Back Modifications (2)
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3 Paeonies

By Tianshi_angie
Another attempt and achieving a suitable image for my daughter's gift to me.

Tags: Flowers and plants Paeonia

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5 31 1 United States
25 Jun 2020 12:50PM
I am not part of the critique team, however I do have a question.
Why such a fast shutter speed for a stationary item?
1/2000 shutter speed requires a high ISO to get the exposure right indoor, even with an aperture of f/1.8. Shooting at a narrower aperture, perhaps f/8, and a slower shutter speed perhaps 1/650 would give a greater depth of field and more of the flowers would be in focus. There also seems to be a slight tilt towards the right, looking at the top of the vase in relation to the bottom of the image.

I do like the image of the beautiful flowers.
25 Jun 2020 12:57PM
Thanks for the comments GGAB - the problems probably arose with my impatience as it was causing me a great deal of pain - lesson - don't attempt to photograph anything when you are in pain. But your critique is very valid and I thank you for it. i'm afraid I must say 'mea culpa'.
banehawi Plus
16 2.4k 4228 Canada
25 Jun 2020 1:50PM
On the plus side you do have an appropriate background.

The aperture is really the issue here, - its wide open at 1.8 and you will have a very shallow depth of field. Its too shallow to show the peonies in the entirety, with much of the lovely blooms out of focus.

So a smaller aperture, f/5.6 perhaps, the lowest possible ISO to achieved a shutter speed of about 1/80th if the camera is well supported.

Ive tried a mod with the flowers a bit more "solid" and made the image level according to the top of the vase, a warmer white balance and a little sharpening.


25 Jun 2020 2:12PM
Yes I think it is back to the drawing board Willie. I suspect that once again I had not noticed the shutter speed. I had set it at the fast speed as I had spotted a green woodpecker in my garden and moved it there to try and get a reasonable image even tho' I was shooting through a very dirty kitchen window, which I did, but all lessons learned. I hope that I will be able to try again later this afternoon when the sun has gone from nearly all my windows! Thanks for your thoughts.
dark_lord Plus
17 2.8k 761 England
25 Jun 2020 2:32PM
I think your daughter would be pleased, though the tweaks suggested would make a difference.

A tripod would be a good help in acheiving alignment but easy enough to correct in software.
The main benefit would be in using a smaller aperture and lower ISO, two things that flower photography call out for. Wider apertures can work in some situations, not ideal here..

The black background looks fine. By tilting it towards the light source you can make it a dark grey (and by tilting it away make it darker) which is not so stark.

Colour balance is cold, and although easily adjusted I'd shoot with a known setting, so try Cloudy or Shade if using a window with non-direct sunlight. But whatever setting you choose do look at the image after and be prepared to make an adjustment. Don't think that Autio will give the best result, it rarely does. If the black background is a neutral black you can use that with the colour picker in the White Balance tool to give a more accurate result, Even then I sometimes make the image warmer as that can look more pleasing.

That'll take longer to read than actually do.
dudler Plus
17 1.6k 1833 England
25 Jun 2020 4:25PM
The high ISO and the wide aperture lead to the shutter speed. Very possibly a leftover from a previous shot.

Did you use a tripod? Definitely an aid to working slowly, and allowing you to stop for a break.

The other thing that comes to my mind is white balance - auto often doesn't do a great job - though if you're processing from RAW it's easy to sort anyway.

Whether to shoot when it hurts? I'm in two minds: it can be a distraction that takes you into your mind instead of your body. And it's certainly true of emotional pain that it can lead to great art. Can it work with physical pain? I'm not sure.

dudler Plus
17 1.6k 1833 England
25 Jun 2020 4:49PM
Extra thought - if you can arrange to have the backdrop further back (and I recognise that may be a big 'if') it'll be easier to lose it in terms of focus and detail.
25 Jun 2020 5:09PM
Thank you Dark Lord and John for your comments. Yes the camera was on a tripod and I realised this afternoon why it was slightly crooked (One puzzle solved). I had turned the camera on the tripod to a portrait aspect and this obviously hasn't worked properly. The tripod was level but the camera must have been slightly crooked. Yes John - the background was as far back as it would go without moving a lot more furniture than I did - and that caused the pain to become severe. Dull aches I could cope with but this has me in tears! So not possible to ignore. Thank you both for your suggestions and your encouragement. At some stage, hopefully it will all fall into place.
pamelajean Plus
15 1.5k 2211 United Kingdom
25 Jun 2020 5:19PM
Hello again, Angie.

You have received good advice about camera settings.

It looks like you focused on the leaves instead of the flowers, which is a shame because you only had a limited depth of field (area of focus).
I was going to do a modification which removed the little part of the vase that is showing, and also some of the foliage, but it would have made the softness of the flowers even more noticeable.

