Excellent image. I think the composition is strong - which sometimes is quite difficult when you have a vertical element like the saguaro - in a horizontal format. But this works well, including that interesting line of clouds and blue sky up top. It all works together nicely, with of course the beautiful poppies. And like a previous image, the scene and format reminds me of my 4x5 days…
I would encourage you to comment if you can on other member images. Might not be intuitive, but comment on others is a great way to expand and grow your own photography.
I can see why you wanted get a shot of this. All that color is really arresting. That and all the shapes, too. Overall I like the composition and where you’ve placed the major elements like the saguaros and the mix of flowers. I might have stepped a couple of paces right to see if I could reduce or eliminate the bush on that edge. Using my hand to crop that and the purple flower below makes for a stronger composition to me.
You say this is a stack so I’m puzzled why the cactuses aren’t sharp. You were using a tripod so that’s the right way to start for sure. Can you talk about your method for getting focus points in the field and how you do your blending? I do a lot of stacking although most of it is for macro, but I might be able to help.
Lastly, you’ve asked for ways to improve the photo generally and that’s ok, but I’m curious about the Conceptual and Emotional critique you’re looking for. Whenever I ask for those I will give my ideas and intent for these aspects of my photo and then ask for others to either agree or chime in with something they get that I hadn’t intended. Does that make sense?
Anyway…I’m kind of dying to hit the desert again. My husband is in Phoenix right now and I’m jealous.
Hi Charlie, thank you so much for the response and understanding. It’s uncomfortable trying to communicate this because there is so much that is unknown… and so I’m glad you didn’t take offense - at least I don’t think you did.
Your response is very common and is completely understandable. Maybe perhaps our concept of “critique” seems almost intimidating, but it’s not really. If you simply interchange the term “critique” with the word “opinion” it might help getting over that initial hesitation. But you no doubt have an opinion of what you like. You don’t need to offer any technical critique or suggestions, but merely express what you like about an image. And if you think “they sky is oversaturated for my taste,” then you can say that - it’s not mean or anything - it’s just stating what your preferences are. Or you don’t have to say anything about the sky either (example)…
Anyway, we’ve all been there and everyone understands why folks think they may not be “qualified.” But we’re here to tell you, that everyone is qualified to like or dislike an image; know whether or not an image impacts you - or not.
And you’ve already learned that Lon takes three paragraphs to say, what could have been said, “Jump in, the water’s find.”
I pretty much checked all 4 boxes to get what ever anyone was thinking. I guess I need to be more specific. My camera does the automatic stacking. I start at the closest focus point and let the camera do the rest. I set it at f/8, 5 photos and am about 6 as a middle increment. The problem with Canon is that there is no guide as to what the increment is and how many photos to complete the whole sequence. Some advise unlimited numbers and the camera will stop when it has completed enough to get everything in focus. I am just experimenting and sometimes it works perfectly. Most times it seems to better than a single shot at f/16. If I lower the increment so they are closer together, I will have to add more photos. Not sure what my limit will be not sure when to stack and when not to. Another big learning curve. Mostly, I photograph birds and wild life, so landscape is new to me. I use Photo shop to auto align and then auto blend. the back to LR.
Thanks very much for your input.
Also, I have room to crop. Is it the bush on the right side that is a nuisance? I did keep the Lupine in the foreground to sort of show the variety. I see your point though.
Hey thanks for coming back to this Charlie. When you say the camera does automatic stacking, do you mean you created the image in camera? Or did you mean auto focus bracketing? The reason is that you say you’re using Ps to blend them. Experimenting is really key for some of this as you say. but maybe someone else with that camera can chime in on the focus bracketing function so we can understand it better.
For me, I only focus stack for landscapes when I have something in the extreme foreground that I know I want crisp and to carry that crispness through to the back. Most of the time this only takes a handful of shots - sometimes only two. Since I’m old and used a lot of manual gear back in the day, I have hyperfocal distance instincts kind of always running and it helps. Also knowing your lens and its behavior, but that can take some time. My thought in this case would be to manually choose the focus points yourself - the flowers, the cactuses and maybe the far distance, although having that too sharp would just look weird since that’s not how our eyes work.
Anyway…keep 'em coming. The flowers and scenery are refreshing to my winter eyeballs.
Hi Charlie, this is a great composition, Nicely seen.
Thought I’d chime in here on Focus Stacking. Unless you’re using an older version of Lightroom, you should be able to do your focus stacking right in Lightroom and not have to export out to Photoshop. This should allow you to remain in RAW mode…
Here’s an article from Adobe that might help: How to focus stack in Lightroom.
I use Fujifilm cameras and have a similar problem with how to set them up. When I realized that the camera would stop taking shots when it reaches infinity, I set my number of photos high, about 40. I have the step set to about 5 or so…Then set the close focus and fire away. Sometimes it will go the entire 40 images, but most often, it stops well before. This way, I know I have everything from close focus to infinity. This, I think, is very important for landscape. For macro shots, I do the same thing, but when I get into my processor (Capture One in my case), I delete the ones that are beyond my subject so that the areas beyond remain out of focus when I stack. It works quite nicely.
@Kris_Smith is well-versed in stacking too so, I am sure she’ll offer up some suggestions.
Focus Stacking is a really fun way to get some sharp images.
Thank you both for your advice. My camera does not stack and I do manually focus at the closest point. David says I can do it in Lightroom but, I have been unable to find any article that will tell me how. I contacted Adobe support and they tell me that it can only be done in PS. David, if you see this, please tell what steps you take to keep it in LR only. The article above refers to LR and PS. I do use the most current LR.