Dick States  


Witchhazel by Dick States

November 2020 - Witchhazel

About the Image(s)


This is common Witchhazel a small tree/shrub growing in my landscape. It flowers in late Oct. into Nov. At the same time it also has nice fall color with yellow leaves. The flowers are a bit unusual, they remind me of small strips of crepe paper. The seeds develop inside the capsules shown and take a year to develop. In the image you can also see small flower buds yet to open in several days.
This is a 13 image stack taken with my 200mm macro lens with a polarizer. Shot at f-8,ISO 200, tripod, and cable release.


13 comments posted




Charissa Lansing   Charissa Lansing
Hi Dave,
This is such an elegant, interesting, and dynamic image for me showing the different stages of development of the witch hazel shrub. I think the composition is superb and it guides my eye to the soft lighting directed toward the bursting blooms. These do remind me of crepe paper. What I admire most about this is how so many details of form and texture are revealed and the light emphasizes an area of greatest interest. I wouldn't change a thing.   Posted: 11/05/2020 09:31:29



Tracy Szela   Tracy Szela
I like the way you handled the colors in this image. Can I ask why you focus stacked so many images? Was it to blur out the background and still get the whole plant in focus? Could you have just used a smaller aperture? Without zooming in, it looks like the image is in focus but a little soft. Lovely image overall though.   Posted: 11/07/2020 16:41:19
Dick States   Dick States
Good questions. First every lens is best usually two stops up from wide open so for my lens that's at f-8. Using a smaller aperture causes diffraction and increases with each stop you close down. Diffraction happens with every lens even with the best lens and I think I have a good lens. The DOF decreases as you get nearer to your subject which makes it very difficult or impossible to have your subject sharp from front to back. A good example would be a hibiscus flower, next to impossible to get sharp due to its size even at f-32.
About backgrounds. It is easier to have a great background with a stack due to the fact you have control where you stop the stack. I also might add, I see many close-ups where the photographer did everything right but destroyed the image because of the background. Its all about the background. Backgrounds make or break the image.
I shoot most of my close-ups subjects first as single shots at f-22 and f-32. I then also do a stack which I shoot at f-8. I look at both, then pick the finished image I like best. So I do both. I love doing stacks and I guess with the equipment I have to work with, they work for me. The other thing that's important, I never shoot a subject then crop to get a close-up, that's what many people are doing these days. The camera I am using is a 12mp camera. The most I crop is 1/4 inch off the end of my image. Many people these days are using cameras with 40+ megapixels they shoot an overall subject then they can crop to make a close-up. These people have no idea what it takes to shoot a good close-up image.
My image may look soft but I think that has more to do with the lighting. I have zoomed in on this and I think it's sharp.
Thanks for your question. Questions early are great to have good discussions in the group.   Posted: 11/07/2020 21:13:03
Tracy Szela   Tracy Szela
Thanks for this great explanation. And it's a good reminder for me to always try a few different settings and/or techniques with an image to see what works best (when it's not a snake slithering away :))   Posted: 11/08/2020 08:20:46
Sandra Irwin   Sandra Irwin
What is diffraction, and what does it do to an image? I have looked it up, and once again rued the fact I never studied physics-just calculus and trigonometry (in college). Physics (even in high school) would have been more helpful for leading a non-scientific life, as I have.
Also -- can you explain why shooting with 40 mp and cropping gives a bad image? What about shooting closer up with a higher mp camera and then cropping just a needed amount? Wouldn't that give a clearer image if one used a tripod, polarizer, cable release, etc.?   Posted: 11/22/2020 15:45:16
Dick States   Dick States
Good questions. So what is diffraction?
As you stop down the aperture on a lens the light passing through tends to diffract reducing sharpness. The more you stop down the lens the more diffraction you get. The reason for diffraction is that the edges of the diaphragm blades in the lens tend to disperse the light. This dispersed light bouncing around will cause the image to not look sharp.

Shooting with a 40mp and cropping does not make a bad image. I agree with you it would be better to shoot closer up and then crop just the needed amount. Yes that would give you an image with many more pixels and allow you to make larger prints and still be sharp and not be pixelated.

It's just much harder to do real close-ups with little cropping.   Posted: 11/22/2020 21:17:13
Sandra Irwin   Sandra Irwin
Thank you!
  Posted: 11/24/2020 17:38:17



Janet DiMattia   Janet DiMattia
Hi, Dick,
Beautifully done image! Great color and details throughout! I have been doing a lot of woods walking this fall and spend the walk noticing details that nature provides but never bring a camera along.
I like the way the stem leads me up to the blossom which keeps me there before it send me back to repeat the process again. The emerging blossoms add a great touch to the image. Very pleasing to study.
Janet   Posted: 11/09/2020 08:43:41



Sandra Irwin   Sandra Irwin
This is gorgeous, as usual! I love the soft colors and, of course, the black background. Love the brighter yellow on the right.
I am very hard pressed to offer any suggestion, but if I push it I would say I would look at what it would do to the composition if the branch were moved a tiny bit down and to the left so the branch wasn't quite at such a 90 degree angle and just a bit more on the diagonal with the yellow a bit more near the top.   Posted: 11/22/2020 15:52:03
Dick States   Dick States
I think your idea as to a little change in composition is a good one. I think it probably would make the image better. It's amazing what a very small change will make in an image and make it much better. That's why when we are shooting, if your are working with something that 's not going to move, you need to take many different shots at different angles and different distances.   Posted: 11/22/2020 21:25:39
Sandra Irwin   Sandra Irwin
Yes, I agree. I just don't always have the energy! But couldn't you have tilted it as I suggested in post-processing?   Posted: 11/24/2020 17:39:34



Dick States   Dick States
I did change this some but I'm not sure it's enough. So here it is. I'm not too sure it made that much difference. What do you think? I would like to hear from the other members as to what they think.   Posted: 11/24/2020 20:49:30



Dick States   Dick States
  Posted: 11/24/2020 20:54:24
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