Lantana Flower Close-Up

Happy Father’s Day (in the USA).

The day started off cloudy and rainy which ruined my planned morning photography outing. But in the afternoon the sun came out, and being of bored mind I wandered around my backyard and decided that I would take close-up photos of some lantana flowers.

I went and grabbed my camera with an extension tube and a 24-120mm lens and went back out. The lantana was getting full sun and there was only a slight breeze, so these were optimum conditions for extension tube close-ups. My first hand-held attempts didn’t work out as it was too difficult to focus and hold still. So, I went to get my tripod.

The normal center post in my tripod doesn’t allow the tripod to get low to the ground, so I put in the short center post. For the lens set-up I put a 36mm extension tube between the lens and the camera and had the lens zoomed out to 120mm and as close to the flowers as I could get it without casting a shadow on the subject. This allowed me to fill the sensor with the flower. I also removed the lens hood to reduce the shadow cast on the flower.

Pink Trailing Lantana Close Up
Pink Trailing Lantana Close Up

Focusing

When you use an extension tube, you get a very narrow depth of focus close to the lens. The flowers just a couple of centimeters from the front lens element will be in focus but focus will drop off quickly beyond that.

Also, auto-focus does not work well with an extension tube so you have to manually focus. And shooting such a close-up means that any small movement of the subject is magnified as well. My focusing process was to:

  • set the camera to live view mode
  • set the lens to manual focus
  • use the digital zoom control to zoom in to the place where I wanted to focus
  • wait patiently for the breeze to die down
  • manually focus and shoot.

Light is usually a problem when shooting with an extension tube, but with so much direct sunlight I was able to stop the aperture down to f/8 to get a little better focus depth and sharpness. The photo below was shot at 120mm, f/8, 1/250s, ISO100. I checked the histogram in camera to make sure that the highlights didn’t get clipped.

Pink Trailing Lantana Flower Close Up
Pink Trailing Lantana Flower Close Up

The leaves and dirt in the background blur out to a nice natural background setting for the flowers. The little bundle of flowers almost look as if they are just floating above the background thanks to the very shallow focus depth.

Chromatic Aberration

One problem that I found using extension tubes for this close up is chromatic aberration or color fringing on the edges of subjects. You can see this on the blue edges of the flower petals in the crop of the uncorrected image below. This is caused by different wave-lengths of light being defracted by different amounts by the lens elements. This is ordinarily corrected in the lens design, but I think that using the extension tube defeats the correction.

Lantana Crop Showing Chromatic Aberration
Lantana Crop Showing Chromatic Aberration

To fix this in LightRoom, I used the Defringing tool in the Lens Correction – Manual adjustment panel. I zoomed in on the edge of the flower petal and used the eye-dropper to select the offending fringe. The fringe can then be adjusted with a slider control. In the final images, earlier in the post, the fringing is mostly corrected though it is not perfect. This is probably one good reason that a macro lens is superior to the extension tube technique.

Other than that, I adjusted the exposure and gave a little saturation to the pinks and purples, gave it a square crop, and hit export.

Below is the little trailing lantana in a flower bed in my backyard taken with my phone. The flowers are very small and it would be difficult to get a good close up of them without a macro lens or using extension tubes.

img_1979

Thanks for reading and have a nice week.

8 thoughts on “Lantana Flower Close-Up

  1. Wow, what a process. You must have a whole closet full of equipment, and stuffed your head full of know-how on operating it. The photos came out great, though, in my view. With all the effort you go through, taking a shot, there must be some stock photo website out there that would pay for them. Have you ever tried to earn a little extra dough selling them?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A man needs an expensive hobby to consume his disposable income.

      Part of my reasoning for writing a blog is to learn to do things. I find that I learn better when I have to explain it. So I am writing this even if nobody reads it.

      I have looked at the stock photography sites, but they pay very little and often have questionable rights and ownership policies. Sometimes they have requirements about where else you can post the photos. They are better for people deliberately shooting stock photos I think.

      It is just a hobby anyway. At one time I wrote an occasional blog for a website in my spare time. The money I made wasn’t really worth the effort and tax documentation. I ended up giving some of my photos to an organization making a brochure once. I was just happy they liked my photos.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I figured it probably wouldn’t pay much. And then there’s the tax-tracking for such small profits, that makes it not worth the effort. I’ll bet most photographers don’t go through the meticulous effort you make, when shooting, so I thought your photos might command a higher price. Then again, it probably still wouldn’t be worth it.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I appreciate the nice comments.

      I have a job as an engineer for money. If I had to do photography for money, then it would be work and I’d need a new hobby.

      Happy Father’s Day. I just ate way too much food with one of my daughters. Hope you had a good day.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Some of my photos suffer from that chromatic aberration. If I ever would make myself sit down and learn Lightroom, I could fix that. I have no idea why LR seems incomprehensible to me. I have books. I’ve watched tutorials. I still don’t “get” it. Maybe I’ll try again!

    I didn’t know about trailing lantana. I’m going to have to start looking more closely. I may have seen it, and not recognized it. Those are lantana leaves, for sure — nice photos.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I find that most Adobe products are almost deliberately unintuitive. I have fought my way through LightRoom.

      If it is just chromatic aberration due to the lens, there is a quick lens correction checkbox that should get rid of it. In the develop tab, you may have to scroll down and find the Lens Correction menu and check the Chromatic Aberration box. It usually recognizes my lens from the meta data except for a Rokinon lens that I have that it doesn’t have a profile for.

      That fringing that I had was quite obvious, but another problem CA causes is discoloration around objects with a lot of tiny fringed areas, like a tree. The tree can take on a magenta look from all of the CA and when you correct it, it looks a lot better. I have only seen this with a cheap kit lens. I have never used an extension tube to take large landscapes such that I would see this.

      A good test is to just shoot a newpaper or b&w book from a distance and see if it appears to have a color in the photo.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I have to admit ignorance on the lantana. My mother gave me a lantana and it grew large and beautiful and attracts butterflies. So, I bought more lantana assuming one was the same as the other. This one grows more along the ground and would probably look better hanging in a pot. I found this out later doing internet searches.

      Liked by 1 person

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