Happy New Year!

Thanks for following my blog in its first year; with very low expectations, I am surprised that I have any followers or regular viewers, so that’s great!  Hopefully I’ll have more to show in 2014.



Last week the family spent some time at my parents’, and I was able to take the opportunity to photograph a number of the special plants that they have wintering in their conservatory.  It’s always fascinating to see what special particular cacti or succulents my dad will produce, and what if anything is in flower when we’re there, and this time was no exception.


Except for one shot, all my photographs this time were of a range of succulents, and I’ll show a few shots in what follows.  Just before Christmas I bought myself a present in the form of a new macro lens, a 60 f2.8 AF-S Micro-Nikkor – I’m still getting the hang of its differences from my 200f4 (particularly the minimal working distance in comparison, and the lack of a lens foot) but it is particularly useful for those higher magnification shots, with non-active subjects, where the 200f4 is ungainly or cumbersome, especially when used with extension tubes.  The good thing about it is that it has the same size filter thread so takes my Hoya HD 62mm polarizer straightforwardly.


The first set of shots I took were of a special form of Lithops which has unusual red-purple leaves.  These tend to flower around Christmas time, and were in bud on our arrival; as with other Lithops and related flowers, they only bother to come out fully in the afternoons, and that only with sunlight – which was at something of a premium in Derbyshire at this time of year.  I did however get one go at shooting a fully open flower.


All three of the following shots were taken with the 60mm lens.


Lithops optica f. rubra Bud #1




Nikon D800E/60f2.8micro/32mm extension/SB600+softbox for fill

1.2 crop mode

ISO 100 1/13 f/11

Single frame

About x2 lifesize



Lithops optica f. rubra Bud #2




Nikon D800E/60f2.8micro/SB600+softbox

Stack of 13 frames

ISO 100 0.4 f/14, fill @ -1EV


The difference between these two shots is a matter of personal preference I suspect – though obviously the stacked shot takes rather a lot more time editing!


Lithops optica f. rubra Flower




Nikon D800E/60f2.8micro

Stack of 10 frames

ISO 100 1/4 f/11


I always underestimate the amount of time I have to devote to editing a detailed stack of a flower in Photoshop – editing a smooth subject with only surface detail to contend with is relatively straightforward, but a subject with lots of overlapping fine detail such as stamens and pollen-grains involves a lot correction work for stacking errors and parallax problems.  If the lighting conditions are consistent the stack itself takes only a couple of minutes to shoot, but the final photograph can take several hours to edit.


Anyway, hope you like these for starters.  A couple more posts will follow with more intriguing subjects.  Thanks!

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