Hi we have a wonderful Magnolia Stellata in our garden which we transferred from a previous house and each spring it has wonderful buds and flowers - but try as I might I just cannot get the exposure correct to see all the definition in the petals.
This year armed with my new kit, which includes tripod and macro lens, and advice from magazines, I still cant get it right!
I have tried auto exposure, bracketing, large depth of field, small depth of field, long exposure, short exposure, manual and auto focus, manual exposure, with diffused light and reflected light, a range of ISO, and my latest was HDR, yet still the photo eludes me.
I have not tried flash but concerned that will just burn out what definition I have got.
Any suggestion gratefully received. My latest attempts attached (not the best flower - hence the brown spots as it begins to fade) but I just cant get it right - and always appears soft in focus
is it just depth of field? This is a camera HDR version and on the computer I have increased exposure by +1 with a slight sharpening
mkbee1 West Valley, US Nikonian since 26th Nov 2012
Mon 20-May-13 02:39 AM
#1. "RE: Help on exposure - macro of flower" In response to Reply # 0
O.K., let me give it a shot. The veins in the leaf to the left appear well-focused, but it is behind the subject. Back-focusing probem? Maybe.
However, the entire photo appears overexposed, and that will wipe out detail. What metering mode were you using? Focus modes? AF Single, with central focus point? Was the camera's exposure compensation engaged? The camera's focus system is likely contrast driven, and there may not be enough contrast in the center of the flower for the AF to get a good lock.
What sort of tripod do you have? Too light a tripod, and the shutter and mirror slap will farble the image; if you don't use a slight delay to let the shakies settle down, it can cause unsharp images. For some reason, IIRC, 1/8 sec. shutter speed seems to be a regular culprit.
How do you release the shutter? Manually? That can cause shakiness. I've found that placing my thumb under the camera,and using the index finger to gently press the release helps some. The up and down forces sort of cancel each other. And, the self-timer with 2-10 sec. delay will give time for any vibration to fade away. Shorter delay is better...keeps folks from wandering in front of your camera...sometimes!
Don't press the shutter release like you wrere killing a particularly ugly bug! A remote, like Nikon's marvelous ML L3,or one of the Chicom $3 clones can be a real boon.
I hope I haven't just thrown more mud in the stream. Keep at it, you'll get it!
#3. "RE: Help on exposure - macro of flower" In response to Reply # 1
Great - thanks for the very good suggestions - my conclusion is that I probably did not give enough thought to this - quite a bit, but clearly not enough!
It was manual focussed, but I guess I picked the wrong focus point - I suggest I should come forward a little next time and give a bit more depth of field
Also checking back the camera was set to matrix metering so I should not be surprised it was a little confused with the contrast - I will remember to spot meter in future - and remember to take a couple of extra shots with some exposure compensation dialled in
This shot was on a tripod (Manfrotto 055CXPRO3) - but there was a very slight breeze so a higher shutter speed may have helped - particularly as I used a ten second self timer within which time the air may have started to move again - now set to 5 sec max in the camera! Also mirror up is a thing to remember.
I have yet to get a remote release but am now investigating.
Your comments are a great help - only I have to wait until next year to repeat the shot!
#2. "RE: Help on exposure - macro of flower" In response to Reply # 0
From the evidence of the back petals and the leaves, your focus is fine - at that plane - and your camera support is steady. You have set yourself a tough row to hoe with the angle of the flower - the lower petals are arranged so that their near tips will violate the depth of field. In this instance, the flower from near tip to top petal probably requires at least one inch depth of field (and your peak focus is at the rear of the bloom). I'm not certain, but I don't think that lens is possible, at least not on a D800. Consult a Depth of Field calculator such as the one here.
The image you have presented is characterized by clipping in the red channel. This will result in loss of detail in the white petals. It may be that you had more detail in the image before you increased exposure in PP. White flowers present a particular problem in regards detail. We wish to see white as bright. Unfortunately, we perceive detail best in the middle tones. This will either force us to reduce exposure to bring much of the flower down to a light gray or to resort to other tricks. One of these might be focus stacking. Another might be to employ directional lighting so that the surface textures of the flower are emphasized. In any case, keep trying.
