Please critique my plant photos

mathbias

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One of my intended uses of my new Sony a7 iii is to document progress of plants in my garden (and see what I'm doing right/wrong in gardening). I got the camera at the wrong time of year for that. But today I took some test photos as if I were doing gardening photos, so I can learn what I'm doing right/wrong in use of this camera. With my old camera, the background spoils most gardening photos. With the new camera, I assume min F of my zoom lens together with widest aperture gets rid of background, as I did in these two tries.

These need improvement and I have no clue of even what I did worse the second time. I thought I did pretty much the same thing other than a tiny shift of angle.
In both cases, I used the AF because I'm hopeless at MF. In both cases I used the digital zoom to assist AF and the smallest spot choice of AF and carefully focused on a leaf that is an average distance (vs. all the other leaves of the plant) from the camera. I'm pretty sure I made a good selection, but I'm also pretty sure in the first photo that the actual focus is on a point too near the camera. So far as I can tell on a big computer monitor zoomed in to parts of the photo, pine needles closer to the camera than any of the leaves are in focus, while everything even a little further than the point I chose to focus on is out of focus. So I'm pretty sure the AF failed me. But please tell me if I've misinterpreted what is wrong.

The MF on this camera is just too hard for me to use, as is the DMF (supposed fine tune after AF). If I could tell which way the focus was off, or if I knew which way it would consistently be off (for a specific set of conditions) I would fine tune the focus by using AF then physically moving the camera slightly further away or closer. But I really can't tell with either the viewfinder or the monitor. I never know till I get back to a desktop computer. So my only hope is to understand what is going wrong in enough test photos to be able to blind compensate for it in real photos.

Then in the second photo, it is just worse and I have no idea what changed. It looks to me like less depth of focus, but no settings on the camera changed and I'm barely more than guessing when I say less depth of focus. Less depth of focus would actually be good, but combined with the focus being closer than the spot I carefully focused on, it would be the reason the second photo is just a failure (compared to the first photo needs some improvement).

c7M2W11.jpg


mISAHZM.jpg
 
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WalterRowe

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The second image appears to have been taken closer to the subject. Given the same f-stop, that would explain the shallower depth of field. You don't provide any EXIF info so I can't tell anything more.
 
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mathbias

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What should I have done differently in the posting process to have EXIF data go along with the photo?

The amount by which the second image taken was closer to the subject was very tiny. That was accidental. Mainly the second photo was taken from higher off the ground to look a bit more downward vs. the first photo almost level. I don't want to reject any advice (since I know so little myself) but I have trouble believing a change in subject distance that small resulted in a detectable change in depth of focus.
 

WalterRowe

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The closer the distance to a subject, the more significant a small difference in distance makes. If your working distances was three feet and you moved one inch closer, it won't make a huge difference but it **might** be noticeable.

Can you provide EXIF info? Focal length? Aperture? How far away were you? We really need more details about the setup in order to provide meaningful suggestions.
 
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mathbias

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With the EXIF viewers I have, nothing in the EXIF data gives a clue of how far away I was. I hope there is some better EXIF viewer that will decode that. But I suspect Sony just left out that info.

I think I was a bit under 3 feet away, but I didn't measure.

Both images were (by both camera settings and EXIF data) F 3.5, Focal length 28, 1/30 sec
 
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mathbias

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OK, I understand (already knew) closer means shallower DoF. Maybe that is a factor here.

But what can you see in the photos that I can't see and/or I'm just guessing?

I'm just guessing the second has shallower depth of focus. Is that really there? I'm barely more than guessing that both are focused slightly closer than the correct distance to subject. Is that what you see?

More importantly, what else is wrong? What should I do differently for better pictures (other than select a different subject).
 

dxqcanada

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Are you shooting JPEG or Raw (or both) incamera?
If jpeg, then the exif should not have been stripped out.
If raw, what app are you using to convert to jpeg ?

Here is a link to using Focus Peaking, which is something I use a lot on my Sony EVF cameras:
 
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mathbias

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JPEG, and the photo reached my computer with EXIF data.
If it didn't reach the forum with EXIF data (which I don't know how to check) then it went away in transfer from my computer to Imgur and/or transfer from Imgur to viewers in the forum.

As for "focus peaking", thanks for the reminder of what it is called, so I can find it again in the menu to turn it off. At some point I had turned that on and I've been meaning to find it again and get rid of it (maybe I'll experiment with less before off).
It thinks things are in focus that are far out of focus, often so far that I could tell with the monitor, but always so far that it is dramatic once I get the image back on a real computer.

In practice it is highlighting edges that have actual high contrast, regardless of whether being out of focus has reduced that contrast. So it chooses higher contrast out of focus over lower contrast in focus every time, even for lower contrast that are still very sharp edges (sharp edges between two not dramatically different intensities).

Anyway, so far it seems to be useless and just distracting.
 
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dxqcanada

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imgur privacy & security help says ... "EXIF data/metadata is removed from all images upon upload. There is no setting available to retain the data."
 
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mathbias

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I was following the sticky thread instructions for posting here. Is there a better way? If I put the photo on my google drive shared with all by link, does can that make the photo viewable in the post, or does that provide only a download link in the post?
 

dxqcanada

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One thing that I can see is that it would help you to have a background that makes the plant stand out more ... when you have tones that are too similar than everything looks the same.
 

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This forum does allow you to directly drop a jpeg into a post without having to link to a third party.

1638917816143.png
 
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mathbias

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I was considering the extreme solution of inserting a dropcloth held up between two posts behind a plant for the photo. But that is a lot of effort and in many cases impossible. Otherwise, the plant is planted where it is. I take the background into account when choosing the direction to shoot from. But usually all directions have terrible backgrounds.

Thanks for the info on simple drag/drop of photos into the post. If there had been no sticky thread on how to post photos to the forum, I would have assumed that and likely had no trouble. Instead I tried to figure it out based on what that sticky thread said.
 

dxqcanada

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I set to Manual Focus and used focus peaking on this macro shot to get peaking colour just on the head.
fly.jpg
 
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