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Looking for improvement This is the e-group critique board. If you post a picture here it will be assumed that you are looking for comprehensive technical feedback - both good and bad, but always respectful. Only post pictures here if you can deal with potentially negative constructive criticism. Anyone is qualified to comment and post feedback, and everyone is encouraged to do so. NB: "Looking for Improvement" is the place to post any pictures you would like advice on improving, no matter how bad you might think they are.

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Old 1st June 2012
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Zuiko Zuiko is offline
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Question Thumbs up for a close-up ?

I don't often do close ups, but I have no excuse as I have a Sigma 105mm f2.8 macro lens. Today, this Rosebay Willowherb (?) caught may attention in the garden, growing up against an old panel of roofing felt. I thought the felt might make a rather nice gritty and textured background to the softness of the flowers. At first I shot in landscape format, intending to crop square later, but then changed to portrait, aiming to keep the image as framed in the camera.

I would appreciate comments on which one works best (if any) and whether the background is effective or distracting. Also any thoughts on how to improve or what I might have done differently. Cheers.



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Old 1st June 2012
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Re: Thumbs up for a close-up ?

Hi John - I prefer the composition of the second one (I'd be tempted to crop the first a little more), and the shot is also very nice and sharp too - without overblown and unnaturally oversaturated colour. I'm not sure about the felt in the background, but I did download quickly and have a quick fiddle - if you add a vignette it reduces the impact of the background a little and draws attention to the flowers.

It's good to see you posting and look forward to seeing some more.

Cheers,

Jon
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Old 1st June 2012
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Re: Thumbs up for a close-up ?

Lovely picture but a minor issue: It's rose campion, Silene dioica not rosebay willowherb.

This is Rosebay willowherb.

Very similar and both grow on Tiptree Heath, but it's a little early for RBWH. It won't be long though. This was taken 26th June last year.

Rose campion is quite variable in form and it is adorning the verges just now.
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Re: Thumbs up for a close-up ?

I prefer the first one as the second one's lower flower looks a bit weary. The focus is great.
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Old 1st June 2012
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Re: Thumbs up for a close-up ?

I prefer the second shot too for its composition. It isn't something you can change now, but if the felt was a few inches away and blurred I think the image would be improved.
Maybe you can achieve the same effect with some Photoshop magic, but that is beyond me - if you figure out how to or someone is in the know perhaps we could have a short tutorial?
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Re: Thumbs up for a close-up ?

Thanks Linda for telling me what it really is - at least I had the colour (more or less) right! I don't know what happened to the weary petal in the second shot; there was no sun, the air was perfectly still and I did not touch or disturb it. There were only a few minutes between the two versions, while I re-composed.

Jon and Iain, I know what you mean about the felt. It seemed a good idea at the time but I think it was too close to the subject. I'm not sure I have the skill to blur the background but I might have a go. It could be that the background is not really complimentary to the flowers anyway and I would do better to place the subject against other, defocussed flowers instead. I seem to have enough of these growing in the garden at present!

Thanks for your replies.
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Old 1st June 2012
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Re: Thumbs up for a close-up ?

In spite of the new "rules" for this board I'll still preface my comments with the usual caveat " I'm not sure I'm qualified etc.".

I prefer the second shot. I always think that if you are including the stem in a flower shot it looks better in portrait.

I can see why you "felt" the felt background would work but I don't think it does. Two reasons. Firstly although the grit is a random pattern, viewed at this distance it becomes a texture which appears relatively uniform, if that makes sense. Secondly it is too close to being in focus and because of the angle at which the shot is taken that to the right of the flowers is more in focus which makes it even more distracting. I see you used f11, a wider aperture would perhaps have blurred it more to give the magic bokeh.

Finaly, before I make a complete fool of myself,it seems to me that the sharpest point of focus is actualy the "green hairy bits" behind the petals.If it had been the stamens of one of the flowers it might have helped a bit.

Just my thoughts (see caveat above).

Regards.
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Re: Thumbs up for a close-up ?

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Originally Posted by PeterBirder View Post
In spite of the new "rules" for this board I'll still preface my comments with the usual caveat " I'm not sure I'm qualified etc.".

I prefer the second shot. I always think that if you are including the stem in a flower shot it looks better in portrait.

