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Flash or not Flash? Macro >1:1

Flash or not Flash? Macro >1:1
Photo Information
Copyright: Alexei Alyokhin (Alex99) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
Genre: Plants
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-05-09
Categories: Flowers
Camera: Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D, Konica Minolta AF 100 F2.8 Macro (D), Hoya HMC Super UV(0) 55 mm
Exposure: f/19, 1/350 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Blue Things [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2008-03-12 6:58
Viewed: 6321
Favorites: 1 [view]
Points: 146
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Taking my last shot (Intenational Women's Day) I have applied new for me technique of use of flash light (maximal negative flash compensation and adequate positive exposure compensation) for more qualitative reproduction of white flower petals and their texture.

This is an appropriate occasion to share present shot and discuss the question.

Having macro shooting as my favorite kind of a photography I often and widely use flash. Especially I like use very small aperture value with macro ring flash.

Some our TN-friends do not use flash at all. They have few reasons for it but I share not all of them. I only concentrate my attention on effectiveness of flash using in various light conditions.

Comparing shots taking with and without flash, I notice that flash help me to get crisp sharp images with great texture reproduction. I can get such effect only at sunny days. If I shoot objects (for example) in shadows or at cloudy weather I usually cannot get (or it is rather difficult to get) bright colours and tiny details.

It is clear use of flash light has some negative consequences. At macro photography the main from them is dark BG. Because of difficultness of elimination blur effects from even light air movement at macro photography it is impossible to use long exposure time for good possessing of a BG.

Now I think that the best way in macro shooting is a modest use fill flash for light illumination of details of the shooting objects (I do not consider a case of application of the additional special lighting equipment).

However, after huge series of macro shoots which I took last year with macro ring flash I decided (also last year) to take similar macro shots without any flash using only strong sunlight (as a model of fill flash light) and all my skill.

This is a tiny flower about 4 mm of size and full frame shot excepting light cropping on the left side. Magnification ratio is larger than 1:1. TC Kenko AF 2x Teleplus MC7 DG have been used. Any flash was not used. As you can see despite the small aperture value I managed to apply rather short exposure time and get well illuminated and colored BG. I do not remember only whether I used a tripod.

Only one more cool fact. I have used exposure compensation -2.5 eV. I always use small negative exposure compensation (when objects have white areas) but this time I used strong negative compensation. It allowed me to exposure white heart of the tiny flower correctly.

Miss_Piggy, gerbilratz, ellis49, mariki, anel, jaycee, Argus, uleko, jcoowanitwong, lousat, Art_R, Necipp, matatur, jazdzurka, Silvio2006, rdfoto, Islander_, rousettus, fiyo, mlines, Ena, cicindela, K9madtex, SkyF, jeanpaul, jhm, Royaldevon, horia, earthtraveler, izler, eqshannon, jmp, ramthakur, saeedabbasi, peter_stoeckl, oscarromulus, Adanac, hester, meyerd, CeltickRanger, angela926, SelenE, XOTAELE, marcin, Juyona, goldyrs, TAZ, jusninasirun, maurydv, extramundi has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To eqshannon: "Blue Things".Alex99 1 03-16 23:13
To Royaldevon: Pollen & Thanks a lot.Alex99 1 03-16 23:06
To claudine: The best flash.Alex99 1 03-16 11:20
To anel: Anchusa arvensis. Many thanks.Alex99 1 03-13 10:47
To uleko: Correct ID. Thanks a lot.Alex99 1 03-13 10:41
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Critiques [Translate]

very very nice piece of work, you have done well to accomplish this fine image...The use of flash has given you such a good image...I do not have a flash ring at present, so I have to make do with natural light and a flash gun, but this has convinced me this is the way forward....excellent work..TFS

Useful notes as well....

Hallo Alexei
You cannot be serious! Is this for real? Absolutely stunning. Unbelievably beautiful. The colours and detail is just WOW! It is like the glitter and shine of the decorations on a Christmas tree. I am really impressed and same time amazed. Thanks for the interesting information with regards to the use of the flash. Well done as always. Thanks for sharing. Said all the above, further I am speechless.
Kind regards

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  • joey Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1739 W: 224 N: 6872] (24909)
  • [2008-03-12 7:56]

Wow! How small is this flower?! 1:1 macro! It must only be a couple of millimetres!
Very, very, very sharp with impeccable clarity and detail.
Nice composition as well.
I love the pale blue colouring.
Well done Alexei,

Hi Alexei,
flash or no flash, you already know my opinion. I use FILL-in flash for many shoots both for macros and even for birds because of the bad light we have here in the winter.
A balance with a FILL-in flash and the daylight can be very good but when you use full flash for macros, F22 and the shortest sync-time the pictures will like night-mode for day-living butterflies, with hard light, hard contrast and black BG, it's not nice.
About your photo; very nice light and colours, the exposure are excellent. Good sharpness with fine details.
Well composed with fine POV.
Well done, my friend.

Hello Alex,

Very sharp picture of this flower. Very nice colours and texture reproduction. You could even capture a little insect (less than 2 mm if the flower is 4).

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  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2008-03-12 8:26]
  • [+]

Hello Alex,
Very soft colours and a marvellous little flower make this picture very special. The decentred composition is great here. I'm not an adept of flash and I think if possible it is better to use natural light.
Have a nice evening

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  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2008-03-12 8:55]

Hi Alexei,

This is stunning!!! The textures on the flower are amazing. It looks as though you have sprinkled stardust on it. Beautiful colors and wonderful details of the little flower and the luscious leaves.


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  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2008-03-12 9:01]

Hello Alexei,
You are a macro photographer and use flash with enough skill to make the application of flash look natural, as if it were ambient light. Now you demonstrate that can also make excellent use of ambient light with this fine portrayal of a small blue flower with all the qualities of a good macro. Once again the availabilty of good light is the key.
To me this is just as successful as your flash shots and pleases me because I try to avoid flash as you know. However I have used it when there is no alternative.
Thanks for sharing this and raising a good question.
Best wishes, Ivan

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  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2008-03-12 9:15]
  • [+]

Hello Alexei,
Impressive macro of this tiny little flower that I'd guess is a Small Bugloss (Anchusa arvensis). I like the hairy leaves too and the fine soft background. I prefer the softer look that you get without using the flash although there are times when its good to use the fill-flash too. This is very well done!
Many thanks and regards, Ulla

Hello Alexei,
Wonderful macro picture. Perfect technique to get this brilliant image. All fine details are well appreciated. Very well done and thanks for your informative note.

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  • nglen Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
  • [2008-03-12 10:08]


Hola Alexei, espero que todo vaya bien. Un saludo.

Tu fotografía la veo sencilla y delicada, con unos detalles interesantes y bien captadas las texturas. Quizá algo subida de brillos o blanco en algunas zonas. La luz es excelente así como el encuadre.

Josep Ignasi.

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  • lousat Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6595 W: 89 N: 15659] (65489)
  • [2008-03-12 10:26]

Hi Alex ,the pic is perfect,nt easy to take whit a flower so little.I like a lot your note and your differents attempt,very very interesting,have a nice day,Luciano

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  • Art_R Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 244 W: 20 N: 839] (3892)
  • [2008-03-12 10:52]

beautiful photo , the flower is gorgeous , and the extra bonus of the insect is great. very nice.

I am thankful for your notes as well , I have been considering a macro lens and was wondering if such attachments where compatible with them.

great photo , great info , thank you so much for sharing.


Hello Alexei, amazing sharp detail of a beautifully composed flower. the dof is just perfect. The colour contrast stands out well. The bg blur is nice and smooth. Good work tfs Rgds Necip

Hello Alexei,
Thank you so much for the topic of flash and light that you shared with us and to learn for a better macro presentation! much appreciated for that!
this is a very fine macro image with 1:1 that we looks in every single details on the image! the flash really done a good job here!
great job well done

A very good reproduction of this fine macro scene Alexei, both the flower and the small bug are within the very shallow DOF the lighting is perfect and there is even a pleasant OOF, but not so dark, BG. So it seems my friend, no strong flash illumination is necessary in such a fine take, eh?

Hi Alex
Thank you for your picture. It is beautiful. Technically perfect.

But I want to thank you the most for your note. It was very informative for me and since I've read it I decided that I have to try taking macro shot with flash. I don't do this usually. So that's latest time to start.

Thanks for sharing

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  • cako Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 485 W: 0 N: 772] (3395)
  • [2008-03-12 13:31]

Hi Alexei
this si very lovely image
very naturel colors and sharp
well done.

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  • rdfoto Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 372 W: 0 N: 719] (3295)
  • [2008-03-12 14:18]

Bonjour Alexei
Superbe macro, excellente netteté et couleurs, très beau sujet, bien cadré et commentaire technique très interessant. Bravo
Amicalement Robi

Hi Alex,

You got it! Concerning the flash, it's just a tool like so many others. And it's up to you to decide when and how to use any tool from your toolobox - your are the master. Just learn them all to be ready...

