Growing Sunflowers

Some days ago we've got a little present, which was a small tin with some soil in it and some sunflower seeds. We pushed the seeds into the soil and spilled some water over it. Now, some days later, it is amazing to watch these little plants grow and grow. The whole thing looks so cute that I couldn't resist to take some macro shots of it today.

The setup I've chosen was as follows: I placed the tin with the plants onto a window bench and the camera in front of it. This way I got some nice daylight to the back of the plants. The soil gets a nice structure with this light. But the plants were very dark from the point of view. So I placed my flash beside the tin and let it light up from the right side. To enlighten the left side of the plants I placed a reflector opposite to the flash. In fact, the reflector was just a sheet of white paper. This way I get bright light from the right, less bright light from the left and the daylight from the back. For the dark background I used some black fabric.

My lens of choice was my Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro lens. The distance from the lens to the tin was about 15cm. The camera was mounted on a tripod and connected to my laptop computer for remote control. I realized very soon, that it is quite hard to put the scene into focus. At these little distances you have a focus depth of less than a millimeter up to a few millimeters only, depending on the aperture you choose. I first tried with very little apertures of f/2.8 to f/4. But the area in focus was so tight, that only few parts of one plant were in focus. So I decided to use higher apertures of f/8 up to f/11. This reduced the blur significantly but in my opinion it was still enough blur to not distract from the object of interest. I have set the camera to aperture mode and the ISO to 200. The camera has chosen the shutter speeds automatically.

And here is the result... This one I shot with an aperture of f/11. The camera used a shutter speed of 2.5 secs. I like this one because the two outside plants are quite in focus and the blur is enough to not disturb. Those little plants look like huge aliens but they are only about 1cm high. You can clearly see the structure of the soil which is quite interesting. The water drop at the bottom of the left plant is nice, too.

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