Earthly angels (+1 re-work)

Additional brush work to lower bg exposure and to highlight the light coming through the mushrooms -

Another look at some Angel’s wing mushrooms on a log in the Headwaters Wilderness. The sun was coming in through a bit of the canopy and just lit them perfectly. I had to work fairly quickly and the tripod set-up was really awkward due to there being more branches and plants to maneuver around and hold out of the way. But this little cluster was just too beautiful. And yes, the light is 100% natural.

Specific Feedback Requested

The crop is a little tight, but there were other clusters to either side that would have been big distractions if I went wider and I didn’t want to cut them down. So other than that any thoughts or ideas for improvement are welcome.

Technical Details

Is this a composite: No
Tripod with the CPL turned a little to cut glare, but allow highlights.
This is a 19-image stack using the 0/+ bracketing method at +4 step.


Lr processed for white balance and a little crop plus the usual adjustments to texture, clarity & sharpening. Also did some brush work here and there to enhance the light coming through the mushrooms. Zerene for stacking & DMap output with retouching to smooth the somewhat blotchy background that is the product of a depth-map image. Brought it into Photoshop for some burning here and there and to use Content-aware Fill to change up a bright bit in the background.

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Again, a beautiful image. In fact, I prefer this to the other. The backlight is more … I don’t have the right word, but it becomes a part of the whole rather than a highlight.

The less intense color is calming.

The exposure might be pulled down giving a stronger feeling that the subject is highlighted with a small beam of light sneaking into an otherwise shadowy milieu.

Anyway, it is lovely.

Thanks @paul_g_wiegman - I think I like this one better, too, but the light wasn’t there at first so I shot the singleton then moved to these when the earth had turned a little bit.

I thought about increasing the contrast between the mushrooms and the background, but thought that worked against the softness in the image which was my primary goal. I deliberately left the farther bits of the group OOF, using the stacking process to highlight only the forward areas. These are ethereal mushrooms and their shapes quite free-form and so I chose a softer approach. I could play with it though.

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Kris; How about an elliptical vignette to tone down the surroundings and highlight the sunlit portions? Just a suggestion.

On another subject; Thanks for the explanation of your stacking and the high number of images. I understand how more images provides more control. I look at the software and might give it a “Free Trial” try.

When I stack I still use Photoshop and have been pleased with the results. Here’s a 3 image stack.

I was careful on my focus points so the background remained a blur even though it was close. I used the stop-down button on the camera to be able to see the impact of the f-stop I was using, and adjusted the focus point so the back edge of the petal was sharp.

Again, not being critical, just curious.

In the end, the earth will continue to turn, even if we follow our own ways of approaching a subject. And if stopped turning you would still be sitting out there beside the fungus. :+1:

Thanks @paul_g_wiegman - I put a second image up for comparison.

No prob on the focus stacking thing - we all have our ways of using the same tools, or even different tools to achieve a similar end. If I recall correctly, I use the free version of Zerene and it does everything I need it to for now. I don’t manually select focus points all that often, instead relying on focus bracketing, but not all cameras do it so there’s that. I do use the preview or stop down button quite a bit when stacking so I know how the background will look. I have it as a quick function button on my screen which I always use for this kind of work instead of the viewfinder.

And yeah, the earth will continue to spin. The fungui will endure.

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Don’t know how I missed this before – the light is as gorgeous as the subject! A perfect subject for stacking and I love that you left the farther areas soft. I think I’d be trying to get right into the mushroom itself for a macro on those gills!

@paul_g_wiegman, you’ll find Zerene is a big improvement over PS for areas where the is major overlap of different depths. Zerene will void the fuzzy halo that PS gives.


Thanks, Diane and Kris. I’ll give Zerene a try.

I’ll have to continue to manually pick focus points, the 105mm Zeiss is manual.

Kris, you said you use the free version. I got the impression that it was free for a month, then you have to get a license. Have you used the software for more than a month?

Thanks @Diane_Miller - I thought about going in closer, but in the end I left it like this. One of these days I’ll do some real macro work with large mushrooms. As it is now I just get the really tiny ones with true macro…or close to it. Lately I tried doing some focus stacking with slime molds and jelly fungus, but didn’t like the results much. I missed an area of focus the times I tried and threw off the whole thing. Bah.

I have had Zerene for years, so maybe I did pay for a license at one point. Can’t honestly recall. Brain like a sieve.

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