2nd December 2012, 07:30 PM
My first attempt at flower photography. Please provide your comments and suggestions.
Thanks in advance
3rd December 2012, 01:47 AM
Hello. I'm pretty new to flower/macro photography myself, so please take my comments with a grain of salt. I like the composition, an lighting you've chosen, for the most part. But from what I can see, the only ones that have anything in focus are #'s 4, and 5 - and even at that, your depth of field is so shallow that most of them are out of focus.
Now, that being said, maybe that's what you were going for. But for me, a little more depth would be key for flower photography since the subjects are so delicate, I want to see more depth. But again, that's just me.
Great first attempt though!
3rd December 2012, 09:07 PM
With flowers we can run into problems due to color gamut. Saturated colors get into the sensor and RAW data OK and stay OK in an editor working space like Kodak ROMM or ProPhoto but coversion into aRGB or sRGB can be less than delicate, depending on your software. For example, I see that most of the reds in pic #4 are 100% saturated (on my monitor) and a more gentle conversion from RAW might have toned them down a bit.
Lovely flowers, BTW I do like flowers . . .
4th December 2012, 06:24 AM
In my experience, with red flowers it is quite easy to over-expose (blow) the red channel (I guess the metering favours the green and blue channels). And if that is the case, there's no way to recover the detail. That is the case even before we start thinking about colour spaces and all that.
The specialists will correct me if I'm wrong (I hope), but the recommended (and default?) way of transforming between colour spaces uses perceptual or relative rendering, which avoids clipping (at the cost of moving all colours around, and perhaps losing some accuracy). See for instance the CiC tutorials. So, although out-of-gamut colours might be common for flowers, I don't think they cause the saturation of the red channel we see here.
5th December 2012, 03:40 AM
In a few of these shots, the clearest point of the flower is toward the back while the front petals are blurry. It is important to consciously select the exact point that will be the clearest. Sometimes, it is better if that point is toward the front of the flower. Blur in the front can detract from the image. Sometimes, you might want the core to be in focus. If that is the case, the composition should bring one's attention to that point through lighting, leading lines, or the like. Also, I am not sure why so much of each image is black. I would rather see the flower filling the frame. Or, adding flowers to make an arrangement. Playing around with perspective can help: i.e., getting closer, shooting from above or below. Just some ideas.
5th December 2012, 02:26 PM
Welcome to the forum. We use first names here, so it would be a help if you edited your profile to show that.
As someone who does a lot of flower photography, I am always happy when people post flower shots here for comment. You would probably get a few more if you posted this in the "Nature" forum. Also, if you post larger pictures, it is easier for us to see enough detail to offer comments.
A few comments: first, very nice for first tries!
I know that people are told not to center compositions, but I would not make 1, 2, 4, and 5 so off-center. There is too much empty space, and it is distracting. One option for flowers is to have them fill the frame, or come close to filling the frame, but to have key details of the flower off-center, perhaps close to the rule of thirds. Sometimes it is fine just to center them. I suggest you play around with different crops for those four and see what you like.
Re the problems with reds: in my experience, this is a common problem with flowers. I have found it one of the hardest things in flower photography. It's not something that can be dealt with by choice of color space, I think. I suggest this:
--set your camera to show the histogram for all three colors, and set the exposure so that the highest (often, the red) is not clipping. It is better to bring up the exposure, at the risk of some noise, than to have reds blown out.
--try modestly pulling down the saturation of reds if the first is not enough.
--watch out for loss of detail in the reds when you increase contrast. If that is a problem you can do the contrast adjustment in a second layer using luminance blending (see this).
5th December 2012, 04:50 PM
One flower shot I had gave me a bit of bother, ACR 5.4 couldn't handle it (left image):
Here's a spectrum of a yellow flower, out of interest, with my SD10's built-in IR filter sketched in:
In my shot, there were out-of-sRGB-gamut colors although there were no blown highlights in the RAW image file:
Today, inspired by this thread, I re-visited the original RAW file and DCRaw'ed it into two TIFFS: one in ProPhoto wide gamut color space, the other good old sRGB. Then, I attacked each file with ImageJ to look at the histograms of the affected blotchy area:
As can be seen: In the ProPhoto image the reds are not "blown" although it can said that the sensor was probably in a non-linear part of it's curve. In the sRGB image, it is quite obvious that the reds are heavily clipped making the petal rendition less than perfect.
I could have gone ahead and played with all the DCRaw options and come up with a good sRGB image but Sigma's PhotoPro did a good enough job:
I've shown some of these images before but they seemed appropriate to this thread.
IMHO, a serious flower photographer needs some pretty heavy tools to cope with problematic images. I would never have found the cause of this shot's problem without an extensive array of analytical software.
Last edited by xpatUSA; 5th December 2012 at 05:46 PM.
5th December 2012, 09:15 PM
Can you share what software you used for the various parts of this analysis?
5th December 2012, 11:30 PM
In order of images:
1) ACR 5.4 used with PSE 6 at left, Sigma PhotoPro 5.1 at left.
2) I found the spectrum on the web while Googling, can't remember where, sorry.
3) The gamut utility was written by a Sigma forum acquaintance "ArvoJ" and is only good for Sigma X3F files up to the SD14 model.
4) DCRaw is Dave Coffin's well-known RAW converter which can produce anything you like from most RAW files. It's most flexible when used in a PC command window, but some known GUI-type RAW converters use it too, e.g. UFRaw. You can download it here: http://www.cybercom.net/~dcoffin/dcraw/
ImageJ is an analytical application which can be downloaded from here: http://rsb.info.nih.gov/ij/
One cool thing ImageJ can do is produce an illuminance profile (slice) from a line you draw in an image. Think Spectroscopy and lamps for example . . . .
6th December 2012, 12:43 PM