Geranium Rebirth

I find geraniums to be one of the hardiest of flowers. You can leave the potted plant in your garage over a cold winter, and it will come back and bloom in the spring when you put it back outside. I photographed this cluster of buds as they were starting to open up with a 60mm macro lens, taking several shots and then focus stacking them in Photoshop.

Specific Feedback Requested

My main concern with this image is the background. Specifically I am looking at the fact that there is some dark shading at the bottom of the frame and light at the top. Just wondering if that is too distracting and takes away too much from this image. And if so is there any good way to improve that.

Technical Details

Image Specs: f/11, 1/60 sec, ISO 400


Ted, I think this is really nice. Love the fine details and colors. The focus stack brought everything in sharp focus. The buds starting to open are unusual adding interest. With so much detail I think it would be impossible to select out the background and darken or replace the light area.

1 Like

Hi Ted,
For me, the first thing I noticed was the Geranium and all it has to offer.
I didn’t notice the BG until I read your concern about it, the Geranium takes up enough of the frame to keep the BG in the BG.
As Richard mentioned, there are way too many details to be able to make proper adjustments to the BG in post.
It is possible to remove the hairs and fuzz, replaced or adjust the BG, then replace the hair and fuzz but it would take hours and a lot of patience.
With difficult subjects like this where the BG is not ideal, I typically use a BG card which is nothing more than a photo of heavily blurred elements and I have several with different colors, I just place the card behind the subject and take test shots until I’m happy with the results. Of course that only works with subjects that are small enough (unless you have really big BG cards :grin: ).
To me, there are two schools of thought in photography, one is documenting the scene or subject as it really is, or two, creating an image as art which usually means manipulating the scene in some way to achieve your artistic goal.

Personally, I really like this image as is.
It certainly qualifies as a flower in the process of Blooming. :+1:

All the best,


1 Like

Thanks for your feedback Merv. That makes a lot of sense to me.

I think this is stunning! The darker BG at the bottom really brings out the drama, but there is not a lot you can do with the top. I would try redoing the stack in Zerene or Helicon – PS failed in several areas where you see a blurry halo behind some of the hairs. The other stacking programs can handle that much better if you have good subs with small focus steps with enough DOF.

1 Like

Hi Ted. I think the line of the background lines up nicely with the flower itself and work well for the composition.

I don’t really mind the background since I don’t find it distracting. The blurry areas Photoshop missed (or that you missed) are though. You don’t say how you got the photos for the stack (focus bracketing or manual focus point selection) or how many you used for the stack, but Photoshop is not your friend for this kind of detail work. The subject has so many parts that are complex and the overall structure is so deep you’d need a lot of photos with a tight step setting to get this right. It’s a great subject for it, but a tricky one and a specialized stacker will definitely improve it. If you search stacking here on NPN you’ll find a few discussions and tutorials.