Old Dogs, New Tricks + Repost

I am an unrepentant single capture guy but I know I need to get with the times and do some focus stacking. This is my first attempt and I just used Lightroom and Photoshop. If things look hopeful I may graduate to Helicon or Zerene but for now I’m looking for criticism on the overall results. I also selected the messy BG and didn’t quite darken it completely but it is less distracting now. I have very thick skin so don’t hold back.

Type of Critique Requested

  • Technical: Feedback on the technical aspects of the image, such as exposure, color, focus and reproduction of colors and details, post-processing, and print quality.

Specific Feedback and Self-Critique

Anything on the final result.

Technical Details

Minolta 200mm macro
4 shot stack, ISO 400, 1/60 @ f11

Good for you, Bill! Look out though, it’s addicting!

I really like the subject you chose. What a spectacular blossom. Such rich colors and it seems to be at the height of its perfection. Really interesting textures, too, especially how the middle contrasts with the petals. The middle really is the star and I think the focus there looks very good in the small and medium sizes. Blown up very big I can see there might be a strip that got missed in the focus stepping - it’s in the midst of some crisp areas so that’s what makes me think that. It’s hard to tell though. Did you use in-camera bracketing or did you choose focus points manually?

What is more obvious is the treatment of the petals. I see some mask bleed through here and there and some inconsistency in what is in focus and what is not. The leading petals in the front are well OOF and a bit of a distraction as a result. I often have parts of my stacks very soft, but none at the front of my subject. The area in the foreground of the subject can be soft without being distracting, but for me when the leading edge is blurry it looks like a goof, not something intentional, which if it was, I apologize.

I like the inclusion of some of the green parts (leaves? bracts?) behind the petals. For a first try I think this is a good result that some refining in the mask edges could make even better.

Great flower choice. Bill. I love the angle color and sharp focus. I have found in in camera exposures are so fast with these electric shutters going so fast it makes it easier to take some 30 shots without wind moving something. I actually did not notice the background much because the subject stands out so well. I used Lightroom and PS for quite a while before going to a focus stack program and these have demos. They are good for fixing things, but starting out to get the hang of staying with Lightroom or PS is a good way to start. pretty nice the first time.

Stunning, Bill. The colors are just…well gorgeous! Good for you to give the stacking technique a go. Once you get the hang of stacking, so I’ve heard, it’s not so hard and is a truly great tool. I’m still working on getting the hang of it, but I wish you luck he best.

This is a 6 shot stack at f8. I took the BG all the way to black as well. Better?

Looks like an improvement from here! The suspect part in the center is better and there is more definition in the petals. Black background gives it a dramatic stage.

Hi Bill,

I like your stacked version because of the overall crispness and darker colors of the flower. Black BG simplifies the comp and allows the colors of the flower to be revealed in a very pleasing way. Stacking is a wonderful tool for getting around the limits of DOF in flower photography as you have discovered. Both photos are excellent, but like the stacked version over the first for reasons mentioned in the first portion of my comments. Awesome…Jim