The above image, "Little Lady Bug", is from one of our readers (and Flickr group member) Matthew Mendenhall.
I love this shot, how it was setup, the composition, and the processing... so basically, everything about it.
Matt was kind enough to share the details behind how this image came to be, how it was shot and how it was processed.
"I started out photographing some wildflowers in my front yard that I planted earlier in the year, there were some large sunflowers growing among my wildflowers and thought that the bright yellow sunflower would look great on a black background.
I went out and cut one of the sunflowers to photograph and as I was opening the front door I noticed a ladybug crawling up the screen door, so I scooped the ladybug onto my hand and brought it inside with the sunflower.
With the flower in a small glass I put the ladybug on to the flower and hoped it wouldn't fly away. I used a piece of black fabric under the glass holding the sunflower and then raised it up for the background as well. I used this setup so that if I changed angles from a side shot to a top shot the background would remain black.
In an effort to hide from my 2 young daughters who really wanted to hold the ladybug she frantically crawled around the sunflower and ended up hiding on the bottom of the flower. I turned on the television to "distract" the girls and when I came back the flower had drooped over, showing the back of the flower and putting the ladybug in the perfect spot to be photographed.
The shot was taken with a Nikon D300s and a Tamron 90mm macro lens on a tripod. It was lit with a Nikon SB-600 flash with a umiQuest softbox attached to it. The flash was fired in TTL mode and it was handheld to the upper right of the frame.
I shot in Aperture Priority mode at F25 and 1/60 of a second at an ISO 200.
The lady bug was selectively sharpened using a brush in Lightroom, it was then imported it into Nik Color Efex Pro 3.0 where I used the vignette blur effect. I adjusted the center point, size, transition amount and the opacity. I knew that I didn't have much at the top of the photo for the blur to effect so I moved the center point so it would take the outer aspect of the flower petals out of focus. I then saved the photo back to Lightroom and gave it a small amount of vignette and some noise removal.
So to say the least, much of this photo was luck! But as they say, being in the right place at the right time is part of getting great shots. In the end I had another fun shot and my girls had some fun with the Ladybug before it flew off. I hope you can get some creative ideas from this picture and workflow."
I also took the liberty of grabbing this shot from Matt titled "Good Boy", which has a very simple setup. It was shot with a Nikon D300s, an SB-600 inside a Westcott 28" Apollo Softbox, and fired via TTL. It's another outstanding shot using my favorite softbox, the Apollo 28" (you can read more about how much I like it including a video review here and here).