Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 22

Thread: How to improve flower/plant shots in nature

  1. #1
    terrib's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Colorado & Texas, USA
    Posts
    2,022
    Real Name
    Terri

    How to improve flower/plant shots in nature

    In anticipation of spring, I would like to work on improving my flower/plant shots. I would like to capture nice photos in the yard or on the trail without cutting the plants - not in the studio or staged with a lot of props. At most, the aids I would carry with me would include collapsible hand held diffusers and reflectors with a hot shoe flash and a "plamp" to aid in positioning.

    I took these shots yesterday in my garden. The first two did use white poster board for background that I wouldn't have if away from the house. They were all taken using a tripod and Live View at 100% for focusing.

    Generally I would like to know how I can improve detail.

    #1 Taken with natural sunlight, no diffuser 350mm, F16, 1/320, ISO 800. Although I prefer the angle of the composition in the other 2 pics, I do like the contrast deep inside this angle.

    How to improve flower/plant shots in nature

    #2 Also taken with natural sunlight at 250mm, F13, 1/400, ISO 800. If this were a keeper, I would take the time to clone out many of the leaves but I like the composition or angle of the flower.

    How to improve flower/plant shots in nature

    #3 This was with a diffuser at 250mm, F13, 1/400, ISO 800. I like this one best although I am working on darkening the brighter spots in the background. I did not post that attempt as I need to practice to keep my brush strokes from showing.

    How to improve flower/plant shots in nature

  2. #2
    tbob's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Dawson Creek British Columbia Canada
    Posts
    2,171
    Real Name
    Trevor Reeves

    Re: How to improve flower/plant shots in nature

    Terri; I don't find the background bright areas overly distracting in number 3. Perhaps try darkening it a bit with the burn (or is it dodge?) tool with a reasonably wide edge blend to avoid a sharp transition. You will have to forgive me, because I use Aperture I am no longer familiar with Photoshop so perhaps there is another way in that program but the intent is the same. In some instances taking the picture, then looking at it on the review screen then doing some rearranging of the bits in the background is in order to void the more hideous intrusive objects

    As a matter of aesthetics I vastly prefer the flower with some natural background (is a garden natural? perhaps we shouldn't go there; I seem to recall a debate in this forum about sort of thing). The isolation just doesn't have the same appeal. Probably purely a personal taste thing.

  3. #3
    terrib's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Colorado & Texas, USA
    Posts
    2,022
    Real Name
    Terri

    Re: How to improve flower/plant shots in nature

    Thank you Trevor. It's good to know that you don't feel they are too bright. I'm paranoid about them because it's almost always pointed out in C&C. I did spend time thinking about background when I composed the shots but I seem to always end up with some leftover cleanup in post. I use Aperture too and in this case I'm close using the burn brush but having a little trouble getting that brush size/softness ratio just right in a few areas. I'll keep at it.

    Definitely agree with you on the natural background vs the posterboard. I much prefer it too. (as unkept as my garden is, I think we can get away with "natural". )

    Thanks again for taking the time to comment!

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    South Devon, UK
    Posts
    11,359

    Re: How to improve flower/plant shots in nature

    Possibly, Terri, another colour of background board might work better; even matte black. But this does depend on the lighting conditions.

    I have got away with using a printed background, and regularly use for indoor shots. Either a nice sky or suitable leaves etc. Subject to the camera angle.

    Use matte paper for the print not gloss.

  5. #5
    terrib's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Colorado & Texas, USA
    Posts
    2,022
    Real Name
    Terri

    Re: How to improve flower/plant shots in nature

    Thanks Geoff. It's a good suggestion for when I can use artificial backgrounds.

    In hindsight I probably should not have posted the pics with the white background as they are not representative of my question. I will prefer and endeavor to use natural backgrounds available and so I'll need to be particularly mindful of distractions and DOF, etc when choosing the angle.

    But my main question is how to improve or get the best detail in the flowers. I know I must watch for blown highlights and that I should avoid the harsh sunlight (thus the diffuser). I think these look pretty good but not as good as some I've seen.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    South Devon, UK
    Posts
    11,359

    Re: How to improve flower/plant shots in nature

    With regard to these particular shots; I suspect the white backgrounds would look better with a thin black border.

    Yellow is always a difficult colour and often has some over saturation in the red channel.

    Possibly lowering the Iso and using a longer shutter speed would both help to improve clarity. But this is frequently impossible with real life outdoor shots.

    Also, under controlled conditions, stacking of multiple focus points is a good idea. However, once again, not really practical for real shooting conditions. And you have used a narrow aperture which does help.

    With regard to editing touch up. I sometimes find that touching up bad spots with colour, which has been selected from the image, using a low opacity soft brush is the first stage.

    Then go over the area with a Healing Brush to blend everything together and add a bit of texture.

