Bernie Groome  


YELLOW PANSY by Bernie Groome

February 2021 - YELLOW PANSY

About the Image(s)

Nikon d5600 with a 40.0 mm f/2.8 lens (60mm in 35mm)

1/125 sec; f/6.3; ISO320; Manual mode; pattern metering; no flash; on tripod

Processed in PSE 2020 adjusting lighting and sharpened with Topaz Sharpen AI

Saw this cloudy, early morning, opportunity just after a rain.


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




Damon Williams   Damon Williams
Hey Bernie, I can see you've taken the whole how-to-use-DoF-to-separate-your-subject-from-the-background discussion to heart. Well done. The flower itself is about perfect and since you've positioned yourself perpendicular to the disk of the petals, you can use a narrow DoF and still maintain it in crisp focus, which you have. Yellow and green are nice, analogous colors, and so work well together (thank goodness, or most of the flowers on the planet would be off-limits). Your exposure looks good to me, and the nice soft light eliminates any potential harsh shadows. You've also placed the flower at a crash point, which combined with the other elements I've mentioned, show you are incorporating the technical elements. To me, this image is an example of some notable progress. P.S. I love the drops like that. I don't know what the phenomenon is that makes them stand out like that (wax on the leaves? Little hairs?), but it's great.
I have some questions though:
Why did you feel this needed sharpening? I mean, you have a fairly low ISO, a tripod, and a prime lens, so I'm thinking there shouldn't be any softness to sharpen except where you wanted it. And, sharpening anything but your subject works against you (in this case, in my opinion). What's the scoop?
Why did you choose matrix metering? I think if it were me, I would have used center weight, and exposed for the bloom, since I'd really like everything else to be a bit underexposed and thus lose prominence.
What sort of lighting adjustment did you make? The whole thing seems generally pretty evenly exposed, but to tell you the truth, that may be one of the areas in which I might try to improve it. I can see details in the petals, but to me they lack distinctness, so I'd try some contrast. But really I want everything but the flower to fade into obscurity, and so would like to underexpose them (think brush tool, or even a vignette). That's a challenge though, with that white pot, which sort of dominates your exposure.
Oh, and as a suggestion, how would cropping in from the right, to remove the sidewalk, affect things? I don't think the sidewalk helps you.
I can see the affects of your hard work Bernie. Keep it up.

  Posted: 02/08/2021 11:14:02



Bernie Groome   Bernie Groome
Damon, thank you very much for your comments. To be honest Damon, the reason for the AI sharpening is my insecurity. When I submit something here or in my camera club I've always wanted it to be as tack sharp as possible. I never thought about a detrimental effect of sharpening. The sharpening software did help the detail in the very middle of the pansy, but it wasn't significant. I don't have a specific justification for matrix metering other than inexperience. I was concentrating on depth of field, sharpness and composition and getting the shot before I lost my natural light. I went back and cropped out some on the right and played with the contrast, as shown in the attached photo. I think this does show some more petal detail and I definitely like the revised crop. The only lighting adjustment I did was "auto smart fix" in PE2020. Again, I sincerely appreciate your critique. It is very helpful.   Posted: 02/08/2021 17:40:36
Comment Image
Damon Williams   Damon Williams
I appreciate your candor Bernie. It makes for good discourse and learning.

WRT sharpening, it's a tool, right? I mean, what we're really trying to do is to get the viewer's eye where we want it. There are lots of ways to do that; leading lines, color, brightness (which makes things SEEM closer than dark things), focus...maybe some other stuff. The point of using DoF, especially shallow DoF, is to draw the eye to the thing that is in focus. That's a central goal of portrait photography, which is to separate the subject from the environment by making them the ONLY thing in focus (unless of course you want to tell a story by including something with the subject). In this photo, the flower is your portraiture subject (or still-life subject, more appropriately). So, sharpening anything else BUT the subject detracts from the primacy of the subject.

Matrix metering is cool. When I walk out of the house, that's what I have dialed in (just in case I see Sasquatch and have to fire one off without adjusting my settings). But (and this is just me), if I have a scene that I'm framing but just one subject, I'll probably go with center-weighted metering, especially if it's a scene in which the things other than the subject can be sacrificed. If I'm getting what I want (a well exposed subject), then far out. But if I'm not getting what I want, then I'll get even more specific in my metering and go down to spot metering. If none of those things work, I go to M mode. In your case, you wanted a perfectly exposed flower, and you didn't give a crap about the stairs (I actually couldn't identify what they were).

Given all this, I think what we're talking about is what I identified as my #1 weakness as a photographer, maybe a year ago or so: intentionality. What I mean by that is that I found that I was doing all sorts of things (settings, composition, editing) without much thought, and in kind of a reflexive, unplanned manner. And, as you can imagine, my results were just as mediocre as you'd expect, with only the random, semi-successful shot.

What I decided to do was to simply be more deliberate about all aspects of my photography. Of course, this takes time and effort to change. But, I think at this point I can tell you what every single camera setting does, why I do or don't use it, and under what circumstances it should be used. Now, of course, there's still tons of stuff I need to learn about what settings are important (I just did a bunch of reading on mechanical versus electronic shutter, for instance), and I will never run out of new aspects and techniques to learn about. But I'm just much slower, intentional, and deliberate about shooting (although I still fire 20 useless photos of my dog every day).

