Hydrangea paniculata

One of my favourite plants, large, in a pot, with these blooms flopping all around.

Specific Feedback Requested

I’m a late-comer to photography and have cut my teeth on digital SLRs and autofocus. I’ve found that for wildlife, especially birds, autofocus is of course invaluable. But I’m also beginning to feel that it can be constraining too. I nearly always go for the creature’s eye, and indeed for the sharpest picture overall. So, to break free from this “straitjacket”, I recently bought a used Pentax K5 and a 40-year-old Manual Focus Pentax-M 50mm f1.7mm lens, because I want to learn how to take more “creative”, less naturalistic shots too (inspired by many here). I loved this lens from the get-go. At the moment I’m getting used to Av mode and will try M mode later. So any advice on what I’ve done right or wrong in this shot would be great. Don’t hold back.

Technical Details

Pentax K-5 + SMC Pentax-M 50mm f1.7 (Av mode) 1/8000 F1.7 ISO 100

Denoise didn’t seem necessary. Slight Curves and Sharpen in PS. That was it (thank you lens).


H Mike. That’s a very pretty subject. Nice you are branching out and trying some new techniques. I wonder if you could crop off the stem and really bring forward the flower itself that is definitely where the interest lies. I like that the focus on the flower is soft it makes it nice and dreamy.

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Good for you Mike, to give this a try! I do like the very soft feel you’ve captured. My only thought/suggestion, which depends on your intentions, would be to experiment with selected focusing on one specific area of the flower. . . .then allowing the rest of the image to be soft. This, IMHO, would allow the view a clearer focal point of interest. Just a thought.

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Thanks @linda_mellor and @Cameron_Wilcox for your advice. I like that the words “soft” and “dreamy” were mentioned by you, as that was my main motive here. I have taken your comments on board: the cropping would improve the shot, I think; and the more specific focus would also add to this. So thank you both.

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You did get a retro-rig to a certain degree and I like the idea. Having shot film for 20+ years, I am used to the tactile connection that you can have with a camera and lens and how distancing modern cameras can be by comparison. I feel that with my mirrorless I’m even more at a remove from my subject. I may just join you on this journey and dig out my old DSLR (a measly 12.3 megapixels) and see if it will work with old lenses. I ditched it in 2013 when the lens wasn’t being stopped down anymore, but maybe it can still work with manual lenses.

Can you talk about any differences you’re experiencing with this set up versus your fully automatic one?

Certainly! Please hop over to my more recent posting “Angel of the Morning” for my answer.