    Alternatively, multiple passes with a reduced opacity Clone Tool can sometimes work. Somewhere around 50% opacity.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    northern Virginia suburb of Washington, DC
    Posts
    17,930

    Re: How to improve flower/plant shots in nature

    The current edition of Popular Photography has an article explaining the basics of shooting flowers in outdoor conditions. You might want to determine if it's also displayed at their website.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Tulsa, OK
    Posts
    468
    Real Name
    Larry Saideman

    Re: How to improve flower/plant shots in nature

    I prefer the third image as well. It does, however, point out some of the issues with closeup nature photography. You are using a small aperture to get as much depth of field for the flower as possible, but, the side effect is you also get more visible detail in the background. in this case, I am not distracted by brightness but by the lines going up and across from other plants that are partially blurred. Depth of field is a balancing act. If the background is busy, I might choose a more open aperture. What i lose in dof, I gain in subject isolation. Another option is a little manicuring--temporarily bending the leaves--or changing the angle. I try to remember that I can still get much of a flower sharp if it is parallel to my sensor. This flower is too 3D for that so choosing the exact point of focus is crucial. Being on a tripod can help one play with alternatives. Even with a small aperture here, only the outer petals are sharp. One trick is to shoot with a wider angle and then crop. With modern cameras, such cropping can improve dof without adding many artifacts. Remember also, if you shoot at f 13 and focus on the rear petals, you will get the petals sharp but waste some of the dof behind them.

  9. #9
    tomdinning's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Darwin Australia
    Posts
    188
    Real Name
    tom dinning

    Re: How to improve flower/plant shots in nature

    Hi Terri.
    As descriptive 'portraits' all of the shots you have presented are apt. There is no doubt its a daffodil. Technically, ie with regard to sharpness, colour rendition, et al, I would not question, even in the light of viewing them on my iPad. All the shots would suit a flora catalogue, stamp or picture tag for a bag of bulbs.
    But, as we know, description is only one application for photography. I sit here wondering if your intention was to capture the beauty of the flower and to express that in your own unique way. ie to introduce your own aesthetics into the image so as to enhance that of the daffodil a little. After all, a daffodil is not quite a rose, is it?
    If this is the case, and I stand in prepared for correction, then maybe taking an entirely different approach both mentally and physically could be warranted.
    For example, treat the task as a portraiture and approach it as such. Try a number of different lighting options you might apply to a face. One of my favourites is the soft diffused light through a window or a cloudy day where the shadows are muted and add lines of interest to the subject. Use a textured background in preference to the bland white you have chosen, one that is in character like a wooden or stone fence. Provide some context by shooting a 'head and shoulder' shot, including a bit more of the plant. Move your camera around and see the flower from different profiles as if it has a 'face'.
    Then there are the options of just showing part of the flower, those bits that provide visual interest such as the shape of the stamen or anthers, the curves of the petals, the cup formed by the sepal.
    Then you could try some different and dramatic lighting with interesting shadows accentuating th form of the flower.
    There are many options available other than the 'straight' shot provided here. Explore. Experiment. You can't fail, you can only learn.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Provence, France
    Posts
    906
    Real Name
    Remco

    Re: How to improve flower/plant shots in nature

    Another problem outdoors is wind: the tripod stabilises the camera, but often enough there's just enough wind when you push the shutter (or rather, remote control) to move the flower out of the focus zone... So I usually take multiple shots just for that reason.

  11. #11
    Jeff S's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Honolulu, HI
    Posts
    1,156
    Real Name
    Jeff

    Re: How to improve flower/plant shots in nature

    I know this is not exactly responsive to your question (which deals with making better images in natural settings) but I thought I would mention that some post processing is also helpful when considering the final image. I hope you don't mind, but I experimented with your third image to see what I might do with it (and I am far from expert). The result is posted below.

    Basically (assuming I can remember what I did), I put your image in PS, made a duplicate of it, and then selected "multiply" for the duplicate image (leaving the bottom image set at normal). I then adjusted the opacity of the duplicate until I got some contrast that I liked. I then cloned out some imperfections/spots on the flower petals, using the spot healing tool and the edit>fill>content-aware tool now found in Photoshop CS6 (because it works pretty well on this image). I then applied some noise reduction followed by the unsharp mask filter. I then flattened the image.

    Perhaps this is a bit dark for your taste, but it would be simple enough to lighten the image before applying the final sharpening. In any event, your caption raises the issue of "how to improve flower and plant shots in nature". Post processing is one possible method. I hope this is helpful, rather than being too far afield.


    How to improve flower/plant shots in nature
    Last edited by Jeff S; 13th February 2013 at 07:01 AM. Reason: spelling

  12. #12
    rtbaum's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Albertville, Mn
    Posts
    1,521
    Real Name
    randy

    Re: How to improve flower/plant shots in nature

    The one thing that I have not seen mentioned is timing. I try to shoot my flowers in early morning light or overcast days.

