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Thread: The benefits of living with a botanist

  1. #1
    rob marshall

    The benefits of living with a botanist

    ... you get a good supply of very nice flowers. There are no other advantages....

    These are all stacked images. On average about six manually focussed shots for each image. All shot with Canon 5DMk2 and Sigma 105mm macro, studio lit. On the last three shots I also used a 21mm extension tube to get closer to the centre of the flowers. Stacked in Photoshop CS5.

    The benefits of living with a botanist

    The benefits of living with a botanist

    The benefits of living with a botanist

    I shot this one by placing the flower on top of an upturned studio flash diffuser with another light shining down from above. So the flower was sandwiched between two light sources, which is why it has a translucent look to it.

    It's not the same flower, but this is the setup.
    The benefits of living with a botanist

    The benefits of living with a botanist

  2. #2
    jiro's Avatar
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    Re: The benefits of living with a botanist

    Awesome shots and detail, Rob! How do you selectively focus your lens on the subject? Do you use a focusing rail to keep the camera aimed at the same line? Just curious.

  3. #3
    rob marshall

    Re: The benefits of living with a botanist

    Quote Originally Posted by jiro View Post
    Awesome shots and detail, Rob! How do you selectively focus your lens on the subject? Do you use a focusing rail to keep the camera aimed at the same line? Just curious.
    No, I don't have a rail. I just test out the range of focus I need by moving the focus ring (my eyessight is pretty good for my age). Then I start at one end and move through the range making small step-changes and shooting. I often discard some of the shots before stacking as I can't see they will add to the focus. It sounds tricky, but with some practice it's pretty easy. I shot all four of these in about 15 mins, and the processing took about 1 hour in total.

  4. #4
    jeeperman's Avatar
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    Re: The benefits of living with a botanist

    Very nice work Rob! and thanks for showing the set-up. The diffuser light table is a great idea.

  5. #5
    jiro's Avatar
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    Re: The benefits of living with a botanist

    Quote Originally Posted by rob marshall View Post
    No, I don't have a rail. I just test out the range of focus I need by moving the focus ring (my eyessight is pretty good for my age). Then I start at one end and move through the range making small step-changes and shooting. I often discard some of the shots before stacking as I can't see they will add to the focus. It sounds tricky, but with some practice it's pretty easy. I shot all four of these in about 15 mins, and the processing took about 1 hour in total.
    Thanks for the info, Rob. and thanks for showing us your setup. Good samaritan for the photography world. Cheers!

  6. #6
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: The benefits of living with a botanist

    Quote Originally Posted by jiro View Post
    Awesome shots and detail, Rob!
    Nothing more to add.

  7. #7
    rob marshall

    Re: The benefits of living with a botanist

    Quote Originally Posted by jeeperman View Post
    Very nice work Rob! and thanks for showing the set-up. The diffuser light table is a great idea.
    Yes, it works well. It shows up a lot of the fine detail in flowers - especially the more translucent ones. You can do it outdoors too. I place a fold-out small diffuser behind a flower with the sun behind it. Then use a flash gun to light the front of the shot. I shot this one outdoors in a public garden using that method.

    The benefits of living with a botanist

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    Re: The benefits of living with a botanist

    "... you get a good supply of very nice flowers. There are no other advantages...."

    I wonder if you know how many of these little pretty's are poisoness....a little mixed in with the evening's salad...oops, now where's that life insurance policy...

    Your eyesight may be good, but I sure wouldn't let her see that statement...I get chills with the mere thought.

  9. #9
    rob marshall

    Re: The benefits of living with a botanist

    Quote Originally Posted by MiniChris View Post
    "... you get a good supply of very nice flowers. There are no other advantages...."

    I wonder if you know how many of these little pretty's are poisoness....a little mixed in with the evening's salad...oops, now where's that life insurance policy...

    Your eyesight may be good, but I sure wouldn't let her see that statement...I get chills with the mere thought.
    There are some disadvantages. If I cut the grass I'm accused of being a mass-murderer

  10. #10

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    Re: The benefits of living with a botanist

    That's good!

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    Re: The benefits of living with a botanist

    Those are beautiful, Rob. Thanks for sharing a little peek at how you achieve your amazing images.

  12. #12

    Re: The benefits of living with a botanist

    These are extremely beautiful! I love those purples. The details that we can see....amazing. Oh, and I want to add that I love how luminous the first three are, too. They're absolutely glowing.

  13. #13
    Peter Ryan's Avatar
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    Re: The benefits of living with a botanist

    Great detail, colour and exposure Rob.

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    Re: The benefits of living with a botanist

    Great shots, Rob. & Thanks for sharing the setup. Its a big help. Don't have those high end gadgets yet, but I gotta try image stacking, with whatever is available.

