Back Modifications (6)
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By suejoh
I took this photo in the sunlight and I really like the effect of the sun's lighting. I liked the composition too but realised that the 2 teasel bits were far apart so the closer one is slightly out of focus. Note that this photo was without flash but the other two are with manual flash.

I decided to try again using my flash but I do not think the lighting has worked. What flash settings would people suggest for getting the same effect as the first picture.

I could not get the same composition either as the teasel has quite a firm stem and I could not easily change the positions. Tried my best though without hurting the plant.

The black background is black cloth draped over the dog kennel. I did get a bit of reflection from the sun on it. Do people use velvet?

Tags: Flowers and plants Teasel Flash and lighting

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suejoh Plus
18 257 United Kingdom
12 Jul 2018 9:33PM
Please ignore version 2 - I loaded the same one twice by mistake
mrswoolybill Plus
16 3.5k 2563 United Kingdom
13 Jul 2018 11:40AM
Hi, I'm sorry I missed your previous Critique upload, but I really like this. Light, lines, textures.

First off, looking at your main upload, I have added a modification with three minor tweaks. I cropped tighter at the sides, to reduce the empty space there, allow the subject to occupy the frame on its own terms. That also gets rid of a very intrusive light blob in the bottom right corner!

I darkened highlights very slightly, I was trying to get a bit more detail into the brightly lit sepals. It hasn't really worked...

Then I tidied up the spider's web at the bottom. Looking at this with shadows lightened, there is a very satisfying complete web there, but I think you may have darkened the background to get it more even, and that has lost you the full effect of the web. So I cut it down to just the strands visible along the stem.

There's a very nice balance between the two stems, they both seem to have individual character. And importantly, they join forces at the bottom of the frame.

Generally speaking, an uneven number of items will arrange themselves into a satisfying composition more readily than an even number. But the problem for me with your alternative image is that the stems enter the frame separately, that looks awkward. It lacks a sense of unity.

I would avoid flash here altogether, both for the teasels and the background. It would exacerbate the problem that you had with the velvet. Cotton velvet is more matt than synthetic, but my experience is that you will always need to tidy up a fabric background! Either that or make a feature of the draped lines.
banehawi Plus
18 2.8k 4333 Canada
13 Jul 2018 5:27PM
Theres not a whole lot wrong with the ones with flash, other than reflections off the background.

yes, use a non reflective velvet, very soft cotton.

How did you use the flash? The exif data from the flash images dont indicate the use of flash, so how was it set up?

The mod is of course very heavily manipulated just to illistrate some points already made. Quality and sharpness are very good.


dudler Plus
19 2.0k 1966 England
13 Jul 2018 5:37PM
A pretty decent result - most people would be delighted with this result, though i understand why you want to fine-tune it further.

The simple answer is to adjust the camera position slightly, so that the two teazles are in the same plane.

It might or might not work better with a macro lens, rather than a long telephoto lens: the result here is very creditable, but you are a long way back, possibly inconveniently so. A 105mm or 200mm macro lens will possibly be better - I'm assuming, given your kit, that budget isn't a great issue, and a secondahnd 105mm Sigma comes quite cheap.

If you want to replicate with flash, you'll obviously need to work in the dark - either at night, or cutting the seedheads and working indoors. At the very least, you need it to be dark enough for the ambient light to be several stops lower than the flash. But I agree with Moira - natural light is best.

I suspect the big issues are direction, diffusion and the colour temperature. The EXIF doesn't show what settings you used, precisely - but I'd suggest that you need to warm up the flash shots a little to replicate late sunshine. The direction needs to be the same (as I read them, the flash shots have the flash just to the right of the camera, while the sunlight is coming from ninety degrees to the right). A little bit of softening may be a good idea, but the sun isn't far from being a point source - but there is a good deal of secondary illumination coming from skylight in the front version. A second flash could be a good idea, and should be both less bright and much more diffused - to the point of needing a big softbox. This isn't easy to achieve with a speedlight, as opposed to a studio flash unit working from the mains.
dark_lord Plus
18 3.0k 835 England
13 Jul 2018 9:19PM
The flash ones look very nice especially with the curved stem. Manual flash is the right thing to use (in terms of flash setup) as such a dark background will throw out any TTL system.

Yes people do use velvet and I do have a piece about half a metre square. Whatever you use, velvet, fabric or card for example tilt that background down away from the direction of the main light so it doesn't pick up any light spill.

Black is very striking but consider other colours (muted tones are best, and ones that don't fight for attention with the subject) for a softer look.

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