Locked Down in Canberra (Floriade)

28 September to 9 October 2021, Canberra, ACT.

Click on any image to see it larger (if you’re on a PC at least).

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While in lockdown we are still allowed out to visit open places in our immediate area.  Usually I’ve just been going for walks in the reserve out the back but I have also made some visits to Floriade.  This is an annual flower festival in Canberra.  Usually it is jam-packed with tourists and visitors from other Australian states but because of lockdown it was not publicised and no-one can come into Canberra from outside.  Usually I don’t attend because of the crowds and because other than in small very occasional doses I find it all a bit twee, but it does have some interesting potential for photographs.

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Australia, Canberra, Floriade, Flowers, Focus stacking, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

I visited Floriade three times.  The first time I was interested in trying focus stacking, taking lots of images and assembling them later to get arrays of all the flowers with all of them in focus.

I found it didn’t work as well as I was expecting.  We don’t see detailed arrays in perfect focus like that and I found that the detail was overwhelming the composition.  This first image is cropped in considerably for that reason.

I was using a Fujifilm X-E4 (for which you can specify start and end focus points for photo stacked images) and an 80mm f2.8 macro (and processing in Zerene Stacker) though as it turned out, most of the images didn’t really need a macro lens.

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Australia, Canberra, Floriade, Flowers, Focus stacking, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

In the original version of this image, there were too many flowers in focus for the eye to know where to rest.  I had to crop the image in considerably and also reprocess it so that fewer flowers were in focus.

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Australia, Canberra, Floriade, Flowers, Focus stacking, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

This isn’t cropped in, it is as composed but the wind was blowing around so that the flowers were moving with respect to each other.  The camera took around 150 images but there was no way I could use all those.  So I selected 12 and combined those for essential detail, leaving the background out of focus.

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Australia, Canberra, Floriade, Flowers, Focus stacking, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

This image didn’t require cropping and isn’t really part of Floriade.  These are flowers on reeds growing on a small swampy island and I got down low to take them against the light.

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This image is also not cropped, and works OK as a focus stack, with varying layers of white, green, red and purple.

Most of the images from this series I ended up discarding though.

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Australia, Canberra, Floriade, Flowers, Focus stacking, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

The second time I visited I had a very different approach.  I used a long telephoto with a very fast lens to get a flower or part of a flower in detail, with most everything else completely out of focus.

(A fast lens is one that opens very wide at maximum aperture and lets in lots of light with a small depth of field. To be precise, I used a Nikon D850 and 300mm f2.8 lens with a 1.4x teleconverter, all taking at maximum aperture of f4.  The Fuji equivalent would be a 200mm f2 + 1.4x TC, but I do not have that lens.)

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Australia, Canberra, Floriade, Flowers, Focus stacking, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Using a long lens with a shallow depth of field like this brings out subject isolation and for the most part worked much better than trying to get everything in focus.

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Australia, Canberra, Floriade, Flowers, Focus stacking, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

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Australia, Canberra, Floriade, Flowers, Focus stacking, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

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Australia, Canberra, Floriade, Flowers, Focus stacking, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

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Australia, Canberra, Floriade, Flowers, Focus stacking, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

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Australia, Canberra, Floriade, Flowers, Focus stacking, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

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Australia, Canberra, Floriade, Flowers, Focus stacking, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

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Australia, Canberra, Floriade, Flowers, Focus stacking, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

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Australia, Canberra, Floriade, Flowers, Focus stacking, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

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Australia, Canberra, Floriade, Flowers, Focus stacking, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

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Australia, Canberra, Floriade, Flowers, Focus stacking, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

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Australia, Canberra, Floriade, Flowers, Focus stacking, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

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Australia, Canberra, Floriade, Flowers, Focus stacking, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

There were also some ducklings in the park.

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Australia, Canberra, Floriade, Flowers, Focus stacking, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

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Australia, Canberra, Floriade, Flowers, Focus stacking, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

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Australia, Canberra, Floriade, Flowers, Focus stacking, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

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Australia, Canberra, Floriade, Flowers, Focus stacking, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

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Australia, Canberra, Floriade, Flowers, Focus stacking, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

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Australia, Canberra, Floriade, Flowers, Focus stacking, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

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Australia, Canberra, Floriade, Flowers, Focus stacking, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

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The third time I visited I had in mind a variation of the approach.  I still used the same long telephoto and this time I focus stacked, but only a small number of images.  The images could be dramatic with a single shot but only part of a flower might be in focus.  I wanted to see how it would work with a bit more depth of field to get the whole flower in focus. (Starting with the image above)

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Australia, Canberra, Floriade, Flowers, Focus stacking, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

This worked well but there was too much wind on this day (it doesn’t take much when focus stacking) so I had to be patient and wait for lulls..

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Australia, Canberra, Floriade, Flowers, Focus stacking, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

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Australia, Canberra, Floriade, Flowers, Focus stacking, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

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Australia, Canberra, Floriade, Flowers, Focus stacking, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

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Australia, Canberra, Floriade, Flowers, Focus stacking, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

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Australia, Canberra, Floriade, Flowers, Focus stacking, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

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