21 Apr 17 Today's macro is a bit different. I wanted to showcase the pollen, but I wanted to try doing it a different way. I had several choices in my approach, three of which included just converting to B&W and increasing the contrast significantly; shooting two images with vastly different exposures and taking what I wanted from each; or making a dup layer and using either a curves or levels adjustment with mask brightening what I wanted and painting out the rest. I'm sure some of you might have another favorite way of accomplishing this task, but I chose to go a different way. I began by first setting up my subject - a lily - to receive side illumination from a ceiling skylight, then shot the picture using the flash on the top of the camera but underexposed the shot by 3+ stops. That gave me a very dark starting image but one without the flat look often created by straight on flash courtesy of the side light. Then I used a new piece of software - out on the market for less than a week - called InstaMask from shutter Evolve. This tool lets you create masks in many different ways, and in this instance I made the mask based on color which was relatively simple since everything sans the pollen was a drab greenish-yellow. Once I had the mask exactly as I wanted it, showing only the pollen and nothing else; I brightened the pollen just enough to make it the key point of the image. Then the pollen was blended into the base image and I had my final composition. This is intentionally a very moody shot, best viewed with low level lighting. For those of you who dislike this type of moody image, you can easily brighten it up to be a white lily as there is more than enough data available for you to do so.
The base image was shot as mentioned above, then I used the InstaMask program to isolate the pollen, applied a curves adjustment to brighten the pollen, then merged them together. Nikon D300s; 105mm macro; Aperture priority; ISO 320; 1/60 sec @ f / 25 with side lighting. And yes, I could have used a lower ISO and f stop for the same results.