Has this improved my photography? I don't know. But it's a process. I get more things that I'M happy with than I used to (National Geographic isn't beating my door down though). I'm going to continue to approach the act of shooting this way: think about what I want to shoot, prepare my equipment (and subject if necessary), stop, look at every setting, decide what setting to use based on my intended outcome, fire, assess, change if necessary, fire again.

Just my thoughts.   Posted: 02/13/2021 02:28:58
Damon Williams   Damon Williams
I appreciate your candor Bernie. It makes for good discourse and learning.

WRT sharpening, it's a tool, right? I mean, what we're really trying to do is to get the viewer's eye where we want it. There are lots of ways to do that; leading lines, color, brightness (which makes things SEEM closer than dark things), focus...maybe some other stuff. The point of using DoF, especially shallow DoF, is to draw the eye to the thing that is in focus. That's a central goal of portrait photography, which is to separate the subject from the environment by making them the ONLY thing in focus (unless of course you want to tell a story by including something with the subject). In this photo, the flower is your portraiture subject (or still-life subject, more appropriately). So, sharpening anything else BUT the subject detracts from the primacy of the subject.

Matrix metering is cool. When I walk out of the house, that's what I have dialed in (just in case I see Sasquatch and have to fire one off without adjusting my settings). But (and this is just me), if I have a scene that I'm framing but just one subject, I'll probably go with center-weighted metering, especially if it's a scene in which the things other than the subject can be sacrificed. If I'm getting what I want (a well exposed subject), then far out. But if I'm not getting what I want, then I'll get even more specific in my metering and go down to spot metering. If none of those things work, I go to M mode. In your case, you wanted a perfectly exposed flower, and you didn't give a crap about the stairs (I actually couldn't identify what they were).

Given all this, I think what we're talking about is what I identified as my #1 weakness as a photographer, maybe a year ago or so: intentionality. What I mean by that is that I found that I was doing all sorts of things (settings, composition, editing) without much thought, and in kind of a reflexive, unplanned manner. And, as you can imagine, my results were just as mediocre as you'd expect, with only the random, semi-successful shot.

What I decided to do was to simply be more deliberate about all aspects of my photography. Of course, this takes time and effort to change. But, I think at this point I can tell you what every single camera setting does, why I do or don't use it, and under what circumstances it should be used. Now, of course, there's still tons of stuff I need to learn about what settings are important (I just did a bunch of reading on mechanical versus electronic shutter, for instance), and I will never run out of new aspects and techniques to learn about. But I'm just much slower, intentional, and deliberate about shooting (although I still fire 20 useless photos of my dog every day).

Has this improved my photography? I don't know. But it's a process. I get more things that I'M happy with than I used to (National Geographic isn't beating my door down though). I'm going to continue to approach the act of shooting this way: think about what I want to shoot, prepare my equipment (and subject if necessary), stop, look at every setting, decide what setting to use based on my intended outcome, fire, assess, change if necessary, fire again.

Just my thoughts.   Posted: 02/13/2021 03:01:07



Emmy Denton   Emmy Denton
Hi Bernie,

I like the simplicity of this photo. The water on the flower petals and leaves make the photo feel very fresh. The leaves at the bottom and left make for very nice leading lines to the main subject the flower. I see that you used depth of field to blur the steps in the background and cropped them just enough to add a sense of place. About the only thing I can think of is to maybe blur the leaves in the port more - but then you might loose the detail in the flower. I like the first crop better because it placed the flower in the upper left 1/3 quadrant. I probably would have darkened the steps slightly and lowered the contrast to keep them from competing with the flower. Nice work!   Posted: 02/09/2021 19:06:49
Bernie Groome   Bernie Groome
Thank you.   Posted: 02/13/2021 10:11:40



Jane Pittenger   Jane Pittenger
Beautiful job with the macro lens getting the flower sharp through out and the colors are gorgeous. I would darken the stairs right and back as well as decreasing the clarity on them. You can use an adjustment brush for that. I agree that the sharpening should only be on the flower. It sounds as if you are comfortable using layers in PS. If so, you can mask the sharpened layer so it just effects the flower. Was there wind? If not, on a tripod, you could have left ISO at 100 and lengthened the shutter speed   Posted: 02/12/2021 13:13:22
Bernie Groome   Bernie Groome
Excellent point Jane. I learn soooo much from you all.   Posted: 02/13/2021 10:10:12



Dianne Arrigoni   Dianne Arrigoni
Bernie this image is a smile maker in that the beautiful single flower stands out, catches my eye and makes me smile. The water droplets add to the beauty and feel of freshness. You have composed its location in the picture in an off center pleasing spot and the surrounding areas of the image are soft and become secondary. The floor is a bit distracting, maybe burning it a bit would help. But overall nice job. I'd play with that more elsewhere for sure.   Posted: 02/28/2021 17:33:10