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Processing Pictures of Flowers

by Uwe Heimburger

(PentaxForums, 2018-02-14, 09:58) Inspired by my recent flower pictures a few days ago a member asked if I could tell about how I process my pictures of flowers. This article is a copy of what I answered.

Everything starts with seeing and thinking about the whole process and tools from capture to result. Let me start with the story of the latest pictures - a tale about the tulip images ...  (sorry, became a bit stretched)


I saw this nice bouquet of tulips standing in a vase on the table. Through the windows natural indirect light came from above and from the side showing some of the petals textures - nice, I thought. Asked my wife where the tulips come from - "our neighbours brought them this morning" she said! Next thought - I have to take some pictures.

The circumstances for the captures I had in mind simply were perfect. I only had to turn the vase to an angle that allowed me to photograph the special subject / views as previsioned. In other cases I sometimes use some light formers (reflectors etc.) and/or flash to get the direction and quality of light I need.

Equipment & Capture

In such a situation I don't need to be fast. I take the K-1 plus DFA100WR, sometimes complemented by the teleconverter DA TC1.4x and/or a macro achromat. Camera setup mounted on a tripod with ballhead and marco rail.

I love to use the K-1 flexible screen and if I don't need a flash I'm able to use ES (electronic shutter) and/or PSR (pixel shift resolution). So I compose and set the focus point based on the K-1 screen. I consider the histogram to expose to the right to get the most details. Depending on the subject I choose the aperture or make exposures of the same scene using different apertures to select the best later. Sometimes the macro rail comes into play if I decide to do focus stacking to get a deep depth of field for macros. I always shoot dng raw. That offers most flexibilty in post.

Post Processing

My main raw converter is Capture One Pro (C1P). Most of the time I have a clear perception how the final picture should look like. IMO to get there you should know the tools of your raw converter very well. My advice would be, don't change your raw converter too often. Stick with yours, learn how the converter's tools behave and learn some basics about color models and color management, experiment, collect experiences. Then you should be able to work efficiently with your raw converter.

I don't have a standard recipe to get a great picture out of my raw converter. After some years working with C1P I nearly use all development tools. Which ones depends on my perception, the capture and what adjustments I think are appropriate. So it doesn't make sense to me to enumerate all the available tools. But I like to mention C1P's layers tool that I like very much to do local adjustments. Do I use presets/styles? Yes, sometimes. They are also a great source to learn how they yield their results. 

An example of development

The PSR capture of this image IMO already was good. I pushed exposure up 1/3 EV, added a slight rgb and luma curve, recovered highlights to make the structures in these areas more visible, pushed contrast slightly and raised clarity and structures (micro contrast). A little bit of sharpening.

While working on this capture I thought I could have done the composition in another way. That sometimes happens. You see something special and change composition in post. In this case I wanted to crop and turn the view. Here's the result that I like very much.


Could I answer your question?  

If you are interested in C1P I can recommend the YouTube Webinars and Sascha Erni's Book about Capture One that conveys a deeper understanding of this raw converter and its management tools.

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