Cone Flower 2

There is something that has always attracted me to the coneflower. I am pretty sure that it has a little bit to do with the symmetry of this particular flower. I just took up photography during the Pandemic as a distraction from the chaos. I have always loved taking pictures but never did anything with them.
I have been in the restaurant industry for most of my life so there was never time in my fast-paced world. Covid changed everything. I have quite a bit of encouragement from family and friends who tell me that photography is my calling. That I have an eye for it. I would like a few unbiased opinions on my photos.
Thank you.

Specific Feedback Requested

I will take any suggestions, critiques, or comments regarding this photo.

Technical Details

Is this a composite: No


Hi Kelly and welcome to NPN. Your first image is an eye-catching one. I like the placement of the flowers and how tight you’ve cropped either in post or in camera. The thing is that they’re not quite sharp for reasons I don’t understand. If you could share your camera settings and anything you’ve done in post-processing that might help. The edges of the leaves have something odd going on - maybe you over-sharpened? And the saturation is a bit off the charts in my opinion, but everyone’s eyes are different as are monitors. Is yours calibrated? That can also help to not overdo saturation or vibrance.

Shooting flowers & nature is such a soothing pastime and I’m glad it’s helped with the whole COVID situation. Please share more and don’t hold back commenting and evaluating other’s pictures in this category or anywhere else in the Critique section. The back and forth, sharing ideas and opinions is what makes NPN special and valuable. You can learn as much taking apart another image as you can having it done on yours. I hope to see more from you.


Welcome, Kelly! You’ve found a wonderful place to learn and grow your art! I second @Kris_Smith’s comments. Are you shooting JPEGs?

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Welcome, Kelly! You’ve come to the right place and judging from this first post you will be adding to the conversation.

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Hi, Kelly. Welcome to NPN. I, too like coneflowers. I’m not much of a “flower guy”, necessarily but I plant flowers to attract wildlife, and it’s difficult to find a better flower for wildlife than coneflowers. This is a nice first post, colorful and eye-catching. I agree with the comments above. Knowing more of the techs would help folks offer suggestions. Looking forward to more submissions from you.


Kelly: Welcome to NPN in general and to the flora gallery particularly. Wonderful subjects and a fine comp. Don’t have much to add to what Kristen shared except one more posting detail. Please resize your images to 1500-1750 pixels on the long side of the frame. Posting full size images makes it hard to see the entire image on the screen, taxes the server a bit and makes your image a more inviting target for image thieves. Once you get through all the minutiae of the posting guidelines I think you will find this a great place to learn. Posting your camera settings does help with critique. Feel free to post in the showcase as well but if you want critique and a better learning environment this is the spot for you. Welcome aboard and looking forward to more of your work.>=))>

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I am. I have yet to learn anything about raw images. I am self taught so I am still learning. Do you have any links or websites that would help me in that area?
Thank you.

I wish I could recommend a few of the thousands of online tutorials – some of which do more harm than good. I’ll try to come up with a few basic ones. In the meantime, what camera are you using? That helps a little.

Welcome to NPN, Kelly! This is a great place to grow as a photographer through interaction with the other members. I really like your composition, it is a stunning way to present these flowers. Regarding the technical part, I agree with the comments already given.

It’s a hand me down Nikon D5200. I’ve been forced to use my 70x300mm lens because the auto focus went out on my other lens. I need to get the camera and lens fixed but I just afford it right now.

That’s a very decent camera for a beginner. What is the other lens? Can you use it with manual focus? There may be no hurry about having anything repaired and it may not be worth the cost if you can get by for now.

You can set the camera to shoot raw + JPEG and save the raws for when you learn to process them.

What software are you using for reviewing, processing and posting? Do you have a usable computer?

The other lens is a Nikor 55x200. My eyes, unfortunately, get strained when using manual focus.
A friend of mine gave me the camera for Christmas a year or two ago when my ex decided to keep my Canon Rebel T6I that he had given me as a Christmas gift before that. My friend, who gave me the Nokon, has a daughter that is a professional photographer and it was her first camera. I just wish I could afford to get the repairs and equipment that I would love to have.

I use Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. Sometimes Snapseed. Is there something else that you would recommend for more vibrant and dramatic photos?

You’re off to a great start with equipment and software, and have access to a pro who knows them – and lots of help here on NPN.

What versions of LR and PS?

The best way to get dramatic and vibrant images is with the tools you have. Lighting is key and soft, diffused light is almost always better than full sun with its harsh shadows. A big factor is your monitor, too, but halfway recent ones are generally good.

Shoot in JPEG + raw and process the raws in LR – use the Develop module, not the quick develop thing in the Library module. You should be importing in such a way that the JPEGs will be visible in the filmstrip next to the raws so you can see the improvements you can make. The most important things are in the Basic panel – balance the Exposure, Highlights and Shadows sliders, then tweak Blacks and Whites as needed. Only after that do any Saturation or Vibrance adjustments.

Many Auto adjustments will trash an image.

The histogram is your best friend – it will tell the truth about blacks and whites, which you rarely want to be up against the walls.

The best way to deal with noise is in PS with Topaz Denoise – if you have it, don’t try noise or sharpening adjustments in LR first. Noise can be dealt with very nicely. “Sharpening” is only done by artifacts and can only be improved at the level of very small detail. A larger-scale pseudo-sharpening can be done with the High-Pass method or several similar things in some of the PS plugins for Nik, Topaz and others.

Learn to use layers and masks in PS.

If you’re not doing it, make an export preset in LR for posting here.

There are 2 basic tutorials for LR on my web site – they’re old but still relevant.