Winter Aconite

Some macro withdrawal symptoms set in today – after another absence caused by work and the appalling weather of late.


A trip to a local garden centre had me pick up a pot of Winter Aconite for the garden, which I set out to photograph in the dining room.  The best flower is the smallest, about 1cm across, which called for some extension tubes on my 60 f/2.8 to get close enough for frame-filling.  Getting the background and focus-point right at high magnification is tricky, so I also went for some stacked shots.  These are very time-consuming to edit, but are ultimately worth the effort because the results can be very good.

The 60mm micro is excellent for this type of shot; the only drawback I can see (apart from the very close working-distance) compared with my 200f4 is the lack of a lens foot, so compositions can be a bit more tricky.  I have a Kirk L-bracket on the D800E, so this at least allows some flexibility.

All shot on the trusty tripod set-up: Gitzo 3540LS/Manfrotto 410 with Wimberley C12 clamp/Novoflex Castel-L focusing rack with a 2nd C12 clamp.

Other things of note: shot indoors, so used auto white-balance, and took a test-shot with a grey camera-bag insert in the background, from which I took a white-balance reading in ACR, which I then applied to all the other frames.  All frames deliberately under-exposed by 2/3EV to avoid blowing the highlights in at least one of the RGB colour channels (this is my rule of thumb shooting Nikon with bright flowers, but, again, a test-shot is always worthwhile).


Here are the three images that resulted from today’s work.


Shot 1: Here I erroneously set up the flower away from the natural light of a patio door, so did my best with a reflector




Nikon D800E/60f2.8micro/cpl/56mm extension

ISO 100 1.6″ f/11

Silver Reflector


Shot 2: A stack shot, though the background here is too dark for my liking.




Stack of 7 frames @ 1mm increments

ISO 200 1″ f/10


Shot 3: my favourite of the series: the background is artificial but better than the black; the stack is slightly longer to maximize depth of field on the flower.




Stack of 13 frames @ 1mm intervals

ISO 200 0.8″ f/10


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