Magnolias in the Rain + Repost

As they are outside my window, I couldn’t refuse them, especially as they will soon start fading. It rained all day today, so the tripod (yes I used one!) sank in the mud and my camera got wet. And of course a very gentle breeze added to the fun. The background is a newly-plowed field of reddish clay where sweet potatoes will be grown (just in case you were wondering).

Specific Feedback Requested

This is a beginner’s shot using Zerene Stacker, just 3 clicks, as I have difficulty seeing the difference between the focus steps! An extra bit of twig was cloned out. In PS I selected the two flowers and brought the Highlights slider to the right to bring out the raindrops more. I now have a horror of noise, so I sharpened very gently with Neat Image. All comments gratefully received.

Technical Details

Is this a composite: Yes
D500 + 105mm f2.8 micro, f4.5, 1/320, ISO 250 + TRIPOD

Except for the other twig in the bg, I love it. I used to do the same thing with some quince bushes outside my door in NH. After it rained I’d be out there giving it a go. The droplets are well rendered and the stacking looks good, but I think you missed the focus on the very front of the drops. Did you muse in-camera focus bracketing or do it manually? So far as I remember you need to start with the closest area of focus that you want crisp and work backward. I like that you left a bit of space between them - one seems to be curving into the other deliberately, but it’s random, I know. A lovely image and I like the square crop. The reddish bg of your future potato field is a great counterpoint.

Lovely photo , especially with the drops! A matter of artistic taste, but I would give just a bit more room on the right hand side so as not to crowd that pretty blossom.

My magnolia tree is a month away from blooming, so I’m enjoying yours. I like the closeup nature of your shot, filling the frame. Water drops always look good on flowers and you had a great background to work with too. Nice sharpness throughout, especially seeing the little hairs.

This is gorgeous and the BG color is unexpected and wonderful! The whites are beautiful, and the droplets are to die for! I’d suggest a tweak more room on top and also on the left so the branching doesn’t occur right at the edge. This was well worth getting wet for, hoping everything dried out without damage.

Stacking a subject like this I would use maybe 20 steps, each with an INCREDIBLY tiny movement of the focus ring. Don’t worry about having more than you need. Stack with both PMax and DMap and layer to choose the best areas of each. There can be some artifacts that are worse in each. But it looks like you don’t have any here. It never hurts to use a smaller aperture if you can – you will have fewer missed areas that way.

You got an amazing result with soft ground and a breeze!

Wonderful shot! For me it looks like the two pretty flowers are snuggling up and talking something to each other in the rain. Square format is ideal for this scene. It makes the world for only the two of them.

Lovely flowers! I like the water drops. Agree with others on sharpness on water drops. Removing the stem in the top may improve the image further. One thing I always tell myself when stacking is go all the ways from front to back. Then you can play around it to see which combination works. I like the flower on right leaning on the other. Square crop also works well.

Thanks all for the encouraging words.@Kris_Smith, unfortunately my old camera doesn’t have focus bracketing, so I adjusted manually. @Diane_Miller, great advice, am working on it. The gear is undamaged! @Nao_Koju, you get to the heart of an image. Below is a repost:

I think what Ravi & I are trying to say, at least I’m trying to say, is that when you’re taking images for stacking, start by focusing on the closest area of the item you want in focus then move your focus point back on an area just behind that and so on until you have taken an image with each section of the item as a new focus point. There will be some overlap depending on what aperture you use, but since you’re stacking it doesn’t have to be a tiny one. Does that make sense?

Yes indeed, thanks very much Kris! So much good advice on the Network, not just for oneself but for many other readers. Love it!

You’re quite welcome. I’ve played with stacking here and there - both with photos I’ve taken ‘manually’ by changing the focus point myself and with focus bracketing. It can be challenging, but I like the results.

Mike, The rework looks a lot better. I do manual focus bracketing too. It took me a while to get comfortable to do focus bracketing. after a lot of mistakes, I have learned to go from the front element to the way back. Wind often gets in the way. Wish you success in focus stacking, It is fun when it comes through well.

Thank you, Ravi - I’ll persevere.

Mike: I don’t have much to add to the discussion as you’ve already received good advice. I do like the subject and comp and the repost is a nice improvement. Well done.>=))>