Ground Level

Critique Style Requested: In-depth

The photographer has shared comprehensive information about their intent and creative vision for this image. Please examine the details and offer feedback on how they can most effectively realize their vision.

Self Critique

I love the refracted images of the background flower in the water drops. Part of me wants to see more of the flower, part wants to zoom in even closer!

Creative direction

We got some rain overnight. I knew when I heard the rain where I’d be in the morning! My goal was to find a Glacier Lily with water drops showing flowers in the drops. It didn’t take long to find my spot! It took a minute to get the flowers to shore properly in the drops. It’s upside down and backwards which is confusing when moving the camera around, which is already upside down under the tripod!

Specific Feedback

Is it weird to see just a segment of one petal? It’s the actual background flower too vague?

Technical Details

Nikon D850
Sigma 105mm macro
ISO 400, f/5, 1/250
39 images stacked in Helicon Focus
It’s cropped about 50% to isolate the drops


Ground Level

Went I went to bed last night, the skies to the west were layers upon layers of ominous dark clouds. By ominous, I mean promising, because rain at night means flowers covered with waterdrops in the morning! I immediately hatched a plan to capture some magic in the morning. I jumped out of bed this morning, made a quick protein shake and drove up to a place where I knew there to be easy access to Glacier Lilies. I needed to find a good droplet with a lily or two behind it to get a flower in a water drop. It didn’t take me too long to find a good set up. Keep in mind, the biggest water drop in this photo is less than 1/8th of an inch in diameter! The smallest ones are about the size of a single dot of ink if you touched pen to paper. Glacier Lilies themselves are about 1-1/2 inches in diameter, so what you are seeing here is about 1/2 of an inch of a single petal. There is a wild garden of flowers in each water drop! This is why I love macro photography so much! So much detail that is hidden from eye-level view. You’ve got to get your eyes right down on the ground to see this tiny forest world.

1 Like

I love this image! It really jumped out to me because it is unusual and fascinating. I love the simplicity of the overall image and the incredible detail of the subject. I can’t even imagine how you achieved the precision you did on something this tiny. I keep wanting to look and look at all the detail.
A truly amazing photo.

Hi Paul,
what a great macro shot. I love the colors and the nice details.
The way you aligned the main flower with the blurred flower in the background is great.

In my opinion, it isn’t weird. At first glance, the picture is somehow abstract. There are these nice overlapping yellow shapes. And then you notice the water drops that reflect the complete flowers.

May I ask how you created your 39 frames for the focus stack? Did you refocus manually for each shot?

I really enjoyed reading about your enthusiasm, it is inspiring! :slight_smile:

The lily petal is nicely placed in the frame and the waterdrops with the refracted lily images are excellent!

I can see where having the camera upside down while trying to align the refracted lily to the center of the waterdrop would be disorienting. Although, with my camera, even if the camera is upside down the image is still displayed right side up. Does your Nikon display the image upside down when the camera is upside down? Just curious.

I like the BG colors and highlights, too!
Very, very nicely done and worth the effort! :slight_smile:

One petal is pretty dramatic in that it’s a little unexpected and there is very little context. I think that part works, but the background is a bit weird for the singularity of the petal and the water drops. It can be tough to position for a more uniform background, but that would have worked better here IMO. Some photographers make and print background cards to use in this situation and I’ve given some though to making some myself.

The stack looks excellent as do all of the reflections/refractions in the water droplets. I think I’ve only done that kind of thing once and it was over a decade ago so it’s nice to see folks continuing with it. All your hard work is paying off.

Such a great shot, Paul. The details in the water drops are amazing. I like that all we see in the overall image is the one petal, but when looking at the droplet we see the whole flower that is in the BG. Very creative! I haven’t tried stacking for water drops. It certainly gives you the details I have wished for when capturing refractions in water drops. This may push me into trying stacking. An excellent shot!

Thank you! I have discovered that you pretty much have to stack for water drops because the subject in the drop isn’t in the same focus plane as the drop itself! I suppose if you used a big zoom lens you might get everything in focus.

1 Like

Beautiful image, Paul. I’m kind of with Kris about the background not working terribly well, though i think you can fix that in post processing easily enough (or sake some more shots for your stack at much longer focal distances to get one of the blooms in focus in the background-lots of options). I don’t think a background card would work because it would show up in the drops. I hang by camera from the center post for shots like this as well, but I’m lucky enough to have a 180 mm macro with a tripod collar, so I can just rotate the camera back to right side up.