  15. #15
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    Re: The benefits of living with a botanist

    Wow- they belong in a book!
    Thanks for sharing your work!!!! Lots to learn from you!!

  16. #16

    Re: The benefits of living with a botanist

    Rob, is there natural light on these, as well, then?

    Also, I have another question that I don't quite know how to phrase. I love all of the detail in these. When I take a photo of a flower, of course, I'm thinking about where I want my focus to be and where the circle of confusion is and how much, or not, I want the whole flower to be in focus. I don't have photoshop, yet. (Sooooooon.....) and can't try stacking (although, you and that lovely couple from NZ(?) make an eloquent argument for it with your photos.) Okay, so, the question is something like - is it possible to just take a gorgeous shot of a flower without stacking? Of course, the answer must be, "yes!" but, do you know what I mean? What's the strategy for taking a shot of a flower that is exceptional - stacking or not? Flowers have been done so much (which is great - don't we just love them?) and I'm a little flummoxed for ideas when I come to them. Suzy and I have talked about - exceptional lighting, gorgeous moment, wonderful context, etc.

    I think that I've shared this inspiring link with Rob and Raylee before:

    http://www.noupe.com/photography/50-...otography.html

    Another question that I have but have been too shy to ask is about dof. I've been doing quite a few of my flowers at f29 with the 60mm prime (which goes to f32) because they're close up and at an angle. Is there an advantage or disadvantage to using such a high dof?

    Also, I'm having a tremendous trouble with whistling! I whistle while I work and it wreaks havoc with my close up focus!

    I'm sure that I'm wiffling on with these questions but I'm fishing to understand something. I just don't know what it is, quite yet.

    Thanks, anyone who could answer this, a bit.

  17. #17
    rob marshall

    Re: The benefits of living with a botanist

    Quote Originally Posted by Katy Noelle View Post
    Rob, is there natural light on these, as well, then?
    No. I shot them in my photography room in low light. The camera was set on manual at /125s. That isn't long enough to register any light on the sensor. All of the light comes from the flash head(s). You can combine flash with ambient light (say from a window), but I find I have better control with just flash. It's the same with most portrait shots.

    Quote Originally Posted by Katy Noelle View Post
    ... I'm thinking about where I want my focus to be and where the circle of confusion is and how much, or not, I want the whole flower to be in focus. I don't have photoshop, yet. (Sooooooon.....) and can't try stacking (although, you and that lovely couple from NZ(?) make an eloquent argument for it with your photos.) Okay, so, the question is something like - is it possible to just take a gorgeous shot of a flower without stacking?
    I don't stack everything. Sometimes I don't stack at all, and sometimes I just partially stack - like this one...

    The benefits of living with a botanist

    Those are amazing shots in that link. But you have to remember they don't look like that in real life. There's a lot of Photoshop there.

    Quote Originally Posted by Katy Noelle View Post
    Another question that I have but have been too shy to ask is about dof. I've been doing quite a few of my flowers at f29 with the 60mm prime (which goes to f32) because they're close up and at an angle. Is there an advantage or disadvantage to using such a high dof?
    I try to stick to f/8 or f/11 because that's supposed to be the best setting for most lenses. My macro goes to f/32, but I've never used it. If you stack, then f/8 is fine and it doesn't really have any effect using a smaller aperture as the multiple shots should cover the focus range anyway. personally, I think some shots look better with just one part of the flower in focus (or focus stacked) and the rest OOF. And don't forget you can get some very nice bokeh effects in some shots.

    Quote Originally Posted by Katy Noelle View Post
    Also, I'm having a tremendous trouble with whistling! I whistle while I work and it wreaks havoc with my close up focus!
    You obviously haven't read/seen Death of a Salesman by Miller. Willy tells Biff off for whistling, saying he ought to grow up, like his friend bernard. Maybe you are still just a kid, like me?

  18. #18
    djg05478's Avatar
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    Re: The benefits of living with a botanist

    Superb photos and an excellent discussion chock full o helpful hints..way cool.

  19. #19

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    Re: The benefits of living with a botanist

    Rob, Great pictures - so sharp.

    When you are focus stacking, do you have to do anything about the focal length of the lens changing as you focus (I'm thinking about the Nikon 105 f/2.8 Micro - maybe it isn't a problem with the Sigma).

    - Paul

  20. #20
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    Re: The benefits of living with a botanist

    I'm astonished (do we say "gobsmacked" in the UK?). These are just stunning, Rob, and make my own poor attempts at flower macros seem pitiful by comparison. I haven't had a lot of success with focus stacking (probably because I'm as impatient as all get-out), but you're making me want to continue to work on it.

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