Graptopetalum Flowers

A return to Derbyshire for Easter, and another round of photographing cacti and succulents. This time last year I took some shots of this Graptopetalum, but always wanted to try some more. The flowers are very small, but nicely graphic and colourful.

I took some shots with the usual 200f4 macro, but these limited me to shots of individual flowers. To try to get something to work with a group would require a different approach. The inflorescence is heavily branched, with flowers interspersed across it, so getting a group of flowers without too many branches intervening is challenging.

For this shot I decided on using the 85 PC-E tilt-shift, to modify the plane of focus. This had two advantages: control of background, and management of depth of field. On this shot, the front-to back depth of field is about 2cm, with each flower being about 10mm across. With a standard macro lens, even with an aperture of something like f/16, at a very close working distance this would have required many tens of frames, and I would have lost control of the background: this was shot in a conservatory, and the nice golden background here is provided by an armchair only about 1m behind. So tilt was going to be the answer; I could use a wide aperture to defocus the background. But even with full downwards tilt, I still had to stack to get everything in focus.

I’m pleased to say that this image got into the Flickr Ming Thein readers’ portfolio.

Below is another shot of a single flower, also using tilt.

Graptopetalum pentandrum f. superbum


Nikon D800E/85PC-E

ISO 100 1/50 f/4.2


Stack of 19 frames at 1mm intervals

Nikon D800E/85PC-E

ISO 100 1/8 f/11


Stack of 7 frames



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