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the elusive Iris - several different ways
Posted By: timbo13, 05-27-2009, 07:30 AM

We have a lovely iris plant growing just besides our front steps and I have been entertaining myself by trying to capture the color and form of the blooms this spring.
Not sure if I succeeded but I had fun! Here's a selection of my better efforts:


#1 existing light, late in the day, 28mm/f2.5 Vivitar



#2 same with 135mm/f2.8 ProSpec



#3 after the rain, hand held flash, 135mm ProSpec on a macro bellows



#4 more with the hand held flash, with the 50mm/f1.7 (I think)



#5 first sunlight of the morning, with the 50mm



#6 macro bellows and the 135mm again, existing light


thanks for looking, C&C welcome!
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05-29-2009, 08:59 AM   #2
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I'm bumping this up because I was really hoping for some feedback on these images - what worked, what didn't etc.

thanks!
05-29-2009, 10:58 AM   #3
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I like the shots. I think #3, #4 and #6 are the most interesting to me. #4 could be made punchier (contrast and color), I think, and that would make it fantastic. The colors on the macro shots are great.

Thanks for posting! Iris's are fantastic flowers!
05-29-2009, 02:39 PM   #4
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I find Iris's tough to shoot and get the exposure correct or getting just enough on the flower in the picture without getting too much of the unwanted. Good job Timbo. JIM

05-29-2009, 05:33 PM   #5
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word of caution: this being at your doorstep, i will be mercyless (you can go back and try something new anytime)

1: strangely enough,that's where i would have liked a little bit of fill flash at work, the colors look a bit dull for some reason. the separation from the bg could be better, but it's alright i guess

2: background is disturbing (not quite oof, too distracting and bright), two flowers is always hard to compose. i do seem to like the light/colors better than #1 though (?)

3: great idea going in close, the flash seems to have worked nicely here (doesn't look overdone), but the composition, my eye cannot "get", i think this is mostly because it is a very 3D subject, and very challenging up close for that reason, for the same reason (dof), the focus seems "all over the place", you did focus on the main subject, but the dof variation across the frame is very distracting. i had similar issues, i don't know what to day, just that these are some of the hardest subjects to compose (you have to take dof into account when composing, and it's effect across the subject, it's no longer "subject in focus, bg out of focus"-dof), one thing i tried with my shots was to go the opposite way from what intuition dictates: open up the aperture, get in close, and try to work with that. not sure if it helped in any way , but just for an idea (here's a quick example, much easier subject than what you have, of course):



in short: good idea, hardest way to shoot it perhaps, but i think you have something there, try more of that. #6 is at the opposite extreme (simpler composition, maybe too simple), so i guess you thought about "keep it simple" yourself.

#4 nice one. flash is a bit harsh, maybe try a difuser? here the bg is sharper than others above (or just more contrasty?), but it doesn't disturb as much, what disturbs is the contrast between bg and subject, it looks very unnatural, perhaps taking the flash farther back would solve that (more uniform illumination between subject and background), a reflector on the rhs of the frame might also help. and just a wild idea: a streak of light on the background wall might do wonders, it would feel like it's shot in the shade and the sun is filtering through something.

#5 nice and straight (good-old sun..), maybe a bit of fill flash for the shadows might help (or that reflector, again); the under-laping flower in the background is distracting, i would try to go lower and to the right or left a bit, to put it out of the frame (maybe it can stay in the frame even, but not so close to the subject)

#6 as stated above. more of these, they're harder, but they might get you something great. being such a handy subject, no excuse not to study it patiently, and get something trully outstanding

my throat is dry, i need a cigarette now . i hope it's of some help (the comments, not the cigarette).

edit: i just realized you are using past-tense, so the photo session is done, the model has gone home? in that case, most of my comments are pretty much worthless (or at least not worth a damn until next year), and probably unnecesarly harsh. if this is "after the fact", i'd say overall a good job, but you could do better next time (so you're not "done" yet, which means more entertainment next time for you ).

Last edited by nanok; 05-29-2009 at 05:41 PM.
05-29-2009, 06:13 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by mikebob Quote
I like the shots. I think #3, #4 and #6 are the most interesting to me. #4 could be made punchier (contrast and color), I think, and that would make it fantastic. The colors on the macro shots are great.

