Oliver Morton  

Cyclamen by Oliver Morton

April 2018 - Cyclamen

April 2018 - Oliver Morton


About the Image(s)

I liked the curves and "interplay" of the pedals of this blossom and wanted to capture their beauty. I decided that a black background would allow the shape and color to stand out nicely. I also wanted the pedals to all be in focus. Thus, I spray painted the inside of a cardboard box with matte black paint and set up my tripod for focus stacking. The helicon remote/focus software made it easy to take 14 shots and merge them into a large (86 MB), single image.

I opened the picture in Camera Raw and made several adjustments to the exposure, clarity, etc. I felt that the colors were somewhat overwhelming so, in Photoshop, I used Color Efex Pro 4 of the NIK collection and applied the Paper Toner filter. Since I didn't want to remove all the color, the negative control point allowed me to restore a bit of pink to selected parts of the image. Finally, since the edges of the photograph were completely black, I added a border using one of the darker colors of the flower. I decided to leave just a few leaves in the bottom left of the picture (not in sharp focus) to provide context.

This round’s discussion is now closed!
10 comments posted

Barbara E Miller   Barbara E Miller
This is lovely Oliver. I don't know much about stacking Why did you take 14 images , why not 10 or 20? How did you know when to stop? Can you give me a site for an insight into this?
The border sets off the image beautifully   Posted: 04/08/2018 09:23:12

Oliver Morton   Oliver Morton
Barbara, in determining the number of images to use for focus stacking, I cheat. (Smiles)

I use some software called Helicon Remote and Helicon Focus. The software runs on my laptop which is connected to my camera using a USB connection. Helicon Remote then shows a live view of my image on my laptop and it also controls the camera.

First, I use the software to focus on the closest point that I want to be in focus and I mark that as Point A. Then I have the software make the camera focus on the farthest point and I mark that as Point B. Helicon Remote then calculates the number of images needed based on both the aperature and the range that needs to be in focus. Next, I click on "Shoot" and Helicon Remote does its magic by making the needed shoots and refocusing my camera between each one.

After all the images are taken, I click on Helicon Focus which does a beautiful job of stacking the images and sending the result to Photoshop.

It's amazing software!

  Posted: 04/08/2018 10:15:19

Stephen Levitas   Stephen Levitas
(Group 32)
Hi Oliver, this is lovely. How about describing your lighting setup? Also what focal length lens and how far from the flower?   Posted: 04/12/2018 22:41:00
Oliver Morton   Oliver Morton
Thank you, Stephen. The lighting was strictly overhead led shop lights with a white reflector off to the side next to the flower. I was using the Canon 100mm f/2.8L macro lens at about 2.5 feet from the flower. I exposed for a total of 2.5 seconds at f/20, but remember that the 2.5 seconds was the sum of 14 different images.

One thing that really helps my macro photography is my DIY dark-box. Basically, I opened a fairly large cardboard box and gave it a stable "floor" with a sturdy piece of cardboard. (I chose a large box since I wanted room for reflectors, etc.) Then, with the box and "floor" duct-taped securely, I spray painted it with a matte paint that happened to be on sale at Home Depot.

  Posted: 04/13/2018 09:41:23

Richard Siersma   Richard Siersma
Outstanding image Oliver. Thank you all the information that you have provided on how this was done. I watched the video on Helicon Remote software; looks like something I could use.   Posted: 04/15/2018 17:13:07
Oliver Morton   Oliver Morton
Thank you, Richard. I'm still experimenting with the Helicon software (both Remote and Focus). So, if you buy/use it, I'd love to hear about your experiences.   Posted: 04/16/2018 08:39:14

Nick Muskovac   Nick Muskovac
The black background does a lot for this image. Addition of a frame is very nice. I may not have removed quite as much color from the image.   Posted: 04/19/2018 13:09:19
Oliver Morton   Oliver Morton
Nick, I debated about the amount of color to remove. In the original, which is how the flower actually looked, it seemed too much.... almost artificial.
  Posted: 04/21/2018 21:21:10

John Yurchak   John Yurchak
The black B/G helps bring all the detail of the flower out in this photo, as well as what you did in post processing of the photo. flower stand out very well.   Posted: 04/21/2018 16:06:04
Oliver Morton   Oliver Morton
Thank you, John. I really like a black BG for this kind of image. It's also very easy to do which is nice!   Posted: 04/21/2018 21:19:31