San Marcos, California, USA by Jack Quintero

Picture Story

Like many of us photographers here in the western US, I've not gotten out to shoot landscapes over the last eight months or so. Covid, wild fires, and smoke-filled skies are the culprits. To fill the gap at least a little bit, I bought a macro lens so that I could try a new photography path here at home and shoot tiny landscapes. I sure had a lot to learn and still do, of course. As I tried to teach myself to "see small," I faced many trials and errors with lighting, composition, focusing--well, you name it, and I had to learn it all over again as I crawled along this new path.

This rose photo is one of very few from this early stage that I think enough of to post anywhere. Before shooting it, I had decided that I wanted full, deep focus instead of selective focus even though the latter might be more artful. That goal called for focus stacking. My rose came from a stack of 22 separate files, each focused on a different part of the flower. I focused first on the furthest away part of it and worked my way to the nearest part. The combination of focus peaking and focus magnification in my Sony 7R IV along with a fill flash gave me the stack I wanted. Processing it presented another new challenge for me. Failing to get good results from Photoshop's stacker, I moved on to Zerene Stacker to do the retouching. It took some time to get familiar with that very solid piece of software. So, then, my rose was a labor of love filled with many new lessons and a new kind of satisfaction.

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