Thanks for posting! Iris's are fantastic flowers!
thanks mikebob for looking and commenting! with #4 I was trying to use the flash to bring the flower up in exposure so that it was brighter than the wall behind it, I was finding that if the flower and the wall were in the same light, the flower was darker (see #2). I agree that they are fantastic.

QuoteOriginally posted by Jimbo Quote
I find Iris's tough to shoot and get the exposure correct or getting just enough on the flower in the picture without getting too much of the unwanted. Good job Timbo. JIM
thanks Jimbo, I find them quite a challenge too, this particular plant has a wonderful dark purple color that is a challenge to work with!

QuoteOriginally posted by nanok Quote
word of caution: this being at your doorstep, i will be mercyless (you can go back and try something new anytime)

1: strangely enough,that's where i would have liked a little bit of fill flash at work, the colors look a bit dull for some reason. the separation from the bg could be better, but it's alright i guess

2: background is disturbing (not quite oof, too distracting and bright), two flowers is always hard to compose. i do seem to like the light/colors better than #1 though (?)

3: great idea going in close, the flash seems to have worked nicely here (doesn't look overdone), but the composition, my eye cannot "get", i think this is mostly because it is a very 3D subject, and very challenging up close for that reason, for the same reason (dof), the focus seems "all over the place", you did focus on the main subject, but the dof variation across the frame is very distracting. i had similar issues, i don't know what to day, just that these are some of the hardest subjects to compose (you have to take dof into account when composing, and it's effect across the subject, it's no longer "subject in focus, bg out of focus"-dof), one thing i tried with my shots was to go the opposite way from what intuition dictates: open up the aperture, get in close, and try to work with that. not sure if it helped in any way , but just for an idea (here's a quick example, much easier subject than what you have, of course):

in short: good idea, hardest way to shoot it perhaps, but i think you have something there, try more of that. #6 is at the opposite extreme (simpler composition, maybe too simple), so i guess you thought about "keep it simple" yourself.

#4 nice one. flash is a bit harsh, maybe try a difuser? here the bg is sharper than others above (or just more contrasty?), but it doesn't disturb as much, what disturbs is the contrast between bg and subject, it looks very unnatural, perhaps taking the flash farther back would solve that (more uniform illumination between subject and background), a reflector on the rhs of the frame might also help. and just a wild idea: a streak of light on the background wall might do wonders, it would feel like it's shot in the shade and the sun is filtering through something.

#5 nice and straight (good-old sun..), maybe a bit of fill flash for the shadows might help (or that reflector, again); the under-laping flower in the background is distracting, i would try to go lower and to the right or left a bit, to put it out of the frame (maybe it can stay in the frame even, but not so close to the subject)

#6 as stated above. more of these, they're harder, but they might get you something great. being such a handy subject, no excuse not to study it patiently, and get something trully outstanding

my throat is dry, i need a cigarette now . i hope it's of some help (the comments, not the cigarette).

edit: i just realized you are using past-tense, so the photo session is done, the model has gone home? in that case, most of my comments are pretty much worthless (or at least not worth a damn until next year), and probably unnecesarly harsh. if this is "after the fact", i'd say overall a good job, but you could do better next time (so you're not "done" yet, which means more entertainment next time for you ).
nanok thank you for your very thorough critique, I am not at all bothered and I appreciate the time you took looking and writing. The plant is mostly done for this year but I might be able to squeeze in one more session

re #1 I like the DOF and close focus of this lens but I think I agree with you that the shot lacks something

re #2 this is where I ran into problems with the background exposing brighter than the subject

re #3 I like your shot! I tried that angle but the result wasn't worth posting. You have articulated the difficulty of getting good macros of this type of subject very well if it wasn't hard it wouldn't be as much fun!

re #4 I had a home-made snoot on my flash for this shot in an effort to restrict the light to the flower, perhaps it is a little harsh. Maybe a little less difference in exposure between the flower and the background? I like your idea about a streak of light.

re #5 did I mention that this plant is tucked in the corner of two stone walls? and that there is a rose bush in front of it? I think I was making the best of the angle I could get

#6 the macros are a lot of work but I agree they can be rewarding, too.

