Request for critique: Flowers/Lighting

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Puckman, Oct 18, 2013.

  1. Puckman macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2008
    Location:
    Yorba Linda, CA
    #1
    I post my "experiments" and learning shots on photography-on-the-net usually (and receive varying degrees of helpful critique).
    Thought I'd start doing that here too. One can never get enough critique at my stage of learning.

    So with that in mind, cross-posted from other forum:

    Some experiments with indoor lighting (kitchen lights, really) and flowers.
    Please critique the lighting and composition mainly (or anything else).

    I think I prefer the one that fills the frame. But curious what you all think.

    1. Fill the frame composition.
    2. Same angle, lighting, white background.
    3. Slightly different angle on the flowers.

    [​IMG]
    IMG_5824 by Puckman2012, on Flickr

    [​IMG]
    IMG_5827 by Puckman2012, on Flickr

    [​IMG]
    IMG_5833 by Puckman2012, on Flickr
     
  2. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2008
    Location:
    Over there------->
    #2
    The light in the third one is the best match with the content. The light pink flower (rose?) crowning the whole bouquet is getting light that illuminates it well and really picks out its textures. The composition of that one is quite straightforward, but each of the flowers seem to gesture towards us, and it's nice how that unopened bud fits into the negative space at the bottom. The top of the frame is just a bit too tight in that one, however. If the subject is going to exceed the photo's frame, it needs to look intentional. Here just a tiny tip of the flower is cut off, which looks accidental.

    The first one is more interesting compositionally. It gets us right up close as if we're leaning in to smell the flowers. The light on that one looks rather random, however. The composition gives the yellow flower pride of place, but only its upper right part is getting bright light, and it's not even good light that would reveal the textures of the petals. Also, there is a lot more bright light at the top, along the edge of the frame, which does not help to keep the eye inside the picture.

    The middle shot presents an awkward view with a big hole in the arrangement showing beside the yellow rose.
     
  3. Puckman thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
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    Yorba Linda, CA
    #3
    And THIS is why I post here!

    Wow! That was a fantastic piece of feedback. Not one of the things you mentioned had occured to me. So right there, I'm already seeing these shots through a whole new light (pun intended).
    Thanks Phrasikleia.

    I can probably redo the tight crop on #3 to keep the top of the rose from being cut off.
    Your comments about the lighting (the bad lighting vs. the good lighting) has me scratching my head a bit. These 3 shots were lit exactly the same way (a regular household ceiling lamp in the kitchen, no modifiers or umbrellas, etc.)
    Probably not the best lighting, I know.
    But I'm trying to SEE the lighting in the way you're seeing it. I guess I'm a bit confused as to why the lighting is "good" in #3, on the top rose, but not in #1? Texture looks identical to me on that rose in both photos.
    I see what you mean on the center yellow rosebud not having even lighting in #1 though.

    Thanks again.
     
  4. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2008
    Location:
    Over there------->
    #4
    Happy to help. :)

    I thought I explained the lighting, but I'll state it differently.

    [​IMG]

    In #3, the light pink flower is the apex and terminus of the composition. The flowers beneath it angle upwards towards it, it's the largest flower in the frame, and its color is unlike any other in the bouquet. It sits at the top like a crowning element. So we should expect to see it lit well and showing lots of nice detail in the textures of its petals, and that's exactly what we see. The shot could probably benefit from some more dramatic lighting, but at least the lighting is consistent with the composition.

    [​IMG]

    In #1, that light pink flower is now a marginal element in the composition. Here the yellow rose is given pride of place in the composition instead, but the lighting is still causing the white flower at the top to draw a lot of attention, making it compete with the yellow rose and drawing the eye out of the frame. A better solution for #1 might have been to throw some spot lighting on that yellow rose, something that could pick it out and rake across the petals to bring out its textures. One way to do that would be to use a small directional light (maybe a flashlight) and to underexpose the rest of the scene.

    Here is a Dutch still life painting as an example. Note how the lighting helps to create a sense of hierarchy in the bouquet:

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Puckman thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #5
    Ok. I think I understand what you're saying now. The dutch painting really helps illustrate what you're talking about. (Great find, btw!)
    In short, the brightness of the top white-ish rose draws the eye away from the yellow "center of attention" so it should be de-emphasized a bit (or rather, have the yellow bud emphasized more with more dramatic/textured lighting).

    I'll have to try that tonight (assuming the roses haven't wilted or been tossed by the missus, hehe).

    I guess what threw me off in your first comment was the following sentence:
    he light on that one looks rather random, however. The composition gives the yellow flower pride of place, but only its upper right part is getting bright light, and it's not even good light that would reveal the textures of the petals.

    While I understood the focus being on the wrong element (the top rose), i guess I wasn't sure what "random light" meant or what "it's not even good light" meant.
     
  6. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #6
    I like the first composition. It is a kind of classic composition.

    As for lighing I'd go with "softer" light. On the first image the amount and direction of light is fine but I'd use a lght that is physically larger. If you don't have a soft box use a scrim, bounce from foam core, or whatever.

    One of the best accessories I got for shooting flowers was a few yards on thin white nylon, so thin you can almost see through it. And then you need some sticks, PVC pipes, frame from an old windows screen, or whatever to hold it. They make comercial products (A medium soft-box being the most obvious) to do this but you can cut up and old shower curtain or whatever.

    Same kind of thinking with flash. Pay $30 for a name brand defuser or cut a 1/2 gallon milk jug in half. You get the same effect.

    I would have used my 22" Norman beauty dish for this shot. I got it used for pennies on the dollar. But you can improvise the same effect.

    Just in case someone here wonders what "soft" is, the theory is simple. The angular size of the source of light as seen from the SUBJECT's location. You measure this in degrees of arc. The larger the number of degrees the softer the light. 90 to 180 degrees is good for many subjects like flowers. Examples: The sun on a cloudless day is very hard light at about 1/2 degree, A full overcast sky where you cannot see the sun at all is maybe 160 and is soft and a perfect day for outdoor flower photography.
     
  7. Puckman thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2008
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    Yorba Linda, CA
    #7
    Good info there. Albeit a hair above my technical knowledge.
    I'm trying to learn about light modifiers and general lighting dos and donts as of this past week or so, but it's still all very new to me.
    As mentioned in the original post, this was shot with the kitchen overhead light and nothing more, so not much thought was put into it at the time.

    With the information I'm getting here from Phras and you, I am now wanting to go back and redo this, with more forethought put into it. I need to move past the phase where I simply "stumble upon" a good photo by accident, to where I actually craft/mold/sculpt the lighting with intent and have my photos be more of a creation than an accident.
     
  8. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #8
    Yes the dutch painting uses a very classic design. One that is taught in most photography classes. It is good to look at painting. I've said for a long time that if you studdy photograhy and the tracher is telling you have to twiddle dials and camera setting, find a better teacher. The thing to study is good images and then at first you try and copy the styles of the ones you like

    The painter in this cases uses three techniques you can copy:
    1) Use of light and tone, the center of interest is the brightest thing and your eye is drawn to the bright object.
    2) A diagonal line that runs at 60 or 30 degrees and leads you to the main subject.
    3) The rule of thirds. He places the bright object on one of the four intersection points of a tic-tac-toe grid.

    There are a dozen other rules of thumb like these and and you can use between zero and all of them in any one photo. But if you can fit in three of more in one image it becomes a "classic" composition.

    If you do all three of these you have a very classic by-the-rules photo that most people will like. Your goal is to make an image like this that is still unique and fresh enough to catch some one's eye.

    Really good shooters can get all this right even in sports photography where they have less then 1 second to think. Normal people can fix it up later on a computer

    Yes dial twiddling does have a place. Eventually the students asks "how to I get this effect I want?" and then you explain. Or in many cases you are both student and teacher so you go off and read something. But the images should always come first. Go look at those big coffee table books.
     
  9. Phrasikleia macrumors 601

    Phrasikleia

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2008
    Location:
    Over there------->
    #9
    By "random", I meant light that did not seem intentional. Great lighting seems to fall in all the right places and emphasizes all the right details.
     

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