  13. #13
    terrib's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Colorado & Texas, USA
    Posts
    2,022
    Real Name
    Terri

    Re: How to improve flower/plant shots in nature

    Quote Originally Posted by Brev00 View Post
    ...Depth of field is a balancing act. If the background is busy, I might choose a more open aperture. What i lose in dof, I gain in subject isolation. Another option is a little manicuring--temporarily bending the leaves--or changing the angle. I try to remember that I can still get much of a flower sharp if it is parallel to my sensor. This flower is too 3D for that so choosing the exact point of focus is crucial. Being on a tripod can help one play with alternatives. Even with a small aperture here, only the outer petals are sharp. One trick is to shoot with a wider angle and then crop. With modern cameras, such cropping can improve dof without adding many artifacts. Remember also, if you shoot at f 13 and focus on the rear petals, you will get the petals sharp but waste some of the dof behind them.
    This is a good reminder. I know how and do use DOF calculators to figure out what the depth of field is so that I can try to isolate the flower from the background, but I fear that in the heat of the moment I sometimes forget where I'm putting that focus point. In this case, aiming down the throat of the flower I probably didn't pick the right point.

  14. #14

    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    northern Virginia suburb of Washington, DC
    Posts
    17,930

    Re: How to improve flower/plant shots in nature

    Quote Originally Posted by terrib View Post
    I fear that in the heat of the moment I sometimes forget where I'm putting that focus point.
    I'm confident that your Canon 7d has Live View. When photographing a flower, put your camera on a tripod and use Live View. Use manual focusing and dramatically increase the magnification in Live View to determine which parts of the image are in focus. If you don't have enough depth of field, use a smaller aperture, assuming of course that that's a practical solution with regard to the amount of wind, the shutter speed, etc., etc.

  15. #15
    terrib's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Colorado & Texas, USA
    Posts
    2,022
    Real Name
    Terri

    Re: How to improve flower/plant shots in nature

    Quote Originally Posted by tomdinning View Post
    Hi Terri.
    ... I sit here wondering if your intention was to capture the beauty of the flower and to express that in your own unique way. ie to introduce your own aesthetics into the image so as to enhance that of the daffodil a little. After all, a daffodil is not quite a rose, is it?
    If this is the case, and I stand in prepared for correction, then maybe taking an entirely different approach both mentally and physically could be warranted....
    Thank you, Tom, for taking the time to respond. You have provided some helpful advice for my next endeavors and I will definitely keep that in mind. But for this particular shoot I wasn't really trying to do anything unique or expressive. I was just trying to execute a technically good capture of the flower showing texture and proper DOF using natural light. I never moved my tripod, although I did change the position of the flower. (I guess I should have narrowed the focus of my thread title. )

  16. #16
    terrib's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Colorado & Texas, USA
    Posts
    2,022
    Real Name
    Terri

    Re: How to improve flower/plant shots in nature

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff S View Post
    I know this is not exactly responsive to your question (which deals with making better images in natural settings) but I thought I would mention that some post processing is also helpful when considering the final image. I hope you don't mind, but I experimented with your third image to see what I might do with it (and I am far from expert). The result is posted below...
    How to improve flower/plant shots in nature
    Jeff, I'm seeing that (again) I did a poor job of asking my question. Actually, you are responsive to my question. I see that you have managed to pull out more detail that I could in PP. It is a little darker than I'd like but a compromise between what you've done and mine might just work for me. I'm still not using Photoshop in depth but I am glad to have this to come back to when I do. I'm currently moving from Aperture where I've done 99% of my edits over to Lightroom. Once I get that down, then I'll get more in depth in Photoshop. Thanks for taking the time to show me what is possible.

  17. #17
    terrib's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Colorado & Texas, USA
    Posts
    2,022
    Real Name
    Terri

    Re: How to improve flower/plant shots in nature

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    I'm confident that your Canon 7d has Live View. When photographing a flower, put your camera on a tripod and use Live View. Use manual focusing and dramatically increase the magnification in Live View to determine which parts of the image are in focus. If you don't have enough depth of field, use a smaller aperture, assuming of course that that's a practical solution with regard to the amount of wind, the shutter speed, etc., etc.
    I guess you didn't see where I said "They were all taken using a tripod and Live View at 100% for focusing." But thanks!! I have sure been known to miss the things you'd think I'd be past by now.

  18. #18

    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    northern Virginia suburb of Washington, DC
    Posts
    17,930

    Re: How to improve flower/plant shots in nature

    Quote Originally Posted by terrib View Post
    I guess you didn't see where I said "They were all taken using a tripod and Live View at 100% for focusing."
    You guessed correctly. Actually, now that I think about it, probably not. I would guess that I saw it and didn't remember it.

  19. #19
    terrib's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Colorado & Texas, USA
    Posts
    2,022
    Real Name
    Terri

    Re: How to improve flower/plant shots in nature

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    You guessed correctly. Actually, now that I think about it, probably not. I would guess that I saw it and didn't remember it.
    Unfortunately, a malady that I suffer from all to often these last few years! Which would be why I can't remember to do things I've already learned. So I make lists and then I forget to look at the list.

  20. #20

    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    3,594
    Real Name
    Greg

    Re: How to improve flower/plant shots in nature

    ... and when you find the list, you wonder who wrote it?

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •