Big beautiful spring flowers are great for macro photography, with their brilliant colors and interesting shapes. I was in the mood for taking some macro shots, and I wanted a bit of a challenge. So rather than shooting some brilliant spring flowers, I chose to challenge myself by shooting an everyday weed. My goal was to capture the pesky dandelion in a non-typical way. I picked the flower, brought it inside, and set it on a black background. I set up next to my south-facing sliding glass door in order to utilize the available light. I also placed a white foam board on the back side of the flower to get a little more even lighting. I set up the tripod with the macro lens set to full magnification and started shooting away. With the composition of this photo, I tried a couple different apertures to vary the depth of field, but I settled on an f-number of f/32 because I thought it looked better in full focus. I ended up with a couple other compositions I liked, but this one was my favorite.
The JPEG (1) of this photo turned out pretty bright and contrasty, but it was a bit cool on the white balance. You can see the background material actually came out sort of blue rather than black. The RAW file (2) was processed to fix this, though I might have gone a little too far. The first thing I did was a curves adjustment (3) to get some of the contrast back from the RAW file. Then I Isolated the flower from the background by using the red channel to create an advanced layer mask. I applied the mask to a levels adjustment (4) and forced the background canvas to go black. Then another minor curves adjustment (5) on the entire image. I then sharpened the image (6) and masked using a soft brush at 10% opacity along the interfaces between the petals and the background in order to reduce the halo effect from the sharpening. I wasn't happy with the color of the image (seemed too orange to me), so I applied a yellow photo filter (7) at 100% while preserving the luminosity. The last thing I did was some burning with a curves adjustment and a layer mask (8). I did some very selective burning around the center of the flower to give it more contrast and perceived sharpness.
Photo by Brian Auer
04/29/07 Flemington, NJ
Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D
Sigma MACRO 105mm f/2.8 EX DG
158mm equiv * f/32 * 4.0s * ISO100