Sand Verbena

Critique Style Requested: Standard

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


The Mojave desert displayed a spectacular bloom this year! One of the best I have seen in recent years due to the large amount of rain last summer and the winter. I explored Death Valley National Park one morning and came across a very good display of sand verbena. I have always loved their purple flowers, and they fact that they grow out of the sand is amazing and shows how life has adapted to one of the most arid climates on Earth.

Specific Feedback

I do not do much macro photography, but have been bit by the macro bug the past few weeks, motivated by the abundance of wildflowers. All critiques and criticism welcome.

Technical Details

The first image is a focus stack of 5 images. Canon R5, 100mm f/2.8L macro, 1/250s, f/2.8.
The second image is a single image. Canon R5, RF 15-35mm f/2.8L, 1/100s, f/7.1, 35mm.
The third image is a single image. Canon R5, RF 15-35mm f/2.8L, 1/500s, f/2.8, 24mm.

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1 Like

Nicely done! They’re beautiful flowers and you captured them well.

My only qualm about any of them relates to the third one. The sky in the upper right keeps distracting me. You might want to consider either lowering the highlights or cropping it out.

@Don_Peters, yes the upper right is distract…and I already lowered the highlights! I do not want to crop too tightly, so I may revisit the highlights next time I do some editing. Thanks!

The first image really stands out - a great example of stacking not having to be extra sharp, but tailing off into “creamy bokeh”. Did you clip the ends of the lower petals to fit the aspect ratio? It’s not really a problem to my eye, as I’m drawn above all to that curve on the right. I might consider cropping off some of the empty left side and adding colorful canvas to the right. But that’s personal choice. Amazing to find this in the desert!

@Mike_Friel, having a bit of image remaining out of focus was the look a envisioned prior to making the image. I figured it would help the eye be drawn to a few sharp petals and not be overloaded.
Yes I did crop part of the petals out since they fell out of focus anyways. Thank you for the suggestions on the crop.

@Mike_Friel, I revisited the crop. Are either of these what you had in mind? I cannot go anymore above the flower since that is the top of the image, but have plenty of room on left/right/bottom.

@Don_Peters, I played around with darkening the upper right, but it looked unnatural with how much I needed to decrease the highlights. I tried to crop it out. I prefer the original, but open to suggestions?

Kyle, I cropped it a little bit more and then used content-aware fill to even out the tones at the top. You could do a better job than I did but this will convey the idea.

1 Like

Kyle, I definitely prefer the square crop including all of that lower flower and cutting out the space on the left. Your second revision doesn’t work for me as is, because of that reddish blob which you’d avoided in your original. So it’s the square crop for me, but see what others think.

@Don_Peters, I like it and will do the same, thanks!

@Mike_Friel, I also like the square crop. I do not know what I was thinking cropping off the petals in the original. It is a good reminder to step away from the work for a bit and have someone review with fresh eyes as if they are proofreading a paper your wrote. Thanks!