Your background is nicely dark and the light pink flowers look good against it.
I realise we are dealing with two things here - a photo for your daughter to thank her, and a well presented floral image - and there's no reason why the two shouldn't meet. Hopefully you will be learning something along the way, and achieve something you are happy with in the long run.

25 Jun 2020 5:24PM
I know it looks as tho I focussed on the leaves Pamela but I assure you I didn't which also puzzles me - the A7 has a magnification of the focussed area to enable to be very precise and it was the petals that I focussed on.

Thanks again for your help - I do hope that I can soon get everything sorted and improve.
dark_lord Plus
17 2.8k 761 England
25 Jun 2020 8:08PM

Quote:Yes the camera was on a tripod and I realised this afternoon why it was slightly crooked

Tripod = good.
Crooked, don't worry, we're all prone to that and don't realise until we see the result on screen later Sad
25 Jun 2020 8:12PM
That does please me - a sigh of relief that others can get the camera slightly crooked! Thank you!
chase Plus
15 2.1k 562 England
26 Jun 2020 9:54AM
Hi Angie, I am late to this but I must say you have done quite a good job here.The dark bg shows off the flowers nicely albeit slightly on the wonk but, I have no reason to complain, to get anything straight I have to use a ruler !
Shallow dof can look very pretty with flower images but here, the focus is on the leaves as has been mentioned.
The light is good, nice and soft all in the right place.

You could sit down to do this kind of stuff Angie and if you have a release cable for the camera (I wouldn't be without mine) that would help you too. Then you could afford a smaller aperture, lower ISO and a longer shutter speed.
dudler Plus
17 1.6k 1833 England
26 Jun 2020 10:28AM
Angie, I have to admit that I have to correct a very large proportion of my shots, in all conditions - often with a round one degree of anticlockwise rotation. I should have learnt by now, but it still keeps happening!

One of the basic steps in my processing is to check and correct tilt, therefore. It sort of happens automatically in the darkroom, as I have to decide how to align the paper easel under the enlarger, because it's not fixed! So much of how I work is conditioned by 'how did I do this when I started making pictures?'
26 Jun 2020 11:37AM
Once again - thank you both. Janet - unfortunately sitting isn't any better than standing - it is a trapped nerve and sitting does not release it I'm afraid but thank you for the thoughts - all are very much appreciated. As for the straightness or otherwise - it is something I am usually very careful about but I think I was fooled by the fact that I thought the camera was straight when I rotated it on the tripod - but it is all a good learning experience. They always say you learn by your mistakes and I should be a wizard by the end of this!!! Hopefully I will begin to see the light(!) and will be happier with everything.

dudler Plus
17 1.6k 1833 England
30 Jun 2020 9:37PM
I've been thinking about the focus issue that Pamela raised, and have seen a reprocessed image on Flickr.

I don't think the problem is in the processing, really, though that can bring it out a bit. It's that you've focussed on an area of the flower head that is the same distance away as some of the leaves. But while the petals are almost hidden among other light, delicate petals, and showing one edge to the camera, the leaves are large, flat, and textured. So the eye's drawn to them, and not to the petals. A solution would be to tilt the flowers away from the camera, so that all of the leaves are further away from the camera than the petals.

So it's not that the leaves are sharp and the petals aren't. It's that only the petals in the plane of focus (relatively few of them) are sharp, while large areas of leaf are also sharp.

And the viewer's eye is usually drawn to the areas where sharpness is easy to see - larger areas, areas with more contrast, areas with better-defined detail - the leaves tick all these boxes.
1 Jul 2020 11:04AM
Thank you again John - I suspect tilting a vase might be quite hazardous! But I do understand what you are saying. I must say that I do usually just focus on one flower in a bunch but as this was a different purpose entirely I wanted to photograph them all - so in future I shall stick to one bloom!!!
dudler Plus
17 1.6k 1833 England
1 Jul 2020 11:35AM
Just raising the camera position slightly would sort it, because then it would be tilted down.

I have a feeling that you may shoot while sitting down. And with the Alpha 7 bodies, it's not really a problem because of the tilting screen, which allows very precise focus, just as the viewfinder does.
1 Jul 2020 11:42AM
I did photograph this time sitting down as I am more able to keep still but it isn't my usual position mainly because I am then stuck in one place! I am not really a fan of the screen - tilting or not - I do prefer to see it with my eye as it were, just feels as though I have more control.
dudler Plus
17 1.6k 1833 England
1 Jul 2020 3:07PM
I feel the same, Angie - but since it's there, I will use it if it lets me do something that I want to do...

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