I'm trying to take a shot like this:

enter image description here

Here is my attempt. I have used a 100mm macro lens, with a ring flash. I've tried different lighting settings and manual control but they are not close to what I see. What equipment do I need to reproduce this kind of photos?

enter image description here

  • 1
    Have you tried manual-exposing at about +1EV higher than this example, in order to get brighter white ? Have you tried that and obtained a gray background (instead of black) which you didn't like ? Can you move your subject and/or background closer to or farther from the camera (and is your background a sheet of black material ?) ? Did you try some post-processing (some amount was used on your inspiration photo) ?
    – FredP
    Oct 30, 2014 at 14:37
  • I like the look, but that image was not done in camera.
    – Joanne C
    Oct 31, 2014 at 3:21

4 Answers 4


Do you know how the image was made? It looks to me a lot like some of the flower images created by Katinka Matson. They're gorgeous, but they're not photographs -- the flowers are arranged on a flatbed scanner and scanned. The way the light falls off quickly and uniformly around the flower looks a lot like what you see in Matson's work.

  • 2
    Scanography is actually a genre of photography (using light-sensitive device/material to produce an image), so it is a photograph albeit not taken using a camera. Perhaps the most accessible way of digital large format.
    – Imre
    Oct 30, 2014 at 18:28
  • @Imre I suppose so, but it's also different from other photographs in that there's no distortion from a lens. Looks more like a painting than a photo in that respect.
    – Caleb
    Nov 3, 2014 at 8:31

To hazzard a guess, I would say that the lighting was done with a twin-tube affair, with the tubes arranged above and below the lens. The upper tube was the main (more powerful) light; the lower tube was fill at about half the upper tube's power (down 1 stop, or a 1:2 ratio with the "A" tube at the top). To get the fall-off you see from front to back, the lens would have to have been fairly short so the lens (and thus the flash) could be considerably closer to the flower than you can get to those huge blossoms with a 100mm lens. If the blossom size and the sensor format is similar, the lens would have to be 50-60mm at most, assuming the flash was mounted to the lens. You may be able to do something similar with your camera/lens/flowers, but it would mean moving the flash off of the lens and closer to the blossom while trying to keep it (or them) just out of shot. You could do it with a couple of "third hand" articulated clips and flashes similar (in size and minimum power) to the Nikon SB-r200 if you can't shoot through the flash you have now. (Shooting through a detached ring flash may be the source of the vignetting you see in the image. With the black background, you can't tell if the flash was actually in the frame.)

  • 2
    I suspect the vignetting is actually post-production, from the look of it (especially the way the light is "cut" on the upper petals). I also suspect some amount of post-processing to increase the brightness, contrast and possibly saturation.
    – FredP
    Oct 30, 2014 at 14:28
  • As I said, guessing — but the two aren't mutually exclusive. What would you do @FredP if you had the back end of a ring flash in your picture?
    – user32334
    Oct 30, 2014 at 14:43
  • I didn't say they were exclusive, just adding my (unneeded ?) grain of salt...
    – FredP
    Oct 30, 2014 at 14:51

It's also very possible that the outside was darkened in post. The light might be from a twin-light flash where you can aim the lights more precisely.



It's possible there was some focus stacking involved to get this DOF in the purple flower.

  • the question appears to be more about the lighting than focus
    – MikeW
    Nov 5, 2014 at 0:21

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