I noticed this guy taking a break in the shade next to our steps in our flower garden yesterday, so I ran back and got my camera. I was even able to sit on my steps to capture this little guy.

What technical feedback would you like if any?

Does background seem okay. I toned it down in brightness, etc. Does the DF stand out enough from the BG?

What artistic feedback would you like if any?

I know I cropped the wing tips slightly, but I wanted to keep in in close, but have his full body (except all of his wings in this case). Does the composition work okay?

Pertinent technical details or techniques:

Shot handheld with Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 100 mm L lens with KX-800 twin flash and a softbox diffuser. Settings manual, f16, 1/125, ISO 160.

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Shirley, I’ll give you my opinion on your questions. I think it made sense to tone down the luminosity of the background, because the DF is mostly dark brown, and dark subjects against bright backgrounds usually don’t work well, so you avoided that problem here. Most of the DF is sharp, other than wing extremities, so that works, and the background is soft enough that you got decent separation.

IMO what is working less well withe the background is the shapes of the leaves coming through too much despite them being OOF. These shapes compete with the DF for attention. Wider apertures are not going to solve this issue, you’ll lose sharpness on the DF. This is a case where I would have tried to find a DF where the background is 5 or 6 feet from the subject. As you increase background to subject distance you lose DOF in the background while retaining DOF on the subject. This usually produces a nice pleasingly OOF wash of green color with no shapes apparent in the background.

Composition basically works for me, with the 45 degree tilt of the DF. The clipped wings are a minor distraction for me, I think in this case I would recommend cropping in even tighter, clipping more of both wings, making the more severe crop appear intentional. As presented, the wing clips look accidental.

Thank you, Ed. I appreciate all of the good input you provided. Yes, he was down low to the grown on this one, so the background was inches from him. I think in NIK software I can make that look a bit softer. I will try that crop you mentioned too. Again, thanks. I do appreciate your time and good advice.

Shirley: I thought I had posted a comment on this but it’s not showing up :thinking:. Looking at Ed’s comments I think I agree pretty much 100%. The clipped wing caught my eye immediately. The focus and DOF on the body is so good that I think a tighter crop would work very nicely. >=))>

Shirley, I think this is a really good look at this immature Blue Dasher. The details in it’s eyes and body show very well and I think you’ve positioned it well in the frame, with it’s body along the diagonal. That position emphasizes the body, so that the clipped (and oof) wing tips are insignificant. To get the amount of detail in the body requires you to use a small aperture, which means a structured background. That’s a photographer’s choice in terms of what you want to show. Burning in the background lets the DF stand out well. Getting close like this is always a great experience.

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