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A Peruvian Lily (Alstroemria)

By LighthousePhotography
taken in natural light with macro adapters and vaseline smeared around the edges to increase the bokeh

Tags: Close-up and macro Alstroemeria Peruvian lily Macro flower

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pamelajean Plus
15 1.6k 2238 United Kingdom
24 Feb 2019 2:26PM
Hello, Michael, and welcome to EPZ's Critique Gallery.
I see that you've been with us since last December but have only just ventured into this gallery.
You arrived here because you checked the "Critique Wanted" option. I assume that was your intention.
This is where you trade the possibility of votes and awards for the likelihood of getting constructive comments.

It helps us if you respond to critique and indicate which ideas you found helpful. That means we can tailor advice according to your needs and abilities. We like this to be an interactive area of the site.

You have told us how you achieved this effect in this image, but haven't said why you are asking for critique on it. This would be very useful to critiquers. Thankyou for including your Exif Data, that's useful too.

As to the alstroemeria as presented, I wonder if you are happy with the effect you have achieved, or if you simply want others' opinions of its effectiveness. I think it works really well, except that I feel there is just a bit too much of the red/pink surrounding the flower, so that it isn't tending to stand out from the background because its outline is obscured by the same colour being behind it.

The background around the flower is nicely blurred by your "vaseline", and gives the impression of a sort of aura circling around it, which is pleasant and gentle. I'm just not sure if this is the best subject for this type of effect.

In the first place, I'd like to have seen the alstroemeria isolated from others that are appearing directly behind it, thereby giving it more presence. Anyway, I've tried a modification.
Firstly, I cropped because I feel that you have a lot of "dead" space around the flower, and a square crop seemed appropriate to me, nicely containing its shape.
I wanted a bit more contrast so that the flower stood out better. So I brightened the image, deepened the shadows, increased the highlights, made the blacks and whites blacker and whiter, and sharpened. I also selectively sharpened the stamens.
I gave it a little border, and that's it.

You have quite a shallow depth of field here, with only the stamens in strong focus. This is lovely, but because the rest of the flower is soft, as is the background, this is another reason why it doesn't 'pop' out from that background.

A lovely specimen of one of my favourite flowers.

banehawi Plus
17 2.5k 4270 Canada
24 Feb 2019 3:42PM
Your method has worked quite well.

The macro especially is good; the Vaseline definitely gives a blurred and soft background, but it not quite "bokeh", though its effective. There are post processing option that could well get a similar result.

I wonder though if the image should have been shot in portrait orientation. I think a taller image, with more space at the top would suit this flower.

Loaded a quick mod, a touch more contrast where the flower it and cropped.


mrswoolybill Plus
14 3.0k 2461 United Kingdom
24 Feb 2019 3:54PM
Welcome from me too. The focus and depth of field are spot on for me, the Vaseline blur is a bonus but I don't think you actually need the space on either side. Landscape for a subject like this can look a bit flabby, too much wasted space. Pamela has made the adjustments that I immediately wanted to do - the square crop for an enclosed feel, and that bit of added brightness to bring the flower to life.

Please let us know if comments and modifications are any help, and feel free to ask questions. I hope we'll see more from you here.
24 Feb 2019 5:45PM
Hi Michael.
A square crop is often the best way to go with this kind of subject, as has been suggested. But that really is a most attractive green, almost a jade green, or sage... I like the blue note in it, and I think it would be a shame to part company with it for the sake of a 'classical' approach.
So I'd like to offer a different approach...
Use the green, but keep the flower as the star. It's big and bold, so maybe you don't really need to show quite all of it. In my mod I've cropped, then used a vignette, together with a Levels tweak to darken the background.
Maybe not to everyone's taste, but I think it works quite well. See what you think anyway.

paulbroad 14 131 1293 United Kingdom
24 Feb 2019 6:44PM
This is effective. Well thought out and executed. I might consider a crop from each side to near square, but what you have provided is good and, subjectively, just as viable.

Hi everyone. thank you very much for taking the time and effort to offer critique. All your points are very valid and appreciated.
this was very much an experiment on my part. its started with my partner looking at a lens baby and noting that you can achieve a similar result with vaseline. So this was ver much done by quickly throwing together some equipment i don't normally use (a 50mm lens with macro adapters) as i have a proper macro lens but didn't want to get vaseline on it.
i tried a portrait shot but didn't like the amount of vase and backdrop i was getting in the shot.
i like the square crops but they don't quite achieve what i was looking for with the blurred surround.
i do really like the offset crop though, thank you for that.
i did want more depth of field but i was being lazy and shooting in natural light and as i was holding the camera i couldn't get the shutter speed low enough with a reasonable iso without some hand shake.
I agree the red behind the flower detracts form the image but was trying to get some red in the background - perhaps spreading the other flowers out would have helped.
overall i am happy with it as a first attempt and will certainly take most of your points into account when trying this next time.
with regards to post processing - i agree i could achieve part way to what i want but i hate doing to much processing as i am lazy lol.
dudler Plus
18 1.7k 1879 England
25 Feb 2019 6:35PM
And a belated welcome from me, too. This is nicely seen, and rather beautiful.

Thank you, by the way, for responding: it makes what we do here worthwhile when people have obviously noticed what we write!

I'd definitely be looking for either a square crop or offsetting the flower with a shot like this.

And, while my relationship with tripods is at best a bit equivocal, as I am usually very lazy, macro shots are one genre where I will find where I've put mine. So many reasons to use one, so many dud frames without.

And with this sort of shot, there's not any excuse for not thinking through the whole frame, and making it as yo uwant it. This means that you need to think about, spot, and sort background problems... Including use of the depth of field preview button, if you stop down.

I don't like doing a lot of processing, but it's necessary to get really good images - you may only need to polish a little, but it's well worth the time. Especially if you do things like adding Vaseline: this increases the out-of-focus effect, but also tends to affect the maximum black in the picture, especially at the corners (hence the need for both Levels adjustment and a vignette).

By the way - using Vaseline like this is the one time I'd use a skylight filter, because I really wouldn't want to mess up a good portrait lens by putting the grease on the front element of a 50mm!

A final thought, looking at the curved lines in the background - maybe there's a case for stepping back slightly and using a portrait format? There's a neat framing device in those out-of-focus leaves...

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