I can see why you "felt" the felt background would work but I don't think it does. Two reasons. Firstly although the grit is a random pattern, viewed at this distance it becomes a texture which appears relatively uniform, if that makes sense. Secondly it is too close to being in focus and because of the angle at which the shot is taken that to the right of the flowers is more in focus which makes it even more distracting. I see you used f11, a wider aperture would perhaps have blurred it more to give the magic bokeh.

Finaly, before I make a complete fool of myself,it seems to me that the sharpest point of focus is actualy the "green hairy bits" behind the petals.If it had been the stamens of one of the flowers it might have helped a bit.

Just my thoughts (see caveat above).

Regards.
Thanks Peter, You are as qualified to comment on a picture like this as I am to take it!

I used f11 because that seemed to be needed to get both flowers reasonably sharp but yes, it has affected the background. It's a very pertinent observation you make about the focus of the background not being uniform due to the angle and I completely overlooked this at the time of capture. I actually focussed on the stamen of the top flower manually, using magnified live view, but that's not to say that these old eyes might not have got it slightly off! I must admit the hairs do appear sharper, particularly in the first shot.
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Old 1st June 2012
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Re: Thumbs up for a close-up ?

Just for info that is Red Campion - not rose campion. Red Campion is a native wild flower, occasionally hybridising with White Campion, another native wild flower. Rose campion isn't related and is a garden ornamental.

For me the 2nd composition works better, showing a better plant posture, although the petals have been disturbed in a detrimental way, i.e. better petal position on the first but better composition on the second. The background seems too unnatural for such a cute plant, giving the appearance of a plant growing up a 'grit finished garage wall'. Lovely colour though, campions range from blood red to pure white and you have a fine photogenic pink there.

Just my tuppence. I have no experience of PP so cannot comment.

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Re: Thumbs up for a close-up ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bredman View Post
Just for info that is Red Campion - not rose campion. Red Campion is a native wild flower, occasionally hybridising with White Campion, another native wild flower. Rose campion isn't related and is a garden ornamental.

For me the 2nd composition works better, showing a better plant posture, although the petals have been disturbed in a detrimental way, i.e. better petal position on the first but better composition on the second. The background seems too unnatural for such a cute plant, giving the appearance of a plant growing up a 'grit finished garage wall'. Lovely colour though, campions range from blood red to pure white and you have a fine photogenic pink there.

Just my tuppence. I have no experience of PP so cannot comment.

Thanks for clarifying the species, Pete, and the helpful comments. The concensous certainly seems to be that the background does the picture no favours!
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Old 2nd June 2012
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Re: Thumbs up for a close-up ?

I prefer the look & compostion of the 2nd one better as it fits into the 2/3's guideline method very nicely (which is usually worth considering), with the stem in the open area supporting the flowers being the main subject of the photo & I would prefer to see a shallower DoF which might have been possible with the stamens of both flowers being within the focal plane if the right angle was chosen for setup. The gravel, if it was blurred (from a shallow DoF) would probably work much better.

A lovely shot all the same.

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Re: Thumbs up for a close-up ?

Oops, you're right Pete. I must have been having an off day. It's one of my favourite wild flowers.
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Re: Thumbs up for a close-up ?

You know those clips you can get to hold notes or place cards, ie the ones with a weight, and a crocodile clip on the end of a wire? I find them very useful for photographing specimen flowers from my garden, where I can place the sufficiently far away from a gentle background for it to be out of focus, yet have enough DoF for the flower detail. Obviously the flower is picked to do this, so not really suitable for wild flowers.

If you haven't a clue what I'm blethering about I'll take a photo to show what I mean.
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Old 2nd June 2012
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Re: Thumbs up for a close-up ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by LMGruchy View Post
You know those clips you can get to hold notes or place cards, ie the ones with a weight, and a crocodile clip on the end of a wire? I find them very useful for photographing specimen flowers from my garden, where I can place the sufficiently far away from a gentle background for it to be out of focus, yet have enough DoF for the flower detail. Obviously the flower is picked to do this, so not really suitable for wild flowers.

If you haven't a clue what I'm blethering about I'll take a photo to show what I mean.
Yep - or a garden cane can be used. Stick the specimen in the hollow of the cane, plant the cane far enough in front of a suitably out of focus background and there you are.
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Old 2nd June 2012
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Re: Thumbs up for a close-up ?

John I was about to add some thoughts here but then read Peter's post and he covered my thoughts exactly so ditto from me to what Peter said.
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