#5. "RE: Help on exposure - macro of flower" In response to Reply # 2
Many thanks for the help and for the taking the trouble to respond - I am learning all the time and believe I have already recouped my Nikonian membership paid last week!
I have not used a Depth of Field Calculator before but have downloaded the one you suggested and will take time to familiarise myself with it - I will also look into getting a different macro lens in time (this one was borrowed from my old D70 and may not be man enough to stand up to the new camera but a I cannot blame the tools - just how I use them).
Clipping is also a new area for me - you are correct there does appear to be some aditional detail in the original and in PP I did exactly what you said and tried to brighten the image - I will further research the concept and chose some suitable white subjects for trial and error until I understand the principles.
Again thanks for your help - If I get a good white subject photographed soon I will post it
#4. "RE: Help on exposure - macro of flower" In response to Reply # 0
Yes, part of the problem is DOF. The flower is just too deep to get it and the leaves all in focus. Focus stacking would help here.
As has been mentioned, the red channel is clipped. The different methods you used to expose the flower (long, short, manual) aren't going the make any difference. The correct exposure will be the same. For this image, reducing the exposure in camera so that the image isn't clipped is what you should be aiming for. Use the camera's color histogram to see where you're at with exposure.
Also, the image you posted is in Adobe RGB color space. In most instances it would be better to convert and post images in sRGB.
Here is a screen shot of your image in Photoshop showing the red channel clipping:
#6. "RE: Help on exposure - macro of flower" In response to Reply # 4
Thanks for adding to this debate - and spending the touble to try to sort my image.
The histogram was explained at my recent photo course but it does need more understanding on my part and to be more fully used - I will revisit my lecture notes and take a good look at this in the field next week when I am on leave and plan to spend a lot of time with my new camera.
Also I should take more time setting up the shot, thinking of the outcome more than what I would like to see from first instinct. So your point about the angle of photograph is well made.
As for the Adobe RGB vs sRGB - will switch in future posts and I am about to talk to my company's graphic team to better understand!
mkbee1 West Valley, US Nikonian since 26th Nov 2012
Mon 20-May-13 11:30 PM
#7. "RE: Help on exposure - macro of flower" In response to Reply # 6 Mon 20-May-13 11:40 PM by mkbee1
That's what I love about the forum. Nikonians have a great amount of experience to contribute.
From your post, it appears you are a competent computer fellow, but fairly new to photograpy, maybe breaking in a new camera?
We tend to make things in photography more complicated than they really need to be.
Thoreau said it best: "Simplify!" Overthinking can be a detriment in many areas of human endevor.
Add to your library,if you haven't already, Bryan Peterson's excellent book "Understanding Exposure" 3rd edition. #2 is also excellent. Read and enjoy it. It will explain most of what you need to know about expossure, although Mr. P uses manual metering exclusively. Your choice there. I graduated from no meter at all, to a hand-held meter to in-camera centerweighted manual metering, and I dearly LOVE Matrix...except for backlighting.
My flight instructor told me: "Let's start with straight and level flight." Do a two-button reset of your camera to restore default modes, set exposure compensation to 0, then go out and waste some pixels. Shoot all sorts of things, Using "P" mode (Pro, panic, or Program) Take time to review your latest photo, asking yourself "If I do this, will it be better?", then take another photo to compare when yu get home.
Use the other modes, making sure you can tell which is which, then review what you have done, and select what you like. Change what you dislike, writing down what it is, or you will forget. Take some more pixes. Shoot, evaluate, adjust, repeat, and soon, you will be ready for the elusive and challenging Magnolia Stellata (Did I spell that right?) Whenever it decides to appear.
#8. "RE: Help on exposure - macro of flower" In response to Reply # 7
Thanks Carl - I am finding the site just that - a great help
As I say in my profile I am now taking photography seriously - having dabbled on and off for many years - I think I know the principles, but as you say I possibly try too hard to think of everything and over play the tech side - also may know but not yet understand many aspects. Yes I am breaking in my new camera - but it is a dream to use allowing me to try all those things previous cameras have restricted.
I am about to go off for a week to the English Lakes with my camera and am determined to find just one good photo to post on this great site.