Gazing down (now with re-edit)

With some bright yellow bits toned down a bit -

Critique Style Requested: Standard

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


Starflowers are so lovely and photogenic, but since they bloom with the start of bug season, I usually don’t try to work with them. Today I noticed the ones on the edge of the woods and the lawn so decided to head out with the flash to see if I could try something new with my wildflower photos.

This is with off-camera flash that I just held at slightly different angles looking to keep the flower bright, the leaves less so, and the ground dark. I think it worked although you do have to pick your focal area and hope to some extent. It was a little breezy so waiting on that was a pain, but I used the back screen to trigger the shutter and it is pretty immediate. I’m going to do more of this since I had fun despite the mosquitoes.

Specific Feedback

It isn’t perfect, I know, but I think the arrangement works. I might try a smaller aperture next time and use some blur tools to enhance the effect I want since stacking isn’t in the cards with this set up. At least not with any breeze! Any flash tips are welcome since I’m a noob.

Technical Details

Tripod for camera, flash in my hand off to the side in manual mode, silicone diffuser


Lr for basic work including a denoise action and then into Ps for a bit of distraction removal and an experiment with Color Clone - I’ve never been able to get it to work well for me, but changing the layer type made a difference with this one. Also blurred a leaf that was too crisply focused.

Kris, you really make it hard to critique a photo when you post beautiful compositions and images such as this. There is not much one can say other than the obvious. I love the crop and how you placed the flower closer to the URC. The flash you used seems to have been at the right place. If there were any distracting shadows, you handled those in development. I think there was an advantage in having the flash off-camera. The flower is crispy as it can be and appears to be floating against the soft bg.

Yes, it does. I don’t have any flash tips to offer. However, since I don’t see much that I can say that would improve the image, I will nitpick on “perfection.” I am a sucker for symmetry. Your image has a lot of that. Starting with the nodule in the URC and those leaves coming down. I would have loved to see the third leaf in its completeness, including its point at the end. However, having photographed flowers in the wild, I know that perfect symmetry is not always possible. Or would it be in this case?

Again I’m nitpicking here. I would like to offer a suggestion to decrease the highlights in two bright spots. The first is right on the edge of the leaf above one of the petals. The other – you probably guessed it already – is the center line on the cut leaf on the right. I’d try to decrease the luminosity there as long as it would not make it weird. What I’m envisioning is the same uniformity you achieved in the middle leaf in terms of green tones.

Anyway, the sharpness you achieved without stacking is remarkable. The color contrast is also top-notch.

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Nice job Kris! I love these tiny delicate forest floor flowers, but they aren’t exactly easy to capture well. The supporting stem is so long and delicate, even normal breathing can cause them to move. My flash bit the dust some time ago but I’m going to get one and try a setup like you describe to see if I can do as well as you did. Egidio did a nice job on his critique and I don’t have anything to add, other than Nice Job!

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Thanks @Egídio_Leitão for your kind words and helpful suggestions. As perfect as we think something might be, another pair of eyes will see it differently and I think making those yellower bits more subdued helped. I may give shooting them another go since this isn’t a crop except in camera and the whole leaf isn’t visible on any frame. I was not concerned about it, but some variation might be nice, especially if I can get one that has two flowers.

Thanks @Steve_Kennedy - yeah, these move around in the least bit of air, so going with the flash helps to freeze them. I’ve had the flash for a while, although it is new for me, and I really need to use it more so I can be comfortable and start to try new things.

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Very nice job, Kris. Since you’re stopping the motion of the flower with flash for the most part, I think stopping down a bit more to get the petals fully in focus but leaving the leaves soft would be a really cool way to go though it might take some experimentation to get it just the way you want.

Re mosquitoes: One reason I’m glad I don’t live in Michigan any more!

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I love this! The composition is to my liking for sure! I love the background blur. It’s tough to achieve perfection out in the field, so I say well done!

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Thanks @Dennis_Plank & @Paul_Holdorf - I will keep experimenting with the flash and aperture to get a bit more DOF - the stamen are pretty blurry as well as some of the petals. Maybe not today…going paddling!

Kris, I wholeheartedly agree with you. I love the subtle edit you uploaded. To my eyes, the flower now has no competition with the yellower tones you tamed. The flower stands out beautifully.

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I’m a bit late to the discussion so not much I can add, but I like this image. The re-edit works really well and I like how the shape of the petals echo in the leaves (not that common in flowers really come to think of it). Really nice shot.

Thanks @Ingemar_Holmkvist - chime in anytime. I hadn’t picked up on the similar shapes in the whole plant, but now you mention it I’ll never forget. If I have a presence of mind to do it, I’ll try for a few more photos tomorrow. They’re blooming all over the yard.