail seen by eye and expected as "normal" by anyone seeing the photo and recognizing the content.





Jul 23, 2012 at 11:17 PM
lylejk
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Please Help with Some Botanical Images


Nice tut or at least explanation for understanding how to capture depth Chuck; thanks for sharing.


Jul 24, 2012 at 03:46 AM
Camperjim
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Please Help with Some Botanical Images


Thanks for all the additional and very helpful comments and especially the detailed explanation and examples of creating depth with lighting.


Jul 24, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Camperjim
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Please Help with Some Botanical Images


AuntiPode, I like your pumped up version. I think that is the direction I should take with this sort of image.


Jul 24, 2012 at 05:11 PM





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