I'll skip the cigarette and go for a beer, myself your comments were very helpful, thanks!

thanks again everyone!
05-30-2009, 08:08 AM   #7
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Nice series Time #1,#3 and #4 work for me.
05-31-2009, 04:37 AM   #8
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thanks, Dave!

05-31-2009, 05:32 AM   #9
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Nice shots. That third one is fantastic.
05-31-2009, 01:47 PM   #10
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thank you, Scott!
05-31-2009, 02:30 PM   #11
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Hi Tim,
Ah the iris, one of my favorite flowers to shoot! It's got everything, texture variations, completely different looks from top and side, mysterious stuff happening inside the flower, amazing color differentiations, etc etc.
My favorite of your shots is the backlit #5. I've found that they respond really well to back lighting. My favored technique ist to use spot metering on the brightest spot, and lock it. That way you don't get a bunch of blown highlights, but you've done very nicely.
My next favorite is the first macro #3 I believe. The fill flash works well there, giving some mystery about what is happening in the depths. I like how the 'beard' angles off to the right, like some weird animal crawling out of a deep cave.
The flash is ok on 4 but I think the shot would have been vastly improved if you had used a larger aperture to blur out the background some.
Two is OK, like the angled leaves and the interior of the flower. Nice and mysterious. I'm not happy about the upper left background, but I'm not sure what you could do to correct it. If you change the angle, you miss the interior, and if you open up any more to blur it out you also could blur out the flower interior to the point that it's no longer mysterious, just a blur. I guess I can accept it.
Numbers 1 and 6 are the least interesting to me. #1 "OK another flower, nice colors but nothing special" Same with 6, the water droplets are nice, and the colors and patterns are nice, and your focal choice is OK, (I probably would have put it right at the front of the beard, but yours is OK) but the whole of the shot is a bit boring. Don't know why, it's nice and all, but it isn't going anywhere, least not for me.

NaCl(I'm not good at constructive crit, as you can see about #6)H2O
05-31-2009, 03:46 PM   #12
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Great responses: not much to add other than I find Irises challenging also. Thanks for the share, to you and the responders. I learned a bunch. There are still Irises to shoot!
06-01-2009, 04:08 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by NaClH2O Quote
Hi Tim,
Ah the iris, one of my favorite flowers to shoot! It's got everything, texture variations, completely different looks from top and side, mysterious stuff happening inside the flower, amazing color differentiations, etc etc.
My favorite of your shots is the backlit #5. I've found that they respond really well to back lighting. My favored technique ist to use spot metering on the brightest spot, and lock it. That way you don't get a bunch of blown highlights, but you've done very nicely.
My next favorite is the first macro #3 I believe. The fill flash works well there, giving some mystery about what is happening in the depths. I like how the 'beard' angles off to the right, like some weird animal crawling out of a deep cave.
The flash is ok on 4 but I think the shot would have been vastly improved if you had used a larger aperture to blur out the background some.
Two is OK, like the angled leaves and the interior of the flower. Nice and mysterious. I'm not happy about the upper left background, but I'm not sure what you could do to correct it. If you change the angle, you miss the interior, and if you open up any more to blur it out you also could blur out the flower interior to the point that it's no longer mysterious, just a blur. I guess I can accept it.
Numbers 1 and 6 are the least interesting to me. #1 "OK another flower, nice colors but nothing special" Same with 6, the water droplets are nice, and the colors and patterns are nice, and your focal choice is OK, (I probably would have put it right at the front of the beard, but yours is OK) but the whole of the shot is a bit boring. Don't know why, it's nice and all, but it isn't going anywhere, least not for me.

NaCl(I'm not good at constructive crit, as you can see about #6)H2O
thank you for taking the time for writing out your thoughts, I really appreciate it! I think you and I like photographing irises for lots of the same reasons. No need to apologize for your critique, it was clear, honest, and useful.


QuoteOriginally posted by metroeloise Quote
Great responses: not much to add other than I find Irises challenging also. Thanks for the share, to you and the responders. I learned a bunch. There are still Irises to shoot!
thanks for looking, I agree that this has been a great discussion and I'm glad it was useful for others besides myself. Sadly, this particular plant is done for the year. I might be able to find some around town, though! Not to mention the roses have started blooming!
06-01-2009, 01:34 PM   #14
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Very nice images and interesting thread!
06-02-2009, 07:22 AM   #15
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Jeff, thanks!
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