Keith Au  

Lace Aloe on an indoor pot  by Keith Au

July 2024 - Lace Aloe on an indoor pot

July 2024 - Keith Au


About the Image(s)

I wanted to do a still-life photo for this month... grabbed an indoor
table plant (called lace aloe) for such purpose.

The pot was placed inside a small lightbox with yellow background.
Lighting was mixed (with whatever was handy). Two studio-type tungsten
lights on each side (with home-made softener).
Two built-in panels of LED lights provided the head-on lighting
inside the lightbox.

The camera 'focus shifting' function was turned on - snapping 15 images.
HDR merging was carried out in PS, along with Nik Collection HDR
EFlex Pro 2 plug-in. No cropping was required. I have also lightened the
colour intensity and added a bit of white vignette to help standout the subject.
Looks like all petals are in-focus (f/9, 1/100s on tripod).

Any comments / suggestions for improvements are welcome.

Nikon D850 105mm/f2.8 micro lens
1/100s f/9 iso@180 on tripod -0.7EV
Post-processing: PS + Nik Collection (HDR Eflex Pro 2)..

6 comments posted

Stuart Ord   Stuart Ord
Hi Keith,

I think there's a lot to like in your photo. Most of the "leaves" seem sharp to me, only the ones at the back and pointing forwards seem to be less sharp.

The background is good, I love the gentle fading to complete blur behind the plant. I like your white vignette, too.

The pot legs are quite blurred, and the closest one is almost touching the bottom edge. These are quite off-putting to me. I suspect that you needed a wider step in your bracket, as at this magnification and aperture, each frame should have a fair old depth of field of its own. But if the frames overlap too much, the combined depth of field is still small.   Posted: 07/08/2024 04:14:40
Keith Au   Keith Au
Thanks, Stuart.
I was also wondering why the flower pot was so blurry.. thought 15 images should be sufficient for such small object. Ahh, you have a good point that maybe I should have use wider interval steps so it can cover the whole image (or maybe additional number of stacking images).. Will try again.
Yeah, the lightbox is so small I had to squeeze to the very edge of the picture frame border.. leaving into a tight picture.   Posted: 07/09/2024 13:38:00

Margaret West
The pot the plant is in is blurry and distracting since it takes up much of the photo. Also one can see the cloth pattern under the pot, also distracting. I think if you cropped it to show only a little of the pot it would be a much stronger photo and most if the aloe is sharp. See if that works?   Posted: 07/08/2024 06:18:49
Keith Au   Keith Au
Good idea, Margaret. I was struggling with how to frame the plant.. Will try and see. Thanks.   Posted: 07/09/2024 13:40:16

Carol Sheppard   Carol Sheppard
Keith, kudos to you for continuing to perfect your focus-stacking. Your leaves look sharp, but other areas (especially the pot) feel out-of-focus. I am wondering if the issue is where you are placing your first image. I have struggled with that--sometimes it has to be one-third of the way in, while other times it has to be focused on the very front edge of the subject. I have one other suggestion. In the January, 2020 PSA Journal (access it online at, Bas Montgomery and Harold Ross did an incredible article on Still Life Photography. There was also a free online, interactive class offered through PSA at one time on Still Life. It is all in the lighting....almost like light-painting. The beautiful lighting that wraps around the subject makes the image. Although I like your background, I think you might want to explore Still Life through that article and the course? It is fun and you can spend hours on the set-up and capture, but it is so well worth it!   Posted: 07/09/2024 10:52:33

Keith Au   Keith Au
Hi Carol, I was trying to set the initial focus point closer to the lowest of the view screen, but limited by the camera. I ended up putting the first focus point at the front edge of the flower pot.. It proves to be not so ideal.. as it's about the centre of the image.
I really appreciate your suggested PSA Journal article on Still Life photography.. I definitely will look it up and study.. love playing with lighting (and light painting is something I like to tryout as well). Thanks again.   Posted: 07/09/2024 13:47:08


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