Tree Peony + Rework



Critique Style Requested: Standard

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


It was cloudy and still in the garden this morning- this was the most attractive of several blooms on one plant. The great scent added to the pleasant experience.

Specific Feedback

As this is a stack (18 images), I’d welcome any comments on sharpness or other stacking features. All other comments welcome too.

Technical Details

D500 + Helios 44-2 58mm f2 lens 1/400 f8(approx) ISO500 + Tripod

Zerene PMax: TIFF into PS direct, Denoise and minor adjustments to tonalities.

Hi, Mike. What a beautiful Tree Peony you have presented here. I love the tight crop and setting, especially the soft and uncluttered BG. You bring the subject to our attention very clearly without any distractions. The color contrast is very pleasing, too.

I can see how calm it must have been in your garden, as you pointed out. The focus stacking you used appears clear to my eyes. No ghosts or blemishes are noticeable at all. The flower is very sharp.

I’m curious about a couple of things. Perhaps you can elaborate a little on these two questions. Did you soften the texture on the petals a little or do they tend to be smooth? Did you use an external flash/light? One thing that strikes me is how well-lit the entire flower is with hardly any shadows being present.

This is a beautiful image. The crop you chose brings the image right to our eyes.

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Wonderful!! The stack looks great, and very appropriate to show off the flower. One minor touchup could be to clone over the BG petal in the LLC.

My only thought is that the framing feels tight, which brings an element of tension into what feels to me should be a more relaxed presentation. But that’s probably just some nervous disorder on my part. Gorgeous image in any case!

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Thanks @Egídio_Leitão for your kind comments. Ideally, I would have liked to show more of the petal texture - one day purchase of a camera with built-in stacking may allow this! As for the lighting, I didn’t use flash, just experimented with the settings till it looked about right. The overcast weather also helped in avoiding shadows. @Diane_Miller - you are too kind! I felt it was tight also, but other blooms or distracting bits were close at hand and I was too lazy to move them. Maybe it would look less tight without the frame? I’ve removed that LLC bloom. Many thanks for commenting.

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I have a note in my macro bag that says “PRUNING SHEARS!” But I have yet to bother getting them. Really should. Best way to clone.


Yes indeed! Clothes pegs are useful too - with hindsight.

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Oh yes – thanks – I used to have some of those in my bag too but somehow lost them. I suspect from pinning curtains closed in cheap motel rooms. Will replace them!

And on a second look I wonder if the whitest tones could be brought up a bit more, while still holding down the mid and lower ones. Did a quickie here with the Camera Raw filter. A TK luminosity mask would probably be better. Both more selective than just Exposure or Curves. The light is soft but our eyes or brains pull up contrast. Just an idea, and the before and after histograms.

Screen Shot 2023-04-14 at 7.57.44 PM

Screen Shot 2023-04-14 at 7.59.34 PM

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Yes - more zing definitely, Diane. I’ve posted a rework (only have TK v6). Thanks!

Wow, Mike! The rework really pops. I love those brighter whites.

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oh yes, the rework really shows contour, delicacy and punch. Nicely done. The detail in the middle is an effective counterpoint to the texture in the petals. The frame is a bit tight, but the flower is showcased to its fullest potential.

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