Thank you,


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  • Jamesp Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
  • [2008-03-12 15:49]

Hi Alexei

A lovely shot - excellent POV with outstanding colours and detail - almost a 3D effect. Well observed and captured.


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  • Mana Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1772 W: 36 N: 5597] (18598)
  • [2008-03-12 19:11]

Hi Alexei,
Outstanding shot of this beautiful flower with such lovely colours and immaculately sharp details. Superb management of natural lighting and expertly done exposure - your experiment was higely successful. Amazing education in light handling and control - it is such a huge lesson learnt today. A great DOF and a fine top POV to portray it makes the flower pop out. Very nicely composed. Kudos.

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  • arfer Gold Star Critiquer [C: 2731 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2008-03-12 21:02]

Hello Alexei

AMAZING! The clarity is exceptional,with razor sharp focus and detail.
The lighting is well handled with vibrant and rich colour.
Excellent POV.
Masterful camera work.


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  • fiyo Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1053 W: 5 N: 3475] (15161)
  • [2008-03-12 22:48]

Hello Alexei,
Excellent shot,great color & composition with excellent details within your DOF. Well done.TFS

Hallo Alexei

I use no flash, i use natural light.
These flower is very sharp with much clarity details.
Good composition

Regars Gert

Hi Alexei, This is a very fine piece of work by nature. This flower seems almost handmade with icing sugar coating. A wonderful plant to see on TN. TFS. Murray.

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  • Ena Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 324 W: 61 N: 594] (2454)
  • [2008-03-13 1:16]

Hello Alex,
Lovely flower!
Good details and composition!

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  • gannu Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 988 W: 4 N: 3277] (14761)
  • [2008-03-13 3:17]

Hello Alexei, Lovely shot and excellent note. Great clarity and amazing composition.Ganesh

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  • EOSF1 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1393 W: 119 N: 5267] (23955)
  • [2008-03-13 4:05]

Hello Alexei, nice macro shot, sharp image, very good exposure. Well done, thanks!


This is a beautiful Macro Alexei. The flash really made this photo work. The flower is stunning. Great job.

Hello Alexei,
your note as usual is very helpful, and even I can understand them with my limited techno knowledge :-).
The shot, well what more can I say as already has been said.
Gorgeous, eye catching and impressive comes to mind.
Thanks for sharing!!


Hi Alex, beautiful flower with great details and excellent sharpness, splendid focus, very well done, ciao Silvio
PS great lesson about use of flash in your interesting note, you are right but I often prefer natural light:)

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  • PaulH Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1137 W: 26 N: 3879] (13882)
  • [2008-03-13 8:39]

Hi Alexei,
alot has been said already, but i have to add my own thoughts! I am sure that you know this is an incredible work of photography. Your technical skills are second to none my friend. What we have here is a perfect example of somebody who is completely at one with their camera. This to me is pretty much perfect macro photography.

Bonjour Alexei
Une excellente photo ,les couleurs sont justes et parfaitements exposées ainsi que les détails.. Félicitations pour la belle composition.

Merci et bravo...JP

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  • jhm Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 893 W: 0 N: 507] (1853)
  • [2008-03-13 10:42]

Hello Alexei,

This is always the great discussion, flash or no flash, a lot people use a flash with the macro 100mm lens, I use this never but an Canon 5D have very a few light need.
But my friend Alexei, I'm no macro specialist, more a landscape photographer.
I try for macro photography and also birds in the nature with a 100-400mm lens, but this is not my speciality.
I find this picture very well, through the grains on the flower get we a specially effect, this is absolutely nice, but I don't know, as this the just methode for macro photography.
I read a lot very good reactions, this of specialists.
Very well done, thanks for sharing.

Best regards,

Hello Alexei,

I found your notes interesting!
I don't have a flash ring but to be honest, I don't use my flash very often. I try with and without, usually preferring the without!

The detail on this tiny 4mm flower is quite amazing!
I can see minute golden droplets on the petals which resemble honey. Is that pollen?

The colours and the composition are excellent.

kind regards,
Bev :-)

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  • horia Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2158 W: 224 N: 4749] (16656)
  • [2008-03-14 2:26]

Hi Alexei

Another very interesting and terrific post from you!
You capture is indeed outstanding - especially considering the amazing magnification level and the fact that you were able to use such a small apperture with only natural light. I'm sure that the strong exposure compensation to the negative has helped you into getting that short shutter speed but you still benefited from a very beautiful sunny day that day.
The subject is lovely - very well focused on and spot-on exposed. I love its colors and the attention to details here.

