Flower Fireworks – Happy New Year!


Most people can look back over the years and identify a time and place at which their lives changed significantly. Whether by accident or design, these are the moments when, because of a readiness within us and collaboration with events occurring around us, we are forced to seriously reappraise ourselves and the conditions under which we live and to make certain choices that will affect the rest of our lives.   – Frederick F. Flack

Thank you all who have visited my blog this past year. Especially, I wish to thank those people who are following this blog and who have provided comments on my posts. I wish for you all, health and happiness. Happy New Year! I have found inspiration in the posts of many of you. 

I cannot remember the last year that I made resolutions. This year, for whatever reason, I have decided that resolutions are appropriate.

Here are my (daily) resolutions:

Learn five things that are totally new to me:

  • a fact or piece of information (ie the pygmy right whale belongs to a species that was thought to have been extinct for millions of years. Not very practical info, but I enjoy being amazed. Science has not even figured out all the data about the animals that are here.)
  • a picture of something that I have never before seen, or at least that I have never seen depicted in that style (Yesterday’s find was Guy Tal’s marvelous landscapes that he has processed as paintings (http://guytal.com/gtp/gallery/index.jsp).
  • listen to a song that I have not heard before (thank you Pandora)
  • do something that extends an ability that I already have (like learning a new technique of photo processing)
  • do something in a way that is not my usual way (such as… I don’t know. This category is going to take some effort)

Give an unexpected gift to someone

Show, through my actions, that I love someone.

Become conscious of at least 20 things for which I am thankful.

Recommit, through actions, to my values and priorities.

Post more often on my blog, not worrying about proper grammar or punctuation.

The photo at the top of this page is a large chrysanthemum, each bloom of which is at least 4-6 inches in diameter. Usually close up photographs have a shallow depth of focus, that is, only a portion of the subject is in focus. This photo is almost entirely in sharp focus, because of using a technique called focus stacking. Multiple images are captured that are exactly the same except for the area in sharp focus. In this case, 41 separate photos were taken, beginning at the closest point of the flowers to the lens and working toward the back of the flowers with the focal plane of each photo being 2 mm deeper than the last. Then all the images were processed with Helicon Focus software (from http://www.heliconsoft.com/heliconfocus.html), which does an unbelievable job. (I highly recommend it both for close up/macro work, and for landscapes.) If you are interested in more information on focus stacking, please check out my first two posts of this blog.

Again, I wish you all a Happy New Year!

I welcome comments and criticisms (mostly comments).

My website for photo enhancing, processing and saving seemingly useless images is NaturePhotoRehab.com

J. Michael Harroun©2013


12 comments on “Flower Fireworks – Happy New Year!

  1. TBM says:

    I wish you luck with your goals. I miss Pandora–can’t get it in the UK. Or at least I don’t think I can.

    • Thank you for your good thoughts. Thus far, the results from my goals have been rewarding.
      Am sorry to hear that you cannot get Pandora or an equivalent. It provides such a convenient avenue to an incredible variety of music.

  2. mkriegh says:

    Nice post, and nice resolutions!

  3. Heather says:

    Those sound like great resolutions.
    Your flower photo(s) really do look like fireworks. How do you know that you’re changing the focus distance 2mm each time? The technique (and software) sounds interesting. As always, thanks for a great post!

    • Thank you for your kind compliments and for your excellent question. Your question addresses the key to excellent results from this technique when used for close up and macro work. The change of the focal plane (area of critical focus) is controlled with a focusing rail. This is an attachment between the tripod head and the camera. (The focusing rail that I like is the Manfrotto 454). It allows the tripod to remain fixed while it moves the camera forward in precise amounts between frames. Great results from the Helicon Focus software requires a slight overlap in the area of critical focus between frames. With the lens of a Canon 100mm f2.8 macro lens (on a Canon Rebel T2i)located 3 ft from the subject, the depth of focus is only 1/8 inch (3mm), getting overlap requires a focal plane change of less than this (about 1/12 inch which is 2mm). This is too small a distance to get my adjusting the lens’s focusing ring. (Since this focusing rail is relatively expensive, you may want to rent one until you find out whether this focus stacking is fun for you). For this technique, you can use any camera that allows you manual focus and manual exposure controls.
      However, for landscapes, the area of critical focus is measured in feet. For this, adjusting the lens’ focus ring will give great results. (You may want to just experiment with focusing at different distances within your scene. However, here is a technique of determining the approximate depth of focus for your camera/lens combination. Take photos of a picket fence or a wall with bricks/stones of uniform size. Place your camera/tripod so that the fence is “moving” away from you. Take images at a manual focus distance of 6 ft, 12 ft, 18 ft, 24 ft and infinity. (Using the raw file format is best. However, if you use the jpg format, set your camera menu to its sharpest setting & no further processing is needed for this exercise. When using the raw file format, process your images in the raw processor adding a moderate amount of sharpness. Then check your images at 150 % to 200 % magnification to determine the approximate depth of focus at each distance.)

    • I forgot to mention that Helicon Focus Lite (which is all you really need) is on sale for $30 currently at http://www.heliconsoft.com/purchase.html.
      There may also be a free trial version.

  4. Patrizia M. says:

    Felice Anno Nuovo a te e ai tuoi cari
    Ciao, Patrizia

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