Mike Moats Flower Macros Contest – Part 1

One of the photographers I follow, Mike Moats, is running a Flowers Macro Contest. Frankly, the prized are pretty amazing, and while I will drastically reduce my own chances by doing so, I urge photographers who follow me to enter their own efforts.

You have until May 5th to send in your entry, and it can be a previously shot photograph. You can use the comments in the post linked above to ask Mike any questions you might have, but please; read the existing comments so you don’t repeat a question that was already asked. And yes, if I understand it correctly, it’s open to international entries (you should double-check for your individual country).

For them who don’t know how I do things, here’s what’s going to happen next . . . amma gonna do a few posts showing the candidates for my three entries. Honest, I don’t know how I will pare them down to just three.

We begin with Salsify seed heads.

Flowers, untitled-1-3-2_DIGI

Hmm . . . readers might notice these are smaller-then-normal photos . . . that’s because the requirement for the contest is a maximum dimension of 600 pixels. 

Those are presented actual size, and something is immediately obvious. All that glorious detail is just not going to show up in that size. Now, you don’t have to listen to me, but in playing around with a large number of macros, and looking at how they present themselves in the specified size, I suggest avoiding overly-busy photos like the two above.

Also because of the small size, I suggest amping up the impact of the photo. In my case, I processed most photos a little more than I normally would. Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot.

Here are two more shots that I like a little better.

untitled-1-4-2_DIGI Flowers,

With these, while still busy, there are large distinguishable features that draw the eye to them, and are supported by the smaller, less distinguishable details forming interesting backgrounds.

Here’s another shot showing more of the structure of the seed heads.


Notice this is a portrait-oriented photo. I mention that because like the second photo above, it results in less area for the photo. It does have the advantage of it being easier to apply the thirds rule, but the smaller area might have less of an impact on the judge(s).

If you are going with something not square, something like this might work . . . 


Now, a word about Mike’s site. It’s all about macros, and he does post-process nearly all of them with various effects. This might be out of necessity (there can only be so many unique flower shots before they start to all blend in), or he might really like a heavier hand in photo processing. 

If you are planning to enter, you might benefit from looking more at what he does than what I am going to do here. Or, you could do both.

Anyway, continuing . . . 

The Salsify seed head is most impressive, but it is technically not a flower . . . but the plant does produce flowers. They do not last long, but are impressive.

Here are a couple of shots as originally processed by me in Lightroom.

20120706_1_DSC5740_DIGI 20120706_1_DSC5744_DIGI

I am reasonably happy with these, both for being very showy, and for having a fair amount of visual impact . . . but maybe I can do a bit more with them.

untitled-5740_DIGI untitled-5744_DIGI

It’s not drastic, but if viewed side by side, you would see a bit more sharpening (it won’t hurt you in this small format), a slight increase in contrast, and a bit more brightness and saturation.

I also added a border. Borders seem to work well with macro shots, but it’s a matter of taste. If you add a border, don’t add one that distracts from the subject.

You will also notice in some of the shots above (and most of the shots in subsequent posts) that I am apt to ignore the rule of thirds, and concentrate more on presenting the entire flower, and when I can, to include leaves and stems. 

That’s what I do, and it’s just my preference. Some shots lend themselves to just presenting the flower with as little distracting background as possible. Some demand a setting of sorts. Again, personal preference.

In the next few days I will post more of the macros I am considering for submission. Meanwhile, dig deep in your library, and find something that will push you to the winner’s circle.

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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About disperser

Odd guy with odd views living an odd life during odd times.
This entry was posted in Effects and Filters, Flowers, Macro Photography, Photography Stuff and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Mike Moats Flower Macros Contest – Part 1

  1. todessakane2013 says:

    These photos are incredible! You have such a wonderful gift. I will tell my daughter about the competition if that’s ok as she is a keen photographer herself. Hope you had a wonderful Easter my friend. God bless you lots today and everyday :)


  2. oneowner says:

    This is a serious dilemma for me. I really want that tripod! Though I make it a point to avoid competition, I could use the tripod. So, do I tell you which of these that I like the best but actually tell you of the one I know can’t possibly win or should I be honest and tell you which is really the best in my opinion? Having said that, how would you know if I guided you or misguided you? To be honest, honesty hasn’t gotten me very far, you know, like a politician. Some of them get pretty far and haven’t got an honest bone in their body. I digress but you get the point. I will say this though, I’ve used an older model of the Tamron lens for about 12 years and I don’t think you can tell the difference between it and the more expensive Nikon macro. It’s a fantastic lens.
    Okay, I’ll be honest because I’m probably going to be too lazy to enter: the third and fourth photo from the top are my favorites.


    • disperser says:

      I appreciate your attempt at honesty, but having lived among humans I don’t really expect honesty from people. Yes, I too have observed cheating, lying, graft, favoritism, deception, and selfishness all go not only unpunished, but rewarded (I owned a business for 20 years).

      That said, I will take your opinion at face value. One, because I know you occasionally like to post-process the snot out of photos (if they have snot), and two . . . oh, wait; there is no two.

      Anyway, I’m not sure if I will enter . . . on the one hand, winning a contest could offer validation of sorts for one’s work. On the other hand, I already have two macro lenses, and I like both of them. I suppose I could make use of a new tripod, but I have two I hardly ever use, so they are like new. The bag is not likely to fit my needs.

      Ultimately, even the validation is suspect . . . there is no absolute judge. Were I to win anything, it would just mean one person, or a few people, were in the right frame of mind to find a particular photo pleasing over an equally pleasing, but different, photo.

      I am, however, having fun, and I have another 40+ macros I will share with them who want to hear my thought and might enjoy looking at them (the macros, not the thoughts).



  3. taphian says:

    fantastic and very beautiful photos, a pleasure to look at


  4. Wow – love the Salsify pictures. I think my favourites are the second one (with the blue background) and the first vertical – there is just something about them that draws my eye back to them.


  5. Wow Emilio, I love, love, love the Salsify flowers. The first one was amazing enough and then I kept scrolling and they just kept getting better. Good luck narrowing it down. You’ve got a hard task ahead of you :)


    • disperser says:

      Thank you.

      If you want to see more, you can do a search for earlier posts featuring the seed ball.

      Or, you can use the links I posted on the other comment to visit the two SmugMug galleries featuring the Salsify seeedball.


  6. drawandshoot says:

    I especially like the blue background in the seed head ones. Nice closeups, Emilio.


  7. AnnMarie says:

    They’re all great close-ups bu the deep blue and gold shot is fantastic!


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