Now for the question of with/without flash at macros, there will always be people that will say one way and other the other way :)
I think that it depends from case to case. And it doesn't only depend on the weather (sunny or cloudy) but also the positioning of the sun in the sky (if it produces strong shadows or not).
I can promise you one thing: this season i will join your experiments and also try all sorts of settings with my equipment and we can afterwards compare our details :)
Anyway, superbly done, my friend!

Bravo and TFS

Hello Alexei,
You captured the fine details of this dainty flower so expertly. It couldn't be better. Fine job of composition also as well as lovely colors. Tfs and have a great weekend.

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  • izler Gold Star Critiquer [C: 1387 W: 3 N: 9] (44)
  • [2008-03-14 11:25]

hello my friend
successful micro capture of this beautiful and smallest flower via great technique and equipment
composition, POV, BG, lighting, colours, sharpness and details are great

Hello Alex.

Excellent picture, nice composition and colors.
Very good details.

Jose Luis.

You are a phenomenal man in many areas, and photography is one of them...Very nice and it goes straight to my blue Theme! Wonderful Alexi...if you were here I would buy you an ale...

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  • demeve Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 586 W: 12 N: 1682] (6165)
  • [2008-03-14 22:58]

Hello Alexei,
What a beauty! great macro, the colors and details are fantastic
Congratulations and very well done


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  • jmp Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1659 W: 95 N: 2273] (8415)
  • [2008-03-15 1:21]

Hi Alexei,
I admire your carefully approach to the photography! Someday I'll try to study your so well planned experiments in which you get an unquestionable results. In this so tiny flower you've got extreme datails and rich textures and a really aesthetic image.
TFS and best regads,
José Miguel

It is your innovative approach to nature photography that lends your work a distinct charm and originality, Alexei. I have read your note with deep concentration, though I am all thumbs so far as the dynamics of light are concerned :-(!
This image of a blue flower you have shot with a cool and logical understanding of the prevailing conditions is just fantastic. The little bug within the frame matches with the part of the plant it is perched on in colour and this cluster of colour contrasts beautifully with the blue of the flower.
With that even and colourful BG, the entire composition turns into a work of art.
Thanks and best regards.

Hi dear Alexei ,
What a nice macro.
wonderful composition and great focus.
BG and sharpness are excellent too.
Colours are amazing.
A perfect shot.

kind regards

Hello Alexei!
First of all - thank you very much for comment to my bat picture, and I am sorry for delay with writting this comment :)
This was really lovely dedication to women in their day! I really like to wish Ladies "all the best", so bravo for continuing this tradition! :)
According to techniqe and quality - as always I would be able to write many warm words, starting with DOF and details and ending to composition and light. But this time I wish simple words only with believing that it is better that repiting always the some ;) Dear Alexei - this macro picture is fantastic!!! And additional points for... small bug species! ;)
Friendly yours,

PS. I prefer to use flash taking macros, especially when I try to photograph insects :)

Dear Alexei,
fascinating handling of depth of field - those very precise petals, buds, and the bug in sparkling natural sunlight in front of a gradually soft and smooth background. Delightful colours, a perfect composition. Another wonderful high precision image, my dear Alexei - it is radiating with light and energy. Thank you!
My best regards,

My "VERY" dear friend, Alexei,
It is a joy to "see" a flower.
It is still 0*C in Calgary; no flowers yet.
But Spring is on its way; the signs are in the air and in NATURE. "Our" birds are returning home.
I've made a HARD copy of your beautiful notes; and, if you permit me I'll copy the image into my personal files.
Very fond regards to you & your wife,

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  • Adanac Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1273 W: 1 N: 6188] (21378)
  • [2008-03-16 4:51]

Hello Alexei,
This is an outstanding composition Alexei with incredible colors and details a reasult of your masterful camera work. Thank you for sharing.

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  • hester Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1515 W: 18 N: 3165] (11638)
  • [2008-03-16 8:58]

Hi Alexei

I always like to read your notes with your experiments with photography. Beautiful sharp shot with fine details. DOF and POV are both spot on



Hi Alexei,
highly interesting and instructive excursion on the use of flash and sun light for macros! Thanks for your effort to show us the ropes.
Best regards

Hello Alexei,
Delicate details in this little flower!
And the insect comes as a pleasant surprise on opening the image...
Sharp fine details in the macro work, great light renders attractive colours and a pleasant 3-D effect!
Pablo -

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  • Nilson Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 488 W: 0 N: 566] (4423)
  • [2008-03-16 10:28]

Belissima planta muito bem focado e com detalhes interessante meus parabéns.

