Texas Beauties (+ Rework)

Edit 2 with blurred leaf in center at the bottom and focus stacking corrections.

Original image

Image Description

Bluebonnets and Texas baby blue eyes are two of the most iconic wildflowers in Texas. Like Bluebonnets, Texas baby blue eyes are also typically blue, but they can also be found in white or purple varieties. As any Texan knows, Bluebonnets are found in open fields, along roadsides, and in other disturbed areas. Texas baby blue eyes, on the other hand, are found in moist, well-drained, sandy soils. So, finding them side by side is always a special treat. Instead of going for the large field displays of Bluebonnets, I prefer to find them along other wildflowers. This particular find made me smile because I had wanted to photograph those two different flowers together.

The photo here is the result of twelve focus-stacked images I made using a tripod. I think I went a little overboard with the number of images to stack. Well, better safe than sorry. I wanted to make sure that the Bluebonnet and the Texas baby blue eyes flowers were in focus. The background was left blurred on purpose. Thanks to the clouds for providing me with an even source of light and some warmer tones on the right side. Although there was a bit of wind, shooting at 1/4000 seconds helped to capture the main subjects without blurriness. I did not have to wait long for the winds to calm down. [P.S.: When enlarging the first image, I did see some ghosts around some of the Texas baby blue eyes’ petals. I corrected that issue in the second edit.]

Specific Feedback and Self-Critique

What inspired me to make this image was the striking combination of the two flowers and a bit of warm light in the background. I got the camera leveled with the Bluebonnet in order to bring out the size contrast with the Texas baby blue eyes. I am especially curious whether I should have blurred the center leaf in front of the Bluebonnet. That leaf was on the same plane as the Texas baby blue eyes flowers. I cannot decide whether it is distracting or not, especially since the leaves on the LRC are in the FG and not in focus. I have added a second edit with the blurred leaf in question and focus-stacking ghosting corrected. Please keep in mind that the intended use of this image is social media and other online media.

Technical Details

As mentioned before, the image here was focus stacked. I used a tripod for those 12 images. I stacked the images in PS and took the stacked image to Topaz Photo AI and completed all edits in LR. The EXIF is shown in the image below.

Wow, beautiful images Egidio and your focus stacking really paid off. Everything looks really sharp, even when enlarged, and the soft colors from both varieties compliment each other, so great find on your part. I honestly had not noticed the in focus leaf in your first image; it sort of blended in with the other greens and was not a distraction to me, but your edit does make it blend in even more.

Jim, thank you for your kind words and feedback. When you mentioned “enlarged,” I realized I had failed to double-check the focus stacking process. I saw some ghosts in the image around the petals of the Texas baby blue eyes’ petals. I tried to correct that in the second edit. Thanks again.

Funny, I think these are called lupines everywhere else in the world. I’ve shot them several times and never in Texas. :laughing: The other wildflower is a new one to me and I like the way you’ve framed the lupine with them. So many shades of blue to enjoy. The second version corrects many of the issues in the first and so a winner in my book. There’s a field of these not far from my house and I believe they are maintained to be a food source for the highly endangered Karner Blue butterfly. Other restoration efforts are ongoing around the state by official bodies, but I like that some random person just has a huge field of them. I like the OOF echo flowers behind - they’re just the right level of blurry to be at once identifiable, but not distracting. Beautifully done.

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Kris, first of all, thanks for taking a look at my image and offering your feedback. Leave it to Texas to try to be different, right? Yes, you are absolutely correct they are lupines.

According to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Bluebonnets or “Texas Lupine has larger, more sharply pointed leaves and more numerous flower heads than similar lupines.” The scientific name is Lupinus texensis.

As for the Texas baby blue eyes, they are Hydrophyllaceae (Waterleaf Family) with the scientific name of Nemophila phacelioides. I’ve seen them in the wild as well as the Wildflower Center. It had always been my desire to photograph them along with Bluebonnets because of their iconic Texas connection and, of course, color family. The reason you might be unfamiliar with Texas baby blue eyes is that their distribution is mostly in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Thank you so much for reassuring me of that. It was one of those things for me: the moment I saw the bottom leaf, I could not unsee it. :slight_smile: As for the ghosting in the focus stack process, it was just pure sloppiness on my part. I failed to enlarge the final photo to look for that anomaly.

That comment is so important to me. When composing the image, I moved around in order to get that echoing effect of the other Bluebonnets. That same day I was at the Wildflower Center, I also photographed less common varieties of Bluebonnets, namely, the white, pink, and red colors. I tried to obtain the same effect so that the viewer could see an OOF Bluebonnet in the background. Anyway, thank you so much for catching that and pointing it out. I so much appreciate your feedback. Thanks again.

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