Another Soap Plant flower

Critique Style Requested: Standard

The photographer is looking for generalized feedback about the aesthetic and technical qualities of their image.


I might have looked more closely at the focus stacks I did Monday evening – I think this one is better – of a different bloom. There were only about 5-6 blooms, only three reachable on a steep slippery slope, with about the same number of buds that would have bloomed the next day, and this is the only plant I found that had survived the deer. I’ll try to do better next year.

Specific Feedback

All comments welcome!

Technical Details

Screen Shot 2023-07-22 at 2.41.32 PM

No adjustments in LR; focus stack of about 20 in Zerene. Into PS for minimal cleanup, more for slight movement during the exposures than for stacking problems. The BG is a hillside of brown grass. Soft lighting is after sunset.


Diane, I don’t think I have ever seen a Soap Plant before. This is a nice clean shot of it, and that BG really makes it stand out nicely.

Diane, I really like this image, the plant really stands out well from the background. This flower looks like it needs help from some Federal program as the plant itself look anemic…

Thanks, @Shirley_Freeman and @gDan52! They are only found in CA and OR. Attractive dark green curly-edged leaves (about 1" x 8") radiate from a center and hug the ground in spring, but they are largely eaten well back by summer. A tall very spindly bloom stalk grows with many side branches and tiny flowers bloom in succession up the stem, each one only for one night. The plant is not showy even in full bloom.

They bloom when the soil is unbelievably dry. I can’t imagine how they survive. I’ll pile up more dirt by this specimen and hope it will survive – it it badly eroded. They are apparently perennial.


Yup, this one is better than the last. Really super job at showcasing the fragility both in situation and in physicality. I hope you have success rescuing them.

I think that this is simple, delicate, elegant and beautiful! I like it a lot.

Thanks @Tom_Nevesely, and @_Kris and @Bill_Fach for the EP – I just noticed it! I’m already plotting to discover the spring crop before the deer do and put cages around some that are more accessible.

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Lovely image, Diane! I love the gesture of the flower and what looks like the expired flower on the right. And then there’s the new bud hiding behind the flower. Really sweet!

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Thanks, @Susanna_Euston – I’ve now found several other plants in more accessible areas, and now that I finally figured out that I have to shoot them just after sunset I might have some better chances next year. It’s frustrating because they really want focus stacking and they bloom just before sunset, when there is almost always some wind, and have folded up by morning, when it will often be calm.

I can sympathize! Have you tried gentle artificial lighting? A friend uses the Lume cube occasionally and likes it. I have a ring flash, and other lighting, which are eh…not as natural, etc.

I’m also unfamiliar with the plant. The composition is terrific. The uncluttered background lets the plant stand out. The arcs of the petals make the shot. I think it’s lovely.

A nitpick: Unless my eyes are deceiving me, the stem of the bud in the rear is almost but not quite vertical. I’d consider making it vertical. That’s just my neurosis. :slight_smile:

Thanks, @Don_Peters – a pleasure to meet a fellow neurotic! That would be an easy rotation – I"ll have a look when I finish the neurotic file organization I’m working on…

@Susanna_Euston, I have tried lights on a few occasions – usually a LED Low Level light, with a diffuser close to the flower to soften it. This plant is on a very steep slope of loose soil and supporting the whole mess would be difficult, but I could set up light stands for the new plants I’ve found. I need to make some sort of frame to hold the diffusion screen a foot or two in front of the LLL.

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I use an LED panel on a couple of articulating arms that I can either hold in my hand or attach to the hot shoe. In this case I could have the camera on a tripod and use the LED panel with a folding diffuser at the same time. Portable and not too time-consuming to set up.

Here it is on camera with only one arm - I got a second and they just attach to each other using 1/4" threaders. It’s a pretty small panel so the light source would be small for larger scenes, but you could get one twice the size and diffuse it to make it seem larger. If that makes sense.

That seems like a great solution to the steep slope issue!

Thanks, @_Kris – I need to look into that! My old Wimberley II gimbal head would take an arm to allow the flash to be held up away from the lens axis, which also allowed easy camera rotation independent of the flash, for lenses with a rotating collar. I literally wore it out and got a Gitzo fluid damped head, which is very smooth but I was horrified to discover there is only a very awkward way to attach any lighting accessory. Maybe I need to go for the new RRS model. (I would have gotten it in the first place but they were having redesign/manufacturing issues and it was out of stock for something like two years.)