This is brilliant Alexei! This little, tinny creature shines like a star! If I didn't know, I would say that you used flash for this one :) Details, compositio, colors and DOF are amazing. This is a work of art, nothing less :) Thanks,

hello Alexei

thanks to your critiques and good words
on my 150th posting ,

you did a superb macrophoto shot managing your camera
perfectly to get this lovely composition, beautiful colours
and excellent density of the colours and without burning
the highlights, it is a superb composition with a great DOF,



Hello Alexei,
Veru beautiful macro shot, excellent composition and pov, superb sharpness and depth of field, beautiful vivid colors and fantastic clarity, good lighting and wonderful details.

I am impressed with this crisp and colourful flower.
I find your notes especially interesting.This image could be a painting, a fine print, as well as greeting cards. Brilliant work Alexei.

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  • SelenE Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2249 W: 65 N: 4205] (13972)
  • [2008-03-17 8:01]

Hi Alexei,
Colors, details, sharpness, focus,lighting and composition look so nice. TFS

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  • jesst Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 368 W: 0 N: 172] (2441)
  • [2008-03-17 10:55]

Amazing work Alex, I really like it!

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  • sayat Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 280 W: 0 N: 258] (1457)
  • [2008-03-17 11:51]

Hi Alexei,

This is just marvelous! Amazing sharpness and a fantastic macro. There is a different world of macro in this universe and your shot clearly explores the beauty and the delicay of that. The insect is a fantastic addon to the perfect blue of the flower. Maybe a bit oversharp but fantastic!

Thanks for sharing.

Hola amigo.
Un increíble trabajo.
Hermosos colores mnuy bien expuestos y maravillosas texturas.
Un cordial saludo, JL.

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  • marcin Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 138 W: 0 N: 268] (2057)
  • [2008-03-18 12:15]

Hello Alex,

Very sharp picture of this flower, wonderful macro,
Many thanks and regards

Hello dear friend Alexei
I dont know how disappeared my critique here. I re-write again. It is really super macro. I fallow your techniques pleasurely. This is a perfect result of them. Excellent sharp detail. Splendid coloration. Greatly composed. POV and notes also great. Thanks for sharing all of them. best wishes

Intéressant aspect granité du cliché.
Bonne journée.

bonjour alexei
j'adore la texture de la fleur et agalement sa couleurs.
le contraste est saisissant,bonne profondeur de champ.

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  • Juyona Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor [C: 2232 W: 10 N: 2971] (16891)
  • [2008-03-23 12:14]

Hola amigo,
precioso color y textura,
bellos matices y ambiente...
el insecto en foco :))
magnífico trabajo,

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  • sily Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 239 W: 6 N: 395] (1934)
  • [2008-03-24 10:06]

Beautiful microscopic and pearly details, it's just amazing how close this shot is and how perfect it's quality is, congrats Alex!

This looks so real, my friend Alexei...I love the velvet-like look which i feel I can almost touch and feel...
And then there's the perfect light..
Very well done!
thank you!

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  • TAZ Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2241 W: 47 N: 3167] (10926)
  • [2008-04-21 4:09]

Hello my old friend,
This macro is master piece ! I like it ! Tones, sharpness on petals and DOF are great and give a good result. I read your excellent photographer's note and I find it interesting. In my case it is no flash for macro. But I can't add a ring flash because my Fuji has no plug ;-)
Congratulations Alexei and TFS,

Hello Alexei. Your flowers are as impressive as your butterflies. Stunning image and excellent texture. I like the lightness and detail of the shot in well silenced background. Well done and best regards. Jusni

Splendida macro, eccellenti POV, DOF e la composizione che creano un effetto tridimensionale, straordinaria nitidezza, magnifici i colori e BG. Sicuramente l'aggiunta alla luce naturale del flash crea una piacevole luminosità e una bellissima brillantezza. Grazie e complimenti. Ciao Maurizio

Hello Alex.
It has been quite a lot time since I last had a look at your gallery and I was very impressed, lovely photos achieved.
I chose this one because of the impressing magnification/quality ratio shown.
Excellent details merges observer into micro word, this kind of magnification is what I really like, not only looking at small details,but getting into micro word.
Congratulations and best regards, Felipe.

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  • Maite Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 998 W: 65 N: 1270] (5199)
  • [2008-06-09 2:57]

Hello dear friend
You are right about the use of flash in conditions where the sunlight is not the more appropiate. Here the sun and your skill have made their work perfectly :)
Magnificent macro with splendid colors and details. Beautiful pic and superb job.

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