A few years ago I planted a Ninebark shrub to help break up an uninteresting back wall of our house. It was only about 14 inches tall when I planted it but it’s well over 6 feet tall now. In the spring, clusters of tiny flowers appear all over it for a short time. I had an opportunity to get some shots with the macro lens the other day. The entire flower cluster is no bigger than an inch to and inch and a quarter. By the time you read this they will probably be all gone.
Beautiful images (as always), Ken…
Wow, that first shot really caught my eye…the lighting, depth of field and then the color/contrast. Absolutely beautiful shot.
Thanks, Dalo. I had to use a large aperture since the flowers were in deep shade.
Great series of images, Ken. I especially like 1474. Shallow depth of field and flowers seem to be made for each other.
Thanks, John. I suppose I could have used a tripod to get more depth, but it was too windy for long exposures. I do like the depth here though.
I like the third picture… looks like you took the clarity slider to the negative region and it works well. The color works better for me than the B&W version.
Thanks, John. I like to reduce overall clarity and use the adjustment brush to bring it back to the main subject. Very easy to do.
Beautiful images, the first one is dreamlike 🙂
Beautiful flower Ken and I love your pictures even the white en black one. I didn’t know this plant at all, thank you for sharing.
Thanks, Chantal. The Ninebark is a very hearty plant for this area given the harsh winters we are prone to. It thrived through one of the worst winters I can remember.
Awesome series. Such a delicate blossom.
Thanks, Monte. They are very small and not very fragrant but they make up for that in quantity. The shrub is just full of these flowers.
Beautiful Pics if you are interested here a tip but perhaps you know it already “Focus stacking” is a technique that will give your macro shots much sharper focus. Of course you need a tripod and its impossible if its too windy though. Enjoy!!! ;P
Thanks, Albertopr. I have had good luck with focus stacking in the past. It just wasn’t feasible in this case.
What is focus stacking?
Focus stacking refers to a technique where a series of shots are taken with a different focus plane in each of the same subject. The subject and camera must be in perfect alignment for each shot. In post processing, the files are brought into software (Photoshop, in my case) and then layered, masked and blended to make one image with everything in focus. It can really slow down an already slow computer like mine.
I found that in many cases the blending is difficult if the depth of the subject is too great (and by two great I mean a few inches). It may also be due to particular lighting of the subject, but changing the focus changes the size of the captured object.
For example, some of the photos here have ‘funky stuff’ at some of the edges.
I found flowers in particular difficult to shoot with blended layers as there are many details where stuff gets messed up.
I’ve not tried it with a focusing rail, but since the distance from the subject to the focus plane changes, I imagine it would have the same issue.
How do you minimize the ghosting from ‘bleeding’ when blending two or more photos with slightly changing sizes? Editing the fine details can be very time consuming, and I wonder if you figured out how to minimize the post-processing after the layers are combined.
There is a program I wanted to buy, but it’s not cheap:
Since this will go into moderation, let me add a link to the best results I ever got:
And you don’t need to take this off moderation; I’m mainly sharing information with you, and it would likely be of little interest to other readers.
I started a stack with the PhotMerge in PS CS5, which did a good job of masking and merging the layers for the project I was working on. The project was to show a closeup of a wall texture and the same texture from a distance (across the room). I couldn’t get enough depth or detail by stopping down so I tried a 2 (maybe 3, I forget) photo stack, very similar to the technique you used in your post. PS did a nice job but it definitely needed work on the masks before they were flattened. I suppose if you were doing macro work the object size in relation to focus would be a difficult process. Your Smugmug shots are outstanding, btw.
Since I have had a small amount of success with PS5 and since I don’t anticipate stacking issues in the near future, I will hold off on the helicon system. It might come in handy for my work at the Museum, but again, only rarely. What I would really like is a small, portable, polarized lighting system for shooting objects on display.
A good article on the subject:
I had to look up what polarizing lighting system is, and I’m still not sure how it would be used, but I presume it has to do with reflections from the glass on the displays.
I had the bright idea of photographing my wife’s teapots collection, but the reflection off the rounded surfaces are unmanageable. Still trying to figure out how I might do it, but now you gave me something else to research.
I had a system, years ago, which consisted of two 500 w tungsten lamps on stands and two large sheets (about 2′ x 2′) of polarizing material that I could put over the lamps. I was photographing large oil painting. I shot them in a room with no other light source and I had no reflections from the lamps. This was many years ago and I can’t remember the source of the material. If I looked in the box with my old studio lights the sheets might still be in there. Haven’t used it in a long, long, long time. I’m sure if you had this setup you would have no trouble with the teapots, although I’ve never photographed a teapot.
Well, I can tell you they are difficult to photograph . . . I’ll look into the polarizing thing; I also wonder if using a polarizing filter would accomplish the same thing. Hmmm . . . will report when I have a chance to test.
Terrific series. 1474 is my favorite. Problem is I can’t decide between color and black and white. The black and white, maybe, by a nose, but, on the other hand ….
Thanks, Anita. Good to hear from you.
I know black and white flower shots are not popular, but there was a time when I only shot in black and white and I love the look even now.
Lovely images, Ken. I had never heard of a ninebark shrub before!
Thanks, Meanderer. It’s a beautiful shrub with deep purple leaves. Fast growing, too!
Worth having, even for the brief photo opportunity.
Yes, and it’s a great foundation plant, too!
You’ve certainly gotten a lot out of this plant. Nice work.
Thanks, Linda. What can I do next year?
This is superb, ken! I particularly like the top three pix — you’ve captured the subtlety, softness and detail in this delightful plant. Excellent!
Thanks, Janina. The flowers are just about gone now but I think I will concentrate on the leaves this summer.
Simple but so effective
That’s both a fine shrub and a fine bunch of macro shots, Ken. Everything seems to get bigger than you expect it to be, in my experience.
Thanks, Andy. True, sometimes our expectations are exceeded.
Really, really love that top picture – it’s like a gorgeous painting. Very well done!
Thanks, JP. It’s my favorite, too.