Image Doctor: Bush Orchid #1
Photographer: Les Thomas
Camera Type: Nikon D200
Lens: Tamron 90mm Macro
Shutter Speed: 1/10 sec
Adjustments: Exposure increased by 3 EV in Photoshop Elements. Minor sharpening.
Photographer's Comments: 11 Images at different focus points Stacked to produce 1 Image. Background produced by mounting Black Velvet behind orchid.
Image doctor's advice
In the past, getting every element of a subject in focus when photographing close-up subjects was nearly impossible. Other than working at f32 with a macro lens, and then trying to find enough light to illuminate the subject, the task was a real challenge.
Nowadays, thanks to the wonders of digital technology we can use ”focus stacking” to create sharp macro photographs. For those readers who are not familiar with this technique, it involves taking a series of photographs from the same viewpoint but with each shot made in a slightly different focus setting, and then stitching the images together in Photoshop. The program has a look at each photograph and selects the sharpest details which it then combines into one overall sharp image.
Overall, I think you have handled the focus stacking well in this image. The one thing that I think you can improve on though is the tonality the photograph.
If you open the photograph in Photoshop and go to the curves adjustment you should be able to see a histogram; one thing that you will notice as you look at this histogram is that in this instance, most of it is stacked towards the left of the graph. What this means is that despite having photographed a white flower, you have not really translated those whites into the final image.
One of the simplest ways to solve this problem, is to drag the small white triangular marker at the bottom of the curves graph towards the foot of the histogram; as you do this you will see the image get brighter.
There is another option though; use the lasso tool with the feathering selection set to about 50 or even 100 pixels. Once you have done this, use the curves adjustment to just locally brighten the flowers in the foreground.
If you can get some more white into this image it will just look so much better.
Now, did I mention the third option? Another option for you might be to darken this image down, add a hint of softening instead of going bright!?
There are a few things that you can apply to this photograph... I would keep playing with it.
Cheers for now, Anthony