Peruvian Lily Focus Stack

by Sean Setters
 
Bryan has mentioned it several times, but it bears repeating. Getting your significant other flowers is not only a great way to foster goodwill in your relationship, but it also means you have an interesting subject (or subjects) for photographic purposes.
 
During a recent visit to the ophthalmologist for a checkup, I struck up a conversation with another visitor who worked at a local florist wholesaler, which immediately piqued my interest for the reasons listed above. Fast-forward a few days and there were a dozen Peruvian Lilies (Alstroemeria) ready for admiring on a coffee table.
 
With such interesting looking flowers available for photographing, I decided to create a focus stack image highlighting one of the flower's anthers and anther caps.
 
Typically speaking, I would have used the Canon EOS 7D Mark II + W-E1 Wi-Fi Adapter and DSLR Controller app to easily capture the incrementally focused images. Unfortunately, since updating the 7D II's firmware to version 1.1.2, DSLR Controller will no longer communicate with the W-E1.
 
Without a convenient programmable solution, I decided to use a tripod mounted 5D Mark III and EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM while adjusting focus manually for the 20 images used for the focus stack. For lighting, I used a 16 x 16" collapsible soft box with a 580EX Speedlite flash camera right and another 580EX flash camera left (low) with a full CTO gel fired through a snoot. The second 580EX flash opened up the shadows on the left side of the image and the gel provided a warm light that contrasted well with the cooler tones of the petals. The two flashes were triggered via third-party radio triggers.
 
Exposure settings were f/4.5, 1/160 sec, ISO 100. The focus stack was compiled in Helicon Focus 6 with finishing adjustments made in Photoshop CC.
 
Some may question why I would create a focus stacked image instead of using a very narrow aperture to gain the depth of field (DOF) required, but there were very good reasons to use focus stacking in this situation. The following are some benefits to focus stacking compared to using a very narrow aperture for this type of image.
 
  • The wider aperture provides a much sharper falloff in focus before and after the desired DOF is achieved (the benefit being more of a personal preference/artistic taste in this case).
  • The wider aperture, still being stopped down from the lens' widest aperture, allows for the sharpest result possible while avoiding the softening effects of surpassing the camera's diffraction limited aperture (DLA).
  • The wider aperture allowed for the use of lower power lights – in this case, Speedlites – and/or faster recycling times at ISO 100.
A larger version of the image can be found on my Flickr photostream.
Posted: 8/23/2017 9:51:14 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
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