View Full Version : "Offspring"

05-30-2010, 05:21 PM
Hello all. I have been a member at another forum for some time now, but I am having trouble getting the feedback and encouragement from it's members. It's really cool to see this forum with about 1/20th the population and nearly all requests for critique with no less than 3 responses on the first page.

I don't want to sound like I "only take photographs for others", this is not true, but nothing makes you feel more like an inadequate hack (which I am pretty sure I am not) than receiving zero replies for something you think is at least noteworthy.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to at least *think* about what I am presenting to this community!

Below is one of such images which over the last few days received no comment. What you are looking at is the seed of a dandelion, not those giant dandelions, but the smaller variety you find in the backyard. The nearly microscopic barbs is what causes the seed to be sticky and not blow around never getting the ability to take hold.

I wish I could have gotten more DOF, but posing dandelion seeds on a piece of thread strung between two foam core flags is not exactly easy, and this is the best composition I could manage. Depth bracketing was also not possible since very time the slightest breeze of breath or even any step I took moved them all around the frame. I'll try again someday. But right now, I need my hair to grow back. :D

Some technical info: 1/160, f/16, 50mm Rodagon at 110mm extension. ISO 100. Sony a350. 1x350ws monolight positioned at 7:00 (about 3/4 backlit), tilted towered the subject from above at about 45░, full power. Large bounce to the right, small bounce directly beneath at about 30░*facing subject.


05-30-2010, 05:38 PM
First off welcome to the forum - glad you found us :highfive:
We are a friendly bunch that is eager to learn/share. I hope we meet your expectations.

This is an unusual composition for me but I like it overall.

My first instinct is that it feels somewhat 'flat'. This is primarily due to the blankish background of the foamcore. To help with the flat feel I might suggest increasing contrast overall.

I very much like the 'mirror' image feel of the left plant versus the right, I just wish it was sharper. I wonder if there was a slight breeze and perhaps that contributed to the lack of additional sharpness.

Hope that helped somewhat,


05-30-2010, 05:53 PM
I am unsure of it's flatness (any other opinion?) and I do think this might be more due to the open background. I am glad that you don't mind the composition, I am trying to break away from the conventions I have found myself locked into - sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't.

I do not know how much experience you have with macro, so I hoep I am not comming across as condescending, I'm new to macro myself. From my experience using a 50mm enlarging lens at 110mm extension provides maybe 250Ám depth of field, even at f/16. I tried to get as much hyperfocus out of it as I could so that the seed on the right was not just a big blob, but without much depth to work with, this is, unfortunately, the best I could get. I am sure some macro expert out there could do better, so any advice is welcome.

05-30-2010, 07:44 PM
No prob at all twinkle.
I have some experience with macro and I'm keenly aware about how little depth of field you get even at F16. At the very top of the photo, I see what 'might' be a hint of movement blur on the left thread, which led to my previous comment about the breeze. If it is so, then that too would compromise sharpness.

Hope that helps - Marko

05-30-2010, 09:11 PM
Well, definitely, any movement at this magnification might blur the image. My strobes fire at 1/1200, and as I stated above my shutter speed was 1/160, so I very much doubt that any ambient light made it's way in. Do you think that at this speed movement would play a role to sharpness? Any minuscule movement and the entire frame completely changes, so I'm inclined to think that even at 1/1200 movement would affect sharpness.

05-30-2010, 09:43 PM
Indeed welcome to the forum. I am intrigued by the problem you have posed here.
If I get you right, you want to photograph dandelion seeds in flight. So you tied two seeds together and hung them around your lighting set up, with some foam boards for reflection/diffusion. The seeds twisted and turned in the air, causing you to pull your hair out. Like herding cats, the seeds would not behave themselves (i.e. fall exactly into the miniscule field of focus you created). You are using an enlarging lens to get this job done.
My naive question: Why not just tack the seeds down to a black background and get as close or as far as you want? Then you at least don't have to worry about the motion.
Curious about your reply.

05-30-2010, 11:11 PM
The original shot wasn't intended to be a finished product, I'm relatively new to studio work and was meant more a lighting exercise. The original was just the cliche'd backlighting a dandelion bloom, getting some feedback on the technical lighting and exposure and moving on. The stem was tied to the string, and that wasn't so bad since magnification wasn't nearly as high (same lens with maybe 30mm extension).

So that worked great, except for that I pushed my bellows rail into the dandelion, causing it to instantly release half of it's seeds before I got a single shot. Trying to make lemons out of lemonade, I kept the basic setup and focused on individual seeds. At first I was interested in the whole of the seed, but didn't like how it dangled on the thread - which looked like a massive rope due to magnification. I tried daisy chaining them, which worked OK, but the image didn't, and was WAY too annoying to set up.

I do like the backlighting effect on the barbs, and how it really brings out the texture. With your advice, taping the seeds to a sheet of glass or plexi would work much better.