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A flower called Kaa

By PennyBlack
Upload No2.... Having bought a second hand camera off Ebay, I also bought a lens which was delivered yesterday. Since it's arrival, it has not stopped chucking it down with rain so in order to try it out, needed to think of something to do indoors. Decided to photograph some flowers, but didn't want the end result to be too "girlie" - tried to get some inspiration from the animated flowers in Pink Floyd's The Wall where the flowers are snake like and look a bit 'rude' (**blush**) I liked this unopened lily because it looked a bit like a snake, so tried to make the most of that. It's photographed on a mirror, with an ordinary desk lamp providing the light (with some baking paper over it to diffuse the light slightly)

Only purpose on here is to get comments and criticisms to help me learn, so please feel free to slate, modify or have me executed at dawn if you don't like it! Wink

Tags: Flower Black and white Flowers and plants

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charlotte 16 34 2 United Kingdom
30 Dec 2011 8:45PM

Jestertheclown 12 8.4k 253 England
30 Dec 2011 9:14PM
Hi Penny,
I quite like this and I like the idea of placing the flower on a mirror. If you can find one, a black glass surface works well too.
There's not a lot of tonal range in this, so contrast isn't great and increasing it causes the whites to blow.
Dof. is good though as is the overall composition (in my opinion.)
I did sharpen it quite a bit, which helps.
You'll need to check the sharpness of everything you upload to here. Make it the very last thing that you do before you upload the image as the process of uploading can sometimes do your images no favours. It's something that I've struggled with quite a bit.
I'd like to see the colour version, perhaps as a variant?
I haven't uploaded a mod as the alterations I made are relatively minor and would probably get lost.
banehawi Plus
17 2.5k 4247 Canada
30 Dec 2011 9:44PM
Youve done a good job with this Penny. Lovely soft effect with the shallow dof. I would like to see a more standard composition, with the Tulip head in a third, and have loaded a mod as an example.

The shot settings look good, - though the exif doesnt provide us with the camera model. That lens is a superb lens, - you will be very happy with it.


30 Dec 2011 10:05PM
Hi Willie,

Thanks for feedback. Had the lens around 24 hours now, and already really pleased with it. Just want it to stop raining so I can have a go with it outside!! The camera it is attached to is an old-ish second hand Canon EOS 5D (Mark I) - bought it from a charity shop on Ebay. Am under strict instructions from my hubby that I am not allowed to buy anything else now as we need to get new double glazing and a new kitchen (yawn!!!!) Tongue LOL!!!

Photies taken today were a bit hit and miss..... just trial and error really, not really happy with them but will keep on until I get the hang of it.

Am on a very steep learning curve me thinks!!

Thanks for taking the time to give feedback - much appreciated.


Pen x
30 Dec 2011 10:17PM
Hi Bren - Thanks for responding - Have just spotted my highly polished black granite table which I think might be a suitable surface for a future project Grin - Am struggling to get piccies as sharp as I would like. What am I doing wrong? Any suggestions? Sad
Jestertheclown 12 8.4k 253 England
30 Dec 2011 10:29PM
I don't suppose for a moment thart you're doing anything wrong.
Getting the sharpness right is a question I posed some while back as I was having all kinds of problems.
Have a look at the link. It's a good example of the kind of response you can expect to receive on here when you pose a question. I was stuck and people rallied around.
There's some really sound advice on there too, a lot of it from Willie (banehawi, above) who's always willing and able to come up with the goods when it's needed. I've been learning from him for years.
Are you listening Willie ? !
banehawi Plus
17 2.5k 4247 Canada
31 Dec 2011 12:22AM
Im listening Bren!

Pen, - look at this site for how aperture, focal length abd distace from subject affect sgarpness and dof:

Enter your own details and see how your camera/lens combo will work.

Next, at f/2.8 and 200mm the area of sharpness is very limited as you will see from the link. I presume you used a tripod or solid support as youre shutter speed was very slow.

Rule of thumb for shutter speed when hand holding for the 5D is minimum = 1/focal length; with IS its two or three stops slower before you will see blur, so using 200mm as an example, 1/200 for non is, and up to 1/100 for IS.

Your lens is sharpest at f/5.6; try shooting at this aperture in AV mode, and adjust the ISO UP until you have a reasonable speed when hand holding, or use ISO 100 on a tripod. if you done have a remote release, and really need the new windows, use the self timer on the camera after you Manually focus the shot.

Last thing, - and its already been noted by Bren, - when you re size your image for the web, heres the workflow: Open original image>re size by setting PPI to 72, and longest dimension to that allowed by the site>save as new file name>compress file size t the site requirements>Save>OPEN the new file>check sharpness>sharpen as needed>save>then upload.

If using Photoshop and Unsharp Mask, these settings are method will prove reliable:

Set Threshold = 3

Set Radius = 0.8.

Slide amount slider all the way to the right, and drag slowly back to the left until you find the place where the image look sharp, but not too sharp, where halos appear around edges; then OK.

I used a 5D for years. Its a very good camera. You may want to look at a noise reduction software to handle high ISO noise, - Neat Image is good.

Need more, just ask.


31 Dec 2011 10:01AM
That's really helpful - thank you so much. Grin
paulbroad 13 131 1293 United Kingdom
31 Dec 2011 12:18PM
Good advice above. the 5D, being full frame is going to give minimal depth of field and i might have liked a little more. I wouldn't have gone for mono - doesn't suite for me. all the greys are too close together - some nice pastel colours would be rather more suitable.

Willie states the rules on camera shake, which are correct. However, there is another factor - you. all the shake rules must be related to how much you actually shake and the focal length of the lens. Long focal length magnifies image size, but also magnifies movement.

This also applies to macro where degree of image magnification will also magnify movement by the same amount. So you have to factor in - you. An unknown quantity.

I can get shake with OS/IS switched on and 1/500 sec - but then I'm getting on a bit!

banehawi Plus
17 2.5k 4247 Canada
31 Dec 2011 4:25PM
A good point Paul. The human shake factor. I find that I need way faster than minimum myself.

Mynett 12 142 6 United Kingdom
1 Jan 2012 9:36AM
First Penny, welcome to EPZ, you will find all the help and advise on here as you can see by the comments above, I think you have really made a good start here, I like the thinking behind the shot, and you have created an interesting effect, I look forward to watching your progress with your new kit, and we all continue to learn along the way.

2 Jan 2012 12:21AM
I feel like I am learning to drive at the moment.... like when you have to think "gears" and "brakes" and "mirrors" and "what speed am I going" and "oh no, I nearly ran over someone" that's me with my camera at the moment.... "ISO, White Balance, Shutter Speed, Focal length, F What?" Grin
Someone please tell me it's get easier!!!!!!???????
paulbroad 13 131 1293 United Kingdom
2 Jan 2012 11:13AM
If it helps, I started photography in a serious way when I was 17, I'm now 67 and still learning.


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